Reading Notes 10/15/13

David Bentley Hart’s ‘The Experience of God’ has so far been the best experience of reading I’ve head in a long, long time (Plantinga’s ‘Where the Conflict Really Lies’, was like this for me, only way more analytic). Definitely one of the best philosophy/metaphysics/philosophy of science/religion books recently published. That guy is way too smart. I’ll probably post some review-ish stuff after I’ve read it more, but suffice it to say that he brilliantly dismantles materialism on three fronts: that of being, of consciousness, and bliss. The best section so far? Very hard to say. I’ll go with consciousness and bliss for the moment – his exposition of various problems in philosophy of mind (qualia, intentionality, abstract concepts) is, quite simply, superb. Bliss? Absolutely fantastic exploration of desire, the will, the good, beauty, etc. Being is outstanding as well (it’s pure fun watching him analyze Platninga’s modal ontological argument), but so far consciousness and bliss are the best for me. If you haven’t read it, read it. It’s cheap on Amazon. One last note: his use of Eastern (primarily Hindu) and Islamic metaphysics in the section on being is pretty dang cool.

Finally getting around to reading N.T. Wright’s big books – unfortunately the library only had ‘Jesus and the Victory of God’, so I’m starting there. Very readable and easy to understand – it is dense in parts but that’s purely due to the content and not the style. I forget sometimes how powerful of a thinker Wright is, and this book is definitely re-proving it. So far of his I have and have read ‘Paul’, ‘Justification’, ‘Scripture and the Authority of God’, ‘Surprised by Hope,’ (which lives up to the hype) ‘Evil and the Justice of God’, and his popular commentary on Paul’s prison letters (and most of his available online articles and essays). N.T. Wright is the man.

Plowing through Wolterstorff’s ‘Divine Discourse’. Yikes. Dense and analytic. Well written, but even great style can’t un-densify such a topic. Great exposition of the famous Augustine passage, ‘take and read’, (or something like that), and a superb analysis and discussion of speech-acts. Great stuff for the philosopher of language in me. His seperation of divine speech and divine revelation is pretty interesting, and I’m looking forward to his discussion of inerrancy.

Also just got Torrance’s ‘Incarnation: the Person and Work of Christ’. Not as good as ‘Atonement’, unfortunately. It has a much less polished feel (these are, however, lectures – but ‘Atonement’ didn’t have this same feel). Great content – Torrance really doesn’t need a introduction in terms of his brilliant thought and command of primary sources. But again, just not as ‘wow’, feeling as ‘Atonement’. Great discussions on the meaning of ‘nature’, though, as well as things like election, hypostatic union, etc.

Sort of continuing to read through Russell’s ‘Knowledge of the External World’, and every time I pick it up, wow. What a brilliant mind – clear, precise writing, even on such a heavy topic. His linguistic approach to the problems of external-world knowledge is pretty cool, but his sense-data thing is a little out of date. But on the whole, a great philosophical read.

I just ordered Tim Maudlin’s ‘The Metaphysics Within Physics’. I’ve read/watched some of his stuff and I like him a lot. Hopefully this volume will give me a bit better understanding of modern metaphysics in current cosmology.

Finally, starting to make progress in Timothy Zahn’s ‘Vision of the Future’, which is part 2 of the ‘Hand of Thrawn’ two-book series (duology?). Yes, I am a Star Wars geek.  Zahn is an amazing sci-fi writer (read ‘Outbound Flight’, or ‘Heir to the Empire’ for further proof) and this story, while not his best work is pretty darn entertaining if a little long-winded. Over 700 pages, I think. Great writer, good writing, and a good yarn. Highly, highly recommend any of Zahn’s work, but the two cited above are absolute standouts and some of my favourite overall fiction.

And that’s what I’m reading. I hope to soon go through the two Tillich volume I have, ‘The Courage to Be’, and ‘The Essential Tillich’, in a more systematic way. I’d like to continue ‘The Russian Experiment in Art’, and explore art/aesthetics in more detail overall. John Haldane and Roger Scruton have both written in this area and I’d like to read them as well. I’ll probably start re-reading the McCarthy books I have – ‘The Road’, ‘Suttree’, ‘No Country for Old Men’, ‘Outer Dark’, and ‘All the Pretty Horses’, – come winter. Maybe go back through Redwall again. I also need to go through the to C.S. Lewis books I have on literary criticism/literature, ‘A Study in Words’, and ‘The Discarded Image,’ which means I’ll inevitably go through ‘The Monsters and the Critics’, by Tolkien.

Anyways, enough rambling. Hopefully I did nothing more than show a love for a good book – there is almost nothing I love more tan talking at length about books.

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