Symposium Introduction


Bradley Onishi
B. Keith Putt
J. Aaron Simmons
Noëlle Vaharian
Bruce Ellis Benson




Recognizing the essential heteronomy of postmodern philosophy of religion, Merold Westphal argues against the assumption that human reason is universal, neutral, and devoid of presupposition. Instead, Westphal contends that any philosophy is a matter of faith and the philosophical encounter with theology arises from the very act of thinking. Relying on the work of Spinoza, Kant, and Hegel, Westphal discovers that their theologies render them mutually incompatible and their claims to be the voice of autonomous and universal reason look dubious. Westphal grapples with this plural nature of human thought in the philosophy of religion and he forwards the idea that any appeal to the divine must rest on a historical and phenomenological analysis.




“Merold Westphal is a major figure in the philosophy of religion. His works are an important part of the self-understanding of religion and this new book contributes to his work and extends it in fresh ways.”
 — Kevin Hart, author of Kingdoms of God

“Merold Westphal’s treatments of Spinoza, Kant, and Hegel are careful, well-informed, judicious, and attentive to recent literature. Historians of philosophy, among others, will benefit from this work on these three influential figures.”
 — Paul K. Moser, author of Evidence for God

“Beyond its clear and accessible discussions of Spinoza, Kant, and Hegel, In Praise of Heteronomy also makes a valuable contribution to contemporary philosophy of religion. It paints a picture of religious belief that is at once traditional and radical.”
 — International Journal for Philosophy of Religion

“The book not only displays a richness versed in both analytic and continental philosophy of religion, but also German idealism and modern theology. This gives the book a uniquely sharp philosophical edge (that makes distinctions and stakes claims) and when combined with an imaginative and personal verve (via testimonies, poems, and novels) demonstrates for the reader that philosophy of religion need not be banal and abstract, and indeed is best understood as an always operative and lived endeavor–one that is alive and well.”
 — Reading Religion

“Westphal’s book should be read eagerly not only by scholars working on the philosophy of religion, but by theologians. By carefully teasing out how the tension between autonomy and heteronomy informs the theologies of Spinoza, Kant and Hegel, Westphal offers a useful corrective to trends in modern theology that carelessly and uncritically parrot the themes of modern philosophy.”
 — Heythrop Journal

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