Who's Afraid of Relativism?
Following his successful Who's Afraid of Postmodernism? leading Christian philosopher James&K. A. Smith introduces the philosophical sources behind postliberal theology. Offering a provocative analysis of relativism, Smith provides an introduction to the key voices of pragmatism: Ludwig Wittgenstein, Richard Rorty,...
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Following his successful Who's Afraid of Postmodernism? leading Christian philosopher James&K. A. Smith introduces the philosophical sources behind postliberal theology. Offering a provocative analysis of relativism, Smith provides an introduction to the key voices of pragmatism: Ludwig Wittgenstein, Richard Rorty, and Robert Brandom.
Many Christians view relativism as the antithesis of absolute truth and take it to be the antithesis of the gospel. Smith argues that this reaction is a symptom of a deeper theological problem: an inability to honor the contingency and dependence of our creaturehood. Appreciating our created finitude as the condition under which we know (and were made to know) should compel us to appreciate the contingency of our knowledge without sliding into arbitrariness. Saying "It depends" is not the equivalent of saying "It's not true" or "I don't know." It is simply to recognize the conditions of our knowledge as finite, created, social beings. Pragmatism, says Smith, helps us recover a funda
James K. A. Smith (Ph.D., University of Villanova) is associate professor of philosophy at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Previously he taught at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California. He is editor of In the Twilight of Western Thought in the Collected Works of Herman Dooyeweerd, and he has written numerous articles on philosophy and religion, and has a remarkable grasp of Post-modern hermeneutics and interpretation.
This is reflected in his publications Who's Afraid of Postmodernism?: Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church (Church and Postmodern Culture Series: Baker Academic, 2006); Jacques Derrida: Live Theory (Continuum, 2005), Introducing Radical Orthodoxy: Mapping a Post-Secular Theology (Baker Academic Press, 2004). Speech and Theology: Language and the Logic of Incarnation (Radical Orthodoxy Series: Routledge, 2002); Letters to a Young Calvinist: An Invitation to the Reformed Tradition (Bakerbooks, 2010) and The Fall of Interpretation: Philosophical Foundations for a Creational Hermeneutic (InterVarsity Press, 2000).
He is preparing four volumes The Violence of Finitude: Derrida and the Logic of Determination; Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Learning and the Formation of Radical Disciples; The Devil Reads Derrida - and Other Essays on the University, the Church, Politics, and the Arts and Thinking in Tongues: Elements of a Pentecostal Worldview (Pentecostal Manifestos Series; Eerdmans, 2008).
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- <b>contents<br></b>series Preface<br>1. &quot;it Depends&quot;: Creation, Contingency, And The Specter Of Relativism<br>2. Community As Context: Wittgenstein On Meaning As Use<br>3. Who's Afraid Of Contingency? Owning Up To Our Creaturehood With Rorty<br>4. Reasons To Believe: Making Faith Explicit After Brandom<br>5. The (inferential) Nature Of Doctrine: Postliberalism As Christian Pragmatism<br>epilogue: How To Be A Conservative Relativist<br>index