The Unconditioned in Philosophy of Religion

Shakespeare, Steven (2018) The Unconditioned in Philosophy of Religion. Palgrave Communications. ISSN ISSN 2055-1045 (Accepted for Publication)

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This article argues that philosophy of religion should focus on notion of the unconditioned, rather than God. Such a shift of focus would have a number of advantages. It would loosen the grip of the default theistic framework often used in the field. In turn, this would encourage fresh reflection upon the nature of the unconditioned and its relationship to conditioned entities. In the process, it would facilitate critical conversation about fundamental metaphysical issues across the divide between analytic and continental philosophers. As an initial step, this article offers a working definition of the unconditioned and explores significant developments of the idea through Kant and the early work of Schelling. It argues that light can be cast on the notion of the unconditioned by contemporary analytic debates about essence and grounding, and vice versa. In order to suggest the fruitfulness of this approach, a recent essay in philosophy of religion by Daniel Barber is examined, in which the unconditioned is presented as a differential field immanent to what it conditions; and in which conditioned entities are understood through the notion of modal essence. The article ends with a summary of the advantages of refocusing philosophy of religion on the unconditioned, not least in enabling the discipline to take seriously non-theistic and non-transcendent approaches to ultimate reality.

Item Type: Article
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Arts & Humanities > Theology, Philosophy and Religion
Depositing User: Steven SHAKESPEARE
Date Deposited: 23 Oct 2018 10:35
Last Modified: 23 Oct 2018 10:35

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