Philosophy, Death and Immortality

To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the author.


Dewi Phillips was an insightful practitioner of a philosophical method of cultural phenomenology focused upon word and deed. His interests and outlook also brought him close to the concerns of some post-Kantian theologians, such as Schleiermacher. The present essay observes a link between their treatments of the nature and significance of the idea of immortality. It then explores something of Phillips' positions as developed in Death and Immortality, acknowledging the importance, which he emphasises, of the spiritual meaning of these ideas. On the other hand, it argues that his rejection of metaphysical aspects and underpinnings to these ideas is misplaced, in part because it leads not only to overlooking certain possibilities, but also because it fails to capture the complexity of actual religious claims concerning these matters advanced in Judaeo-Christian scripture and related literature. The essay ends by setting out an argument from Anselm's Monologion concerning the immortality of the soul in relation to loving and being loved by God. It is pointed out that since loving is an intentional attitude, one might love God while not knowing that God was the object of one's affection.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the author.

Wittgenstein published next to nothing on the philosophy of religion and yet his conception of religious belief has been both enormously influential and hotly contested. In the contemporary literature, Wittgenstein has variously been labelled a fideist, a non-cognitivist and a relativist of sorts. This Element shows that all of these readings are misguided and seriously at odds, not just with what Wittgenstein says about religious belief, but with his entire later philosophy. This Element also argues that Wittgenstein presents us with an important 'third way' of understanding religious belief – one that does not fall into the trap of either assimilating religious beliefs to ordinary empirical or scientific beliefs or seeking to reduce them to the expression of certain attitudes.
This paper responds to John Haldane's recent criticisms of D. Z. Phillips’ treatment of the Christian belief in eternal life. I argue that Haldane's attempt to show that Phillips only partially elucidates, and hence misrepresents, this belief is unsuccessful, the biblical and theological passages cited by Haldane being amenable to elucidation in terms of which Phillips would have approved. Haldane makes three points to support his main claim, and I argue that none of these has significant force against Phillips’ position unless we presuppose the truth of some realist account of meaning, which Phillips would, of course, reject.
Mikel Burley challenges that my essay, “Philosophy, Death and Immortality,” in which I discussed the views of Dewi Phillips, fails to establish the case for a realist treatment of claims about the resurrection of Jesus and the general resurrection of human beings. I respond to these criticisms by again distinguishing between the analysis of the sense of religious claims and the determination of whether they purport to make reference beyond human language and practices. I consider particular texts drawn from Christian scripture and argue that they are best understood in realist terms. I conclude by pointing out that a Wittgensteinean about meaning need not be a linguistic idealist.
A classic of modern religious thought, Schleiermacher's On Religion: Speeches to its Cultured Despisers is here presented in Richard Crouter's acclaimed English translation of the 1799 edition, originally published in Cambridge Texts in German Philosophy. Written when its youthful author was deeply involved in German Romanticism and the critique of Kant's moral and religious philosophy, it is a masterly expression of Protestant Christian apologetics of the modern period, which powerfully displays the tensions between the Romantic and Enlightenment accounts of religion. Unlike the revised versions of 1806 and 1821, which modify the language of feeling and intuition and translate the argument into more traditional academic and Christian categories, the 1799 text more fully reveals its original audience's literary and social world. Richard Crouter's introduction places the work in the milieu of early German Romanticism, Kant criticism, the revival of Spinoza and Plato studies, and theories of literary criticism and of the physical sciences, and his fully annotated edition also includes a chronology and notes on further reading.
There is a common philosophical challenge that asks how things would be different if some supposed reality did not exist. Conceived in one way this can amount to trial by sensory verification. Even if that challenge is dismissible, however, the question of the relation of the purported reality to experience remains. Writing here in connection with the central claims, and human significance, of theism; and drawing on ideas suggested by C. S. Pierce, C. S. Lewis, Augustine of Hippo and Thomas Aquinas, I aim to turn the tables and argue that the broad structure and basic features of human cognitive and affective experience indicate their fulfilment in God.
Monologion " in Anselm of Canterbury:The Major Works
  • See
See " Monologion " in Anselm of Canterbury:The Major Works, B. Davies and G. R. Evans (eds.), (Oxford: OUP, 1998) pp. 73–74.