Phillips and Eternal Life: A Response to Mikel Burley

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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.

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... For criticism of Phillips along these lines, seeHaldane (2008Haldane ( , 2010. For further discussion, seeBurley (2012, ch. ...
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Does it make sense to think of eternal life not as an unending continuation of life subsequent to death but as fully actualized in one’s present mortal and finite life? After outlining conceptual and moral reasons for being troubled by the notion of an endless life, this article draws upon the thought of major Christian theologians and philosophers of religion to expound the idea of eternal life as a possession exclusively of the life one is presently living. Supplementing the claims of religious thinkers with notions of four-dimensionalism and eternalism from theoretical physics and the philosophy of time, and considering important objections to the conception of eternal life in question, I argue for both the conception’s intelligibility and its ethical and spiritual profundity.
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.
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.
The Question of Linguistic Idealism In The Collected Philosophical Papers of G
  • References Anscombe
References Anscombe, G. E. M. (1981). " The Question of Linguistic Idealism. " In The Collected Philosophical Papers of G. E. M. Anscombe. Vol. 1, From Parmenides to Wittgenstein. Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 112–133.