"Why Believe?" sees John Cottingham, a philosopher of searing intellectual honesty, examine our society's struggle with the concept of belief. Religious belief, or its lack, is something that touches our integrity very deeply. It goes to the heart of who we are, what we take ourselves to be doing with our lives, and how we locate ourselves in relation to others. Much philosophy tackles belief in God as if it depended entirely on abstract intellectual argument, but John Cottingham's carefully reasoned yet impassioned account shows how the religious outlook connects with our deepest human longings, how it links up with our moral and aesthetic experience, how it is integrally involved in the quest for self-understanding, and how it is not after all in conflict with a scientific understanding of the world. Rigorously argued yet maximally accessible, this book cuts through the sterility of much modern debate and offers a new and exciting perspective on the conflict between secularism and spirituality.
John Cottingham is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Reading and an Honorary Fellow of St John's College, Oxford. His much acclaimed recent titles include Philosophy and the Good Life, On the Meaning of Life and The Spiritual Dimension, and he is also well-known for his extensive writings in the history of philosophy and in ethics. He is President of the British Society for the Philosophy of Religion, and Editor of the journal Ratio.
One: Belief and its Benefits; 1. How believing affects living; 2. How believing works. 3. Belief and human sensibilities; 4. Belief and integrity; Two: Belief, Reason, Goodness; 1. Yearnings and their objective correlative; 2. From benefits to reasons; 3. God as source; 4. The best explanation?; Three: Belief and the Unknown; 1. The unknown God?; 2. Hume's critique; 3. The problems of transcendence; 4. Revelation and the Incarnate Word; Four: Obstacles to Belief; 1. How difficult can it get?; 2. Supernatural intervention; 3. Back to fundamentalism?; 4. Revelation and cognition; Five: Belief and Meaning; 1. Truth and concealment; 2. Evidence and accessibility; 3. Vision and transformation; 4. Moral growth and spiritual conversion; Six: Learning to Believe; 1. The lessons of life; 2. Prevailing images of belief: exclusivism; 3. Ultimate responsibility; 4. Souls and the afterlife; Seven: Believing and living; 1. Providence and suffering; 2. Humility and hope; 3. Awe and thanksgiving; 4. 'Walk the believer's road!'.