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Knowledge, Action, Pluralism

Contemporary Perspectives in Philosophy of Religion

Edited By Sebastian Kolodziejczyk and Janusz Salamon

In this book, an international team of scholars from leading American, British and Continental European universities, led by Richard Swinburne, Eleonore Stump, William Wainwright and Linda Zagzebski, presents original ideas about three currently discussed topics in the philosophy of religion: religious epistemology, the philosophy of God’s action in the world, including the problem of evil and Divine Providence, and the philosophical challenge of religious diversity. The book contains echoes of all four main strands of the late 20th century philosophy of religion: Richard Swinburne’s philosophical theology, Alvin Plantinga’s reformed epistemology, John Hick’s theory of religious pluralism, and the philosophy of religion inspired by the work of the later Wittgenstein. One of the distinguishing features of this volume is that it mirrors a new trend towards philosophical cooperation across the so-called continental/analytic divide.
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The Spiritual Senses in Western Spirituality and the Analytic Philosophy of Religion


William J. Wainwright

The concept of the spiritual senses has played a significant role in the history of Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox spirituality. It goes back at least as far as Origen, and figures prominently in the work of theologians as diverse as Bonaventure and Urs von Balthasar. What is less well known (indeed almost totally unremarked) is that the doctrine also played an important role in some classical Protestant thought and spirituality. This is important for it suggests that the doctrine is (or at least should be) an important feature of Christian spiritual theology in general, and raises the question of whether similar concepts can be found in other theistic traditions. In spite of its importance, however, the concept has been almost totally neglected by analytic philosophers of religion. My essay will be divided into three parts. I will begin by examining the only treatment of the doctrine by an analytic philosopher that I am aware of (namely, Nelson Pike’s). I will then show how the development of the doctrine of the spiritual senses in Puritan thought and spirituality fills a serious lacuna in Pike’s treatment, and conclude by saying a few words about where I think the discussion should now go.

I. Pike and the Spiritual Senses

The first two chapters of Nelson Pike’s Mystic Union1 describe what are commonly regarded as the three principal forms of mystical prayer. The soul is directly aware of God in each but...

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