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Can the 'theological virtues' have meaning for philosophy?

Kelly, Thomas (2005) Can the 'theological virtues' have meaning for philosophy? Yearbook of the Irish Philosophical Society 2005. pp. 147-164.

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Abstract

In what follows I shall try to outline an answer to the question which forms the title for this article: can the 'theological virtues' have meaning for philosophy? I shall first outline the ontological and metephysical geography within which alone it is sensible to ask the question, and then consider each of the virtues in turn. I have placed the expression 'theological virtues' in quotes, and refer to them as 'so-called' theological virtues, because I wish to challenge the purely theological ascription: a genuinely philosophical understanding of Faith, Hope and Love is, I believe, as desirable in the discipline of philosophy as it is in theology, and can be helpful to both disciplines. My examination of these virtues will, I hope, reveal what philosophical interest they can have. I hope therefore that this essay, however tentatively or sketchily, goes towards something I have elsewhere suggested to be desirable, namely a way of doing philosophy which, while not comproming either the strictness of philosophical methods or the autonomy of the discipline, is able to be nourished by what religion has to say. For these reasons my essay falls between two stools. It is not the scholarly exegesis of a text, and neither is it theology in the usual sense of that term, the hermeneutics of some religious tradition. I believe it to be an essay in philosophical theology, but one which tries to go beyond the usual boundaries which circumscribe and the limit that discipline, in order to encounter and come to grips with issues normally dealt with by theology in the usual sense. This may account for a certain eccentricity of method - I am not a professional theologian and am not trying to pass myself off as one; I am, rather, a philosopher who listens to the voice of religion, and who tries to think philosophically through some of the religion's, or at least Christianity's, foundational conceptions. In doing so I am forced to rely on my own 'lay' understanding of what these conceptions are, rather than on the kind of understanding that could be expected from a professional theological scholar. For the defects that result from this approach, I apologise in advance, but I think also that such an experiment is nonetheless justified, even if only as a first tentative step.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Theological; Virtues: Philosophy;
Subjects: Arts, Celtic Studies & Philosophy > Philosophy
Item ID: 934
Depositing User: Thomas A. F. Kelly
Date Deposited: 01 Apr 2008
Journal or Publication Title: Yearbook of the Irish Philosophical Society 2005
Publisher: The Irish Philosophical Society
Refereed: Yes
URI:

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