Thinking Nature and the Nature of Thinking

9781503606708: Hardback
Release Date: 17th March 2020

9781503611672: Paperback
Release Date: 17th March 2020

Dimensions: 152 x 229

Number of Pages: 312

Edition: 1st Edition

Series Cultural Memory in the Present

Stanford University Press

Thinking Nature and the Nature of Thinking

From Eriugena to Emerson

Revisiting the history of Western religious thought and the role of nature and creation therein, this book paves the way for a new natural theology by bringing medieval theologian John the Scot Eriugena into conversation with American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Hardback / £77.00
This book can only be pre-ordered within 2 months of the publication date.
Paperback / £22.99
This book can only be pre-ordered within 2 months of the publication date.

A fresh and more capacious reading of the Western religious tradition on nature and creation, Thinking Nature and the Nature of Thinking puts medieval Irish theologian John Scottus Eriugena (810–877) into conversation with American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882). Challenging the biblical stewardship model of nature and histories of nature and religion that pit orthodoxy against the heresy of pantheism, Willemien Otten reveals a line of thought that has long made room for nature's agency as the coworker of God. Embracing in this more elusive idea of nature in a world beset by environmental crisis, she suggests, will allow us to see nature not as a victim but as an ally in a common quest for re-attunement to the divine. Putting its protagonists into further dialogue with such classical authors as Augustine, Maximus the Confessor, Friedrich Schleiermacher, and William James, her study deconstructs the idea of pantheism and paves the way for a new natural theology.

Willemien Otten is Professor of Theology and the History of Christianity in the University of Chicago Department of History, where she serves as the Director of the Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago Divinity School.

"Only an accomplished scholar and philosopher in her own right could meet this challenge: pairing ancient and modern thinkers to address one of the most urgent issues of today. Does not nature amount to much more than what we have made of it? Does not nature think more than is thought? Willemien Otten not only ask these questions, she foresees the answer."

Jean-Luc Marion, University of Paris
Sorbonne

"In this original and significant study, Willemien Otten presents two major authors for the first time in a comparative perspective. Writing with erudition and elegance, she adds considerably to our understanding of both Eriugena and Emerson, and in doing so establishes herself as a serious religious thinker in her own right."

Brian Stock
University of Toronto and Collège de France

"This book seeks no less than to reorient theological thinking away from the stale alternatives of natural theology or special revelation and toward a dialogue of self, God, and nature. In Willemien Otten's rich, detailed, and inventive readings, she persuasively illustrates how to engage religiously with religious texts without having to disdain the blessings of secularity."

James Wetzel
Villanova University

"Willemien Otten allows us a new recognition—a literal rethinking—of nature. Hers is a dynamic view of nature that calls on us and even on God to listen to it attentively, and that works with many contemporary materialisms while still challenging those insistently atheistic schools of thought. Its place in these conversations is genuinely important."

Karmen MacKendrick
LeMoyne College