Reason and the Heart
A Prolegomenon to a Critique of Passional Reason
Cornell Studies in the Philosophy of Religion
Published by: Cornell University Press
176 pages, 152.00 x 229.00 x 10.00 mm
- ISBN: 9780801473487
- Published: October 2006
Between the opposing claims of reason and religious subjectivity may be a middle ground, William J. Wainwright argues. His book is a philosophical reflection on the role of emotion in guiding reason. There is evidence, he contends, that reason functions properly only when informed by a rightly disposed heart.
The idea of passional reason, so rarely discussed today, once dominated religious reflection, and Wainwright pursues it through the writings of three of its past proponents: Jonathan Edwards, John Henry Newman, and William James. He focuses on Edwards, whose work typifies the Christian perspective on religious reasoning and the heart. Then, in his discussion of Newman and James, Wainwright shows how the emotions participate in non-religious reasoning. Finally he takes up the challenges most often posed to notions of passional reason: that such views justify irrationality and wishful thinking, that they can't be defended without circularity, and that they lead to relativism. His response to these charges culminates in an eloquent and persuasive defense of the claim that reason functions best when influenced by the appropriate emotions, feelings, and intuitions.
"Evidentialists have often assigned the passions an important motivational role in the assessment of religious beliefs.... In what is surely one of the most important works in epistemology in recent years, William Wainwright attempts to take us further."~Robert Holyer, International Journal for the Philosophy of Religion
"Reason and the Heart calls attention in a clear and forceful way to the importance of its claims, and it provides some interesting concrete examples of philosophers who have done religious epistemology in this fashion."~C. Stephen Evans, CrossCurrents
"Much of the... literature on the epistemology of religious belief has focused on the traditional theistic arguments, so-called Reformed epistemology, and religious experience. Wainwright's book has something to offer each of these debates, but in its own right the book charts and independent, promising project."~Charles Taliaferro, The Journal of Religion
"Wainwright explores the view that religious beliefs can and should be based on supporting evidence that can be accurately assessed only by people having suitable moral and spiritual capacities.... Highly recommended for all philosophy collections."~Choice
"A close and intellectually satisfying analysis and defense of the need for proper dispositions for evaluating religious truth claims."~G. Simon Harak, S.J., Theological Studies
"Wainwright succeeds in offering a clarifying account and compelling defense of a theory of justification which is now coming to receive increasing attention, and deservedly so. I recommend this book most highly."~M. Jamie Ferreiera, International Philosophical Quarterly