Necessity of Incarnation

Would the Son have been incarnate if Adam had not sinned? 1 Corinthians 15:44-45 provides a prooftext for an affirmative answer. Verse 44 says that the “spiritual body” is implied by the existence of the “natural body.” Human beings were created in a natural state, but they . . . . Continue Reading »

Decentered Self of Modernity

Bishop Joseph Butler of Durham worried about the consequences of Locke’s empiricism: “That personality is not a permanent, but a transcient thing: that it lives and dies, begins and ends continually: that no one can any more remain one and the same person two moments together, than two . . . . Continue Reading »

Embedded mind

Modernity ignores the social, linguistic, and political context of thought, and the way interest shapes the mind; postmodernity foregrounds all this. Perhaps, but . . . . Descartes said that his travels demonstrates that “all those who hold notions strongly contrary to our own are not for . . . . Continue Reading »

Self and World

For premoderns - ancients and medievals - there was a homology between the self and the world. Man was seen as microcosm, and, as Seigel puts it, they believed that “the world, like the self, is structured so as to fulfill intelligible moral ends.” The initial shift in early modernity, . . . . Continue Reading »

Birth of the Modern Self?

Seigel views with “considerable skepticism” the notion that Descartes constructed “a general theory of the human self and subject on the basis of the cogito .” In his treatise on the Passions of the Soul , Descartes claimed that the soul was linked with the body, which acts . . . . Continue Reading »


According to Seigel, “Descartes’s view of reason as most pure and solid when it was free of corruption by the world’s confusions implied nothing less than the attempt to break free of all social and cultural experience.” Not for the first time, I wish there were an . . . . Continue Reading »

Descartes’s Double Self

In his history of modern Western views of the self ( The Idea of the Self , Cambridge 2005), Jerrold Seigel offers what he believes is a fresh interpretation of the implications Descartes’s cogito . He asks, Who is the subject, the “I,” implied by the cogito and the sum ? And he . . . . Continue Reading »

Reaching back

Bruce Holsinger shows that “postmodern” theory reaches back beyond the modern period to find resources for anti-modern critique in the medieval world. Early modern thinkers made a similar move: Stephen McKnight notes (in a Mars Hill Audio interview) that early modern scientists like . . . . Continue Reading »

Descartes’s ambitions

Descartes’s original title for Discourse on Method was “Project for a Science that Can Raise our Nature to its Highest Degree of Perfection.” And for a number of years he worked on a treatise in which he “resolved to explain all the phenomena of nature, that is all of . . . . Continue Reading »

Not Quite Postmodern

In his very fine, lucid book, Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism? (Baker 2006), James KA Smith notes that many postmodern theologies, especially influenced by Derrida’s apophaticism, are anti-dogmatic: “postmodern religious faith eschews knowledge and therefore also eschews the . . . . Continue Reading »