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-JW


Special Section: Philosophy (Part 1)

It was only toward the middle of the twentieth century that the inhabitants of many European countries came, in general unpleasantly, to the realization that their fate could be influenced directly by intricate and abstruse books of philosophy. Their bread, their work, their private lives began to depend on this or that decision in disputes on principles to which, until then, they had never paid any attention. In their eyes, the philosopher had always been a sort of dreamer whose divigations had no effect on reality. The average human being, even if he had once been exposed to it, wrote philosophy off as utterly impractical and useless."

So begins The Captive Mind, Czeslaw Milosz's classic study of intellectual capitulation to Stalinism. Ideas have consequences, not only in Europe during the heyday of "dialectical materialism" but even in America, right here and now.

Among those practicing philosophy in the English-speaking world today, Mark Noll notes in The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, a disproportionately high number are Christians (half of them, it seems, with Dutch names and present or past connections to Calvin College). In this special section (which features a couple of ringers from literature as well as an impressive cast of card-carrying philosophers), we can only begin to suggest the breadth and depth of what Noll rightly calls "the remarkable renewal of orthodox Protestant philosophy." No scandal there--unless we fail to avail ourselves of these riches.

-JW

(First of three parts; click here to read Part 2)

Copyright(c) 1997 by Christianity Today, Inc/Books and Culture Magazine. May/June, Vol. 3, No. 3, Page 20

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