Date of Award


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Religion, MA


School of Arts and Humanities

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Ingolf Dalferth

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Patricia Easton

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Randy Ramal

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2020 Duncan W Gale


heretic, Nietzsche, theology, Walter Kaufmann

Subject Categories

Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion


This is a study of the philosophy of religion of Walter Kaufmann, specifically how he found his unique philosophical voice during the first decade of his career. It begins with Kaufmann’s work as a translator and commentator on Friedrich Nietzsche, examining the ways his interpretation of Nietzsche’s philosophy both informs and anticipates his own philosophical perspective. Attention is also given to Kaufmann’s work on Hegel and existentialism as it relates to his development. After these considerations, Kaufmann’s first original work of philosophy, Critique of Religion and Philosophy , is examined in detail, beginning with his appraisal of the field of philosophy at the time he is writing and what he sees as the many conceptual confusions that have occurred throughout its history regarding the way in which religion has been treated. These include the problem of establishing an adequate philosophical definition of religion, the strained relationship between religion and truth, the confused discourse around the idea of God, and the inherently problematic nature of the discipline of theology. These initial issues are developed and elaborated upon in the discussion of Kaufmann’s next major work, The Faith of a Heretic , which also examines Kaufmann’s comparative analysis of the merits of the Old and New Testaments, specifically how they address the problem of suffering and their respective ethics and worldviews. Finally, some attention is given to Kaufmann’s attempts to construct his own heretical ethic and tragic worldview. The ultimate goal of this study is to demonstrate that Kaufmann is a unique and interesting philosopher in his own right who deserves a place in the canon of the philosophy of religion because of his unusual approach that combines skepticism and sympathy towards religion.