Date of Award
Open Access Dissertation
School of Arts and Humanities
Ingolf U. Dalferth
Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member
Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member
© 2020 Brandon V Yarbrough
Humanity, Individuality, Intellectual Virtues, Philosophy of Religion, Theological Virtues, Theology
Religion | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion
We want to live well. For us, coming to live well involves learning to think well. The extent to which we can make the transition from death and misery to life and blessedness will depend on the extent to which we learn to truly think the transition. We are not free to truly opt for life unless we can truly distinguish between death and life, and we are not free to truly opt for blessedness unless we can truly distinguish between misery and blessedness. Toward these ends, we have much work to do. It is not the case that every human being is in possession of the truth. Indeed, “there is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way to death” (Prov. 14:12). Our freedom to decide for life and blessedness greatly depends on the extent to which we have come to know what it means for us to have life to the full. The extent to which we can know what it means for us to have life to the full depends on the extent to which we are free to carry out the process of knowing the truth. Thinking the transition from death and misery to life and blessedness involves coming to grips with the beginning and the end of this transition, or locating ourselves in relation to the beginning and end of our salvation. Finally, thinking the transition also involves ordering our steps toward life and blessedness, which will require us to become familiar with the way of salvation. If we want to become completely free to opt for life and blessedness, we will have to practice the speculative intellectual virtues of understanding, science, and wisdom. The virtue of understanding is the power to grasp starting-points for acts of intelligence. The virtue of science is the power to proceed by acts of intelligence toward the stopping-point of knowledge, and the virtue of wisdom is the power to judge the results of acts of intelligence and set them in order so that one may move in the direction of true life and blessedness. Practicing understanding will require us to overcome our tendencies to become forgetful of Being, avoid discourse, and commit the fallacy of logical inversion and, instead, learn to let the discourse of the other speak for itself. Practicing sacred science will require us to beware of temptations to unbelief and bad belief (or idolatry) and, instead, practice obedience to and persevere in the contemplation of the Word of God. Finally, practicing the kind of wisdom that leads to true life and blessedness will require us to become familiar with the goodness of God–i.e., with what makes for true life and blessedness–by practicing faith, hope, and charity. This dissertation clarifies what it means for us to practice human(e) intelligence, as opposed to artificial, inhumane forms of intelligence and why we must learn to practice more human(e) forms of intelligence than we are accustomed to practicing, today. This dissertation also clarifies what it means for us to come to have life to the full, or for us to fully develop individuality and humanity, and it explores how philosophers of religion and theologians can help us move in the direction of life and blessedness by teaching us to practice the speculative intellectual virtues and the theological virtues. In other words, this dissertation is a reflection on how we reflect on the relationship between intelligence and the good life and on how philosophers of religion and theologians can promote the good life by promoting the kind of intelligence that makes for true individuality and true humanity. The extent to which we can decide to move in the direction of true life and blessedness will greatly depend on the extent to which we learn to think the transition from death and misery to life and blessedness. Learning to think well about what makes for life and blessedness will require us to come to grips with our deep passivity and begin to develop more robust conceptions of individuality and humanity. Philosophers of religion and theologians can help us develop more robust conceptions of individuality and humanity by teaching us to practice the speculative intellectual virtues and the theological virtues.
Yarbrough, Brandon Vermilya. (2020). Becoming Friends of God: Practicing Philosophy of Religion and Theology in and for a Radical Spirit of Individuality and Humanity. CGU Theses & Dissertations, 710. https://scholarship.claremont.edu/cgu_etd/710.