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Realism in Religion
A Pragmatist's Perspective
Realism in Religion
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Robert Cummings Neville - Author
Price: $95.00 
Hardcover - 279 pages
Release Date: November 2009
ISBN13: 978-1-4384-2825-3

Price: $32.95 
Paperback - 279 pages
Release Date: July 2010
ISBN13: 978-1-4384-2826-0


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A philosophical consideration of key religious issues from a pragmatist’s perspective.

Religion is basic to the human condition according to this philosophy of religion from a pragmatist’s perspective. While pragmatist thinkers have often been cool to religious claims, Robert Cummings Neville holds that a theology of truth can emerge from this tradition. Standing against the typical nominalist view that regards religious claims as concepts or structures of language, Neville argues that there can be significant and well-tested hypotheses about what is true in religious matters. He brings this theology to bear on questions of God, divine creation, divine nature and will, and eternity. Using the work of pragmatists Peirce and Whitehead in particular to ground his philosophy of religion, Neville surveys a wide swath of twentieth-century theology and current  trends, from Barth and Tillich to liberal and postliberal theology, systematic theology, concepts of God, and approaches to scripture.

“The remarkable and impressive stream of thought that constitutes Robert Neville’s lifework flows through these pages … I suspect that most readers of Realism in Religion will experience the same admiration mingled with anticipation that I did when I turned the last page.” —Michael L. Raposa, The Pluralist

“…this work is an ideal entry to Robert Neville’s wide-ranging thought as a whole … Most every page is rich in detail and enormously suggestive. The work is open enough in style to invite a reader to make corrections that are true to that person’s experiential contexts. Yet it is persuasive enough that most readers will find themselves carrying over much of value and importance from the text to their own understanding of religion and reality.” — American Journal of Theology and Philosophy

“…a provocative book, written from a Peircean perspective, and it puts the lie to the claim that metaphysical claims and pragmatism do not mix.” — International Journal for Philosophy of Religion

“This compilation of essays culled together from Neville’s accomplished career offers an avenue for acquainting readers with some of his basic insights and contributions to the fields of philosophy and theology … Frequently, such compilations fail to achieve a complementary whole, but nothing could be further from the case here. Divided into three parts—realism and truth, realism in pragmatism, and realism in religion and metaphysics—each part provides the occasion for the next.” — Religious Studies Review

“…Neville demonstrates great breadth of knowledge about both philosophy and theology in this work, and he develops his ideas in a creative and interesting way.” — CHOICE

Robert Cummings Neville is Professor of Philosophy, Religion, and Theology at Boston University and the author and editor of many books, including Ritual and Deference: Extending Chinese Philosophy in a Comparative Context, also published by SUNY Press.

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Table of Contents



1. Theologies of Identity and Truth: Legacies of Barth and Tillich

Barth and Tillich on Theology: Narrative and System
Legacies of Narrative and System
Truth, Identity, and Authority

2. Truth in Theology

Four Roots of the Evasion of Truth, and their Antidotes
Liberal Theology as a Near Miss
Theology as Symbolic Engagement
Metaphysics for Theology

3. Realism and Contextualization

Postliberalism and Theological Inquiry
Religious Symbols: Engagement
Religious Symbols: Interpretation
All Truth Is Contextual
The Comparative Context for Religious Truth

4. How to Read Scriptures for Religious Truth

Scriptures for Engagement
Imaginative Differences
Strategies of Symbolic Interpretation
Criteria for Reading Scriptures for Truth

5. Systematic Theology in a Global Public

System and Its Public: Three Values
Truth and Realism
Minimizing Arbitrariness
Vulnerability in a Global Public


6. A Peircean Theory of Religious Interpretation

Engagement and Reference
Reference and Apophatic Theology
Meaning and Truth

7. The Contributions of Charles S. Peirce to Philosophy of Religion

The Evolutionary Weight of Religion
Contributions to Theology
Comparative Theology
The Importance of Erudition

8. Intuition: A Platonizing of Pragmatism

Intuition and Immediate Unity
A Theory of Harmony
Judgment and Interpretation
Intuition and Plato’s Divided Line

9. Whitehead and Pragmatism

The Entangled Legacies of Pragmatism and
Process Philosophy
Tensions regarding Time and Continuity
Eternity and Time
Creation, Eternity, Time, and Continuity

10. Philosophy of Nature in American Theology

Jonathan Edwards
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The Pragmatists
Alfred North Whitehead


11. Concepts of God in Comparative Theology

Conceptions of God in Comparison
Theoretical Issues in Comparison
Observations about Ultimacy
An Hypothesis about the Respect in which
Concepts of Ultimacy Interpret Reality

12. Some Contemporary Theories of Divine Creation

Classifications of Conceptions of God
Process Theology
Ground-of-Being Theologies
Piety and Conceptions of God

13. Descartes and Leibniz on the Priority of Nature versus Will in God

Texts and Arguments
Transcendence and Immanence
Tillich and Hartshorne as Descartes and Leibniz
Experience and Reason

14. The Metaphysical Sense in Which Life Is Eternal

Introduction: Immortality and Eternal Life
Time and Eternity: A Metaphysical Analysis
Eternity in the Divine Life of God
Eternity and Time in Human Life


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