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Anne Conway, , . Selections from the Principles of the Most Ancient and Modern Philosophy
1994, in Margaret Atherton (ed.) Women Philosophers of the Early Modern Period. Hackett Publishing Company. [originally written 1677]
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Added by: Alison Stone, Contributed by:

After the SEP: Anne Conway’s treatise is a work of Platonist metaphysics in which she derives her system of philosophy from the existence and attributes of God. The framework of Conway’s system is a tripartite ontological hierarchy of ‘species’, the highest of which is God, the source of all being. Christ, or ‘middle nature’, links God and the third species, called ‘Creature’. […] Anne Conway denies the existence of material body as such, arguing that inert corporeal substance would contradict the nature of God, who is life itself. Incorporeal created substance is, however, differentiated from the divine, principally on account of its mutability and multiplicity even so, the infinite number and constant mutability of created monads constitute an obverse reflection of the unity, infinity, eternity and unchangeableness of God. The continuum between God and creatures is made possible through ‘middle nature’, an intermediary being, through which God communicates life, action, goodness and justice. […] The spiritual perfectionism of Anne Conway’s system has dual aspect: metaphysical and moral. On the one hand all things are capable of becoming more spirit-like, that is, more refined qua spiritual substance. At the same time, all things are capable of increased goodness. She explains evil as a falling away from the perfection of God, and understands suffering as part of a longer term process of spiritual recovery. She denies the eternity of hell, since for God to punish finite wrong-doing with infinite and eternal hell punishment would be manifestly unjust and therefore a contradiction of the divine nature. Instead she explains pain and suffering as purgative, with the ultimate aim of restoring creatures to moral and metaphysical perfection. Anne Conway’s system is thus not just an ontology and but a theodicy.

Comment: This chapter could be used in a history of philosophy course as one week’s reading. The author has a metaphysics that is often seen to anticipate that of Leibniz so one could, e.g., include a week on Conway in advance of a week or two (or three) on Leibniz.

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Deane-Drummond, Celia, , . Gaia as Science Made Myth: Implications for Environmental Ethics
1996, Studies in Christian Ethics 9(2): 1-5.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by:

Content: Offers a critical discussion of the Gaia hypothesis in the context of human responsibility for climate change.

Comment: Might be useful for environmental ethics, or as further reading on methodology of science and the dangers of confusing science and myth.

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Kleinschmidt, Shieva, , . Many-One Identity and the Trinity
2012, Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion (J. Kvanvig (ed.)) Vol. 4: 84-96.
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Abstract: Trinitarians claim there are three Divine persons each of which is God, and yet there is only one God. It seems they want three to equal one. It just so happens, some metaphysicians claim exactly that. They accept Composition as Identity: each fusion is identical to the plurality of its parts. I evaluate Composition as Identity’s application to the doctrine of the Trinity, and argue that it fails to give the Trinitairan any options he or she didn’t already have. Further, while Composition as Identity does give us a new way to assert polytheism, its help requires us to endorse a claim that undercuts any Trinitarian motivation for the view.

Comment: An excellent paper for an advanced UG/Masters course on the metaphysics of theism, as this draws upon metaphysical issues (composition) as well as issues in the philosophy of religion. Provides a great overview of problems facing an orthodox metaphysics of the trinity. NB: this is of course focused on metaphysics of Christianity, so if for a general metaphysics of theism course, it would be important to include metaphysical issues facing other religions.

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Van Dyke, Christina, , . Eating as a Gendered Act: Christianity, Feminism, and Reclaiming the Body
2008, in K. J. Clark (ed.) Readings in the Philosophy of Religion, Second Edition. Peterborough: Broadview Press: 475-489.
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Abstract: In current society, eating is most definitely a gendered act: that is, what we eat and how we eat it factors in both the construction and the performance of gender. Furthermore, eating is a gendered act with consequences that go far beyond whether one orders a steak or a salad for dinner. In the first half of this paper, I identify the dominant myths surrounding both female and male eating, and I show that those myths contribute in important ways to cultural constructions of male and female appetites more generally speaking. In the second half, I argue that the Christian church should share feminism’s perception of these current cultural myths as fundamentally disordered, and I claim that the Christian traditions of fasting and feasting present us with a concrete means to counter those damaging conceptions and reclaim a healthy attitude toward our hunger.

Comment: A great reading for a feminist philosophy of religion course, or alternatively for a general philosophy of religion course as a way to introduce feminist philosophy of religion – this text could also be a further reading for the latter. I think that this reading would incite a great deal of interest, and provoke fruitful discussion. Would be potentially even more useful for a course on religious aesthetics.

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