The Principle of Individuality and Value

  • Bernard Bosanquet
1910 to 1912
University of Edinburgh

Bernard Bosanquet follows Plato in arguing that human life is a ‘finite’ expression of an infinite Mind underlying all of reality. The ‘world’ is a community of experiences, all of which point to a transcendent Mind within which we can expect to find our complete existence fulfilled. We get a hint of this through science, which seeks to establish ‘general rules’ governing many particular instances. Those general rules indicate that our ‘experience’ constantly tends toward the ‘universal’. The same goes for religious experience. Bosanquet theorizes that religion, or ‘religious consciousness’, as he calls it, cannot ‘prove’ the existence of God, but it can direct our minds toward the ‘infinite’. Even in ‘evil’ and ‘pain’ we can find something of the Absolute. Pain and evil are necessarily a part of our finite beings because they help us to realise the ‘good’ by contrasting with it. For Bosanquet, the ‘good’ is perfection and harmony within the universe, and human life is most valuable when we seek this ‘perfection’ intellectually and spiritually. ‘Evils’ and ‘suffering’ are the phenomena and sentiments that lead us away from this harmony. By resisting such pains, we come closer to harmony with the Absolute, and move away from the material satisfaction we are often led to pursue in our hedonistic lives.

Studies in the Philosophy of Religion

  • Andrew Seth Pringle-Pattison
1921 to 1923
University of Edinburgh

Part 1 of this volume is a discussion of aspects of religion in general: moral, social, magical. Part 2 is an account of the development of the religion of the people of Israel to Temple Judaism, and of the influence on its formulation of law, prophecy, and eschatology. Part 3 is a historical analysis of the development of Christianity from the ‘historic Jesus’ to ‘the Christ of the Creed’.

The Sciences and Philosophy

  • John Scott Haldane
1926 to 1928
University of Glasgow

In The Sciences and Philosophy Haldane discusses in 20 lectures the relation between the sciences and philosophy. The first part of the book, “The Sciences”, gives an account to the axioms or general conceptions of different parts of knowledge or science. In the second part “Philosophy” the different and apparently contradictory conceptions of the sciences and religion are discussed, focusing on their relations to each other.

Critique of Heaven and Earth

  • Arend Theodoor van Leeuwen
  • Arend van Leeuwen
1970 to 1972
University of Aberdeen

Arend’s Gifford Lectures, ‘Critique of Heaven and Earth’, delivered in Aberdeen in 1970 and 1972, were published in two volumes: Critique of Heaven (1972) and Critique of Earth (1974). The series sets out to address something of a revolution in the domain of natural theology through an investigation of the works of Karl Marx.

Beyond Ideology

  • Ninian Roderick Smart
1979 to 1980
University of Edinburgh

In Beyond Ideology, Ninian Smart faces up to the reality that in the world of humans there exist different Beyonds, or at the very least there are different maps of the world hereafter. From this it becomes clear that the problem of the plurality of religions cannot be left unaddressed. Smart’s consideration of the plurality of religions is completed in a much broader perspective than is usual.

Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals

  • Iris Murdoch
1981 to 1982
University of Edinburgh

This book, a revised and expanded version of Murdoch’s 1982 Gifford Lectures, is an intriguing, scholarly, but sprawling work that proceeds reflectively through an enormous range of topics, including art and religion, morals and politics, Wittgenstein, metaphysics, deconstruction, Schopenhauer, imagination, and Martin Buber. What Murdoch presents here is not a systematic treatise, but what can be described as ‘a huge hall of reflection full of light and space and fresh air, in which ideas and intuitions can be unsystematically nurtured’.

Ethics in an Age of Technology and Religion in an Age of Science

  • Ian G. Barbour
University of Aberdeen

Barbour attempts to ‘present an interpretation of Christianity that is responsive both to the historical tradition and to contemporary science’. The first volume (Religion in an Age of Science) explores the impact of science and its challenges to religious life, asking and answering questions surrounding the compatibility of science and religion and the impact of science on human nature.

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