Appeal and Attitude

Appeal and Attitude

Prospects for Ultimate Meaning
Steven G. Smith
Distribution: World
Publication date: 11/16/2005
ISBN: 978-0-253-11144-9
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In Appeal and Attitude, Steven G. Smith offers a multicultural view into issues at the heart of existentialism, hermeneutics, and the phenomenology of religion. By looking closely at the concepts of appeal, or what commands our attention, and attitude, or the quality of the attention we pay, Smith probes into the core of religious ideals to answer questions such as why faith and rationality are compelling and how religious experience becomes meaningful. Smith turns to philosophical and religious texts from Eastern and Western religious and philosophical traditions including Kant, Hegel, Heidegger, Levinas, Derrida, Confucius, and the Bhagavad-Gita. He also engages everyday objects such as stones, birds, boats, and minnows to arrive at normative definitions of supreme appeal and sovereign attitude. This book provides readers at all levels with a thoughtful and widely comparative window into idealism, community, responsibility, piety, faith, and love.

Author Bio

Steven G. Smith teaches philosophy and religious studies at Millsaps College. He is author of The Concept of the Spiritual: An Essay in First Philosophy; Gender Thinking; and Worth Doing.


“In Worth Doing (CH, Nov'04, 42—1487), Smith (Millsaps College) presented his very original moral philosophy derived from worth thinking. In this subsequent study, he gives an extensive philosophical and theological reformulation of the human encounter with ultimate meaning. After a rich examination of the emergence of religious thought in the Axial Age, Smith traces the development of religious thought from Kant to the present. He claims that Kant began a transformation from the prevailing subject—object paradigm in theological and philosophical thinking about ultimate meaning toward a new twin model of appeal: the recognition of the priority of a being over oneself, and attitude, a person's relation to that appellant in a way that informs all of a person's thought and life practice. Smith then examines both the philosophical articulation and modification of Kant's basic insight in thinkers such as Nietzsche, Rickert, Buber, Heidegger, and Marion, and its theological transformation in theologians such as Schleiermacher, Barth, and Moltmann. The book ends with an examination of how this new thinking opens up for persons a pneumatological orientation toward a flourishing way of life. Useful for both professional philosophers and theologians alike, this work would also serve as a valuable resource for any student of philosophical theology. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper—division undergraduates through faculty/researchers. —Choice, Nov. 2006”
 — J. C. Swindal, Duquesne University

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Table of Contents

1. Appeals
2. Appeal in the Axial Age
3. The Appeal in Modern Philosophy
4. The Appeal in Modern Theology
5. Attitudes
6. Attitude in the Axial Age
7. Attitude Issues in Modern Philosophy
8. Attitude Issues in Modern Theology
9. A Frame for Pneumaticism