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v2.1 Reference

In Reasonable Hope

Philosophical Reflections on Ultimate Meaning

In Reasonable Hope considers three foundational responses to this quest for some understanding of the existence, meaning, and value of everything. Other approaches can be considered as combinations or variations of these. Firstly, there is the approach which claims that it is our humanity, exercising its unique intelligent subjectivity, that is the source and measure of all possible meaning and value. Nothing can be thought of as existing, meaningful or of value apart from a thinking human subject. This is a broadly Humanist approach to ultimate meaning. Man is the measure of all things. Secondly, there is the approach of Scientism. This claims that an ultimate understanding of the world and ourselves must be sought, less anthropocentrically, in terms of the findings of basic empirical sciences such as physics and chemistry. We live in a world ever-increasingly dominated by the autonomous system of science and technology. Such Scientism implies an explicitly reductionist and materialist conception of the meaning and value of everything. Thirdly, there is the approach of Theism which maintains that, in the final analysis, the meaning and value of everything, insofar as this can be known, is to be explained in terms of a transcendent infinitely perfect personal being we call God.

The first two approaches are carefully considered. However, it is the third to which most attention is devoted. Consideration is given to the traditional impersonal metaphysical approach to questions about the existence and nature of God. The alternative approaches of linguistic philosophy and phenomenology, which reject such metaphysical speculation are also discussed. These various approaches are judged to be complementary rather than strict alternatives.

In the latter half of the book is devoted to a more personal and self-involving discussion of the relevance of an affirmation of the existence of God. It explores the implications of a rational commitment to live one's life in accordance with the requirements of values which transcend explanation in purely physical terms, such as truth, goodness, beauty, and especially love. It provides a personal and existential development of the rational hope that such values are ultimately more objectively real and dependable than the eventual universal material chaos predicted by empirical science. It argues that the existence of God as the infinite expression and source of these values is the necessary and sufficient condition of this rational hope in their enduring significance. Finally, there is an account of how the Christian Revelation illuminates and transforms our rational hope in the enduring significance of love of God and neighbor.

About the Author

Patrick Masterson is emeritus President and professor of philosophy at University College Dublin.


"Will be of interest to anyone who takes the meaning of life question seriously. But Masterson's style is non-polemical, so it could appeal to religious people as well as atheists. I'm unaware of another book that does these things."—Joseph G. Trabbic

"Patrick Masterson has done it again. Masterson is a master of making classical texts come alive and entering them in dialogue with the prevailing savants—-here the views of humanists, naturalists, and phenomenologists—-and then graciously correcting them by means of the perennial wisdom of Thomas Aquinas. The prose is elegant, the arguments lucid, the assessments judicious, and all cast in a touchingly personal story of love and emergence. What else can I say—except read it!"—John D. Caputo, author of In Search of Radical Theology: Expositions, Explorations, Exhortations

"A multilayered and, in its relatively short span, a remarkably ambitious book. Exposing the failure of scientific naturalism to face questions of ultimate meaning, Masterson offers a stout defense of traditional metaphysics. The result is a rare kind of book that will richly reward philosophers and theologians— and, not least, nonspecialist readers searching for that wisdom which is the fruit of imaginative and disciplined inquiry seasoned by a long, fully lived life."—Joseph Dunne, Dublin City University

"Patrick Masterson consolidates a lifetime's work in philosophy to shape a compelling argument in support of the Christian claim that love is stronger than death. Written with intellectual generosity, characteristic lucidity, wit, and humility, Masterson's work traces diverse trajectories of contemporary thought to demonstrate an ongoing need for a realist metaphysics in the philosophy of religion. In Reasonable Hope is addressed to the educated lay reader seeking to make sense of life in dialogue with contemporary philosophy and theology."—Robyn Horner, Australian Catholic University

"Patrick Masterson goes for the big questions. Boldly taking on the most recent arguments of phenomenology, linguistic philosophy, and scientism, the author reengages the perennial enigmas of western metaphysics—-ontology, theism, love. And the greatest of these is love. A masterful testimony to a life of deep thinking, teaching, and writing."—Richard Kearney, Boston College

"A masterpiece of insight and erudition, the fruit of a lifetime's profound reflection. Challenging the limits of linguistic and phenomenological approaches to questions of ultimate meaning, Masterson makes a compelling case for the perennial value of classical realist metaphysics. His account goes beyond traditional arguments for immortality and the existence of God, to discern in the enduring love of the beloved the reasonable promise of both. More than a theoretical treatise, In Reasonable Hope is a vibrant and mindful discourse straight from the heart, something rare in philosophy today."—Fran O'Rourke, University College Dublin

"Masterson's new book is unique in so many ways, above all in its intellectual generosity. It is at once a plea against materialist reductivisms and a defense of the place of reason within faith's exploration of the divine, and then so much more. For it is also an apologetic for Christian faith by way of an apologia pro vita sua, mediated through recollections of his wife,Frankie, that has resonances of Dante's love for his Beatrice. It is a work of reason and beauty."—Denys Turner, Yale Divinity School

"In Reasonable Hope is an eloquent orchestration — in lucid and flowing prose — of philosophical motifs, trends, and figures which are rarely brought into play in one book."—The Furrow

"[Masterson] writes beautifully and describes complex philosophical and theological concepts with remarkable clarity. One gets a clear sense of the author as someone who is both fiercely intelligent and deeply motivated by love. I would highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the philosophy of religion."—University College Dublin Today

"Masterson's books are always a cause for rejoicing. As much triumphs of style as of substance, so thoroughly has he built up his research over many years that he is able to marry a penetrating insight and iron discipline with a most ingratiating manner that introduces his major theme almost casually and manages each transition with a clarity and sense of inevitability in the natural unfolding of his subject matter that the reader is surprised and flattered to be so well treated by an author who has gone to considerable lengths to ease the reader's way but also to conceal the art and skill involved in doing so."—Heythrop Journal

9780813233864 : in-reasonable-hope-masterson
Paperback / softback
224 Pages
$34.95 USD

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