The book is amazing. Dorrien takes the reader on a journey through the development of modern liberal theology full of illuminating detail in the development of ideas, biographical information on the lives, relationships, and conflicts of the theologians and philosophers involved, and description of the social context surrounding the development of this great tradition. His mastery of the material and nuanced interpretation are evident throughout. Again and again his treatments of individual theologians are superb small-scale intellectual biographies. I found his treatments of Schleiermacher, Coleridge, Strauss, Kierkegaard, and Barth especially fascinating, though others were jewels as well.
With so wide-ranging a book, focusing on both German and British traditions in the 19th and 20th centuries, there will certainly be debates and disagreements, but one could hardly ask for a better guide through this material than Dorrien has become.
I am really grateful to Audible Ltd. for bringing a book of this quality into the realm of audiobooks. I would have put off the reading of so formidable a volume, but I started listening to it, and its content captured me. It was a truly interesting journey.
The great incongruity in the experience, however, was with the reader. This is a book with the names of two German philosophers in the title! How could a reader be chosen for it who has no idea how to pronounce German (or French or Latin for that matter)? The reader has a beautiful, sonorous voice and reads smoothly and quickly. But so many names are mispronounced! And this book is full of German names. He even mispronounces "Mozart." Hasn't he even seen "Amadeus"? When he reads titles, it becomes a sport trying to figure out the German behind the garble.I especially loved the hilarious sounding "jar-bucker."
His reading of English is also very careless. He drops syllables from many longer words and often supplies the "not quite right" word into the text. He reads dialect for dialectic, cavalry for Calvary, aspirations for aspersions, revalant for relevant, "vow-shaved" for vouchsafed, and on and on and on. The simple word "piety" and related words such as pietism must occur well over a thousand times in this book. It would take only a moment to look up the pronunciation in any dictionary. But using a variety of mispronunciations, the reader mangles the words every single time they occur.
This is a long book and the reading is a persistent distraction to concentrating on its great content. It's like the great suffering one must go through to reach a worthwhile goal.
The issues in philosophy of mind are some of the most challenging and important to our understanding of ourselves as human beings that one can imagine. Are our minds illusions, our thoughts determined? Do we have free will? Prof. Pessin's lectures present the issues and principal voices in this field with clarity. He aims to let the great variety of points of view be understood on their own terms. He carefully provides the listener with resources for grasping both the excitement of the field and the difficult choices to be made.
This is a powerful and well written book that directly engages the fault line in western intellectual discourse between theism and naturalism that has been so disputed since the enlightenment and the amazing development of modern science. It is not a history of that development but an analytic philosophical exploration of the issues at stake in the claims of naturalism or reductive materialism and of a theistic description of reality. The arguments are clearly and forcefully presented, often complete with logical formulae, and with a clear mastery of all the technical tools of modern analytic philosophy.
Along with the forceful argument, however, there is also a self-deprecating sense of humor and a use of everyday illustrations that make Plantinga's investigation of issues easy to follow.
He argues that the fundamental character of the relationship between science and a theistic understanding of reality have been misunderstood in most recent discussion. There is no substantial conflict between science and theism, but that in fact the real conflict is between the great intellectual edifice of science and naturalism or reductive materialism.
The book is very well read and easy to follow with a few exceptions. Logical formulae do not lend themselves to being easily understood when read orally. The book requires thoughtful concentration, but well repays the effort required.