Reviews Of Books -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 20:1 (Nov 1957)
Article: Reviews Of Books
Author: Anonymous

Reviews Of Books

Richard Kroner: Speculation in Pre-Christian Philosophy. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press. 1956. 251. $5.75.

This new book by Professor Kroner is the first of a projected series of three to which he gives the name: Speculation and Revelation in the History of Philosophy. This first volume deals with pre-Christian philosophy, bringing us down to the Stoics and Philo of Alexandria. It is said to be “the outcome of lectures delivered for many years at Union Theological Seminary in New York, and also at the School of Theology in Temple University, Philadelphia” (p. 9). Kroner’s course in New York had as its title “The History of Philosophy from the Christian Point of View”. One is struck by the assured double use of the definite article, and wonders whether this seeming victory over historical relativism is the result of the assurance of faith, that is, of the faith, or whether it has to do with hybris, or whether, perhaps, the choice of words was unthinking. In any case, one could wish that the delivery were more commensurate with the promise. For, although the titles of the series and of this first volume are somewhat more modestly formulated, it is apparently Kroner’s intention to present us with the history of philosophy as that looks from the Christian point of view. On the score of both the “history of philosophy” and the “Christian point of view” the book is very disappointing.

There are, to be sure, some matters of real importance that receive a good treatment in this book. There is, for instance, the rejection of “objective history” (Ranke) where “objective” excludes subjectivity (pp. 30 ff.). God has made us to be prophets, and no man can prophesy without “subjectivity”. What we as subjects need is to be set right in our subjectivity, set right with respect to other subjects and objects and with respect to the law of God (normativity). Kroner’s position is undoubtedly to be understood in terms of the influence Kierkegaard has had on his later thought. In a sense, however, we can agree that then there will be no need to exclude “subjectivity” in order to deliver a true account, or better, a true prophecy. But that means that a true history of philosophy goes hand in hand with a true systematic philosophy. “For the historical truth about philosophic systems can be discovered only in an intimate connection with their philosophic truth, and how will one understand and appraise that philosophic truth without being a philosopher and without

philosophizing? The history of philosophy assumes an intelligent appearance if and only if it simultaneously receives both historical and philosophical treatment. When filling its proper function, a hi...

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