Ciphers of Transcendence: Essays in Philosophy of Religion in Honour of Patrick Masterson


Fran O’Rourke (Ed)

Hardback with jacket

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Portrait of Patrick Masterson by Derek Hill

The title Ciphers of Transcendence reflects the philosophical interests of Patrick Masterson, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy of Religion, University College Dublin.

Transcendence is a millefeuille term conveying layered and diverse nuances, from the first openness of human awareness towards the outside world, to the ultimate affirmation of and commitment to a loving and infinite Transcendent. Patrick Masterson has devoted his philosophical career to reflection upon the unfathomable nature of the latter, seeking to decipher instances and images of transcendence within the realm of limited human experience. Through teaching and writing he has shared with students and readers his deeply personal reflections on questions of primal importance. Patrick Masterson’s colleagues and students – all devoted friends – here offer, in return, their diverse perspectives.

The essays deal in one way or another with transcendence, examined in dialogue with a roll call of thinkers across the ages, from ancient authors to medieval masters, modern giants to recent luminaries. The volume is enhanced by the inclusion of an essay by leading contemporary thinker Alasdair MacIntyre, and a poem from Seamus Heaney that evokes across the silence of solitude the tender presence of transcendence.

A well-deserved and ringing tribute to one of the luminaries of Irish philosophy and intellectual life.
John D. Caputo, Syracuse University

Ciphers of Transcendence is a superb collection of essays from a group of experts in the areas of philosophy of religion and ethics and of the history of philosophy in the classical, medieval and modern eras. All the essays are concerned in some way with the notion of ‘transcendence’ which is something that ought to mean more to us as we so readily fight among ourselves and trash our earth-bound world.
William Lyons MRIA, Emeritus Professor, Trinity College Dublin

This is an impressive collection of essays honouring Patrick Masterson, philosopher, university president and novelist … which paints a lively picture of important issues in contemporary philosophy of religion, metaphysics and ethics. Highly recommended.
Philipp W. Rosemann, National University of Ireland, Maynooth

A splendid collection of essays, illuminating diverse philosophical themes, by many of the significant voices in the Irish philosophical scene.
William Desmond, Villanova University

A rich and wide-ranging volume, which explores the perennially fascinating notion of transcendence from a host of different, and often highly illuminating, perspectives.
John Cottingham, University of Reading

Table of Contents

Foreword by Professor Andrew J. Deeks
Introduction: Ciphers of Transcendence, Fran O’Rourke
1. The Cosmic Aspect of Truth in Plato, John Dillon
2. Plotinus and Transcendent Truth, Andrew Smith
3. Beauty from Plato to Aquinas, Fran O’Rourke
4 The Manifestation of God as the Speaking of Creation in Scottus Eriugena, Deirdre Carabine
5. A Teacher and Two Students: Albert the Great, Thomas Aquinas, Meister Eckhart, Denys Turner
6. St Thomas and the Medieval Synthesis, Desmond Connell
7. Hegel and the Infinite, Cyril O’Regan
8. Epiphany and Hopkins, Richard Kearney
9. Edith Stein’s Philosophical Conversions: From Husserl to Aquinas and Newman, Dermot Moran
10. Religious Symbols in the Philosophical Anthropology of Paul Ricoeur, Eileen Brennan
11. Icons of Infinity: Rothko, Levinas and Jean-Luc Marion, Mark Patrick Hederman
12. Wisdom after Metaphysics?, Markus H. Wörner
13. Experience and Transcendence, John Haldane
14. Ethics in the Forest: Otherwise Approaching God, Joseph Dunne
15. The Concept of ‘Person’ in Healthcare Ethics, Noreen O’Carroll
16. Ethics without Transcendence, Philip Pettit
17. Suffering as a Cipher of Transcendence, Brendan Purcell
18. Is Desire Desirable? The Question that Discloses the Person, David Walsh
19. About What do Contemporary Atheists and Theists Disagree?, Alasdair MacIntyre
20. ‘Remembering Bóthar Buí’, Seamus Heaney
21. My Life in Philosophy, Patrick Masterson
Select Bibliography, Patrick Masterson

About the Editor

Fran O’Rourke is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, University College Dublin, where he taught for thirty-six years. A graduate of University College Galway, he studied in Vienna, Cologne, Louvain and Leuven. He has held Fulbright and Onassis fellowships, and in 2003 was Visiting Research Professor at Marquette University. He has published widely on Plato, Aristotle, Neoplatonism, Aquinas, and Heidegger. His most recent book, Aristotelian Interpretations (Irish Academic Press, 2016), has been translated into Greek.