1st Edition

John Macmurray's Religious Philosophy What it Means to be a Person

By Esther McIntosh Copyright 2011
    280 Pages
    by Routledge

    276 Pages
    by Routledge

    Recent dissatisfaction with individualism and the problems of religious pluralism make this an opportune time to reassess the way in which we define ourselves and conduct our relationships with others. The philosophical writings of John Macmurray are a useful resource for performing this examination, and recent interest in Macmurray's work has been growing steadily.

    A full-scale critical examination of Macmurray's religious philosophy has not been published and this work fills this gap, sharing his insistence that we define ourselves through action and through person-to-person relationships, while critiquing his account of the ensuing political and religious issues. The key themes in this work are the concept of the person and the ethics of personal relations.


    PART I: The Essence of the Person

    1 Agency Theory

    2 Education and the Emotions

    PART II: Developing as a Person

    3 The Human Infant

    4 Growth to Adulthood

    PART III: Persons and Politics

    5 Societies and Communities

    6 Justice and the State

    PART IV: Persons and Religion

    7 Against Idealism in Religion

    8 Religion and Morality



    Esther McIntosh is Senior Lecturer in Religion, Philosophy and Ethics at York St John University, UK

    'Esther McIntosh’s new book makes a significant contribution to the increasing interest in the thought of the late and until recently vastly underappreciated philosopher, John Macmurray. Focusing on his concept of the person, McIntosh, not uncritically, elicits its implications for the development of persons from infancy to adulthood, especially against a dominant philosophy of individualism and a Cartesian emphasis on thought almost to the exclusion of action and feeling. With a background in feminist theology McIntosh is uniquely situated to bring this aspect of Macmurray’s notion of the person to the fore. She also provides a comprehensive analysis and critical appraisal of the whole corpus of his work. Of particular importance is her criticism of Macmurray’s overly narrow understanding of religion for a religiously pluralist world. This book is a major addition to Macmurray scholarship and deserves a wide readership.' – Frank G. Kirkpatrick, Trinity College, USA

    'In this book Esther McIntosh expounds, develops, and refines a significant and influential body of early 20th century philosophical and religious thought. Clearly and methodically, she offers the first comprehensive account of John MacMurray’s work, focusing on his holistic and relational understanding of the human person, and showing both how this anticipates contemporary personalist and feminist thought, and how it bears upon discussion of such topics as the relation of reason and emotion and of religion and morality. In John MacMurray’s Religious Philosophy Dr McIntosh has performed an important interdisciplinary work of recovery and appropriation.' – Nigel Biggar, University of Oxford, UK

    'Esther McIntosh has done a great service with this probing study of the thought of the deeply relevant but still-too-neglected philosopher, John Macmurray. Its comprehensive scope and careful analysis will reward Macmurray scholars and can serve to introduce him to a new generation who seek a deeper understanding of what it means to be a person. Professor McIntosh is to be commended for helping one see Macmurray as a truly great thinker who speaks to our troubled times.' – Stanley Harrison, Marquette University, USA

    'Esther McIntosh has done a remarkable job in summarising, explaining, and offering a critique of the work of this prophetic figure, whose ideas are as important today as when they were first aired… While the more theoretical sections of this book assume a good deal of philosophical literacy, more general readers will still find much here that is readily applicable to current concerns in Church and society.' – Church Times

    '… I have to applaud the undertaking this book represents and the sympathetically critical way in which Esther McIntosh has reviewed Macmurray’s writings. The book’s unavoidable density is helped greatly by her careful summaries along the way, and in the gathering together of the many threads in her conclusion.' – Journal of Theological Studies

    'Esther McIntosh’s comprehensive and interdisciplinary study of John Macmurray is likely to become seen as the definitive volume on Macmurray’s work on persons and on religion' – Ars Disputandi: The Online Journal for Philosophy of Religion