Rationality as Virtue: Towards a Theological Philosophy, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Rationality as Virtue

Towards a Theological Philosophy, 1st Edition

By Lydia Schumacher


242 pages

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For much of the modern period, theologians and philosophers of religion have struggled with the problem of proving that it is rational to believe in God. Drawing on the thought of Thomas Aquinas, this book lays the foundation for an innovative effort to overturn the longstanding problem of proving faith's rationality, and to establish instead that rationality requires to be explained by appeals to faith. To this end, Schumacher advances the constructive argument that rationality is not only an epistemological question concerning the soundness of human thoughts, which she defines in terms of ’intellectual virtue’. Ultimately, it is an ethical question whether knowledge is used in ways that promote an individual's own flourishing and that of others. That is to say, rationality in its paradigmatic form is a matter of moral virtue, which should nonetheless entail intellectual virtue. This conclusion sets the stage for Schumacher's argument in a companion book, Theological Philosophy, which explains how Christian faith provides an exceptionally robust rationale for rationality, so construed, and is intrinsically rational in that sense.


’Schumacher advances the bold claim that the Christian life establishes not just the plausibility or attractiveness, but the rationality of faith. In this first installment of an ambitious two-part project, she patiently assembles a pro-theology philosophy,� i.e., a teleological account of rationality as inherently ordered to ethical ends. The pursuit of knowledge is shown as fully intelligible only when placed within the context of the task of perfecting ourselves as the particular kind of creatures we are. The result is a significant and original contribution that ranges ably over the terrain of ontology, theory of knowledge, virtue epistemology, and virtue ethics.’ Jennifer Herdt, Yale Divinity School, USA ’Schumacher provides a sophisticated account of how reason and faith should be understood by Christians and philosophers not sympathetic to Christianity. She draws on the work of classical theologians while also paying attention to contemporary thinkers. And she does so to good effect.’ Brian Davies, Fordham University, USA

About the Author

Dr Lydia Schumacher is Chancellor's Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, School of Divinity. Her previous books include Divine Illumination: The History and Future of Augustine’s Theory of Knowledge and the three-volume Oxford Guide to the Historical Reception of Augustine, for which she served as both co-editor and contributor.

About the Series

Transcending Boundaries in Philosophy and Theology

Transcending Boundaries in Philosophy and Theology is an interdisciplinary series exploring new opportunities in the dialogue between philosophy and theology that go beyond more traditional 'faith and reason' debates and take account of the contemporary reshaping of intellectual boundaries. For much of the modern era, the relation of philosophy and theology has been conceived in terms of antagonism or subordination, but recent intellectual developments hold out considerable potential for a renewed dialogue in which philosophy and theology have common cause for revisioning their respective identities, reconceiving their relationship, and combining their resources. This series explores constructively for the 21st century the resources available for engaging with those forms of enquiry, experience and sensibility that theology has historically sought to address. Drawing together new writing and research from leading international scholars in the field, this high profile research series offers an important contribution to contemporary research across the interdisciplinary perspectives relating theology and philosophy.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PHILOSOPHY / Religious
RELIGION / General
RELIGION / Theology