John Macmurray's Religious Philosophy: What it Means to be a Person (Hardback) book cover

John Macmurray's Religious Philosophy

What it Means to be a Person

By Esther McIntosh

© 2011 – Routledge

276 pages

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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.


'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 under

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Part I The Essence of the Person: Agency theory; Education and the emotions. Part II Developing as a Person: The human infant; Growth to adulthood. Part III Persons and Politics: Societies and communities; Justice and the state. Part IV Persons and Religion: Against idealism in religion; Religion and morality; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Esther McIntosh, Research Fellow, Faculty of Education and Theology, York St John University, UK

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
RELIGION / General