Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wandering in Darkness

Eleonore Stump's magnum opus on the problem of evil, Wandering in Darkness: Narrative and the Problem of Suffering, is due out this month with Oxford University Press. Here's the blurb:

Only the most naïve or tendentious among us would deny the extent and intensity of suffering in the world. Can one hold, consistently with the common view of suffering in the world, that there is an omniscient, omnipotent, perfectly good God? This book argues that one can.

Wandering in Darkness first presents the moral psychology and value theory within which one typical traditional theodicy, namely, that of Thomas Aquinas, is embedded. It explicates Aquinas's account of the good for human beings, including the nature of love and union among persons. Eleonore Stump also makes use of developments in neurobiology and developmental psychology to illuminate the nature of such union.
Stump then turns to an examination of narratives. In a methodological section focused on epistemological issues, the book uses recent research involving autism spectrum disorder to argue that some philosophical problems are best considered in the context of narratives. Using the methodology argued for, the book gives detailed, innovative exegeses of the stories of Job, Samson, Abraham and Isaac, and Mary of Bethany.

In the context of these stories and against the backdrop of Aquinas's other views, Stump presents Aquinas's own theodicy, and shows that Aquinas's theodicy gives a powerful explanation for God's allowing suffering. She concludes by arguing that this explanation constitutes a consistent and cogent defense for the problem of suffering.

3 comments:

smaitzen said...

I'll be curious to see whether Stump retains her commitment to theodical individualism (TI), the claim that (necessarily) God allows undeserved, involuntary human suffering only when it's required for (or the optimal means of securing) the sufferer's greater good. I've argued that theism and TI jointly destroy our most fundamental moral obligations, particularly when the sufferers in question are children.

EA, will you blog the book, or will I have to read 688 pages to find out? In any case, TI follows from theism whether or not Stump still endorses it (so in fact theism itself suffices to undermine ordinary morality).

exapologist said...

I'm right there with you, Steve. It's hard to get the motivation to read a 700 page book arguing for a thesis lacking prima facie plausibility.

Mike Almeida said...

She's definitely a nice writer and person, but she does make you wait forever for the punch line. Still, this will probably be worth reading.

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