Bishop Butler and Logic, Love, and the Pursuit of Happiness in the Age of Unreason
Using ordinary language and appealing to the acknowledged facts of experience, Bishop Butler presented a guidebook on how to live in pursuit of happiness and the benefit of all. This book introduces readers to Butler’s philosophy as a whole and to the primary texts in his own words. Butler was an advocate and consistently defended the Church of England and its associated morality and theology in all his works. He insisted on the necessity of having good reasons to support any belief or practice toward which one was attracted. Butler’s ideas are presented here as a good fit with the full range of theistic piety and with the varieties of ethical atheism. The imposition of dogma and the exposition of bias are discarded as distractive from the search for truth.
The life, sources, works, and reception of Bishop Butler serve as a bridge, or navigational aid, joining the wisdom of the ancients, sacred and secular, with our experience as moderns and with our expectations for future generations. Since Butler insists on grounding his views in evidence and argumentation, his appeal extends well beyond the Anglican Communion. Butler’s clarity of expression and cogency of argumentation free him from the bias associated with philosophical and religious thought. His work remains critical of, and receptive to, a wide range of ways to carry on the business of living a human life without falling into the kind of error and distraction most likely to lead to misery.
David White holds a PhD in Philosophy from Cornell University and, until his recent retirement, taught philosophy at the University of Lagos, Nigeria, and at St John Fisher College, USA, for 40 years. He is a founding member of the Greater Rochester Russell Set, has served as an editor of the BRS Quarterly, and has been Chairman of the BRS Board of Directors. His edition of the Works of Bishop Butler was published in 2006, and he served two terms as President of the New York State Philosophical Association.
Michael J. Maranda, PhD, conducts research on behavioral health topics, and holds a doctorate in Sociology and a Master’s in Psychology from NYU. Currently, he is a Part-time Principal Research Associate at Western Michigan University. He is also an associate editor for the journal Substance Use and Misuse and a member of the Commission on the Accreditation of Programs in Applied and Clinical Sociology.
“As you read your way into this book, there is no resisting the authors’ excitement about every aspect of Butler’s thought. They open innumerable inviting paths for exploration, the only problem being that a lifetime is too brief to explore them all. Unlike most academic books, this one does not begin by declaring a single thesis and then attempt to prove that thesis. Instead it leads us in all directions. [It indicates] some of the extraordinary resilience and contemporary relevance of Bishop Butler’s thought.”
Research Professor, Dominican University College, Canada
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