Thursday, January 31, 2008
In the Times Literary Supplement, January 18, 2008, Anthony Kenny reviews John Hare's God and Immortality: A Philosophical History (Oxford 2007). (John Hare, himself a philosopher, is son of the acclaimed Bristish philosopher R. M. Hare.) The review, More Than a Game, appears on page 26. I thought this excerpt in particular would be of interest:
To be sure, in one of the most interesting sections of the book, the author reveals the existence of an unpublished text of his father’s, “An Essay on Monism”, written while R. M. Hare was a prisoner of war working on the Burma-Thailand railway. This was profoundly religious, and argued that without faith in God, philosophy can never be a serious occupation, only a game.
R. M. Hare himself, however, never published this essay, and in his late works religion makes only fleeting appearances. There is no entry for “God” in the index of his book The Language of Morals. What remained of the earlier faith, to judge by the published works, was a conviction that the world was such as to make morality viable, which could perhaps be called faith in providence. Throughout his life, his son tells us, Hare attended Anglican worship regularly and used to recite the creeds. In my own discussions with him, I found it hard to tell how far he accepted the content of those creeds. To those who asked him if he was a Christian, his standard response was “I don’t know. I’ll tell you what I believe, and then you tell me whether you count me a Christian or not”.