God Owes Us Nothing: A Brief Remark on Pascal's Religion and on the Spirit of Jansenism

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University of Chicago Press, May 22, 1998 - Philosophy - 238 pages
God Owes Us Nothing reflects on the centuries-long debate in Christianity: how do we reconcile the existence of evil in the world with the goodness of an omnipotent God, and how does God's omnipotence relate to people's responsibility for their own salvation or damnation. Leszek Kolakowski approaches this paradox as both an exercise in theology and in revisionist Christian history based on philosophical analysis. Kolakowski's unorthodox interpretation of the history of modern Christianity provokes renewed discussion about the historical, intellectual, and cultural omnipotence of neo-Augustinianism.

"Several books a year wrestle with that hoary conundrum, but few so dazzlingly as the Polish philosopher's latest."—Carlin Romano, Washington Post Book World

"Kolakowski's fascinating book and its debatable thesis raise intriguing historical and theological questions well worth pursuing."—Stephen J. Duffy, Theological Studies

"Kolakowski's elegant meditation is a masterpiece of cultural and religious criticism."—Henry Carrigan, Cleveland Plain Dealer
 

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GOD OWES US NOTHING: A Brief Remark on Pascal's Religion and on the Spirit of Jansenism

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A provocative critique of the Jansenist movement and of its celebrated proponent Blaise Pascal, from internationally renowned scholar Kolakowski (The Alienation of Reason, 1968, etc.; Committee on ... Read full review

Contents

Why Did the Catholic Church Condemn the Teaching of Saint Augustine?
3
Does God Command Impossible Things?
9
Does God Compel Us to Be Good?
14
Although Unfree We Are Free
17
Can We Reject God?
21
For Whom Did Jesus Die?
24
What Was Wrong with Augustine?
30
A Remark on the Antecedents of the Quarrel
44
PART TWO
111
Pascals Sad Religion
113
The Strategy of Conversion
118
Our Death Our Body Our SelfDeception
126
Spotting God in the Lifeless Universe
135
Good Reason Bad Reason Heart
145
The Discontinuity of the Universe
160
Pascals Modernity
170

A Note on the Provinciales
61
How to Avail Oneself of the Heavenly Bread
67
SaintCyrans Answer
73
A Note on Philosophy
81
Infants in Hell
82
The Gnostic Temptation
86
Winners and Losers
102
A Note on Politics
175
Pascal after the Pelagian Conquest
182
Was Pascal an Existential Thinker?
187
A Note on Skepticism and Pascals Last Word
191
Notes
199
Index
233
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About the author (1998)

Leszek Kolakowski (1927-2009) was professor of philosophy at the University of Warsaw until the Polish political crisis of March 1968 when he was formally expelled. He then moved to universities in North America and the United Kingdom. From 1981 to 1994 he was a professor in the Committee on Social Thought and the department of philosophy at the University of Chicago. He is best known for his critical analyses of Marxist thought, especially his three-volume history, Main Currents of Marxism (1976). In his later work, he increasingly focused on philosophical and religious questions. He was the author of numerous books.

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