Overview (Masterplots II: Christian Literature)
Czesaw Miosz, the 1980 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, once described Poland as a land of “faith in the impossible.” Leszek Koakowski, the 2003 winner of the first John W. Kluge Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Human Sciences, a million-dollar Nobel-like award, has often tackled impossible ideas in his life and in his many works on history and philosophy. In the Polish phase of his life, as a Marxist, he became convinced of the material and spiritual devastation caused by Stalinist Communism, and during his later career in North America and England, he has emphasized such themes as human freedom, tolerance, and the quest for transcendence in his ardent defense of individual dignity. In Religion, his aim is to explore the philosophy of religion, but since neither he nor, in his opinion, anyone else truly understands what religion and philosophy really are, his task is daunting. Nevertheless, because God, if he exists, and the world, if humans can actually comprehend it, are important subjects, Koakowski thinks that an examination of the ideas of those who sought to justify their belief or disbelief in God will help clarify a pivotal issue of human existence.
After the introduction, Religion contains five chapters on the following subjects: theodicy, the God of reasoners, the God of mystics, immortality, and religious language. Though his book is not without humor and irony, Koakowski, a critic of dogmatic absolutizing in...
(The entire section is 1197 words.)
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