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Martin Warner - Publications (Books)

Philosophical Finesse: Studies in the Art of Rational Persuasion

Clarendon Press, 1989

Martin Warner

Many philosophers claim to believe that only deductively valid arguments are acceptable. Yet few philosophical texts exemplify structures that conform strictly to the canons of deductive logic. Recognition of this fact has recently led to radical criticism of philosophy as a truth-seeking activity. There has been consequent polarization between the paradigms of analysis or system-building and those of 'conversation' or 'play'. But underlying this major divide lies the presupposition that rationality must be assessed in terms of logical structure, which Descartes's dream of attaining 'a certitude equal to the demonstrations of Arithmetic and Geometry' served to reinforce. Against this tradition Pascal invoked the notion of 'finesse', and his usage is here extended to designate a related set of informal but legitimate styles of argument.

Through a series of case-studies the author explores ancient conceptions of dialectic and rhetoric in relation to the positive role given to sentiment or 'the heart' by Pascal, Hume, and Nietzsche. These point beyond themselves to a conception of philosophy which helps re-enfranchise a range of voices and procedures which have long been marginalized by the dominance of the geometric model of philosophical argument.

ISBN: 0-19-824455-X


The Bible as Rhetoric: Studies in Biblical Persuasion and Credibility

Routledge, 1990 (Warwick Studies in Philosophy and Literature)

ed. Martin Warner

Contemporary developments in literary studies and philosophy have focussed attention on the literary and rhetorical dimensions of works whose primary concern is with issues of truth and falsity; at the same time biblical scholars have been attempting to find ways forward from the established history-based procedures of biblical criticism. These pioneering interdisciplinary papers explore the ways in which the persuasive strategies employed in the biblical texts relate (both positively and negatively) to their preoccupations with religious and historical truth. They clarify what is at issue in the apparently competing claims that the Bible should be read 'as literature' and 'as scripture'.

Uniquely, the volume brings together philosophers, literary critics, biblical scholars, theologians and historians of ideas who combine the best biblical and historical scholarship with a range of contemporary approaches to the study of texts, from the deconstructive and the feminist through the Wittgensteinian to those of the heirs of the tradition of practical criticism. The volume is of importance both to those interested in the applications of contemporary literary theory and to all those concerned with the relation between religious and secular readings of the Bible.

The volume includes the editor's 'The Fourth Gospel's art of rational persuasion'.

ISBN: 0-415-03617-8
0-415-04409-X (pbk)


Terrorism, Protest and Power

Elgar, 1990 (prepared on behalf of the Society for Applied Philosophy)

edited by Martin Warner and Roger Crisp

What are the boundaries of acceptable protest? To what extent, if any, is it legitimate to use violence in pursuit of political goals? In answer to these and other questions a distinguished group of scholars focus on terrorism, civil disobedience, secession, power and sovereignty.

Terrorism, Protest and Power analyses different understandings of terrorism and the often confused analogies with 'civil disobedience', 'state violence', and warfare. Topics covered include the nature and justification of terrorism, the element of violence in terrorism, freedom of expression, nuclear power and civil disobedience, anarchism and revolution, the territorial dimension of power, rights of self-determination and the law of sovereignty.

ISBN: 1-85278-202-1


Addressing Frank Kermode: Essays in Criticism and Interpretation

Macmillan, 1991 (Warwick Studies in the European Humanities)

edited by Margaret Tudeau-Clayton and Martin Warner

Frank Kermode's work has been and remains seminal for students of English literature; he has been described as 'easily the most intelligent critic now writing'. In the first group of these essays leading scholars from the fields of literary criticism and philosophy critically address Kermode's texts, raising questions about his representation of literary study as hermeneutic activity and his recourse to the religious analogy, and his account of the relations between texts and what is 'hors-texte' (history and nature); questions to which Kermode himself responds. A second group, in which distinguished scholars develop their own interpretative strategies in the light of Kermode's work, further illustrates the fertility and reverberations of his thinking.

ISBN: 0-333-53137-X


Religion and Philosophy

Cambridge University Press, 1992

(Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement: 31)

ed. Martin Warner

In this lively collection ten philosophers tackle the notoriously elusive issues raised by religious discourse in a series of linked debates. The debates focus on reason and faith; the logic of mysticism; the meaning of the word 'God'; language, biblical interpretation and worship; and religion and ethics. Through contemporary philosophical analysis it is possible to shed new light on the status and language of religion, and in many ways the contributors break new ground in this perennially controversial field.

Religion and Philosophy is addressed to philosophers, theologians and anyone with a general intellectual interest in religion.

The volume includes the editor's 'Language, interpretation and worship'.

ISBN: 0 521 42951 X (pbk)


The Language of the Cave

Academic Printing and Publishing, Alberta, 1993

(Volume XXV no. 4 issue of Apeiron: a journal for ancient philosophy and science)

edited by Andrew Barker and Martin Warner

Plato's ideas display a vivid sense of the tensions that exist between the ideals of philosophical enquiry and the nature of the language through which such enquiries must be conducted, expressed and stimulated in the minds of others. These tensions form the shared focus of the papers in this collection.

The volume includes Martin Warner's 'Dialectical Drama: The Case of Plato's Symposium'.

ISBN: 0-920980-52-X
0-920980-53-2 (pbk)


A Philosophical Study of T.S.Eliot's Four Quartets

Mellen, 1999

Martin Warner

Poetry's relation to belief has been at the heart of that 'ancient enmity' between philosophy and poetry noted by Plato, and Eliot wrestled with it throughout his adult life. In his prose writings he focussed particularly on the case of Dante, but the issue is central to his own later poetry, most maturely in Four Quartets which itself draws powerfully on Dante's Commedia. Philosophical discussion of the issue, where it has noticed Eliot, has concentrated on his essays, while literary critics who have considered the ways in which his theorizing relates to the later poetry have paid rather little attention to the philosophical status of Eliot's later poetry's exploration and enactment of belief.

This study of Four Quartets takes the poem as primary, treating the earlier poetry as well as the prose writings as having important bearings on its proper reading, but seeing the poem itself as exemplifying an integration of thought, imagination and feeling that goes beyond them in ways relevant to current concerns about the nature and limits of rationality. The study falls into four parts. Part I is concerned both with the preparation in Eliot's earlier poetry for the Quartets and with preparing the reader for reading philosophical poetry. Part II explores how 'Burnt Norton' (originally seen by Eliot as completing his poetic oeuvre) is in its own terms fatally flawed, as it attempts to bring the Augustinian vision of the transcendence of time to the test of poetically enacted experience. Part III (from 'East Coker' to 'Little Gidding') shows in some detail how the reconception of this vision in the remaining threefold sequence in part overcomes those flaws. Part IV explores the work's contemporary imaginative, theological and philosophical significance, taking account of Eliot's thesis that in some contexts 'full understanding must identify itself with full belief'.

ISBN: 0-7734-8176-1


Transcending Boundaries in Philosophy and Theology: Reason, Meaning and Experience

Ashgate, 2007

Edited by Kevin Vanhoozer and Martin Warner

Presenting new opportunities in the dialogue between philosophy and theology, this interdisciplinary text addresses the contemporary reshaping of intellectual boundaries. Exploring human experience in a ‘post-Christian’ era, the distinguished contributors bring to bear what have been traditionally seen as theological resources while drawing on contemporary developments in philosophy, both ‘continental’ and ‘analytic’. Set in the context of two complementary narratives – one philosophical concerning secularity, the other theological about the question of God – the authors point to ways of reconfiguring both traditional reason / faith oppositions and those between interpretation / text and language / experience.

The volume includes Martin Warner’s ‘Transcending boundaries in philosophy and theology’ as the title essay.

ISBN-13 978-0-7546-5318-9 (hbk)

ISBN-13 978-0-7546-5324-0 (pbk)


The Aesthetics of Argument

Clarendon Press, 2016

Martin Warner

The Aesthetics of Argument is concerned with the interdependence of imagination and argument in ways which bear on the latter’s rationality, and on the capacity of imagination to transform understanding. Detailed studies of work by Plato, Biblical authors, St. Augustine, Pascal, J. S. Mill, W. B. Yeats, and T. S. Eliot bring out ways analogy, parable, narrative, metaphor, image, and symbol can play argumentative roles, often inviting self-interrogation by the reader. The adequate assessment of such modes of argument, it is shown, may require use of criteria drawn from the study of imaginative literature. These studies also, and relatedly, examine how verbal imagery can be used to transform conceptual understanding in ways that are rationally assessable.

ISBN: 978-0-19-873711-7