Philosophical Letters: Introduction

Greetings from Epiphenomenos to his friend Eraunetes.

You warm my heart dear friend, who would have thought that one man could make so many kebabs from a single Ass? I wonder if you would be willing to turn your ingenuity to another of my problems? This one is somewhat different, I think you’ll find that it will exercise your intellectual rather than technical facility.
Recently I’ve been spending quite a bit of time thinking through why we teach Philosophy at our Theological College. As you know, I’m a great lover of philosophy myself – a philosophile in fact (I think you’ll like that one: conceptual rather than orthographical palindromy!) – yet I’m aware that it is becoming increasingly difficult to explain and justify our subject within a theological curriculum. We are pressured for time, and adult learners are so pragmatic, is there a genuine reason for including the study of Philosophy within a Theological curriculum?
The truth is, that when students read through the College Prospectus, the thought of studying philosophy doesn’t strike them as problematic, some are even excited by the idea. Is it the case that people just naturally associate the two disciplines on the basis of a long co-habitation? It’s only when we come to the actual study of Philosophy that people begin to regard it as a cuckoo in the theological nest.
You see, everything else we study at College appears to have some direct application to the goal of training a competent minister of God. But Philosophy! What good does it do to know about Aristotle’s Categories when you’re hurling hand-grenades from the pulpit, or seeking to bind up a broken heart?
I can see how it would make sense to a pagan: these two ageing ladies – the Queen of the Sciences, and her Handmaiden – have been pensioned off together, the better to enjoy a happy retirement spinning entities out of æther. A toothless dotage whose only lucid moments are spent in recollection of former glories.
Surely we can do better than that?

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