• Don S. Browning

    1. Don S. Browning (1934–2010) was the Alexander Campbell Professor of Ethics and the Social Sciences, Divinity School, University of Chicago.
    Search for more papers by this author

  • This contribution is adapted from the Preface and Chapter 1 of Reviving Christian Humanism: The New Conversation on Spirituality, Theology and Psychology by Don S. Browning copyright © 2010 Fortress Press. Reproduced by permission of Augsburg Fortress Publishers.


Abstract.  A possible consequence of the dialogue between science and religion is a revived religious humanism—a firmer grasp of the historical and phenomenological meanings of the great world religions correlated with the more accurate explanations of the rhythms of nature that natural science can provide. The first great expressions of religious humanism in the West emerged when Jewish, Christian, and Islamic scholars sat in the same libraries in Spain and Sicily, studying and translating the lost manuscripts of Aristotle in the ninth and tenth centuries to understand his ethics, epistemology, and psychobiology. In our day, the science-religion dialogue—exemplified by interaction among psychology, spirituality, and psychotherapy—will best support such a revival if guided by the philosophical resources of critical hermeneutics (sometimes called hermeneutical realism) supplemented by William James's brand of phenomenology and pragmatism. Here, I develop primarily the contributions of Paul Ricoeur to hermeneutic realism and his unique ability to find a place for the natural sciences within hermeneutic phenomenology in his formula of understanding-explanation-understanding.