Is postmodernist suspicion an ally of religious faith, or its deadly enemy? How can anyone doubt the value of foundations and still speak meaningfully of God, or religious faith? Alternatively, does the notion of God as foundation amount to limitation of the divine, or even idolatry? This unit looks at how postmodern thinking bids to rework some traditional connections between faith and philosophy. Canvassing the questions above, it takes the student towards the deeper question of whether theology as such can be said to help, rather than hinder, philosophical approaches to the divine.

Unit code: AP9750P

Unit status: Approved (Major revision)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Elective

Unit discipline: Philosophy

Proposing College: Pilgrim Theological College

Show when this unit is running

Learning outcomes


Explain the meaning(s) of the term postmodern, as it informs interrelated postmodern claims for the death of God, death of the self, end of history, and closure of the book


Explain and evaluate Taylor's postmodern advocacy of an a/theological faith, situated in relation to alternatives, such as Jean-Luc Marion’s God without Being, and the Radical Orthodoxy school.


Discuss the significant philosophical commitments found expressed in the divergent approaches above and the echo in these of historically radical philosophical disagreements


Show a critical awareness of the theological dimensions associated with the philosophical positions studied


Debate, at a sophisticated level, the claim that postmodern believers' philosophico-theological premises intersect with those of agnostics and atheists

Unit sequence

Undergraduate philosophical studies, or comparable literary or cultural studies.


Lecturing, with discussion and a weekly tutorial. Within the semester, a postgraduate seminar at which the student presents a draft essay, and leads discussion aimed at its improvement towards a final version.

Indicative Bibliography

  • Mark C. Taylor, Erring: A Postmodern A/Theology. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1984. Paperback editions 1987, 1999. (recommended for purchase)
  • Appignanesi, R., and C. Garratt. Postmodernism for Beginners. Cambridge: Icon Books, 1995. N.B. This book is also available in the alternative title, Introducing Postmodernism.
  • Caputo, John D. On Religion. New York: Routledge, 2001.
  • ---, The Insistence of God: A Theology of Perhaps. Bloomington, IN: Indiana UP, 2013
  • Descombes, Vincent. Modern French Philosophy. Trans L. Scott-Fox and J.M. Harding. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1980.
  • Eagleton, T. Literary Theory: an Introduction. 2nd ed. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1996.
  • Hart, Kevin. Postmodernism: a Beginner’s Guide. Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 2004. (recommended for purchase)
  • ---. The Trespass of the Sign: Deconstruction, Theology and Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1989.
  • Horner, Robyn. Jean-Luc Marion: A Theo-Logical Introduction. Hants, UK: Burlington VT, 2008.
  • Melchert, Norman. The Great Conversation: A Historical Introduction to Philosophy. 4th ed. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill, 2002. (Or 3rd ed., 1999.)
  • Reese, William. Dictionary of Philosophy and Religion. New, enlarged ed. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press International, 1996.
  • Sim, Stuart (ed.) The Routledge Companion to Postmodernism. 3rd ed. London: Routledge, 2011.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

2nd Essay (3500 words)

3500 50.0

First essay (3500 words), comprising written-up final version (30 %) following previous Seminar Presentation of draft (20%)

3500 50.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 1 Aug, 2019

Unit record last updated: 2021-06-07 08:43:49 +1000