God as the good: A critique of H. Tristram Engelhardt, Jr.’s After God

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1 Scopus citations


Despite its many strengths, Engelhardt’s After God displays two surprising features: an affinity for voluntaristic ethics and a tendency to oppose Eastern Orthodoxy (as a purely revealed religion) to philosophy. Neither of these is in keeping with the mainstream of Eastern Orthodox tradition. Here, I offer a modest corrective. I begin with the figure of Socrates as presented in the Apology and Phaedo, highlighting the role that faith plays for Socrates and the reasons why he was widely admired by the early Church. I then describe more broadly the attitude of the Greek Church Fathers to philosophy, showing that, although they were cautious of its potential errors, they nonetheless embraced the ideal of philosophy as a way of life dedicated to the pursuit of wisdom. For many, in fact, Christianity is itself simply the true philosophy, an attitude that led many of the most eminent patristic and Byzantine theologians to draw extensively on philosophical sources. Finally, I discuss the Euthyphro dilemma, contrasting the voluntaristic approach favored by Engelhardt with the Platonic approach adopted by the mainstream of Orthodox tradition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)650-666
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Medicine and Philosophy (United Kingdom)
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 17 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press, on behalf of the Journal of Medicine and Philosophy Inc. All rights reserved.


  • Church Fathers
  • Eastern Orthodoxy
  • Engelhardt
  • Euthyphro dilemma
  • Platonism
  • Socrates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Philosophy


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