The Tao and the Daimon

Segments of a Religious Inquiry

By Robert Cummings Neville

Subjects: Philosophy Of Religion
Paperback : 9780873956628, 281 pages, June 1983
Hardcover : 9780873956611, 281 pages, June 1983

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Table of contents


1. Accountability in Theology


I. Theology
II. Accountability and Inquiry
III. Practical Implications


2. Authority and Experience in Religious Ethics


I. Decline of Authority
II. Ontology and Cosmology in Religion
II. Cosmological Ethics, Ontological Religion


3. Philosophical Theology: The Case of the Holy Spirit


I. The Holy Spirit as the Creator's Presence
II. God the Creator and Trinity
III. The Holy Spirit as a Systematic Speculative Problem
IV. God and the Holy Spirit in Public Inquiry


4. Creation and the Trinity


I. The Metaphysics of Creation
II. Trinitarian Persons
III. Economy and Immanence
IV. Begetting and Creating


5. Can God Create People and Address Them Too?


I. That God Can
II. How God Might Address
III. The Address and Life in the Spirit


6. The Empirical Cases of World Religions


I.The Speculative Hypothesis
II. The Empirical Task of Theology
III. Practical Conclusions


7. The Notion of Creation in Chinese Thought


I. Creation Ex Nihilo
II. Taoism
III. Confucianism


8. Process and the Neo-Confucian Cosmos


I. Manifesting the Clear Character
II. Loving the People
III. Abiding in the Highest Good
IV. Investigation of Things
V. Harmony and Creation


9. Buddhism and Process Philosophy


I. Process
II. Relationships and Causation
III. Unity and Interpenetration
IV. Creation


10. The Daimon and the Tao of Faith


I. Faith as Preparation
II. Faith as Certainty
III. Forsaking Wrong Attachments


11. The Daimon and the Tao of Practice


I. Two Levels of Truth
II. Two Truths as a Philosophic Claim
III. Concepts in the Higher Truth
IV. Scholarship in Practice




I. The Daimon in the Tao
II. Four Loci of the Tao
III. Silence and the Sufficient Conditions




The Tao and the Daimon examines a central theme in religious studies: the question of the authority and authenticity of traditional religious faith and practice (tao) in light of the challenge from the spirit of critical reason (Socrates' daimon). From a non-judgmental, historical standpoint, it develops the dialectical relation between religion and rational inquiry. Neville employs a philosophical system to set a task for reflection, making it possible to see how Eastern and Western religious traditions differ, overlap, contradict, and reinforce one another. The central chapters are detailed studies of theologically interesting elements in Christianity, Buddhism, taoism, and Neoconfucianism.

How can one judge of the higher truths of another religion without having practiced it? Can the tao and the daimon, after all, be reconciled purely in the conceptual realm of speculative philosophy? Neville recognizes the very real differences between conceptualizing and practicing and the very real differences in understanding that can result. At the same time, he transcends the problem by identifying (and exemplifying in his own work) speculative philosophy as a tao in itself, "a new locus of religious significance, our own scholarly interpretation, new creations of the holy out of practiced scholarly piety toward the old."


"Neville's most mature work, covering 20 years of deliberations on philosophical theology....This is perhaps the first important work on the interplay between the tao and the daimon." — Kenneth K. Inada

"Neville's methodology is flawless....His sketch of a tao which would enable the religious scholar to penetrate non-Western religious insights in a meaningful way without having to become a devotee of the religion in question is brilliant." — Elizabeth M. Kraus