LONGING TO KNOW:
The Philosophy of Knowledge for Ordinary People
How do we know things? How can we know God? Knowing is an activity that we are all involved in, all of the time. We don't normally think about the act of knowing, but if we do, the question of what we know and how we know it becomes murky indeed. Longing to Know is a book about knowing: knowing how we know things, knowing how we know people, and knowing how we know God.
Knowing God is like knowing your auto mechanic, claims Esther Meek in this approachable and entertaining guide to the philosophy of knowledge. Ordinary acts of knowing are pervasive, and knowing God is just such an ordinary act of knowing. This message restores hope and confidence, as well as a sense of humility, adventure, and stewardship.
This book is for those who are considering Christianity for the first time, as well as Christians who are struggling with issues related to truth, certainty, and doubt. As such, it is a wonderful resource for evangelists, pastors, and counselors. Questions for reflection make it ideal for students of philosophy and all those wrestling with the questions of how we know.
"With directness and a beguiling simplicity, Esther Meek takes the reader into the heart of the postmodern malaise regarding truth and knowledge not to linger there, but to emerge with a delightfully assured sense that knowing God is part of a real and unfolding relationship. This book is a tour de force.”
David F. Wells, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
"Those of us with a particular cast of mind wonder--sometimes agonize--about whether it's possible to be certain about the things of faith. Do we really know or are we just wishing-or is it something in between? Esther Meek offers a helpful, closely reasoned, and ultimately encouraging discussion of this ancient and yet very contemporary question.”
Daniel Taylor, Author of The Myth of Certainty
"Esther invites us to question, doubt, and to feel—bodily feel—the presence of truth. Spend a day with her, and you will never see your faith in the same way again.”
Dan B. Allender, Author of The Wounded Heart
"It is obvious that Professor Meek has lived with and within these ideas for many years. Walking along beside, she offers us a tutorial in a way of knowing at one and the same time biblically rooted and indebted to the vision of Michael Polanyi. While attentive to the nuances of contemporary philosophic debate, her principal aim is to give us eyes to see more truthfully the whole of human life—family relationships and film, literature and life, the possibility of knowing and being known by God. Her students have been graced with her gentle wisdom; now, through Longing to Know, a wider audience will have the gift of learning from this wise woman.”
Steven Garber, Author of The Fabric of Faithfulness
"This is a creative and convincing integration of Michael Polanyi's epistemology with a Reformed Christian worldview. The progressive narrative style makes the work accessible to all readers. Although the polemical aspect of the book is secondary, it nonetheless offers an excellent critique of other epistemologies. The work is a worthy apologetic for the Christian faith and will clear away many mistaken impressions about Christianity. Highly recommended!"
James M. Grier, Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary
"This is a splendid book about knowing. It is philosophically and theologically profound, but the writing is amazingly clear and enjoyable. Dr. Meek talks about car repairmen, frisbee games, 3-D puzzles, and marriage relationships. Then she integrates these illustrations and other observations into a powerful epistemological model. In her account, knowing is a part of everyday life. Dr. Meek therefore explores our common experience of trying to know and coming to know, of looking through clues in order to notice patterns. Knowing God is like this, she says. Her argument enables us to put doubt into perspective and to gain knowledge with confidence, if not necessarily with certainty.”
John Frame, Reformed Theological Seminary
"We have long needed an introduction to Polanyi's epistemology that is both accessible and critical, and now Esther Meek has provided us with a splendid guide, not by focusing on Polanyi himself, but by attending to our daily lives. She shows us how our various human relationships and perhaps especially our relationship with God are illuminated by Polanyian perspectives. Clear, engaging, and insightful, Longing to Know will richly repay careful reading.”
Stephen R. Spencer, Wheaton College
"An excellent, well-written treatment of epistemology for laypeople... [Meek] has two readerships in mind: those struggling with the prospect of knowing God and those wanting to understand the basis for their confidence. Short chapters, everyday illustrations, and 'further thought' study questions guide readers in their quest. Timely and lucid, Longing to Know comes with passionate optimism for how our knowledge of God can satisfy our deepest longings."
"[Our] yearning for truth and spirituality requires the insight of a practical epistemology that is both biblical and accessible to ordinary people. This is precisely what Meek provides us in her new book, Longing to Know. Though Meek accomplishes it so effortlessly you'll hardly know it's happening, reading Longing to Know is also an introduction to the thinking of Michael Polanyi... This is a practical, well-written book. If I could think of people who could afford to not read it, I'd list them, but I honestly can't think of any. It would even be good for non-Christians who are seriously considering Christianity."
Denis Haack, Critique
"Few philosophical issues are as important and misunderstood as epistemology, or the nature of knowledge. . . . Longing to Know is carefully reasoned, provides a lucid introduction to philosopher of science Michael Polanyi and understands the burgeoning epistemological crisis for ordinary people as news of post-modernity spreads."
Science and Theology News
"[Longing to Know] is the best book on epistemology (let alone Christian epistemology) to come along in many, many years. It is a must for any serious student of the discipline and, indeed, for ordinary people who are trying to get clear on how to know God."
John M. Frame, Discipleship Journal
"Meek's book is written in an accessible prose relatively free of technical philosophical jargon. Each chapter ends with a brief 'For Further Thought and Discussion' section, making the book a candidate for a sophisticated discussion group or possibly an introductory course in epistemology."
Science and Theology News
"Esther Lightcap Meek is an excellent thinker who expresses herself clearly in her writings... She has succeeded in writing a textbook that reads like a meditation... Longing to Know will not only personally benefit you in understanding the process of knowing, but will also be a help if you have opportunity to talk with people who are shaped more by the world's ideas and opinions than biblical truth... I look forward to further books by this author."
Equip for Ministry
"With her helpful and accessible introduction to the conversation of epistemology (how we know what we know), Meek marshals philosopher Michael Polanyi's arguments to remind us 'knowing' is a possible—and humble—task."
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