How can this life have meaning if at my death nothing of me remains? This is the essential question with which Miguel de Unamuno, the most accomplished Spanish man of letters of the twentieth century, struggled during his entire life. Unamuno’s views have been the subject of vigorous debate: Was he a Christian or an unbeliever? Miguel de Unamuno’s Quest for Faith seeks to appreciate and clarify Unamuno’s faith commitments without diminishing or exaggerating them. His historical context pulled him to equate knowledge with science, but his existential angst told him humans must be something more than short-lived products of matter. He believed that his philosophy and the resulting faith that he held must have consequences for the choices he made to live out his life meaningfully.
Jan E. Evans surveys what was at stake in Unamuno’s desire to believe and the stance that he came to live with. That stance is contrasted with thinkers whom he read and admired: Søren Kierkegaard, Blaise Pascal, and William James. Ultimately, this book tests Unamuno’s philosophy against his own criterion which demanded concrete actions that were motivated by principled passion. It draws new readers of Unamuno into his world and provides critical new perspectives for those who know Unamuno’s work well.
Foreword by Stephen T. Davis
1. Introduction: A Map for the Journey
2. Miguel de Unamuno’s Life and Spiritual Formation
3. Truth Must Be Lived: Unamuno and Kierkegaard on “Truth is Subjectivity”
4. Unamuno’s Passion for Immortality: Narcissism or Foundation for Religious Belief?
5. Unamuno, Kierkegaard, and Pascal on the Role of Doubt in Faith
6. The Unhealed Wound: Suffering in Unamuno and Kierkegaard
7. Unamuno’s Faith and Kierkegaard’s Religiousness A: Making Sense of the Struggle
8. Conclusion: How Miguel de Unamuno Lived Out his Faith
Endorsements and Reviews
‘Why read Unamuno?’ Jan Evans asks this question in this insightfully novel exploration of one of the most engaging, perplexing, and at times contradictory existentialist philosophers of the twentieth century. She adds understanding to Unamuno studies by placing his life and thought in a context of world philosophy, particularly that of his most important influence, Søren Kierkegaard.
Michael Ugarte, Professor of Spanish Literature, University of Missouri-Columbia
By comparing Unamuno’s reflections on faith with those of Pascal, Kierkegaard, and William James, Jan Evans exposes Unamuno’s preference for existential conflict and, thus, a human role in the creation of God. She finds in his acknowledgment of these factors certain impediments to a faith that would convince him of the sufficiency of his belief. This book breaks new ground because, like its human subjects, it is not content with abstractions.
Thomas R. Franz, Professor of Spanish, Ohio University
In this excellent study the great Spanish philosopher and man of letters Miguel de Unamuno steps out from the shadow of better-known existentialist authors to appear again in his own right. Wonderfully written and thoughtful … this fine work will introduce a new generation to perhaps the most important of Spanish philosophers in recent generations, while also giving those of us who know something of his work fresh insights.
Alan G. Padgett, Professor of Systematic Theology, Luther Seminary
Evans offers a meticulous dissection and glaring exposure of the weaknesses of [de Unamuno’s] life-long cultivation of a contradiction between ‘the head’ and ‘the heart’, between faith and reason.
Patrick Madigan, in The Heythrop Journal, Vol 52, Issue 2