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Nicholas Wolterstorff (born January 21, 1932 in Bigelow, Minnesotamarker) is the Noah Porter Professor Emeritus of Philosophical Theology, and Fellow of Berkeley College at Yale University. A prolific writer with wide-ranging philosophical and theological interests, he has written books on metaphysics, aesthetics, political philosophy, epistemology and theology and philosophy of religion. Together with other philosophers (Alvin Plantinga, William Alston and Richard Mouw) Wolterstorff helped to establish the journal Faith and Philosophy and the Society of Christian Philosophers. He has often collaborated with Alvin Plantinga.

Education and academic career

Degrees: University Positions: Visiting Professorships:

Professional distinctions

  • President of the American Philosophical Association (Central Division)
  • President of the Society of Christian Philosophers

Endowed lectureships


While an undergraduate, Wolterstorff was greatly influenced by Calvin College professors Harry Jellema, Henry Stob and Henry Zylstra, who introduced him to themes that have dominated his mature thinking: Reformed theology and Common Sense philosophy (these twin themes also shaped the thinking of Wolterstorff's friend and colleague Alvin Plantinga, another alumnus of Calvin College).

Wolterstorff builds upon the ideas of the Scottish common sense philosopher Thomas Reid, who approached knowledge "from the bottom-up". Instead of reasoning about transcendental conditions of knowledge, Wolterstorff suggests that knowledge and our knowing faculties are not the subject of our research but have to be seen as its starting point. Wolterstorff rejects classical foundationalism and instead sees knowledge as based upon insights in reality which are direct and indubitable. As there is no foundation of certainties, one is left with the question of how to interpret reality, which leads into the domain of hermeneutics.


Selected writings


  • Sloane, Andrew, On Being A Christian in the Academy: Nicholas Wolterstorff and the Practice of Christian Scholarship, Paternoster, Carlisle UK, 2003.

See also


External links

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