by Todd E. Johnson
Evelyn Underhill’s life often has been described as having two distinct halves: the years before her tutelage under Baron von Hugel and the years following his influence. Underhill decribes herself as a “white-hot neoplatonist” in these early years. She claimed her penchants for monism and platonic dualism were overcome by a good dose of orthodoxy dispensed by the baron, as well as her acceptance of his philosophical framework known as Critical Realism, which argued for a limited duality between nature and supernature. For von Hugel, the bridge between humanity and God was the incarnate Christ.
There have been those who have challenged this interpretation of Underhill’s life and thought, most notably Susan Smalley and Terry Tastard. From their perspective, von Hugel’s influence was short-lived and Underhill quickly retreated to her earlier dualistic perspectives, never fully accepting … Read more