Books by Professor Tom McLeish

Soon available from Oxford University Press, Soft Matter: A Very Short Introduction, by Tom McLeish (22 October 2020; 176pp). It is currently available for pre-order both via OUP and Amazon.

Purchase: OUP | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com

Book description:

Soft Matter science is concerned with soft materials such as polymers, colloids, liquid crystals, and foams, and has emerged as a rich interdisciplinary field over the last 30 years. Drawing on physics, chemistry, mathematics and engineering, soft matter links fundamental scientific ideas to everyday phenomena.

This Very Short Introduction delves into the field of soft matter, looking beneath the appearances of matter into its inner structure. Tom McLeish shows how Brownian Motion – the random local motion of molecules that gives rise to ‘heat’ – is an underlying principle of soft matter. From hair conditioner to honey, he discusses how the shared physical properties and characteristics of these materials influence the way they behave, and their industrial applications.

Also by Tom McLeish: The Poetry and Music of Science: Comparing Creativity in Science and Art (Oxford University Press; May 2019; 384pp).

Purchase: OUP | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com

Book description:

What human qualities are needed to make scientific discoveries, and which to make great art? Many would point to ‘imagination’ and ‘creativity’ in the second case but not the first. This book challenges the assumption that doing science is in any sense less creative than art, music or fictional writing and poetry, and treads a historical and contemporary path through common territories of the creative process.

Hearing the stories that scientists and artists tell about their projects reveals commonalities: the desire for a goal, the experience of frustration and failure, the incubation of the problem, moments of sudden insight, and the experience of the beautiful or sublime.

Themes weaving the practice of science and art together include: visual thinking and metaphor, the transcendence of music and mathematics, the contemporary rise of the English novel and experimental science, and the role of aesthetics and desire in the creative process.

Reviews:

“[McLeish] proves himself [an] extreme interdisciplinarian … Thanks to its poetic nature and compelling signposts for discussion, I suspect McLeish’s book would have aphrodisiac qualities for the right audience… No matter what your field, you will come away from the book sold, as I am, on the need to prioritise time for creative gestation.” (Rivka Isaacson, Times Higher Edcuation Supplement)

“McLeish takes his reader on a journey through classical, medieval, romantic and modern art and science, exploring similarities in the creative processes that drove the greatest painters, writers and scientists towards their accomplishments… There are a number of vivid descriptions of seminal pieces of physics that showcase McLeish’s talent for communicating science… interwoven with equally lavish introductions of many works of art and personal experiences of artists.” (David Abergel, Nature Physics)

“McLeish chases the echoes between scientific and artistic creativity in this intriguing scholarly treatise.” (Nature)

“McLeish moves the discussion of science and religion on rather profoundly. Enough has been written about how theology might relate to science in general, abstractly conceived. Far better to think theologically about particular scientific examples, set out with a historical and human back story. That is exactly what we have here.” (Andrew Davison, Church Times)

“Poetry and science are both rooted in the imagination … At first sight I could not see the connection. But then I made the mistake of allowing myself to think about it. McLeish’s … theme is laid out very thoroughly. Give yourself a couple of quiet days to master it.” (Quentin de la Bedoyere, Catholic Herald)

“In this brilliant, lyrical and encyclopaedic study of the roots of creativity … [McLeish] challenges the two cultures thesis […] by showing how imaginative processes are just as essential and indeed seminal in the sciences as in the arts.” (David Lorimer, Paradigm Explorer)

“This kind of book is rarer than it should be, and all the more valuable. It dares to take seriously and probe deeply the interplay of the arts and the sciences. In place of the tired notion of Two Cultures, Tom McLeish reveals – passionately, and with great scholarship – the many meaningful points of contact between the sciences and music, literature and visual art. May this start a new and rich conversation!” (Philip Ball, Science Writer)

“Where do creative ideas come from? There is an answer, and it is the same in art as in science. There is a hidden wellspring inside the human mind from which they arise continuously. Tom McLeish provides meticulous evidence by interrogating the greatest minds. The result is a brilliant kaleidoscopic view of the history of imagination.” (Uta Frith FBA FRS, UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience)

“Anyone who believes that imagination, inspiration and creativity are the preserve of the arts should read this beautifully crafted ode to the enterprise of scientific discovery.” (Jim Al-Khalili OBE FRS, Professor of Theoretical Physics, University of Surrey)

 

Tom McLeish, FRS is Professor of Natural Philosophy at the University of York. His research has contributed to the new fields of ‘soft matter physics’ and ‘biological physics’, working with chemists, engineers, and biologists to connect molecular structure with emergent properties. His research interests also include the framing of science, society, and science policy, and is the author of Faith and Wisdom in Science (OUP, 2014). He was Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at Durham University from 2008-2014, and is both the current chair of the Royal Society’s Education Committee and a trustee of the John Templeton Foundation. He was the first winner of the Institute of Physics Edwards Prize (2017) for his work on soft matter.

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Cyril O’Regan: Articles on Church Life Journal

Cyril O’Regan is the Catherine F. Huisking Chair in Theology at the University of Notre Dame. His latest book is the first installment of a multi-volume intellectual history of Gnosticism in modernity, The Anatomy of Misremembering, Volume 1: Hegel.

Below are O’Regan’s most recent articles published in Church Life Journal: A Journal of the McGrath Institute for Church Life:

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Now available in Veritas: Hide and Seek: The Sacred Art of Indirect Communication, by Benson P. Fraser

Now available in the Veritas series: Hide and Seek: The Sacred Art of Indirect Communication, by Benson P. Fraser.

[Purchase: Wipf & Stock]

Book description:

As bearers of the divine image, all of us are storytellers and artists. However, few people today believe in truth that is not empirically knowable or verifiable, the sort of truth often trafficked through direct forms of communication. Drawing on the works of Søren Kierkegaard, Benson P. Fraser challenges this penchant for direct forms of knowledge by introducing the indirect approach, which he argues conveys more than mere knowledge, but the capability to live out what one takes to be true.

Dr. Fraser suggests that stories aimed at the heart are powerful instruments for personal and social change because they are not focused directly on the individual listener; rather, they give the individual room or distance to reconsider old meanings or ways of understanding. Indirect communication fosters human transformation by awaking an individual to attend to images or words that carry deep symbolic force and that modify or replace one’s present ways of knowing, and ultimately make one capable of embodying what he or she believes. Through an examination of the indirect approach in Kierkegaard, Jesus, C. S. Lewis, and Flannery O’Connor, Fraser makes a strong case for the recovery of indirect strategies for communicating truth in our time.

Endorsements & Reviews

“Hide and Seek takes us to some strangely familiar, but forgotten, places, reminding us of that old proverb that it is ‘the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings to search them out.’ Fraser generously gives his readers hints, clues, and whispers, in the death of a son or teaching potty-training, that help us discover the treasures of indirect communication to convey the gospel in a loud, busy, and fallen world.” — Terry Lindvall, Virginia Wesleyan University

“This is an essential book for everyone who cares about communicating wisely and well in our age. Indirect communication gets to the heart of the matter—and to our hearts. Without imagination and story, we all will be spiritually impoverished.” — Quentin Schultze, Calvin University

“Fraser offers a fresh and practical indictment of the American evangelical Christian penchant for reducing religious truth and religious persuasion to a stilted and superficial formulaism. In offering his dialogic alternative of ‘indirect communication,’ Fraser provides theological and practical insights—grounded in Kierkegaard and reflected in writers like C. S. Lewis and Flannery O’Connor—that should animate more humane and more effective religious discourse and religious witness.” — Mark Allan Steiner, Christopher Newport University

“If you want to ‘think Christianly’ about communication and subvert worldviews that malign biblical truth, then this book will be your guide. As a wise and gracious insider, Fraser explains how embracing indirect, ambiguous communication opens doors to deep theological conversations with those who are religiously indifferent. This book helps to chart a new evangelistic direction for twenty-first-century digital citizens who recognize the possibility of unassailable truth in the midst of apparent ambiguity.” — Robert H. Woods Jr., Christianity and Communication Studies Network

[Purchase: Wipf & Stock]

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Conference: The Future of Christian Thinking

The Future of Christian Thinking
An international conference hosted by St Patrick’s College, Maynooth

Today, perhaps more than ever before, Christian thought faces unprecedented challenges; ranging from a denial of metaphysics, to previously unforeseen ethico-moral questions arising from contemporary science and ever-advancing technologies, to a full-blown economizing of the political, to name just some of the most obvious. Couple this with the fact that amongst Christian thinkers there is no real consensus on the meaning, definition and end of Christian thinking and the future of Christian thinking looks hazy, unclear and tenuous.

The theme of this conference seeks to think from out of these unprecedented challenges while, simultaneously, straining to look into a nebulous and unforeseen future. In order to do this, a vast array of many of the foremost thinkers engaged with Christian thought and beyond have been invited to speak on these issues. These thinkers are representative of many different schools, approaches and styles of Christian thought, across confessional divides. The vast array of thinkers invited is itself a testimony of the polyphonic vitality of Christian thought today and, together, the ever-pressing question of the future of Christian thinking will be pondered from within an intellectually polyphonic and ecumenical conversation and perspective.

Guest speakers include:

Rowan Williams || Eleonore Stump || DB Hart || Robert George || John Milbank || Cyril O’Regan || William Desmond || Thomas Joseph White ||DC Schindler || Francesca Aran Murphy || Conor Cunningham ||Judith Wolfe || Patrick Lee || Rudi te Velde || Therese-Anne Druart || Philipp Rosemann || Mette Lebech || Caitlin Smith Gilson || Gyula Klima || John Knasas || Philip John Paul Gonzales|| Gaven Kerr

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Now available in Veritas: Exorcising Philosophical Modernity, ed. Philip John Paul Gonzales

Now available in the Veritas series: Exorcising Philosophical Modernity: Cyril O’Regan and Christian Discourse after Modernity, edited by Philip John Paul Gonzales.

[Purchase: Wipf & Stock | Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk ]

What should Christian discourse look like after philosophical modernity? In one manner or another the essays in this volume seek to confront and intellectually exorcise the prevailing elements of philosophical modernity, which are inherently transgressive disfigurations and refigurations of the Christian story of creation, sin, and redemption. To enact these various forms and styles of Christian intellectual exorcism the essays in this volume make appeal to, and converse with, the magisterial corpus of Cyril O’Regan. The themes of the essays center around the gnostic return in modernity, apocalyptic theology, and the question of the bounds and borders of Christian orthodoxy. Along the way diverse figures are treated such as: Hegel, Shakespeare, von Balthasar, Przywara, Ricouer, Deleuze, Merleau-Ponty, and Kristeva. Exorcising Philosophical Modernity: Cyril O’Regan and Christian Discourse after Modernity is a veritable feast of post-modern Christian thought.

Includes contributions by:

  • Philip John Paul Gonzales
  • William Desmond
  • Aaron Riches and Sebastián Montiel
  • Christopher Ben Simpson
  • Jennifer Newsome Martin
  • D. C. Schindler
  • John R. Betz
  • Caitlin Smith Gilson
  • David Bentley Hart
  • Cyril O’Regan

Endorsements:

“This unusually searching collection of essays brings a new depth to the discussion of the claimed ‘gnostic’ dimension to modernity after Voegelin, Balthasar, and O’Regan himself. It is essential reading for all who wish to understand better the relationship of the modern to the theological and the philosophical.” — Catherine Pickstock, University of Cambridge

“Few Catholic theologians today follow such rich and complex paths as those Cyril O’Regan has taken through the modern legacies of Gnosticism. This volume provides a guide along many of those paths, celebrating and questioning his ever-demanding enterprise.” — Lewis Ayres, University of Durham and Australian Catholic University

[Purchase: Wipf & Stock | Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk ]

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Now available: Can We Believe in People? by Stephen R. L. Clark

Now available from Angelico Press: Can We Believe in People? Human Significance in an Interconnected Cosmos by Stephen R. L. Clark, with a foreword by Catherine Pickstock.

[Purchase: Paperback | Cloth]

Description:

The view that humanity is “in the image and likeness of God” has influenced the past two millennia of European history, and retains its significance despite the apparent decline of theism as a major social factor. Human beings are understood to be in some way “special,” deserving of “respect,” capable of understanding (even remaking) the universe. The aim of the author—drawing on a wide range of resources ancient and modern—is to clearly delineate this view: its apparent justifications, its implications, and what can and should be said to challenge it. Can We Believe in People? preserves a strong account of human reason and human dignity while yet fully acknowledging the claims of other terrestrial and extraterrestrial life.

Praise for Can We Believe in People?

“In this culmination of a lifetime’s philosophical investigations, Stephen Clark insists that far from dangling above a limitless existentialist abyss, we are invited to join the dance of a participatory creation. He delineates a world that may lie at the very edges of our imaginations, one that depends on a holy interdependence grounded on the bedrock of immutable moral realities.” — SIMON CONWAY MORRIS, Emeritus Professor of Evolutionary Palaeobiology, University of Cambridge

“At once classical and original, reflective and constructive, this book is philosophy of the most morally illuminating kind: a vision of the spiritual community of all living things and of the participation of all life in the dignity and glory of spirit.” — DAVID BENTLEY HART, author of That All Shall Be Saved and The Experience of God

“Those who have come to admire and appreciate a lifetime of Stephen Clark’s literary as well as philosophical skills will not be disappointed with this marvelous and timely book, which differs from his prior works in more directly interrogating theological and religious ideas on what it means to be human.” — CELIA DEANE-DRUMMOND, Director of the Center for Theology, Science and Human Flourishing, Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame

“This book offers a nuanced treatment of human dignity, but without anthropocentric excess.  Stephen Clark deftly denies the reality of species boundaries as well as the idea that human beings are indefinitely malleable.” — DANIEL A. DOMBROWSKI, Professor of Philosophy, Seattle University; author of Not Even a Sparrow Falls: The Philosophy of Stephen R.L. Clark

“In this visionary, provocative work, Platonism and the three Abrahamic religions come into conversation with mathematics, evolutionary biology, and even thought experiments of science fiction. Stephen Clark invites his readers to rethink the dignity of the human being in a much closer, yet also transcendent, relationship of love with all things existing.” — GRETCHEN REYDAMS-SCHILS, Professor in the Program of Liberal Studies, University of Notre Dame

“Stephen Clark writes with clarity and erudition on the philosophy of human nature, the nature of mind, values, our relationship to non-human animals and the divine. Recommended to all who are looking for a rich, stimulating, mature work in philosophy, understood as the love of wisdom.” — CHARLES TALIAFERRO, Professor of Philosophy, St. Olaf College

“There is no more basic issue than that of the nature of human beings and their place in the scheme of things. This scholarly book grips our attention with incisive arguments about matters that concern us all.” — ROGER TRIGG, Senior Research Fellow, Ian Ramsey Centre, University of Oxford

[Purchase: Paperback | Cloth]

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New from William C. Hackett: Philosophy in Word & Name

Now available from Angelico PressPhilosophy in Word & Name: Myth, Wisdom, Apocalypse, by William C. Hackett.

[Purchase: Paperback | Cloth]

Description:

MYTH. WISDOM. APOCALYPSE. Three words of ancient pedigree offering the seeker a promise: to unlock the door of understanding to the highest and best things—the divine things. Three keys, then, for a “Philosophy in Word and Name” that wants, simply, to comprehend whatever makes the meaning of our humanity take on its fullest scope and significance. This text intends to be no more than a “sketchbook” for such a philosophy. Its six Studies include two dedicated to each key, engaging with words and names ancient and modern, eastern and western, and with an approach casting back into traditional intellectual practices long strictured in the modern west. Above all, the defining feature of the modern intelligence—the asphyxiating alienation of philosophy and theology from one another, and both from the mystical—is weighed and found wanting. A turn to modes of thought and styles of writing for which religion is not foreign ground is required if we are to have any chance of fidelity to these things themselves; and should this draw us closer to “premodern,” or even “eastern,” modalities, must we not remain open to these as well?

Praise for Philosophy in Word and Name:

“This singular book is plurivocal in a challenging and intellectually invigorating way. It allows the voices of myth, philosophy, and theology to sound together and indeed to sing in a kind of companioning togetherness. Warmly recommended.” — WILLIAM DESMOND, Villanova University

“In a multi-faceted series of studies in diverse styles, William Hackett opens to us a vista on the state of Christian thought today. Here is our contemporary Kierkegaard: probing old ideas, launching new ones, prodding us to be ever more vigilant, not only in our thinking about religion but in our practice of it.” — KEVIN HART, University of Virginia

“This philosophical prophecy against today’s all-too-human kingdoms of so-called knowledge culminates in prayerful obedience to divine truth, an apocalypse masterfully and poetically sketched out in these pages.” — FR. BONAVENTURE CHAPMAN, OP, Dominican House of Studies, Washington DC

“This remarkable first book of William Hackett sounds forth with newness, confidence, and truth, and is sure to establish him as one of the most original and energetic voices of contemporary Catholic thought. A must read.” — AARON RICHES, Benedictine College

“Rarely does a genuinely groundbreaking book come along. Even more rare is a book that accomplishes this in the realm of philosophy and religion. This is that book: an intellectual and mystical masterpiece that makes believable a truly universal speculative thinking about ultimate meaning in our own day.” — CONOR SWEENEY, author of Abiding the Long Defeat

“William Chris Hackett leads us on a vast journey rich with reflections on ‘revelation at the end of time’ as the possibility for present humanity to accelerate what it cannot ignore.” — EMMANUEL FALQUE, Institut catholique de Paris

“Hackett has read deeply and broadly and has something to say only he can say. Read his book.” — JEAN-YVES LACOSTE, Clare Hall, Cambridge

[Purchase: Paperback | Cloth]

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One-Day Event: The Future of Hylomorphism

University of Nottingham
Centre of Theology and Philosophy

The Future of Hylomorphism:

Something and Someone to Talk about


One-Day Event
Thursday 30 April 2020
10am-6pm

Humanities A03
University of Nottingham

For more information, please contact: conor.cunningham@nottingham.ac.uk

Speakers:

  • Robert KoonsProfessor of Philosophy, University of Texas
  • Anna MarmodoroProfessor of Metaphysics, University of Durham
  • David S OderbergProfessor of Philosophy, University of Reading
  • Mariusz TabaczekProfessor of Philosophy, Thomistic Institute, Warsaw
  • John MilbankProfessor (emeritus) of Theology, Politics, and Ethics, University of Nottingham
  • Sergey TrostyanskyResearch Fellow, Sophia Institute, NYC

Download the Future of Hylomorophism PDF here.

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Special Issue of Religions CFP: “Science, Theology and Metaphysics”

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Sergei Bulgakov made the profound point that ‘Science is an answer to a question that precedes it’. Profound as this is, it often goes unnoticed. In so doing, cultural divides are generated, divides that accommodate acrimonious encounter, if there be encounter between disciplines at all. Yet it is not simply unnecessary opposition that is undesirable, to say the least, but more importantly, such confrontation and its attendant isolationism distort said disciplines, especially science. If the theologian retreats to the ghetto of fideism, clinging to a sacred book as its sole, discrete resource, eschewing all else, science does likewise, arguably, when it treats itself as a stand-alone activity; one with full autonomy, and bereft of both perspective and context, and more seriously, dependence—a symptom of which can be seen when the very scientist is screened off, which is to say, the human practitioner or theoretician drops out of all consideration, as does their constitutive desire that drives the very advent and perpetual effort of them doing science.

The Western mind, it would seem, is held captive by the hegemonic idea of a base upon which all else is erected. This fixation amputates the imagination, stymies thought and limits disciplines, both intra and inter. Moreover, it encourages forms of fundamentalism, scientific, religious and philosophical, in both professional and populist manifestations. This dominant perspective is the outcome of a picture by which we have been bewitched: the layer cake, to borrow Putnam and Oppenheim’s metaphor from the 1950s. This metaphor provides a mandate for the positing of a base that sucks in all that is supposed to reside above, down to its level, for truth resides only in the base. As Ernest Rutherford once said, ‘There is only physics, all is stamp collecting’. Such ideology is made manifest in the ambitions on display, which seek to develop TOES (Theory of Everything) or GUTS (General Unified Theory). There is, of course, nothing wrong with these as far as it goes, but the inference that accompanies them—‘nothing but’—is where the danger lurks.

Profitably, it may be wise to follow Aristotle, reminding our culture that all disciplines operate under a logic of subalternation. In other words, all sciences operate by employing the work of other disciplines beyond their ken; they live by way of borrowed logics of which they cannot give an account. Here, an operational discourse is replete with other modes of knowledge, what Plato calls an ‘interweaving,’ συμπλοκ- modes that enable it to function, yet they do not, and need not, as far as it goes, speak of them, except to realise their need of them. This is a more creative model, perhaps, than that of the layer cake. As opposed to disciplinary isolationism, we have a marriage of discourse.

We are interested in submissions that contribute to this conversation. How, in the 21st century, do we present a more realistic and creative understanding of a how all knowledge (scientia) works, especially the relation of science to both theology and metaphysics?

Dr. Conor Cunningham
Guest Editor

Topics:

  • What is the relation between disciplines?
  • Where does the person fit in, or is it a fiction?
  • Is there free will?
  • Is truth beyond mere utility?
  • Is ethics reduce to function?
  • Is the commonsense world now untenable?
  • Is Religion a matter of folk psychology?
  • Does science have a foundation?
  • Can science be unified?
  • Can systematic theology make a contribution to how we understand the world?

For more information and to submit a manuscript for this special issue of Religions on the topic of Science, Theology and Metaphysics, click here.

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Macrina Magazine: Fresh Philosophical Engagements with an Ancient Faith

New online publication:

Macrina Magazine: Fresh Philosophical Engagements with an Ancient Faith

Macrina Magazine is an online Christian philosophical journal that offers readers a platform to explore faith, politics, and culture critically and creatively. We seek to offer a respite for overstimulated yet undernourished minds that are hungry for more substantial reflection than the twenty-four-hour news cycle can provide regarding our world and how we ought to live in it. By featuring diverse and engaging content we hope to enable readers to engage with intentionality, thoughtfulness, and charity – both as thinkers as well as people of faith.

“The arrival of Macrina Magazine is exciting and welcome. It offers a vital new space between unmediated mass trivialisation on the one hand and the increasingly dead hand of academia on the other, locked into excessive mediating processes and specialisations. The role of bold independent editorship is here being reinvented to the benefit of both real intellectual life and a more widely-diffused culture.” — John Milbank

“How delightful to see a new journal dedicated to genuinely fascinating topics, prosecuted with such imagination and creativity.” — David B. Hart

Macrina Magazine offers serious, creative, and accessible engagement with a wealth of texts critical to reflecting on Christian life.” — Natalie Carnes

Visit Macrina Magazine on Facebook and Twitter.

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New edited volume from Cambridge University Press: Patents on Life

Patents on Life: Religious, Moral, and Social Justice Aspects of Biotechnology and Intellectual Property
New from Cambridge University Press

Edited by:
Thomas C. Berg (University of St Thomas, Minnesota)
Roman Cholij (St Edmund’s College, Cambridge)
Simon Ravenscroft (Magdalene College, Cambridge)

This volume brings together a unique collection of legal, religious, ethical, and political perspectives to bear on debates concerning biotechnology patents, or ‘patents on life’. The ever-increasing importance of biotechnologies has generated continual questions about how intellectual property law should treat such technologies, especially those raising ethical or social-justice concerns. Even after many years and court decisions, important contested issues remain concerning ownership of and rewards from biotechnology – from human genetic material to genetically engineered plants – and regarding the scope of moral or social-justice limitations on patents or licensing practices. This book explores a range of related issues, including questions concerning morality and patentability, biotechnology and human dignity, and what constitute fair rewards from genetic resources. It features high-level international, interfaith, and cross-disciplinary contributions from experts in law, religion, and ethics, including academics and practitioners, placing religious and secular perspectives into dialogue to examine the full implications of patenting life.

The book is the result of a four-year collaborative project between the Von Hügel Institute for Critical Catholic Inquiry at St Edmund’s College, Cambridge, and the Terrence J. Murphy Institute for Catholic Thought, Law, and Public Policy at the University of St Thomas, Minnesota.

Endorsements

Patents on Life offers a rigorous and discerning consideration of issues at the intersection of biotechnology, ethics, and social justice. A much needed faith- centered contribution to the debate over ethical and moral norms at stake in the governance of biotech patents; it is a must read.” — Ruth Okediji, Jeremiah Smith, Jr., Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

“The contribution of this book is to bring hitherto neglected religious perspectives into the debates about the ethical issues raised by patents on life. The essays convincingly argue that patents on life require evaluation under criteria of morality and social justice and religious thought can contribute to such an analysis.” — Audrey Chapman, Healey Professor of Medical Ethics and Humanities, University of Connecticut School of Medicine

“This book is a comprehensive and fascinating conversation between an impressive line-up of scholars representing many different academic backgrounds, but also a number of faith communities, on the topic of intellectual property. As such it is an exceptional, thorough and informative study on the ethical challenges of biotechnological patents.” — Dr Calum MacKellar, Director of Research, Scottish Council on Human Bioethics

Institutional access to the full text is available via Cambridge Core. The print book will be available to buy shortly from the publisher in the UK here, and in the US here, as well as through other, usual booksellers.

The closing chapter is also available on the Social Sciences Research Network.

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Now available: Seven Brief Lessons on Magic, by Paul Tyson

Now out from Cascade BooksSeven Brief Lessons on Magic, by Paul Tyson.

Is magic real? Could anything be real that can’t be quantified or scientifically investigated? Are qualities like love, beauty, and goodness really just about hormones and survival? Are strangely immaterial things, like thought and personhood, fully explainable in scientific terms? Does nature itself have any intrinsic value, mysterious presence, or transcendent horizon? Once we ask these questions, the answer is pretty obvious: of course science can’t give us a complete picture of reality. Science is very good at what it is good at, but highly important aspects of human meaning are simply outside of science’s knowledge range. So how might we better relate scientific facts to qualitative mysteries? How might we integrate our powerful factual knowledge with wisdom about the higher meaning of things? This book defines magic as the real qualities and mysteries of the world that science just can’t grasp. It looks at how we came to put magic in the box of subjective make-believe. It explores how we might get it out of that box and back into our understanding of reality.

[Purchase: Wipf & Stock]

Endorsements & Reviews

“This brief and clearly argued book brilliantly picks apart modern confusions about science and the supposed end of magic. In distinguishing the different senses of the term, Tyson casts a great deal of light on the roles that ‘magic’ in its different senses has played in our history and is still inevitably playing in our contemporary world.” — Charles Taylor, McGill University

“If you thought that magic had been banished by science, think again. In this entertaining and thought-provoking little book, Paul Tyson challenges us to re-think modern assumptions about the disenchantment of the world and the capacity of science to explain everything. Magic, Tyson argues, is everywhere—in our modern technologies, in the fictional worlds of Narnia, the Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and, most importantly, in the love, beauty, and goodness that make life worth living. This is a critical, thoughtful, hopeful, and life-affirming book.” — Peter Harrison, University of Queensland

[Purchase: Wipf & Stock]

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Now available: The Apocalypse of Wisdom: Louis Bouyer’s Theological Recovery of the Cosmos

Now available from Angelico Press, The Apocalypse of Wisdom: Louis Bouyer’s Theological Recovery of the Cosmos, by Keith Lemna.

Although the French Oratorian priest Louis Bouyer was one of the most comprehensive, influential, and prescient theologians of the twentieth century, only in recent years have some major European studies begun to uncover the rich treasury of his thought. In the present book, the first of its kind in English, Keith Lemna contributes to this body of scholarship a comprehensive study of Bouyer’s cosmological vision. Commencing with his seminal monograph Cosmos: The World and the Glory of God, Lemna explores in depth Bouyer’s sophiological and apocalyptic theology of creation, detailing especially his profound engagement with scientific, philosophical, religio-mythic, and poetic cosmologies. As the work of possibly the greatest twentieth-century Catholic “sophiologist,” the French theologian’s cosmology emerges as a path forward for a much-needed reintegration of human knowledge centered on the Mystery at the heart of God’s eternal Wisdom revealed in the economy of grace.

[Purchase: Angelico Press]

Praise for The Apocalypse of Wisdom:

“Keith Lemna provides a synthesis of a brilliant thinker as well as a new path forward for Christian theology in the West, the East, and at the edge of contemporary scientific inquiry into the nature and meaning of the cosmos.”
— Peter Casarella, University of Notre Dame

“Read Lemna’s pellucid work of love and learn how to read the wisdom of Christ in the pages of cosmic history.”
— Matthew Levering, Mundelein Seminary

“Bouyer’s reputation in liturgy is here deservedly augmented by Lemna’s thorough and extraordinary study of the world as gift that reflects the triune life of God in loving praise.”
— David W. Fagerberg, University of Notre Dame

“The Apocalypse of Wisdom is essential reading for both Bouyer scholars and contemplative seekers, who will find here an indispensable guide to a recovery of a ‘cosmicity’ that does full justice to the exigencies of faith, reason, and the mythopoetic imagination.”
— Adrian J. Walker, Catholic University of America

“Keith Lemna does a great service filling a lacuna in cultural memory by introducing us to this generous friend and fellow-pilgrim of so many Christian luminaries, from J.R.R. Tolkien to Jean-Luc Marion.”
— Cyrus Olsen, University of Scranton

“We can be grateful to Keith Lemna for making available to us Fr Bouyer’s comprehensive and coherent theological vision, one which is simultaneously intellectually and spiritually nourishing.”
— Msgr Michael Heintz, Mount St Mary’s Seminary

“The Apocalypse of Wisdom is a must-read for theologians, clergy, catechists, apologists, and everyone else whose vocation is to understand and convey the ineffable drama of creation and redemption.”
— David H. Delaney, Mexican American Catholic College

“Here are keys to the thought of the French theologian who has reached out further and deeper than Teilhard de Chardin in the critical field of cosmology, at the crossroads of science, culture, and faith.”
— Jean Duchesne, literary executor to Louis Bouyer

[Purchase: Angelico Press]

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New in the Veritas series: Cosmology without God?, by David Alcalde

David Alcalde: Cosmology without God?Now available in the Veritas series:
Cosmology without God?: The Problematic Theology Inherent in Modern Cosmology, by Fr. David Alcalde, with a foreword by Michael Hanby.

[Purchase: Wipf & Stock]

Is God a superfluous hypothesis for modern cosmology? According to the normal understanding of modern science, the answer should be affirmative because modern science is supposed to be free of metaphysical and theological presuppositions. However, despite its self-proclaimed neutrality regarding metaphysics and theology, modern science is full of metaphysical and theological presuppositions. These can be summarized as a mechanistic understanding of nature, a reduction of God to an external agent in competition with natural processes, and creation to a worldly mechanism. These presuppositions are deficient and untenable, and they remain unconscious for the most part in the dialogue between science and theology, making it intellectually impossible because of the reduced notions of God, nature, and creation assumed. Using the coherent and unreduced image of God and nature provided by the Christian doctrine of creation ex nihilo, Fr. David Alcalde intends to uncover and criticize the incoherent theological assumptions inherent in a concrete branch of modern science, which is modern cosmology. The author points out the presence of these inadequate theological presuppositions in both the theologians who use modern cosmology to offer scientific proof for the existence of God and the atheistic cosmologists who use their science to reject the idea of God.

Blurbs:

“The assumption persists that modern science is free of metaphysical and theological presuppositions, and therefore neutral in their regard. Appealing to the image of God and nature found in the Christian doctrine of creation, Fr. David Alcalde, trained as both a theologian and an astrophysicist, examines this assumption from both ‘sides’—and clearly exposes its problematic character.”
David L. Schindler, Pontifical John Paul II Institute, Washington, DC

“For anyone interested in the relationship between science and theology, this work is indispensable. In language that is mercifully free of academic jargon and scientific technicalities, the author unveils the non-neutrality of modern science… As a humanities type whose scientific education stopped in secondary school I found the argumentation of this work easy to follow. It will be of great value to scientists, theologians, and thoughtful Christians in general.”
Professor Tracey Rowland, University of Notre Dame (Australia)

“David Alcalde’s book stands amongst a growing body of writings which begin not with the mesmerizing discoveries of science, but with the foundational theological and metaphysical presuppositions of science… Alcade is a scientist, theologian and philosopher who calls for better science built on firmer metaphysical and theological foundations.”
Simon Oliver, Durham University

“One reason theologians and scientists so regularly speak past each other is that scientists tend to be unaware of the significant theological and metaphysical assumptions built into their thinking and practice, and theologians tend to have too little ‘expertise’ in science to be able to show them how and why they do. Fr. Alcade is the rare person who overcomes both deficiencies, and his book promises therefore to help this discussion finally bear genuine fruit.”
David C. Schindler, Pontifical John Paul II Institute (Washington, DC)

[Purchase: Wipf & Stock]

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Jeffrey Bishop: Tekne, Liturgy and Participation (7 June)

The distinction between tekhne and episteme reverberates through the history of Western philosophy; tekhne becoming the instrumental art of the sophist and episteme taking on the role of truth generation by the philosopher. Thinkers like Bernard Stiegler have argued that technology and culture, and thus technology and human beings have always coevolved hand in hand. Peter-Paul Verbeek claims that by offloading human moral intentionality onto technology we can better see how technology mediates moral subjectivity of the the human actor. In other work, Professor Jeffrey Bishop has argued that human moral subjectivity is obliterated and now instead of human culture being carried by technology, technological innovation rides on the human body. In this essay, Professor Bishop will show that Divine Liturgy as rightly ordered andrightly ordering technique avoids forms moral subjectivity, avoiding the problems of propositional humanism and yet enables human participation in culture making by enabling human participation in creation.

7 June 2019, the Hemsley, the University of Nottingham

All welcome.

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Notable: Kierkegaard’s Theological Sociology, by Paul Tyson

Now available from Cascade Books, Kierkegaard’s Theological Sociology: Prophetic Fire for the Present Age, by Paul Tyson.

Purchase: Cascade | Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk

Kierkegaard developed a distinctive type of sociology in the 1840s—a theological sociology. Looking at society through the lens of analysis categories such as worship, sin, and faith, Kierkegaard developed a profoundly insightful way of understanding how, for example, the modern mass media works. He gets right inside the urban world of Golden Age Denmark, and its religion, and analyses “the present age” of consumption, comfort, competition, distraction, and image-construction with astonishing depth. To Kierkegaard worship centers all individuals and all societies; hence his sociology is doxological. This book argues that we also live in the present age Kierkegaard described, and our way of life can be understood much better through Kierkegaard’s lens than through the methodologically materialist categories of classical sociology. As social theory itself has moved beyond classical sociology, the social sciences are increasingly open to post-methodologically-atheist approaches to understanding what it means to be human beings living in social contexts. The time is right to recover the theological resources of Christian faith in understanding the social world we live in. The time has come to pick up where Kierkegaard left off, and to start working towards a prophetic doxological sociology for our times.

Blurbs:

“Everyone supposedly knows that Kierkegaard was an ‘individualist’ who had little understanding or appreciation of society. This book completely undermines that myth by showing us how much Kierkegaard has to contribute to social theory. The author also thereby helps us see that theology cannot only learn from sociology but has much to contribute to social theory in turn.” — C. Stephen Evans, University Professor of Philosophy and Humanities, Baylor University

“Tyson’s book reveals Kierkegaard at his most prophetic in the senses of being both subversive—confronting how we have come to think of ourselves and society—and eerily prescient and timely. Tyson argues that Kierkegaard’s theological sociology arising in the tinderbox of 1840s can be seen as a basic alternative to Marx’s contemporary, deeply secular, and epoch-making understanding of society. As such it provides an alternate vision of society in the wake of Marx and secular modern understandings of human society.” — Christopher Ben Simpson, Lincoln Christian University, author of The Truth is the Way: Kierkegaard’s Theologia Viatorum

“Kierkegaard does not only analyze individuals. In this book, the author first shows that Kierkegaard also has a profound understanding of the modern, liberal society. Then he applies this insight on our contemporary challenges in a highly meaningful way. This book boldly and creatively addresses the relation between theology and sociology and explores how we are impacted by our cultural and religious environment.” — Knut Alfsvåg, VID Specialized University

Purchase: Cascade | Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk

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CFP: Patristic, Medieval, and Renaissance Studies Conference

The Patristic, Medieval, and Renaissance Studies Conference (PMR)
at Villanova University invites you to participate in its
44th International PMR Conference
October 18-20, 2019

As always, the PMR makes an OPEN CALL to scholars, institutions, and societies to propose Papers, Panels, or Sponsored Sessions in all areas and topics in LATE ANTIQUITY/PATRISTICS, BYZANTINE STUDIES, MEDIEVAL STUDIES, ISLAMIC STUDIES, JEWISH STUDIES, and RENAISSANCE & REFORMATION STUDIES.

The PMR committee this year makes a special invitation to scholars from all disciplines in these fields to address our plenary theme:

Faith in History:
Time, Narrative, History, Apocalypse

FEATURING

Gillian Clark
Professor Emerita and Senior Research Fellow
University of Bristol
Author of Christianity in Roman Society

&

Cyril O’Regan
Huisking Professor of Theology
University of Notre Dame
Author of An Anatomy of Misremembering

“And these are the generations…” Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are saturated from their origins with a sense of time and history, but making sense of time and history is difficult. Similarly, as scholars of pre-modern culture, whatever our field or focus, we face the difficulties of telling the story of the diverse and complex interactions of faiths and cultures across Late Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance and Reformation eras. PMR 2019 will focus in its plenary theme on questions both of history and historiography – how does faith appear in history? How does faith name history? And can we have faith in history?

While, as is our custom, the call for papers will be open, scholars are encouraged to propose papers and panels on the premodern Mediterranean and European cultures of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, on their own sense of history and time, on the apocalyptic sensibility, the theology and philosophy of history, on their narrative forms of discourse. In addition, scholars are encouraged to propose papers or panels on the historiography of Late Antiquity, Medieval Studies, and the Early Modern period – can we still tell a compelling story of these periods, even as our understanding grows ever more complex? Is there room for faithful retrieval? Creative fidelity?

Deadline for submissions: June 21, 2019
Notice of acceptance will be made by July 19, 2019

For more information please visit
https://www1.villanova.edu/villanova/mission/augustinianinstitute/conferences/pmr.html
Or Call : 610.519.4780 || email: pmr.conference@villanova.edu

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IAI panel: Trouble with Heaven: Why does the dark and dangerous attract us?

Trouble with Heaven:
Why does the dark and the dangerous attract us?

From Milton’s Paradise Lost to bad boys and femmes fatales, we are seduced by the dark and dangerous. Why does the devil have all the best tunes? Have we sanitised the good and made it vacuous, through religion as well as philosophy? Could we imagine a world where the good was exciting, dramatic and fun? Or are danger and denial somehow essential to being alive?

The Panel
Moral philosopher Christopher Hamilton, theologian and Zizek collaborator John Milbank, and author of Post-Human Ethics Patricia MacCormack debate darkness and light.

Watch it here.

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Alison Milbank’s Areopagus Lecture on Imaginative Apologetics

From the Areopagus Lectures page at Mars Hill Audio:

Alison Milbank on Imaginative Apologetics

“What I am calling ‘imaginative apologetics’ renews our mind. It begins when we ourselves stand apart from ourselves and receive our faith freshly, as if gifted to us for the first time, and when we use the difference of our religious culture to provoke the secularized person. So much of our missiology tells us to do the opposite — to give the people the familiar . . . to conform to contemporary modes . . . I’m suggesting the opposite: that we make our faith truly strange, first to ourselves and then to those we hope to attract. If someone lives a buffered existence within the fortress of materialism we have to help them question those limits to experience and the real, so that we may show them Christ in his true depth and beauty and strangeness.”
— Alison Milbank

This spring, theologian Alison Milbank presented the fifth Areopagus Lecture. In her talk “Imaginative Apologetics beyond C. S. Lewis,” Milbank offered an approach to defending the Christian faith that restores the imagination as a faculty inseparable from reason. By using C. S. Lewis as a conversation partner — along with Owen Barfield, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, G. K. Chesterton, and Novalis — Milbank explored how the imagination is not just an instrumental means to an objective end, but the ecstatic and receptive means by which we participate in what is True and Real.

In his autobiography, Surprised by Joy, C. S. Lewis wrote that the early Romantics “taught me longing – Sehnsucht; made me for good or ill, and before I was six years old, a votary of the Blue Flower.” The Blue Flower, a symbol popularized among the early Romantics by the poet Novalis, represented a transforming encounter with beauty that provoked feelings of desire and longing for transcendence. But, as Milbank explains in her talk, Lewis understood his initial encounters with beauty as separable from his later longing for heaven, toward which he redirected his earlier feelings after he converted to Christianity. For Lewis, while his initial encounters with beauty may have awakened him to longing and the absence of something, they did not bring him closer to the knowledge of heavenly realities.

Lewis famously wrote in an essay published in 1939 that “reason is the natural organ of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning. Imagination, producing new metaphors or revivifying old, is not the cause of truth, but its condition.” In other statements and in his poem “Reason,” Lewis suggests that not only are reason and imagination distinct from each other, but that they are opposed and that we experience this opposition internally as an irreconcilable tension.

Lewis’s understanding of the imagination featured most prominently in what became known as “C. S. Lewis’ ‘Great War’ with Owen Barfield” (explored in depth by Lionel Adey in his book of the same title). Lewis’s view of the imagination differed from Barfield’s (and earlier Romantics, such as Coleridge and Novalis) in that the imagination was helpful when it came to aesthetic concerns, but unessential as a way of knowing the truth about things. By contrast, as George Tennyson explains in his essay “Owen Barfield: First and Last Inkling,” Barfield thought that the “Imagination” was the only means by which we could perceive or comprehend anything at all.

The distinction between these two views on the imagination can have significant consequences for how we view the rest of Creation. For Barfield, and for his predecessor Novalis, the Blue Flower both awakens us to an absence within ourselves and to a presence that resides in the creatures and things around us. As Dr. Milbank explains, “For Novalis, Nature is a magic petrified city which lies as if under a spell and it’s the task of the philosopher-poet to bring this frozen entity back to life by means of his imagination.” With the two-fold “longing for” and “awareness of” some other presence produced by the Blue Flower, the rational response is to enter into a relationship with the Blue Flower and to receive it as a loving gift, which, for the Christian, is then offered back with gratitude to God.

In her lecture, Alison Milbank challenges “disciples” of C. S. Lewis to consider additional, yet sympathetic voices on the role of the imagination in order to more fully defend the Christian life as a wholly transformative way of thinking and of living that has both human and cosmic ramifications.

You can listen to the entire lecture here, or access it streaming from the MARS HILL AUDIO app.

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Signs in the Dust by Nathan Lyons

Signs in the Dust

A Theory of Natural Culture and Cultural Nature

Nathan Lyons

  • Argues that the meaningful exchange of signs is not unique to humans and is present through all of nature
  • Counters the common understanding of nature and culture as completely separate
  • Draws from medieval philosophy, semiotics, biology, and modern evolutionary theory

Purchase:  OUP.comAmazon.co.uk | Amazon.com

 

Nathan Lyons is a lecturer in philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, Australia. He previously held postdoctoral positions at Durham University and the University of Cambridge.

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Welcome to CENTRE of THEOLOGY and PHILOSOPHY

(Show Centre’s Description)

‘Every doctrine which does not reach the one thing necessary, every separated philosophy, will remain deceived by false appearances. It will be a doctrine, it will not be Philosophy’, (Maurice Blondel, 1861-1949)

The Centre of Theology and Philosophy is a research-led institution organised at the interstices of theology and philosophy. It is founded on the conviction that these two disciplines cannot be adequately understood or further developed, save with reference to each other. This is true in historical terms, since we cannot comprehend our Western cultural legacy, unless we acknowledge the interaction of the Hebraic and Hellenic traditions. It is also true conceptually, since reasoning is not fully separable from faith and hope, or conceptual reflection from revelatory disclosure. The reverse also holds, in either case.

The Centre is concerned with:

  • The historical interaction between theology and philosophy.
  • The current relation between the two disciplines
  • Attempts to overcome the analytic/ Continental divide in philosophy
  • The question of the status of ‘metaphysics’. Is the term used equivocally? Is it now at an end? Or have 20th Century attempts to have a post-metaphysical philosophy themselves come to an end?
  • The construction of a rich Catholic humanism

The Theology Department of the University of Nottingham, within which the COTP is situated, was awarded the top 5* A grade in the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2001). Nottingham was one of only two theology Departments who submitted all its staff and was rated 5* A.

For all enquiries, please email Conor Cunningham:

To return to the Nottingham Theology Department:
www.nottingham.ac.uk/theology

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Humanities Building, home of the Department of Theology and Religious Studies and the Centre of Theology and Philosophy

Recent Posts

Cyril O’Regan: Articles on Church Life Journal
September 11, 2020
Now available in Veritas: Hide and Seek: The Sacred Art of Indirect Communication, by Benson P. Fraser
July 25, 2020
Conference: The Future of Christian Thinking
June 29, 2020
Now available in Veritas: Exorcising Philosophical Modernity, ed. Philip John Paul Gonzales
April 22, 2020
Now available: Can We Believe in People? by Stephen R. L. Clark
February 25, 2020
New from William C. Hackett: Philosophy in Word & Name
February 3, 2020
One-Day Event: The Future of Hylomorphism
January 30, 2020
Special Issue of Religions CFP: “Science, Theology and Metaphysics”
December 10, 2019
Macrina Magazine: Fresh Philosophical Engagements with an Ancient Faith
December 6, 2019
New edited volume from Cambridge University Press: Patents on Life
October 17, 2019

(Sculpture by Sara Cunningham-Bell)

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