The deadline for submissions of abstracts, thematic panel proposals, and book panel proposals to be considered for the 2014 ASCP annual conference has been extended.
**The new deadline is Friday 3 October 2014 **
The Australasian Society for Continental Philosophy aims to provide a broad intellectual forum for professional academics and postgraduates researching topics in Contemporary European philosophy, and it is the premier reference point for people working within the diverse fields of Continental/European Philosophy in the Australasian region.
Keynote addresses by:
Call for Papers
We invite proposals for papers for the 2014 ASCP annual conference at ACU in the broadly-defined field of Continental Philosophy. Proposals from postgraduate students are very welcome.
All non-plenary papers will be allocated 45-minute sessions (25-30 minute presentation, allowing 15-20 minutes for discussion).
Papers that are linked thematically (e.g., devoted to the work of a particular thinker or a particular philosophical problem/issue) will be scheduled within a conference stream.
Submissions are especially encouraged in the following potential streams:
The deadline for the submission of conference abstracts has been extended to Friday 3 October 2014. Confirmation of selection will follow shortly.
Abstracts should be 200 words in length, and submitted to email@example.com.
Call for Panels
We also invite proposals for thematic and book panels:
To submit a proposal for a thematic or book panel, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for the submission of panel proposals has been extended to Friday 3 October 2014. Confirmation of selection will follow shortly. (NB: even if your paper is part of a panel, you still need to submit your paper proposal as above, indicating the panel title in the relevant field.)
Please visit the conference website (www.acu.edu.au/ascp2014) for:
After the conference there will be a call for submissions for a special ASCP conference issue of Parrhesia: A Journal of Critical Philosophy.
For further information, please email email@example.com.
On behalf of the ASCP Conference Organising Committee:
Richard Colledge (Chair)
Fatih Erol Tuncer (Project Officer)
Wojciech Kaftanski (postgrad rep)
To download the conference flyer, click here [PDF].
Fresh off the heels of the first book in the KALOS book series being released, the second book by Paul Tyson is also now out, entitled Returning to Reality: Christian Platonism for our Times (Wipf & Stock, 2014; 218pp).
Could it be that we have lost touch with some basic human realities in our day of high-tech efficiency, frenetic competition, and ceaseless consumption? Have we turned from the moral, the spiritual, and even the physical realities that make our lives meaningful? These are metaphysical questions—questions about the nature of reality—but they are not abstract questions. These are very down to earth questions that concern power and the collective frameworks of belief and action governing our daily lives.
This book is an introduction to the history, theory, and application of Christian metaphysics. Yet this book is not just an introduction, it is also a passionately argued call for a profound change in the contemporary Christian mind. Paul Tyson argues that as Western culture’s Christian Platonist understanding of reality was replaced by modern pragmatic realism, we turned not just from one outlook on reality to another, but away from reality itself. This book seeks to show that if we can recover this ancient Christian outlook on reality, reframed for our day, then we will be able to recover a way of life that is in harmony with human and divine truth.
“Paul Tyson is an academic with a passion. He wants us to think hard and long about overcoming dualistic thinking and not to buy into the sacred-secular divide. He thus advocates a personal faith with public implications and longs to see us enter ways of knowing that combine transcendent truth with immanent and active passion.” — Charles Ringma, Professor emeritus, Regent College, Vancouver, BC, Canada
“Paul Tyson has written an impressive essay on Christian metaphysics. He is aware of the widespread charges against Platonism, metaphysics, and Christianity but he addresses them with a balanced combination of sound common sense, theological acumen, and philosophical finesse. He shows how Christian Platonism is richly concerned with the things of reality we know, while yet seeing them in the light of a wisdom that is more than human. His thoughtful voice is both accessible and penetrating and the human wisdom of the author shines through. Warmly recommended.” — William Desmond, Professor of Philosophy, Katholieke Universteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium and David R. Cook Professor of Philosophy, Villanova University, Villanova, PA
“Paul Tyson’s Returning to Reality is an excellent introduction to the fundamental existential and intellectual crisis facing Christianity and the West: whether meaning and intelligibility are intrinsic to reality and thus whether truth is anything but pragmatic success. Simultaneously beautiful, whimsical, and profound, Returning to Reality provides an important witness to the unity of life in Christ and the life of the mind and compelling evidence that only Christian faith in its fullness can now save reason.” — Michael Hanby, Associate Professor of Religion and Philosophy of Science, Pontifical John Paul II Institute, Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.
“Everyone does metaphysics. For Paul Tyson, therefore, the crucial question becomes whether we fall in line with the one-dimensional (1DM) physicalist outlook of modernity or open our horizons to the three dimensions of morality, physicality, and spirituality that make up the 3DM outlook of Christian Platonism. This is a passionately written book, calling for nothing less than a ‘life-world rebellion.’ Those gripped by Tyson’s uncovering of the mythos of modernity find here a convincing alternative to the amoral instrumentalism that characterizes much of contemporary society.” — Hans Boersma, J. I. Packer Professor of Theology, Regent College, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Download [PDF] and distribute the promotional flyer for this title.
The first book in the new KALOS book series has been published by Steven D. Cone entitled An Ocean Vast of Blessing: A Theology of Grace (Wipf & Stock, 2014; 241pp).
Humans are made in the image of God, and authentically coming to be human means to become like him. This work pursues a robust and renewed theology of grace in conversation with the patristic traditions of Irenaeus, the Cappadocian Fathers, and Augustine, the medieval theology of Maximus and Aquinas, and such modern interlocutors as Søren Kierkegaard, Bernard Lonergan, John Milbank, and John Behr. It thereby regrounds our interpretation of Scripture in the wide tradition of the church. By doing so, it argues that Christ’s incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection form the only possible point of reference by which we can understand the universe, as God creates it and works in it to bring us into union with himself.
“Inviting us to see grace with new eyes, Cone gathers up numerous—and in many cases neglected—insights from the past, weaving them together with the work of more recent theologians to yield a theological vision that elucidates the purpose of our own lives, of human history, and of created reality in its entirety. For those seeking a robust understanding of the doctrine of grace, this thought-provoking, wide-ranging book will serve as a welcome guide.” — J. Michael Stebbins, author of The Divine Initiative
As part of its fall open submission cycle, the John Templeton Foundation welcomes online funding inquiries in the areas of philosophy and theology. The submission window is August 1 to October 1, 2014. Proposed philosophical projects need not have religion or theology as a focus. To submit an online funding inquiry, please visit http://www.templeton.
Please note that the Templeton Foundation does not normally provide dissertation fellowships through this open submission process. For more information on the kinds of projects that the Foundation can support, visit http://www.templeton.org/
A list of Foundation grants in the areas of philosophy and theology can be found here: http://www.templeton.
It has taken some time to write this, as our very good friend the Rev., Dr. John Hughes died in a tragic car accident: A man of the people, therefore, a priest of the people. I cannot tell you what loss we at the Centre, indeed we as the church have suffered. Intelligent, humble, loving, John, and this is not sentimentality – he was a legend in his own time, in our time. His work was rigorous, determined, and oh so brilliant. What a man, what a person. What there was to come will never be known, but what he left us with-from his smile to his published work is more than to contend with and to mourn over our enormous loss.
May God be with his soul.
9th January 2015
Gillian Rose’s work spans Adorno, Hegel, sociology, philosophy, jurisprudence, post-structuralism, the Frankfurt School, Marxism, anthropology, literature, Jewish and Christian theology, death, Auschwitz, Feminism, and more. This conference brings together some of the foremost scholars on Rose’s work to discuss her continued relevance for social theory, politics, Marxism, theology, Hegel and Žižek, amongst other critical streams, twenty years after her untimely death.
CALL FOR PAPERS: If you wish to offer a paper on any aspect of Rose’s work please send an abstract to Andrew Brower Latz at firstname.lastname@example.org
Venue: Durham Business School
£50 (buffet and refreshments included)
Cheques should be made payable
‘Durham University, Centre for Catholic Studies’
Dept. Theology and Religion,
Durham DH1 3RS
There will be a meal afterwards (not included)
To register or to enquire about student concessions contact
or Tel: 0191 33 41656
Please download and distribute the event flyer [PDF]
Recently published: From Theology to Theological Thinking, by Jean-Yves Lacoste, translated by W. Chris Hackett, with an introduction by Jeffrey Bloechl (University of Virginia Press, 2014; 136pp).
“Christian philosophy” is commonly regarded as an oxymoron, philosophy being thought incompatible with the assumptions and conclusions required by religious faith. According to this way of thinking, philosophy and theology must forever remain distinct.
In From Theology to Theological Thinking, Jean-Yves Lacoste takes a different approach. Stepping back from contemporary philosophical concerns, Lacoste–a leading figure in the philosophy of religion–looks at the relationship between philosophy and theology from the standpoint of the history of ideas. He notes in particular that theology and philosophy were not considered separate realms until the high Middle Ages, this distinction being a hallmark of the modern era that is coming to an end. Lacoste argues that the intellectual task before us now is to work in the frontier region between or beyond these domains, work he identifies as “the task of thinking.”
With this argument, Lacoste resets our understanding of Western Christian thought, contending that a new way of thinking that is at once philosophical and theological will be the lasting discourse of Christianity.
“Few books called ‘subversive’ are so, and fewer still would-be subversive books are also lucid, scholarly, and rigorous. But this most excellent short work by Jean-Yves Lacoste is genuinely subversive, and in part because it possesses these three attributes. The subversion consists in the demolition of any supposed boundary between theology and philosophy: a division unknown to antiquity and much of the Middle Ages, and meaningless after the work of Hegel, Schelling, and Kierkegaard. Theology is not ‘regional’ — rather it contests the philosophic logos itself by proclaiming that it is the rational word of Creation and of the crucified God-Man. To be true to itself it must take thinking to the limits and beyond, while remaining conjoined to the work of prayer. Yet the latter stipulation is in Lacoste no pious condemnation of ‘secular’ philosophy, for he hints that to think at all is in some sense already to pray. The implications of Lacoste’s subversion are immense. It helps to explain how today theology is suddenly everywhere, yet also in an extreme institutional crisis. Moreover, it begins to point a way out. None of our existing faculty boundaries make any sense for theologians; instead, what they need is a new academic practice combining theology, philosophy, and the history of religions (implicitly crucial in this book), alongside an encouragement of spiritual formation. The question then, after Lacoste, is what sort of institutional innovations would provide the necessary carapace?” — John Milbank, Professor in Religion, Politics, and Ethics at the University of Nottingham
Jean-Yves Lacoste, a philosopher who works in Paris, France and Cambridge, UK, is the author of Experience and the Absolute.
W. Chris Hackett is Research Fellow and Lecturer in the School of Philosophy at Australian Catholic University.
Jeffrey Bloechl is Professor of Philosophy at Boston College, USA.
Now available: Friendship as Sacred Knowing: Overcoming Isolation, by Samuel Kimbriel (Oxford University Press, 2014; 240pp).
We are haunted, Samuel Kimbriel suggests, by a habit of isolation buried, often imperceptibly, within our practices of understanding and relating to the world. In this volume he works through the complexities of this disposition to contest its place within contemporary philosophical thought and practice. He focuses on the human activity of friendship. Chapters one and two examine friendship to unearth the contours of this habit towards isolation and to reveal certain ills that have long attended it. Chapters three through seven place these isolated ways of relating to the world into critical dialogue with the tradition of late-antique and early-medieval Johannine Christianity, in which intimacy and understanding go hand in hand. This tradition drew the human activities of friendship and enquiry into such unity that understanding itself became a kind of communion. Kimbriel endorses a return to an antique and particularly Christian philosophical habit—“the befriending of wisdom.”
“This is an impressive, thought-provoking and well-structured discussion of the importance of friendship for sacred knowing. Kimbriel effectively engages with Charles Taylor’s genealogy of modernity in terms of the ‘disengaged stance’ and the ‘buffered self.’ He draws well from Augustinian resources, engages with Aristotle on friendship and civic virtue, widens out to a consideration of the theological dimensions in St. John’s Gospel and to Aquinas’s cosmic vision of friendship. Friendship brings before us the reality that ways of knowing are ways of being.” —William Desmond, Professor of Philosophy, Institute of Philosophy, KU Leuven, Belgium; David Cook Visiting Chair in Philosophy, Villanova University
“The failure of modern attempts to ‘demythologize’ the mystery of friendship indicates that our understanding of science and culture builds on profoundly unrealistic prejudices. Samuel Kimbriel’s book approaches this challenge from an inspiring new angle. It combines a concise genealogy of the sentimentalization of friendship in western societies with an illuminating reading of the key sources of the pre-modern philosophy of friendship, and demonstrates convincingly that the related, premodern metaphysics and cosmology provide the only serious Western alternative to the inconsistent metaphysical underpinnings of our modern way of living and thinking.” —Johannes Hoff, Heythrop College, University of London
“We should only have friends who contemplate the good. But this contemplation is replete. So why should lovers of the good need friends? This is the aporia of friendship articulated in Plato’s Lysis. To resolve it, Kimbriel suggests that we must realize that ancient theoria was inseparable from a communal and liturgical life. But he brilliantly suggests that it is only fully resolved by the Johannine integration of knowing and loving, and the Trinitarian view that God is in himself interpersonal love. Now there is no knowing the good without friendship, and no knowing without friendship. To see the good is to become intimate friends with others. This scholarly trajectory belongs to a new agenda which rejects any separation of philosophy and theology as historically indefensible….This is an important and finely-wrought achievement.” —Catherine Pickstock, University of Cambridge
Call for Papers
Logos 2015: Religious Experience
May 7-9, 2015 at the University of Notre Dame
Religious experience is central to religious faith and practice. It often serves as evidence for belief; it contributes to the development of doctrine; and it, or the desire for it, is often a major motivator for church attendance, meditation, commitment to spiritual disciplines, and other religious practices. Religious experience has received a great deal of attention within both philosophy and theology; but important questions remain unanswered. What is the nature of religious experience? What, exactly is (or should be) its relationship to religious belief and religious practice? If God exists and loves human beings, why aren’t vivid, unambiguous religious experiences more widely available? What can religious experiences tell us about the nature of God? Might religious experiences be the result, in part, of particular skills or virtues of the people who have them? The 2015 Logos Workshop will be devoted to addressing these and other philosophical and theological aspects of religious experience.
To have your paper considered for presentation at Logos 2015, please submit an abstract of the paper or the paper itself no later than October 15, 2014. Other things being equal, preference will be given to those who submit full papers by the deadline. We will let you know by December 1, 2014 whether your paper has been provisionally accepted. Full acceptance will be conditional on submission of the full reading version of the paper by April 1, 2015. It is expected that papers presented at the Logos workshop will be works in progress that can benefit from the group discussion. Consequently, we ask that authors not submit papers that will be published before the conference has ended.
Please send Abstracts or Full Papers to:email@example.com
For more information, please visit: http://philreligion.nd.edu/calendar/annual-logos-workshop/
Paul Tyson has written an essay entitled “The Metaphysics of Money” that explores the realm of Medieval economics in an effort to illustrate “how different metaphysical approaches to money can be, and it makes us aware that our Modern understanding of the nature and meaning of money is not a fixed and certain reality.”
If you were to ask a medieval person the question “What is money?” they would not tell you that it is simply a made up means of marketplace exchange. They would not say anything like that for a number of interesting reasons. The first of these reasons is that they would assume a “what is… ?” question is a question about something’s essential nature rather than a question about its conventional function or instrumental effect. This assumption reflects a huge difference between Modern and Medieval reality outlooks to start with. To the Medievals, everything has an essential meaning, and accurately discerning true meaning determines right use. To us Moderns, it is the other way around: everything has a use – effective manipulative power, based on a scientific knowledge of how things work, is the criteria of real world truth – and each person can make up whatever meanings and values they like. Indeed, to us, nothing has an essential meaning. To us, use defines value, but value itself has no essential meaning.
Because they were interested in essential meanings the Medievals did not believe in a notion so relativistic and contingent as ‘classical’ supply and demand determined “market value”. Instead, they believed in “true value” where the true (essential) value of anything sold in the market needed to be reasonably reflected in the price if it was to be sold fairly. Here a fair price was seen as a function of properly appreciated real value (knowing what something was really worth). Fair price was a function of the essential value of the traded thing itself and the real value of the skills, labour and pious stewardship of the people who produced and distributed that good. Here also the essential value of the buyer (such as a God-imaged, though poor serf, needing food) must determine the price of, say, bread if that price is to reflect true value. So you would not get an instrumental answer to a “what is?” question of any sort from a Medieval. Further, in relation to the question “what is money?” it would not occur to a Medieval that real wealth, and any means by which wealth is exchanged, would be an arbitrary fiction that had nothing to do with moral and spiritual truths.
Read the rest here.
Just published is a special issue of the Journal of Scriptural Reasoning (13, no. 1 [June 2014]) on Phenomenology and Scripture. Amongst other contributors, there are two essays by CoTP member W. Chris Hackett (Australian Catholic University) entitled “Some Phenomenological Crumbs” and “Phenomenology of God: Two Ways“. Additionally, Hackett in the same issue has a review of William Young’s Uncommon Friendships: An Amicable History of Modern Religious Thought.
Table of contents:
Awakening to Life: Augustine’s Admonition to (would-be) Philosophers
‘Become Transfigured Forever’:?Political Transcendence in Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s V for Vendetta
Mika Tapio Luoma-aho
Immortality or Eternal Life? The Religious Significance of Atheist Living
Joseph M Spencer
The Recovery of Contestation and the Apophatic Body of Christ: Engaging Graham Ward’s The Politics of Discipleship
Kyle Gingerich Hiebert
A Review of Steven Jungkeit’s Spaces of Modern Theology, Geography and Power in Schleiermacher’s World
Ruth Elizabeth Jackson
Fiction and Poetry
Stations: A Poem
Read the full issue here.
Philosophical and Theological Anthropology in the 21st Century – Part 1
Philosophical and Theological Anthropology in the 21st Century – Part 2
Professor Charles Taylor, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at McGill University in Canada and formerly Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory at Oxford and a Fellow of All Souls College gave the Firth Memorial Lectures 2014, as a guest of the Department of Theology and Religious Studies. His lectures attempted to assess where the philosophical and theological view of human beings stand today in relation to western secular civilisation.
Charles Taylor received the Templeton Prize in 2007. The Templeton Prize was established in 1972 as the world’s largest annual award given to an individual at that time. It is intended to recognise exemplary achievement in work related to life’s spiritual dimension. This distinction was followed in November 2008 by him becoming the first Canadian to win Japan’s Kyoto Prize for arts and philosophy.
Professor Taylor is also a member of the Order of Canada and a foreign honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was made honorary Doctor of Letters in the University of Oxford in 2012.
Links to other videos you may find useful:
For an article in keeping with the concerns of the Centre of Theology and Philosophy, please see “Beyond Bits, Memes and Utility Machines: A Theology of Intellectual Property as Social Relations,” by David W. Opderbeck, Professor of Law, Seton Hall University School of Law. This was originally published in University of St. Thomas Law Journal 10, no. 3 (Article 8; 2013): 738-73.
Excerpt from the Introduction:
“Intellectual property is about human persons, human cultures, and human ideas. Persons, cultures, and ideas are more than epiphenomena of matter. Persons are more than utility maximizing machines; cultures are more than the sum of individual human beings or ideas, and ideas are more than discrete bits of unrelated data. Any theory of intellectual property that reduces human persons, human ideas, and human cultures to bits, memes, and utility machines will prove inadequate.
“This is a problem because prevailing economic and critical theories of intellectual property are reductionistic in exactly this way. Nothing but preferences and power remain. Such theories lack any meaningful ontology either of persons or of information. We need a better theory with a richer ontology. Intellectual property needs a metaphysic of the relation between human persons, cultures, and ideas. [...]“
Read the rest here [PDF]
IOCS SUMMER CONFERENCE
8-10 September 2014, Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge
(with an optional day-trip on 11 September)
Our Institute’s annual conference will be taking place between 8-10 September 2014, at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, and will address the topic: ‘Logos – Cosmos – Eros: Horizons and Limitations of Russian Religious Philosophy’. Details about the conference can be found in the attached poster/flyer.
For more information or to make a booking please visit our website at www.iocs.cam.ac.uk
or contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on +44 (0) 1223 741037
Not As the World Gives:
The Way of Creative Justice
Foreword by Adrian Walker
Published by Angelico Press; 2014; 292pp.
This is the time for a new politics, a new economics. Not As the World Gives, drawing on the Church’s two millennia of reflection on the Gospel, shows us the nature of society by showing us ourselves. We are beings created to give and receive—called to “walk towards the true freedom that Christ taught us in the Beatitudes,” as Pope Francis expressed it.
There is no peace without justice, but neither can there be justice without love. Far from being an impractical dream, Catholic social doctrine can transform the way we work, the way we govern, and the way we treat the natural world. What emerges from this sequel to the author’s The Radiance of Being is a vision of integration and wholeness, a society both divine and human, and a “humanism open to the absolute.”
“In this marvelous and wide-ranging work, Stratford Caldecott offers us a rich and provocative view of Catholic teaching about social life for the 21st century—the fruit of a lifetime of sincere and faithful study of theology, philosophy, politics, and economics.” — ANDREW ABELA
“Stratford Caldecott’s magisterial new work shows how both the cosmos and the polis emanate from the supernatural Good in God. His account of Catholic social thought charts a new path for politics, the economy, and human culture.” — ADRIAN PABST
“In distinctive voice, Stratford Caldecott’s Not As the World Gives completes the analysis he began in The Radiance of Being. Caldecott’s particular genius is to be able to take up large subjects and articulate the essential outline of what needs saying. Here we see the radiance of Being as it shines upon the social and cultural worlds.” — GLENN W. OLSEN
“Stratford Caldecott has a great gift for writing profound things clearly and intelligibly. There are few authors today who discuss social and cultural matters in their proper and comprehensive ecclesiological and theological context as does he here.” — DAVID L. SCHINDLER
“As Stratford Caldecott forcefully reminds us in this cogent and inspiring book, the social doctrine of the Church needs to be totally integrated into our spiritual and moral lives, a process he calls ‘creative justice.’” — RUSSELL SPARKES
From the Duke Divinity School:
On behalf of the Duke Graduate Conference in Theology planning committee, I am pleased to announce the release of the Call for Papers for the 2014 DGCT, which will take place October 3-4 this fall. The conference theme is “Do Not Be Silent at My Tears”: Theological Perspectives on Suffering. We are also delighted to announce that Dr. M. Shawn Copeland has agreed to serve as the keynote speaker for the conference.
In addition to inviting you all to submit paper proposals, please forward this Call for Papers to friends and colleagues from other institutions who might be interested in attending or presenting a paper at the conference.
For more information, you can visit the conference website at sites.duke.edu/dgct.
The Freedom of a Christian Ethicist: The Future of a Reformation Legacy
What is the significance of the Reformation and its legacy for Christian ethics? Is there a distinctly Protestant contribution to contemporary ethical debates and discussions? What is this contribution and in what ways should it be pursued today? This conference at the University of Aberdeen will aim to address and clarify these and related questions.
Sponsored by the Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics and the University of Aberdeen Department of Divinity and Religious Studies.
For more information on the conference programme, travel & accommodation, and to register, please click here.
From Deborah B. Haarsma, President of BioLogos:
I’m writing to ask your help. BioLogos is seeking someone to join our team as a content editor at our offices in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Here’s the position description:
We are searching for a qualified candidate to serve as Content Editor. A primary task for this person will be to work with the Content Manager on the production of our daily blog. This involves regular interaction with blog authors and a keen editorial eye, as well as basic familiarity with the current blogging environment. Responsibilities will also include working with the BioLogos team on the development of other resources—both in print and for the web. The successful candidate should know the issues BioLogos is concerned with and have a familiarity with our audience. The Content Editor is expected to agree with our Mission and Beliefs and be based at our offices in Grand Rapids, Michigan (some relocation assistance can be provided). It is expected that we will hire an early career professional who has earned a master’s or doctoral degree in a field of science, religion, or other related area; who has some experience writing at the intersection of science and faith; and who has a passion for communicating the harmony between science and faith.
Does this sound like someone you know? Take a moment to consider your circle of colleagues and friends. If a good candidate comes to mind, please take a moment to forward this message and encourage them to apply.
Does this sound like you? If you share our passion for promoting the harmony of faith and science to the modern Church, and this opportunity fits your experience and professional goals, I strongly encourage you to apply at https://biologos.hireology.
Soon to be released: Atheists: The Origin of the Species, by Nick Spencer (Bloomsbury, May 2014, 320pp).
The clash between atheism and religion has become the defining battle of the 21st century. Books on and about atheism retain high profile and popularity, and atheist movements on both sides of the Atlantic capture headlines with high-profile campaigns and adverts. However, very little has been written on the history of atheism, and this book fills that conspicuous gap.
Instead of treating atheism just as a philosophical or scientific idea about the non-existence of God, Atheists: The Origin of the Species places the movement in its proper social and political context. Because atheism in Europe developed in reaction to the Christianity that dominated the continent’s intellectual, social and political life, it adopted, adapted and reacted against its institutions as well as its ideas. Accordingly, the history of atheism is as much about social and political movements as it is scientific or philosophical ideas.
This is the story not only of Hobbes, Hume, and Darwin, but also of Thomas Aitkenhead hung for blasphemous atheism, Percy Shelley expelled for adolescent atheism, and the Marquis de Sade imprisoned for libertine atheism; of the French revolutionary Terror and the Soviet League of the Militant Godless; of the rise of the US Religious Right and of Islamic terrorism.
Looking at atheism in its full sociopolitical context helps explain why it has looked so very different in different countries. It also explains why there has been a recent upsurge in atheism, particularly in Britain and the US, where religion has unexpectedly come to play such a significant role in political affairs. This leads us to a somewhat paradoxical conclusion: we should expect to hear more about atheism in the future for the simple reason that God is back.
‘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 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:
(Sculpture by Sara Cunningham-Bell)