Research Funding Opportunities through Notre Dame’s Center for Philosophy of Religion
Hope, Optimism, and God (Residential Fellowships)
Hope & Optimism: Conceptual and Empirical Investigations invites applications for residential fellowships as part of our “Hope, Optimism, and God” funding initiative for projects beginning Fall 2015. Winning applicants will spend AY2015-2016 in residence at Notre Dame’s Center for Philosophy of Religion, and will receive a $65,000 stipend plus approximately $10,000 for research. We expect to fund projects in philosophy of religion, epistemology, ethics, moral psychology, and analytic theology, but welcome applications from people working in other fields as well.
For further details, including eligibility requirements and application instructions, please visit the project website at: hopeoptimism.org. Application deadline is February 15, 2015.
Hope, Optimism, and God (Non-Residential Fellowships)
Hope & Optimism: Conceptual and Empirical Investigations invites applications for non-residential fellowships as part of our “Hope, Optimism, and God” funding initiative for projects beginning Fall 2015. These awards will fund one-year projects. Funding requests up to $100,000 are allowable. We expect to fund projects in philosophy of religion, epistemology, ethics, moral psychology, and analytic theology, but welcome applications from people working in other fields as well.
For further details, including eligibility requirements and application instructions, please visit the project website at: hopeoptimism.org. Applications deadline is February 15, 2015.
Aspects of Religious Experience (Residential Fellowships)
The Experience Project invites applications for up to two residential fellowships as part of our “Aspects of Religious Experience” funding initiative for projects beginning Fall 2015. Winning applicants will spend AY2015-2016 in residence at Notre Dame’s Center for Philosophy of Religion, and will receive a $65,000 stipend plus approximately $10,000 for research and relocation. We expect to fund projects on religious experience in philosophy of religion, theology, and/or religious studies.
For further details, including eligibility requirements and application instructions, please visit the project website at: the-experience-project.org. Application deadline is February 15, 2015.
Aspects of Religious Experience (Non-Residential Fellowships)
The Experience Project invites applications for non-residential fellowships as part of our “Aspects of Religious Experience” funding initiative for projects beginning Fall 2015. These awards will fund one-year projects. Funding requests up to $100,000 are allowable. We expect to fund projects on the topic of religious experience in philosophy of religion, theology, and/or religious studies.
For further details, including eligibility requirements and application instructions, please visit the project website at: the-experience-project.org. Applications deadline is February 15, 2015.
Alvin Plantinga Fellowship
Notre Dame’s Center for Philosophy of Religion invites applications for the Alvin Plantinga Fellowship. This fellowship is for a senior, established philosopher whose work has important connections to philosophy of religion and/or Christian Philosophy. The Plantinga fellow will spend AY2015-2016 in residence at the Center for Philosophy of Religion, and will receive a $75,000 stipend which includes $10,000 for research and relocation.
For further details, including application instructions, please visit http://philreligion.nd.edu/center-fellowships/. Application deadline is February 15, 2015.
Senior Research Fellowship in Religious Experience
Notre Dame’s Center for Philosophy of Religion invites applications for a Senior Research Fellowship. This fellowship is for a senior scholar in philosophy, theology, or religious studies working on the topic of religious experience. The Senior Research fellow will spend AY2015-2016 in residence at the Center for Philosophy of Religion, and will receive a $75,000 stipend which includes $10,000 for research and relocation.
For further details, including application instructions, please visit http://philreligion.nd.edu/center-fellowships/. Application deadline is December 1, 2014.
Visiting Graduate Fellowship
Notre Dame’s Center for Philosophy of Religion invites applications for a Visiting Graduate Fellowship. This fellowship is for a philosophy graduate student from another institution who has serious research interests in the philosophy of religion. (Note: Applicants for this fellowship are not expected to be doing dissertation work in the philosophy of religion, nor are they expected to propose a fellowship project in that field. To be eligible, one need only express and provide evidence of serious research interest in philosophy of religion.) The Visiting Graduate fellow will spend AY2015-2016 in residence at the Center for Philosophy of Religion, and will receive a $20,000 stipend along with money for movingexpenses and research-related expenses.
For further details, including application instructions, please visit http://philreligion.nd.edu/center-fellowships/. Application deadline is February 15, 2015.
We’ve had a few items sent our way recently, and wanted to highlight them here.
Know of anything else news-worthy that we should know about? If so, please submit it through our News Submission form here.
Saturday, 16th May 2015
The question of ethics has been central to philosophical and theological traditions throughout history, and as time moves forward, investigations into ethics in the context of the relationship between humanity and nature have become more complex, taking account of advancements in the natural sciences and a growing appreciation of nature. How are we to understand our relationship with nature, and how does this have implications for our understandings of ethics? The links between nature and ethics appears prominently in the Judeo-Christian tradition, for example: the symbolism of the tree of knowledge in Genesis may be interpreted as a realisation that there may be right and wrong way to toil the earth. Are we now realising the repercussions of our failure to take note of this forewarning in our experience of climate change?
In John’s prologue, the logos was in the beginning, which could suggest an abstract, objective moral code in nature. If so, how do we gain access to this code of ethics? Is it only accessible through revelation, as in some religious traditions, or is this code of ethics more generally accessible to humanity? Indeed, does such an abstract notion of ethics exist; could it be that ethics are a natural and subjective development? Is ethics a feature of nature, or have we invented it? This one-day conference seeks to explore these questions which emerge from considering the relationship between nature and ethics. This is not a conference engaged in considering normative ethical systems per se. Rather, it will take a broader approach exploring the nature (understood as essence or character) of ethics itself and whether nature (understood as natural world) has imbedded in it, a moral code.
CALL FOR PAPERS
We invite interested parties to submit abstracts of 250 words for 10-15 minute short papers on themes related to that of the conference, including but not limited to:
Send abstracts to email@example.com for review by 31st January 2015.
Download a flyer for the event here [PDF].
The 2nd edition of Gregory Shaw’s Theurgy and the Soul: The Neoplatonism of Iamblichus is now available (Angelico Press/Sophia Perennis; September 9, 2014). This 2nd edition contains a new preface from the author, as well as a foreword by John Milbank and Aaron Riches.
Theurgy and the Soul is a study of Iamblichus of Syria (ca. 240-325), whose teachings set the final form of pagan spirituality prior to the Christianization of the Roman Empire. Gregory Shaw focuses on the theory and practice of theurgy, a term meaning “divine action,” the most controversial and significant aspect of Iamblichus’s Platonism. Unlike previous Platonists, who stressed the elevated status of the human soul, Iamblichus taught that the soul descends completely into the body and requires the performance of theurgic rites—revealed by the gods—to unite the soul with the One.
Iamblichus was a seminal Platonic philosopher whose views on the soul and the importance of ritual profoundly influenced subsequent thinkers such as Proclus, Damascius, and Dionysius the Areopagite. Iamblichus’s vision of a hierarchical cosmos united by divine ritual became the dominant worldview for the entire medieval world, and played an important role in the Renaissance Platonism of Marsilio Ficino. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that he expected a reading of Iamblichus to cause a “revival in the churches.” Yet, until recently, modern scholars have dismissed him, seeing theurgy as ritual magic or an attempt to manipulate the gods. Shaw, however, shows that theurgy was a subtle and intellectually sophisticated attempt to apply Platonic and Pythagorean teachings to the full expression of human existence in the material world. This new edition includes a foreword by John Milbank and Aaron Riches showing the Christian sacramental implications of Iamblichean theurgy, and a new preface from the author.
“Theurgy and the Soul remains the one essential work not only on the mysterious yet influential figure of Iamblichus, but also on the emergence of religious or theurgical Neoplatonism. Shaw presents the reasoning and classical pedigree behind the sometimes obscure doctrines and practices belonging to this often misunderstood school of thought. His analysis reveals it as a dynamic and distinct form of philosophy in its own right, and not the last gasp of Hellenism before the onset of the Middle Ages.” — L. MICHAEL HARRINGTON, author of Sacred Place in Early Medieval Neoplatonism
“Gregory Shaw’s Theurgy and the Soul is the essential guide for those seeking entry to the experiential dimension of late Neoplatonism. The book is also philosophically sound, but its primary importance lies in bringing alive for sympathetic readers the symbolic and imaginal realities that animated the spiritual practices of Iamblichus and his followers. It reveals Late Antique Platonists clearly as mystical existentialists whose teachings are just as vital now as they were in antiquity.” — JOHN BUSSANICH, author of The One and Its Relation to Intellect in Plotinus
Below and attached, please see the poster for our next Keble Theology Workshop, scheduled for 5pm on Tuesday 2 December.
I would be grateful if you could circulate and/or display this to any interested students.
Our speaker on this occasion is Dr. Edward Kessler MBE, Founder and Executive Director of the Woolf Institute in Cambridge. He is one of this country’s most prominent voices on relations between Jews, Christians and Muslims. He will raise the challenging question of whether the 21st century global resurgence of religions spells the end of ‘interfaith’ relations—or indeed whether the key fissures may now just as frequently be apparent between different viewpoints within the same religious traditions.
We will again aim to set out theology’s “shop window” in order especially to attract present and potential graduate students, and to demonstrate that engagement with theology’s subject matter is of outstanding interest and importance.
Affordable bed-and-breakfast accommodation for out-of-town guests is usually available to book directly either at Keble or at oxfordrooms.co.uk. Let us know if you require help with this or with travel arrangements.
Please note again the usual limit of 60 places; early booking is advisable. All that is needed to register is a brief email to firstname.lastname@example.org (one per person, please).
With many thanks and all good wishes,
Download the poster for the Kessler Keble Workshop here.
Recently published: Partakers of the Divine: Contemplation and the Practice of Philosophy, by Jacob Holsinger Sherman (Fortress Press, 2014).
Exploring the meeting of mystical and philosophical theology, Partakers of the Divineshows that Christian philosophical and contemplative practices arose together and that throughout much of Christian history, philosophy, theology, and contemplation remained internal to one another. Through an engagement with contemporary theologians and philosophers of religion, both analytic and continental, and through careful re-readings of historical figures such as Anselm and Nicholas of Cusa, this volume presents a contemporary argument in favor of the antique, participatory tradition of contemplative philosophy.
Partakers demonstrates that retrieving this more venerable vision of the relation of philosophy, theology, and contemplation to one another provides theologians and philosophers of religion today with a way forward beyond many of the stalemates that have beset discussions about faith and reason, the role of religion in contemporary culture, and the challenges of modernity and postmodernity.
“In his impressive first book, Jacob Holsinger Sherman successfully shows that the main lines of Christian spiritual practice are inseparable from ascription to a metaphysics of participation and vice versa. Participation was experienced, while spiritual practice was interpreted as hierarchical ascent through grades of being towards final union with the Triune God.” — John Milbank, University of Nottingham
“In this timely and innovative study, Jacob Holsinger Sherman parses afresh the ancient idea of a philosophy which is also contemplative. Whilst Pierre Hadot recalled late twentieth-century readers to this rich tradition in late antique philosophy, Sherman now gives it fresh contemporary exemplification through incisive re-readings of Anselm and Cusanus and creative links to contemporary philosophy of religion, both continental and analytic. This is an important first book of impressive range and spiritual insight.” — Sarah Coakley, University of Cambridge
“In his well-researched and brilliantly-argued first book, Jacob Holsinger Sherman shows that the metaphysics of participation are inseparable from the practice of contemplation. He shows that this aspect of spiritual engagement has been just as fundamental for philosophy as for theology. The radical implication is that our current divisions between the two disciplines, alongside our over-adulation of cold academic detachment, may both lack historical warrant and be existentially and culturally perilous.” — Catherine Pickstock, University of Cambridge
“Does ‘seeing God’ have philosophical meaning or relevance today? Lucid and learned, Partakers of the Divine presents a frequently misunderstood strand of Christian reflection. In this profound and trenchant work, Jacob Holsinger Sherman offers a penetrating case for the contemporary application of ‘the vision and the faculty Divine.” — Douglas Hedley, University of Cambridge
A Companion to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux
Her Life and Work & The People and Places In Her Story
JOSEPH P. KOCHISS
THE PRODUCT OF TWENTY YEARS of research and writing, this extraordinary new work is the most comprehensive portrait of Thérèse ever published, and the ultimate reference to her life and spirituality. A Companion to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux will appeal to all devotees of Thérèse, as well as those approaching her for the first time, who will find it a fascinating introduction. There is abundant material concerning her autobiography as well as her other literary and artistic works, and a treasury of information on all the people and places in her life story. Finally, the author revisits the steps leading to her beatification, canonization, and the proclamation of her as a Doctor of the Church, and provides a history of the Carmelites and the origin of the Lisieux Carmel. As a source of biographical detail and photographs it is unsurpassed in any language and will remain the most authoritative work on Thérèse for many years to come.
Praise for A Companion to Saint Thérèse:
“A remarkable book!” — FR. BENEDICT GROESCHEL, C.F.R., Co-founder of Franciscan Friars of the Renewal
“Obviously a labor of love. If one were making a movie about the Little Flower, this would be the perfect book to provide the background material to help understand St. Thérèse and all the people that touched her life.” — FR. ROBERT J. BOYD, Ph.D., F.S.S.P., Third Order Carmelite
“An astounding achievement in the annals of Catholic hagiography. There has never been a work like this regarding the life and times of ‘the Little Flower.’ It will be an essential acquisition for every theological library, every Catholic school and homeschooling co-op, and every member of the lay faithful with a devotion to Saint Thérèse.” — CHRISTOPHER A. FERRARA, President, American Catholic Lawyers Association
“In A Companion to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux we are given the opportunity to study Saint Thérèse in a novel way, through the optics of the people and places associated with her. I exhort all of you to come to appreciate she who identified her vocation as Love.” — FR. FRANK PAVONE, National Director, Priests for Life
“This is an encyclopedia of information on the life and spirituality of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. Here you will find information and photos concerning the Saint that have not been published anywhere else. The author is to be congratulated for his diligence and persistence in assembling all this material for the many Catholics devoted to the saint of the small and simple way to God.” — FR. KENNETH BAKER, S.J., Editor Emeritus, Homiletic & Pastoral Review
More information may be found here.
Intellectual Humility: Its Nature, Value, and Implications
May 8-11, 2015. A three-day seminar at the Fuller Guest Center (Pasadena, California) for 15 advanced graduate students or junior faculty (no more than 10 years past the PhD).
Faculty speakers include:
$500 honorarium plus all expenses paid. Successful applicants will commit to studying items on the seminar syllabus prior to the seminar, and to attending the Capstone Conference on Catalina Island, May 10-14, immediately following the seminar, all expenses paid.
For more information and instructions on how to apply, see http://humility.slu.edu/portfolio/mayseminar/
Direct all questions to email@example.com. Application deadline: December 31, 2014. Winners will be announced January 15, 2015.
Supported by the Philosophy and Theology of Intellectual Humility Project at Saint Louis University.
Funded by the John Templeton Foundation.
Philosophical Theology Reading Group
The theme of the Philosophical Theology Reading Group this semester (Autumn 2014) will be ‘Derrida and Malabou; Messianicity and Plasticity’.
The first four sessions and readings are as follows:
First meeting: Tuesday, 14 October at 3 pm, The Staff Club.
The meetings are open to all postgraduate students and staff. The texts will be circulated in PDF via email; please contact King-Ho Leung for more information.
Paul Tyson’s Returning to Reality: Christian Platonism for Our Times, is now available with the Book Depository. The advantage of this is that international orders are mailed out to on-line buyers without the buyer paying for postage.
For more information on Returning to Reality, see our previous post on it here.
A promotional flyer for this book may be downloaded here [PDF].
The Body is there to ennoble the soul – Thomas Aquinas.
CUNNINGHAM BELL, 4 9 14
A Cunningham-Bell video which accompanies life size, kinetic sculptures in the solo show- Evolution of our Soul, in Belfast, Thursday 4th – 27th September, 2014. A limited edition book is available for purchase from the Gallery – The Engine Room, BT2 8DY
Theology and Philosophy
Series Editors: Craig Bartholomew, Alan Mittleman, and Meena Sharify-Funk
The aim of this new monograph series is to promote work at the interface of theology and philosophy. It attempts to both foreground and explore their inter-relationship, showcasing examples of constructive engagement between the two. The series publishes work that engages sacred texts in theological-philosophical dialogue, with a critical focus on the foundations of both theology and philosophy. We are currently seeking proposals for monographs and essay collections. The scope of the series includes all religious traditions.
Details on how to submit a proposal are on the website: http://www.pickeringchatto.com/publish/send-us-a-proposal
We are always happy to discuss project ideas. Please contact the Commissioning Assistant, Sophie Rudland, firstname.lastname@example.org or one of the Series Editors. You can also follow Sophie on twitter @CommissioningSR
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
‘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)