Grandeur of Reason



Call for papers:

What is Life?:
Theology, Science, and Philosophy

Kraków, Poland
24-28 June 2011

In partnership with: Center for World Catholicism and Intercultural Theology, DePaul University; Pontifical University of John Paul II, Kraków; Copernicus Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, Kraków; Evans Chair for Religious Understanding, Brigham Young University; Institute for Faith and Learning, Baylor University; Academia Internacional de Filosofía-Instituto de Filosofía Edith Stein, Granada; Athenaeum Centre for the Social Doctrine of the Church, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milano.

‘During those days men will seek death but they will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them.’ —Revelation 9:6

‘Biologists no longer study life.’ —François Jacob

‘If we ask the question when did human life begin? The answer is never.’
—Michael Ghiselin

‘No such things as selves exist in the world: Nobody ever was or had a self.’
—Thomas Metzinger

‘In the depth of its night, our flesh is God.’ —Michel Henry

As philosophy unfolded during the last century many of our most cherished goods were seemingly lost: ethics became an illusion fobbed off on us by our genes, formal thought gave way to adaptation, and thus was merely functional, objects were fictions, more akin to Homer’s gods than real things, life and death no longer appeared to be viable or real terms, and lastly, the self was revealed to be non-existent. This great wave of nihilism presented us with a palpable nightmare, ripping asunder the realities we inhabited – gently tapping our lives with a hammer, the hollow sound exposing the emptiness. The choices are, therefore, starker, for the idea that one could simply abandon God and retain a meaningful, common sense existence was shown to be a farce. The cultural refrain of ‘no I don’t believe in God but I do believe in being good to people’ – collapsed, the fullness of its decadence exposed. In this way, that which came as a foe did the work of a friend, for once again, it was a question of God or the abyss.

This year in Kraków, we seek to examine, confront and explore all the major questions that surround the notion of life.

We are especially interested in papers in the following areas:

  • Phenomenology
  • Metaphysics
  • Systematic Theology
  • Patristics
  • Philosophy of Science
  • Biblical Studies
  • Politics and Life
  • Vitalism
  • Speculative Materialism
  • Resisting Violence
  • Economics and Life
  • Ethics of Life

Please submit paper abstracts through the 'Submit Paper Abstract' link above. Deadline for abstract submissions is 1st June 2011.

Speakers this year include:

Nobel Laureate, Christian de Duve, author of Singularities: Landmarks on the Pathways of Life; Life Evolving: Molecules, Mind, and Meaning; and Vital Dust: The Origin and Evolution of Life on Earth

Michel Morange (Ecole Normale superieur), author of A History of Molecular Biology; The Misunderstood Gene; and Life Explained

Rémi Brague (Sorbonne & Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich), author of The Wisdom of the World: The Human Experience of the Universe in Western Thought; The Law of God: The Philosophical History of an Idea; Eccentric Culture: A Theory of Western Civilization; and The Legend of the Middle Ages: Philosophical Explorations of Medieval Christianity, Judaism, and Islam

Robert Spaemann (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich), author of Happiness and Benevolence; and Persons: The Difference Between 'Someone' and 'Something'

Olivier Boulnois (Ecole Normale superieur), author of Être et représentation: Une généalogie de la méthaphysique moderne à l’époque de Duns Scot; Duns Scot, la rigueur de la charité; Je crois en un seul Dieu; and Au delà de l’image : Une archéologie du visuel au Moyen Age

Izzeldin Abuelaish (Toronto), peace activist, and recipient of many humanitarian awards, and author of – I Shall Not Hate

Oliva Blanchette (Boston College), author of The Perfection of the Universe According to Aquinas: a Teleological View; Philosophy of Being: A Reconstructive Essay; translator of Maurice Blondel’s Action (1893): Essay on a Critique of Life and a Science of Practice; and Maurice Blondel: A Philosophical Life

William Desmond (Leuven), author of Being and the Between; Ethics and the Between; God and the Between; Hegel’s God: Counterfeit Double?; and Is There A Sabbath for Thought: Between Religion and Philosophy

Jean Leclercq (Leuven), is currently the Director of the Centre d'archives Maurice Blondel (at Louvain-la-Neuve), and is also responsible for the Michel Henry archives, deposited at Louvain University in May 2006, and author of La Logique de la vie. Lectures philosophiques du « jeune » Maurice Blondel, tome I : Génétique du projet philosophique

Louis Dupré (Yale), author of The Starting Point of Marxist Philosophy; Kierkegaard as Theologian; Contraception and Catholics; The Philosophical Foundations of Marxism; The Other Dimension: A search for the meaning of religious attitudes; Transcendent Selfhood: The Loss and Recovery of the Inner Life; A Dubious Heritage: Studies in the Philosophy of Religion After Kant; The Deeper Life: Introduction to Christian Mysticism; Marx's Social Critique of Culture; The Common Life; Passage to Modernity: An Essay in the Hermeneutics of Nature and Culture; Metaphysics and Culture; The Enlightenment and the Intellectual Foundations of Modern Culture; and Religion and the Rise of Modern Culture

John Milbank (Nottingham), author of Theology and Social Theory: Beyond Secular Reason; Word Made Strange: Theology, Language, Culture; Truth in Aquinas (with Catherine Pickstock); Being Reconciled: Ontology and Pardon; The Suspended Middle: Henri de Lubac and the Debate Concerning the Supernatural; The Future of Love: Essays in Political Theology; The Monstrosity of Christ: Paradox or Dialectic? (with Slavoj Žižek); Paul's New Moment: Continental Philosophy and the Future of Christian Theology (with Creston Davis, Slavoj Žižek, and Catherine Pickstock); and the forthcoming Philosophy: A Theological Critique

Thomas Weinandy, OFM Cap (Executive Director, Secretariat for Doctrine, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops), author of Does God Change?: The Word's Becoming in the Incarnation; Does God Suffer?; Jesus the Christ; In the Likeness of Sinfull Flesh; Athanasius: A Theological Introduction; and Sacrament of Mercy: A Spiritual and Practical Guide to Confession

David L Schindler (John Paul II Institute), author of Beyond Mechanism: The Universe in Recent Physics and Catholic Thought; Hans Urs Von Balthasar: His Life and Work; and Heart of the World, Center of the Church: Communio Ecclesiology, Liberalism and Liberation

John Behr (St Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary), author of Asceticism and Anthropology in Irenaeus and Clement; The Way to Nicaea (Formation of Christian Theology vol. 1); The Nicene Fath (Formation of Christian Theology vol. 2); The Mystery of Christ: Life in Death; and The Case Against Diodore and Theodore

Christos Yannaras (Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences), author of Person and Eros; Orthodoxy and the West; Variations on the Song of Songs; Postmodern Metaphysics; On the Absence and Unknowability of God: Heidegger and the Areopagite; Elements of Faith; The Freedom of Morality

Michael Heller (The Pontifical Academy of Theology in Cracow and adjunct member of the Vatican Observatory), Templeton Prize winner, author of Encountering the Universe; Questions to the Universe: Ten Lectures on the Foundations of Physics and Cosmology; The World and the Word: Between Science and Religion; Theoretical Foundations of Cosmology: Introduction to the Global Structure of Space-Time; Lemaître, Big Bang and the Quantum Universe; Creative Tension: Essays on Science and Religion; Algebraic Self-Duality as the "Ultimate Explanation"; Some Mathematical Physics for Philosophers; Ultimate Explanations of the Universe; and Philosophy in Science: An Historical Introduction

[click below for details about past conference collections]