Workshop: Speculative Philosophies and Religious Practices

Speculative Philosophies and Religious Practices:
New Directions in the Philosophy of Religion and Post-Secular Practical Theology

A One-day Workshop at the University of Chester on 1st June


Pamela Sue Anderson (University of Oxford)

Beverley Clack (Oxford Brookes University)

Elaine Graham (University of Chester)

Katharine Moody (University of Lancaster)

John Reader (William Temple Foundation)

Steven Shakespeare (Liverpool Hope University)

Anthony Paul Smith (University of Nottingham)

Graeme Smith (Chichester University)

Anna Strhan (University of Kent)

We are pleased to announce a one-day workshop exploring the intersection between recent trends in continental philosophy of religion and realist versions of public theology. The workshop will take place on 1st June under the auspices of the Centre for Faiths and Public Policy at the University of Chester and in association with the Department of Philosophy at the University of Liverpool and the William Temple Foundation. Further details about the day can be found here:

This workshop is an interrogation of the implications – whether political, theological or practical – of the turn to the Real in recent thought. From the perspective of public and practical theology, this involves bolstering the realist strands of the discipline (Manchester Realism and the William Temple Foundation) with the resources of philosophy, constructing a philosophical toolkit for realist public theologians. John Reader and Christopher Baker’s Entering the New Theological Space, for example, has already started drawing on post-Derridean philosophies as theoretical background to their theological enterprises, moving beyond the sociological and pragmatic basis that public theologians have traditionally found sufficient; there is a growing realisation, however, that a new generation of philosophers – the philosophers of the speculative turn – may well be more fruitful for deepening and broadening public theology’s self-understanding. Therefore and from the perspective of philosophy of religion, this interrogation of the Real involves thinking through the consequences of continental philosophy of religion’s recent flirtations with a more realist brand of speculation. The philosophies of Alain Badiou, Slavoj Zizek, Graham Harman, Iain Hamilton Grant and Quentin Meillassoux are beginning to be felt throughout the humanities, and the papers in this workshop, following the lead established in Smith and Whistler’sAfter the Postsecular and the Postmodern, will begin to think through the broader impact of this new tendency, especially as it impacts on philosophy of religion. In other words, the guiding question for the day is: what has the speculative turn in continental philosophy of religion to do with religious practice? This workshop brings together public theologians and philosophers of religion to inhabit the intersection between philosophical theory and religious phenomena.

The day-long workshop will explore the above themes through a series of eight 20 minute papers with extensive time for responses and discussion. A summary of the day will be posted on the websites of contributing institutions. The papers will be works in progress, provisional explorations of an intersection that is crying out to be examined in more detail. As such, this workshop is envisioned as the first in a series of events in the North-West devoted to the interchange between philosophy of religion and public and practical theology, in which we hope to give all interested parties the opportunity to share their ideas. Moreover, this initial exploratory workshop has the overall aim of examining the feasibility of a fully-fledged research network (involving substantial publications), and so we would encourage anyone with an interest in this area to attend the first workshop in order to participate in the shaping of a future network bid.




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(Sculpture by Sara Cunningham-Bell)

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