Posts Tagged ‘philosophy’

October 2nd, 2013

CFP: Working with A Secular Age

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On March 6-8, 2014, the University of Bern will host an international conference entitled “Working with A Secular Age: Interdisciplinary Reflections on Charles Taylor’s Conception of the Secular.”

August 14th, 2013

On the passing of Jean Bethke Elshtain

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Well-known ethicist and scholar Jean Bethke Elshtain of the University of Chicago recently passed away on August 11, 2013.

July 24th, 2013

CFP: Varieties of Understanding

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The Varieties of Understanding project at Fordham University in New York is a three-year, $3.85 million initiative that aims to fund groundbreaking work in psychology, philosophy, theology, and religious studies.

July 1st, 2013

Is absolute secularity conceivable?

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Is absolute secularity conceivable? The question arises from the paradoxical intuition that the secularization thesis is simultaneously both right and muddled. Perhaps the most fundamental problem with the broader secularization thesis (which I take to claim that, over the past half-millennium or so, Western society has undergone a systemic diminution of religious practice) is that it isn’t clear what the non-secular is. After all, it can be extended from those beliefs and practices that avowedly depend on religious revelation to those that affirm some form of transcendentalism, though they may make no room for God as such. But for a long time both radical atheists and Christian apologists have argued that what looks as if it is secular through and through may not, in fact, be secular at all.

June 25th, 2013

Ways of Knowing: Graduate Conference on Religion

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Harvard Divinity School is hosting its annual Ways of Knowing conference for graduate students and young scholars who are studying religion in all different programs and disciplines. The conference will be held at Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, MA on October 25-26, 2013 (more details here). The deadline to submit papers is July 1, 2013.

March 21st, 2013

The renewal of evangelical philosophy

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Over at Commonweal contributing editor Nathan Schneider writes about the renewal of Christian, and more specifically evangelical, philosophy in the United States over the past few decades.

February 28th, 2013

Conference: Apocalyptic Politics: Framing the Present

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The Philosophy Department at Villanova’s will be holding its 18th Annual Philosophy Conference this Spring (April 12-13).

November 13th, 2012

On the freedom of the concepts of religion and belief

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This short piece attempts to come at the current debate on law and religious freedom from two unusual angles. I end by looking at the strange and revealing positioning of “religion or belief” in current legislation in England and Wales. And I begin by putting a different spin on religious freedom by exploring the terrifying freedom of the concepts of religion and belief. We have never needed the rise of Al Qaeda, so-called Islamicism or a hardline religious right to terrify us with a resurgent specter of specifically religious (as opposed to purely “political”) “terror.” Instead of bearing down on us like some old specter of the Turk or Moor at Europe’s gates, the terror of religion emerges—or insurges (if “insurge” can be made into a verb)—from within the normative conceptualizations of religion in the so-called modern West.

September 7th, 2012

The philosophy of Templeton

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Over at The Chronicle of Higher Education, contributing editor Nathan Schneider writes about the Templeton effect, and the focus on what the John Templeton Foundation calls “Big Questions.”

May 31st, 2012

Conference: Varieties of Continental Thought and Religion

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From Thursday, June 14th, to Sunday, June 17th, the Philosophy Department at Ryerson University will host Varieties of Continental Thought and Religion, featuring speakers John Caputo, Bettina Bergo, Morny Joy, Nikolas Kompridis, Ron Kuipers, and Robert Sinnerbrink.

May 9th, 2012

Contingency, divinity, and revelation

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In The New Inquiry, Adam Kotsko reviews Quentin Meillassoux’s The Number and the Siren, a study of Mallarmé’s last poem, Un Coup de Dés jamais n’abolira le Hasard (A Throw of Dice Will Never Abolish Chance).

May 8th, 2012

West’s witness

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For New York Magazine, Lisa Miller profiles Cornel West, surveying the course of his academic career, personal life, and variety of public spats with figures like Larry Summers and Barack Obama.

April 23rd, 2012

Whose Yoga?

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NPR’s Margot Adler reports on the current popularity of yoga in the United States, and its disassociation with Hinduism. She explores the perception of yoga as a form of relaxation and physical exercise, contrasting this with the efforts of the Hindu American Foundation to “take back yoga”.  Some American Hindus claim that something important is lost when yoga is understood narrowly, that is, without the importance philosophy and lifestyle have for its practice

April 9th, 2012

The problem with the history of toleration

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The problem with the history of toleration is not that no one is studying it. There is now a rapidly growing number of books and articles approaching the topic from a number of angles and in several different countries. The problem is that we assume that all of those studying toleration are studying the same thing. Though in fact we are describing a diversity of arrangements, dynamics, and possibilities taking place in different societies at different times, we still write and think as if there were a single proper form of toleration to which all others should adhere, or an ideal like “religious freedom” to which all should aspire.

April 5th, 2012

Love’s ladder’s God

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It was their final conversation. She would soon die, although neither of them knew it at the time. St. Augustine and his mother waited for a ship that would take her across the sea, to Africa, where she had raised him. She had always prayed he would become a Catholic; now, after many years, he was one. “There we talked together,” he writes in his Confessions, “she and I alone in deep joy.” This common joy stemmed from their shared company, but also their shared belief in God.

March 15th, 2012

Syposium on Derrida and religion

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“Of Miracles and Machines: A Symposium on Derrida and Religion” will take place Thursday, March 22, at Fordham University, New York, NY.

March 13th, 2012


Cultural models and Rethinking Secularism

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Rethinking Secularism is the title of a striking new collection of essays, edited by Craig Calhoun, Mark Juergensmeyer, and Jonathan VanAntwerpen that is rich with shrewd, and often detailed and intricate, discussions of the way the political and the social, the public and the personal, are threaded with, and frequently created out of, the interpretive, the symbolic, and the imaginary. It is also a book with whose central claim I could not be in fuller agreement: the religious and the secular do not designate different ends of a historical timeline, much less a simple binary, so much as different inflections of a process beginning, at least in the West, with the slow disintegration of Latin Christendom in the Late Middle Ages, and that we have come to recognize as the longue durée of the modern.

February 17th, 2012

The karate philosopher

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Eduardo Mendieta, who has conducted interviews with Cornel West and Jürgen Habermas for The Immanent Frame, was recently interviewed by New APPS.

February 10th, 2012

The cry for immanence

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Today begins a discussion series at the collaborative theology blog An und für sich on Daniel Barber’s recent book, On Diaspora: Christianity, Religion, and Secularity. Daniel Whisper from the University of Liverpool makes the start in the AUFS series.

November 2nd, 2011

Jürgen Habermas on myth and ritual

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This video is an excerpt of a lecture by Jürgen Habermas, delievered at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs on October 19th.

October 11th, 2011

RFP: New Directions in the Study of Prayer

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The Social Science Research Council recently announced the launch of a new project and grants program entitled “New Directions in the Study of Prayer.”

October 6th, 2011

Focus on the funk: An interview with Cornel West

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“I would go with Pierre Hadot and say that the love of wisdom is a way of life; that is to say, it’s a set of practices that have to do with mustering the courage to think critically about ourselves, society, and the world; mustering the courage to empathize; the courage, I would say, to love; the courage to have compassion with others, especially the widow and the orphan, the fatherless and the motherless, poor and working peoples, gays and lesbians, and so forth—and the courage to hope. So, it is a way of life, a set of practices, no doubt, but, at the same time, I call it a kind of focus on the funk.”

September 19th, 2011

A blast from the past: lessons in eastern religion and philosophy

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Fifty years ago, Alan Watts popularized ideas of eastern philosophy and religion. Open Culture shares a relic of the past.

August 26th, 2011

Political theology and political existentialism

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“At stake in our political life,” Paul Kahn observes, “has been not our capacity to be reasonable, but our capacity to realize in and through our own lives an ultimate meaning.” While it would require little effort for me to catalogue the many insights that seized my attention while reading Kahn’s thoughtful and highly provocative new book, it is this basic insight that chiefly arouses my interest, insofar as it serves as the organizing premise for the argument as a whole. It is therefore this claim most of all that deserves close scrutiny.

July 19th, 2011

Religious and secular foundations of human rights

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A post at the New York Times philosophy blog “The Stone” reflects on the differences between religious and secular underpinnings of human rights. The author, Anat Biletzki, critiques the argument that human rights are impossible without religion, or, particularly, belief in God. Instead, she asserts that the secular basis for human rights is in fact more faithful to humanity than religious justifications, which she defines as rooted in the authority of a superhuman creator (i.e., God) rather than in the value of the human.

July 18th, 2011

The politics of the atonement

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To grasp the deep architecture of the political today, therefore, is to venture into the theological domains of Christology and especially atonement, that area of theology (particularly, Christian theology) that deals with the logic of (redemptive) death. But the journey cannot be simply phenomenological in the way Kahn carries it out. Or, put differently, it may need to be phenomenological, but in a way that Kahn himself has not considered. Atonement thinking, and the “death contract” that binds politics, must, from within a different phenomenology (and therefore from within a different approach to political theology), be redirected. There must be a new future of death and the political.

July 14th, 2011

Paul Kahn’s roots

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Paul W. Kahn’s Political Theology: Four New Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty is a compelling book, though compelling in a sense not unlike an intellectual bruise one is drawn to press on again and again. Ostensibly a re-purposing of Carl Schmitt’s 1922 Political Theology, Kahn’s book possesses a more ambitious armature than his title and the format of following Schmitt’s chapter scheme might suggest. Kahn is a legal scholar by training, and interested here in the problem of sovereignty, which takes him deep into questions of law, jurisprudence, constitutional reasoning, and forms of political organization. It is no less notable, however, that Kahn’s project weighs in on four classic philosophical and political problems . . . .

July 11th, 2011

Utopia now

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Only when utopia is understood in the present continuous, as arriving without completion, can we make sense of the work of modern global imaginaries to declare the unity of the world in the present tense. Many of the modern global imaginaries authored in America around communication technology see no bold line at the temporal horizon; rather, they understand their present to extend into the future that stretches before them as that future comes rushing back, swallowing oceans of distance in its approach.

July 7th, 2011

The perspective of the common

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In liberal theory, essence is privileged over existence, reason over will, and endless discussion over decision. In political theology, things stand the other way around: existence, will, and decision have primacy over essence, reason, and endless discussion. If Kahn, like Schmitt, is right to criticize liberalism (albeit for the wrong reason), this does not mean that the either/or logic he seems to employ (either liberal theory or political theology) ought to be accepted at face value. An alternative to this either/or comes from the perspective (and practice) of the common, which maintains the decision as singular but rejects it as sovereign.

July 5th, 2011

The Theological and the Political

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From Fortress Press, an interview with Mark Lewis Taylor, author of The Theological and the Political: On the Weight of the World (Fortress, 2011).

June 24th, 2011

Is there anybody out there? (Pink Floyd and Charles Taylor)

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In the Frankfurter Rundschau, Hartmut Rosa hears the echoes of Pink Floyd in the work of Charles Taylor.

June 16th, 2011

Religion und Öffentlichkeit

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The German translation, by Michael Adrian, of The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere will be published by Suhrkamp Verlag in October.

April 27th, 2011

“The Malaise of Modernity”: a radio series on the work of Charles Taylor

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The CBC Radio program Ideas recently ran a five-part series on the life and work of Charles Taylor, “The Malaise of Modernity: Charles Taylor in Conversation,” which is now available to stream or to download as a podcast.

Listen here.

April 26th, 2011

Reading the paranormal writing us: An interview with Jeffrey Kripal

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Jeffrey Kripal, who chairs the Department of Religious Studies at Rice University, is an authority on the mysterious. His books include a wildly controversial study of Ramakrishna’s mysticism; a history of Esalen, an influential spiritual retreat center tucked away in the cliffs of Big Sur; and, now, a probing investigation of several very mysterious thinkers: Authors of the Impossible: The Paranormal and the Sacred.

April 1st, 2011

Implicated and enraged: An interview with Judith Butler

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Judith Butler, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, is among the leading social theorists alive today. Her most recent books are Frames of War (2009) and The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere (2011), an SSRC volume that puts her in conversation with Jürgen Habermas, Charles Taylor, and Cornel West. As we carried out our conversation by email between Brooklyn and Berkeley, uprisings were occurring across the Arab world, and a U.S.-led coalition had just begun conducting airstrikes in support of rebel forces in Libya. We had discussed some similar questions, and some different ones, a year earlier in an interview for Guernica magazine.

March 23rd, 2011

All surface, no substance?

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Garry Wills does not like Dreyfus and Kelly’s All Things Shining: Reading the Western Classics to Find Meaning in a Secular Age.

March 22nd, 2011

The post-secular: A different account

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John Boy, in a post on March 15th, titled “What we talk about when we talk about the postsecular,” provides a brisk empirical overview of his key word’s appearance in recent discourse. But it is not at all what I talk about when I talk about the post-secular, and in many ways I think Boy’s account is rather wrong-headed.

Boy takes his cue from a lecture delivered by Jürgen Habermas in 2001, where Habermas proposes to bridge the gap posited by Ernst Bloch’s notion of non-synchronicity—which is simply an uncritical early version of Johannes Fabian’s “denial of coevalness,” in his Time and the Other—through “democratically enlightened common sense.” However, what this “common sense” means for Habermas—“a translation of religious positions” into (for example) “Kant’s postmetaphysical ethics”—is in no sense post-secular! It is in fact the essence of the secularization thesis itself, in one of its most prominent historical guises . . . .

March 15th, 2011

What we talk about when we talk about the postsecular

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The term “postsecular” is quickly becoming a keyword for scholars of religion and public life. So what is it all about? An overview of its uses and meanings.

March 7th, 2011

A review of Paul Cliteur’s The Secular Outlook

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J. Caleb Clanton reviews Paul Cliteur’s The Secular Outlook, which aims “to show how religious believers and unbelievers can live peacefully together and what principles the state should try to stimulate in its citizenry to achieve social harmony and social cohesion.”

February 28th, 2011

Falling on the sword of the spirit

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There is no doubt that anthropology needs new approaches for understanding dramatic change, a new way of figuring the relationship between structure and subjectivity (often abusively assimilated by anthropologists to consciousness or the individual person), which I take to be part of the gambit of the project of an anthropology of Christianity. There is also a real need for a renewal of critical thought on the problems of exploitation, oppression, injustice—on the devastating ravages of late neoliberal capitalism on the masses of the Global South, which are also the populations most engaged in the new wave of conversions. Nothing testifies to this more dramatically or poignantly than the recent wave of self-immolations that has swept across North Africa in the past weeks, nor, might I add, to the ongoing force of a sacrificial politics. But can we really claim that something called Global Christianity (a shorthand, here, for its Pentecostal or charismatic forms), if not able to provide a model for emancipatory action, might, in dialogue with the atheist, post-foundational left, give us something better to think with?

February 11th, 2011

Teaching and blogging A Secular Age

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James K.A. Smith, Professor of Philosophy at Calvin College, is currently teaching an undergraduate seminar on Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age, and he and his students will be blogging about the book as the semester progresses.

February 7th, 2011

Seeing disciplines

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In the midst of the interdisciplinary enterprise that Global Christianity, Global Critique undertakes, I want to suggest that the challenge of interdisciplinarity—and, at the same time, the source of what value it may have—is the problem of locality, constraint, and limit. In other words, following Jean-François Lyotard (The Postmodern Condition), legitimation is local; it is a function of the language-game, which in the scholarly context means a function of the the discipline. Read with the themes of limit, border, and locality in mind, these treatments of global critique and global Christianity reveal the prominence of this problematic.

February 7th, 2011

Still in the province of philosophy

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Alva Noë criticizes The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow.

January 25th, 2011

Secularism despite itself

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Kile Jones, a Ph.D. student at the Claremont School of Theology, has a review of William Connolly’s Why I Am Not a Secularist up at State of Formation, in which he “argue[s] why some of [Connolly’s] key positions are admirable, but that some of the conclusions he draws from them are not.”

January 23rd, 2011

All Things Shining

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Susan Neiman reviews All Things Shining: Reading the Western Classics to Find Meaning in a Secular Age, by philosophers Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Dorrance Kelly.

January 10th, 2011

Greedy time: An interview with Patrick Lee Miller

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Patrick Lee Miller is an assistant professor of philosophy at Duquesne University and the author of Becoming God: Pure Reason in Early Greek Philosophy (Continuum). His work focuses primarily on ancient Greek philosophy, albeit in constant conversation with modern thinkers. Becoming God examines the early conflict between Heraclitean philosophy and the Parmenidean metaphysics that was to become the cornerstone of Plato’s thought, and hence of the tradition of Western philosophy that followed in his wake.

January 7th, 2011

Disenchantment and the mind-dependence of the moral

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At the core of contemporary secularism is the denial of the existence of deities and the supernatural. There is only the natural, as described by our best sciences. This ‘disenchantment’ of the world seems to leave no place for value, and this exclusion of value from the world is, Akeel Bilgrami argues in his essay “What is Enchantment?” one of the central and damning failures of contemporary secularism.

How does secularism crowd values out of our picture of the world?  If we accept a secularist metaphysics, then a necessary condition for the existence of values is that they can be accommodated by our best sciences. But our best sciences do not seem to have any room for values. Values make demands on human beings as actors—for instance, we ought to pursue the good, we ought to avoid the bad, and so on—but science describes no such free-standing “oughts.”

December 22nd, 2010

The Soul Hypothesis

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At The Wall Street Journal, Andrew Stark reviews The Soul Hypothesis, a collection of essays edited by Mark Baker and Stewart Goetz.

December 13th, 2010

Can life be better than bearable?

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At The Stone, philosopher Sean D. Kelly muses on Nietzsche’s proclamation of the death of God and considers contemporary culture in light of Nietzsche’s epidemiology of modern nihilism. Aside from the oddness of seeing Nietzsche analyzed in the The New York Times, there are a few particular issues one could take with Kelly’s brief essay.

December 13th, 2010

Crosswise logic

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My previous post sought to humble the principle of non-contradiction, and thus the logic of consistency it defines, finding it inadequate for thinking the temporal world in which we live and breathe and have our being. Parmenides first articulated this principle, calling “equally deaf and blind” those who would not think consistently according to it, those “hordes without judgment, for whom both to be and not to be are judged the same and not the same, and the path of all is crosswise (palintropos).” Without compromise, he recognized the conflict between his principle and our world of change and diversity. Consistently, he rejected time and the logic needed to understand it. His target here was Heraclitus, who claimed that “a thing agrees in disagreement with itself; it is a crosswise harmony (palintropos harmoniē), like that of the bow and the lyre.” This post aims to explain his earlier, contradictory, but nonetheless more accurate logic.