Matthew Peterson: “Apocalypse and Truth”: an excerpt from a translation-in-progress

Matthew Peterson

PhD Student, Divinity School

“Apocalypse and Truth”: an excerpt from a translation-in-progress of Apocalypse of Truth by Jean Vioulac

Wednesday, December 5, 12:30 PM, Swift 200

Jean Vioulac’s Apocalypse de la vérité (Ad Solem, 2014; winner of the 2016 Grand prix de philosophie de l’Académie française) proceeds from his previous work, where he interprets our era, the epoch of technology, as the consummation of Western metaphysics and diagnoses the totalitarian logic that both undergirds and follows from it. Anchored in Heidegger’s middle and late work, Vioulac now presents a genealogy of ontology that shows how our understanding of truth has been overdetermined by its Greek foundation. In this chapter, Vioulac turns to the Epistles of Saint Paul which, insofar as they embody the confrontation of Hebraism with Hellenism, offer a thematic thinking of the coming of the “mystery” within the Greek configuration of truth. By illustrating how Paul exposes an inaugural rejection of nothingness upon which the weight of nihilism rests today, Vioulac delineates a philosophical concept of apocalypse, where the apocalyptic event is understood as the crisis of truth.

Refreshments provided

The Workshop on the Philosophy of Religions is committed to maintaining itself as a fully accessible and inclusive workshop.  Please contact Workshop Coordinator William Underwood (wunderwood@uchicago.edu) in order to make any arrangements necessary to facilitate your participation in workshop events.

Pieter Hoekstra: “Blanchot, Judaism, and ‘The Impossible Necessary'”

Pieter Hoekstra

MA Student, Divinity School

“Blanchot, Judaism, and the ‘Impossible Necessary’”

Wednesday, November 14, 12:30 PM, Swift 200

Download paper here

In this essay I engage two critiques of Blanchot’s interpretation of Judaism, both found in Kevin Hart’s work: first, that Blanchot allegorizes Judaism out of history, and second, that his interpretation of Judaism is fundamentally no different from his formulations of writing and atheism. My argument is that Sarah Hammerschlag’s interpretation in The Figural Jew, in addressing the first critique, also gives us the tools necessary for more robustly developing the second. While Blanchot’s interpretation of Judaism does not fail to take account of history per se, it abstracts Judaism to the point that recourse to Jewish thought appears hardly necessary—we can see separately that the ethical content of Judaism is just as easily found in Blanchot’s understandings of community and writing, among other phenomena. In light of this analysis, I will take up the question of whether Blanchot’s work ought to be considered a part of modern Jewish thought.

Refreshments provided

The Workshop on the Philosophy of Religions is committed to maintaining itself as a fully accessible and inclusive workshop.  Please contact Workshop Coordinator William Underwood (wunderwood@uchicago.edu) in order to make any arrangements necessary to facilitate your participation in workshop events.

Gil Anidjar: “Friends Like These (A Comico-Political Essay)”

Gil Anidjar

Professor, Department of Religion, Columbia University

 “Friends like These (A Comico-Political Essay)”

Monday, October 29, 12:30 PM, Swift Common Room

The Jewish Studies Workshop, in collaboration with the Philosophy of Religions and Religion, Literature, and Visual Culture Workshops, is excited to announce a talk with Professor Gil Anidjar of Columbia University on October 29th, at 12:30pm in the Swift Hall Common Room. Professor Anidjar’s talk, entitled “Friends Like These (A Comico-Political Essay),” explores what we might mean by “Jewish Politics.” Professor Anidjar is Professor in the Departments of Religion, Middle Eastern South Asian, and African Studies, and the Institute for Comparative Literature at Columbia University. His most recent book is Blood: A Critique of Christianity, and he is the editor of Jacques Derrida’s Acts of Religion. This will certainly be an exciting talk, and we hope to see you there.

Jesse Berger: Is Sarvajñatā Synthetic or Gestalt?

Jesse Berger

PhD Student, Philosophy of Religions

“Is Sarvajñatā Synthetic or Gestalt? Kundakunda, Cantor, and the ‘Inaccessibility’ of the Absolute” 

Wednesday, October 17, 12:30 PM, Swift 200

Download paper here

“Although operating within very different religious and conceptual frameworks, the Jain mystic Kundakunda and the mathematician Georg Cantor contended with similar a priori problems concerning the relationship between the limited, relative purview of human knowledge and the singular, independent nature of the absolute. I argue that they solved these conceptual problems in their respective religious frameworks with strikingly analogous forms of reasoning. More precisely, both thinkers demanded an independently existent, transcendental absolute to render consistent their own respective systems of thought, a position that depended upon resolving the formal quandary of ‘inaccessibility’: i.e., the inability for any sequential, determinate objectifications to ever sum up – viz., a mereological “synthesis” – to the simultaneous comprehension of a genuine absolute – viz., a holistic “gestalt.” Though one thinker adhered to a quasi-Vedāntic form of Jainism, and the other was a devout Roman Catholic, both discovered that the sequential features of human cognition precluded access to the kind of simultaneous knowledge that the absolute must comprehend. In other words, both thinkers grasped a priori why we can never reach a genuine ‘absolute’ perspective from ‘the-bottom-up’, as a mereological sum of the kinds of objective knowledge-facts that figure into our limited, relatively conditioned epistemic states. The absolute must exist in an entirely independent and, from the standpoint of sequential knowledge, paradoxical mode of being – a pre-established totality that is also somehow not relationally determinate, an overarching perspective that pervades all relative perspectives, but is itself not representable in any collection or sum of these perspectives (even an infinite number.)”

Refreshments will be served

The Workshop on the Philosophy of Religions is committed to maintaining itself as a fully accessible and inclusive workshop.  Please contact Workshop Coordinator William Underwood (wunderwood@uchicago.edu) in order to make any arrangements necessary to facilitate your participation in workshop events.

Philosophy of Religions Welcome Lunch

Philosophy of Religions Welcome Lunch

Wednesday, October 3, 12:30 PM, Swift Quad

Welcome back, Divinity Schoolers! The Philosophy of Religions Workshop invites you to join us for lunch on Wednesday, October 3rd at 12:30 p.m. on Swift Quad. There will be (free) lunch provided from the Nile with vegetarian and non-vegetarian options alike. It’ll be a great chance for returning students and faculty to catch up, and for new Divinity School students to get to know more about the Philosophy of Religions area. No RSVP required.

 

Jeffrey Kosky (Washington and Lee University): “Henry David Thoreau’s Recovery: An Ordinary Happiness and ‘The Phenomena of the Lake'”

Jeffrey Kosky

Professor of Religion, Washington and Lee University

Henry David Thoreau’s Recovery: An Ordinary Happiness and “The Phenomena of the Lake”

Friday, May 25, 12:00pm, Swift 403

Please join the Philosophy of Religions Workshop for a roundtable discussion with Jeffrey Kosky (Professor of Religion, Washington and Lee University). Professor Kosky works in the areas of phenomenology and religion; theories of modern disenchantment and the possibilities of re-enchantment; and traditions of mystical theology in Christian thought and culture. He is the author of Arts of Wonder: Enchanting Secularity (The University of Chicago Press, 2012), and Levinas and the Philosophy of Religion (Indiana University Press, 2001). He has also translated several books and articles by Jean-Luc Marion.

The Workshop on the Philosophy of Religions is committed to maintaining itself as a fully accessible and inclusive workshop.  Please contact Workshop Coordinator Matthew Peterson (mjpeterson@uchicago.edu) in order to make any arrangements necessary to facilitate your participation in workshop events.

Niki Clements (Rice University): Foucault’s Christianities

Niki Clements

Watt J. and Lilly G. Jackson Assistant Professor of Religion, Rice University

Foucault’s Christianities

Wednesday, February 28, 4:30pm, Swift 208

Niki Clements works at the disciplinary intersection between the history of Christian practice, philosophy of religion, and religious ethics. She specializes in Christian asceticism and mysticism in late antiquity, highlighting its resources for thinking through contemporary ethical formation and conceptions of the self. She is currently completing the first comprehensive treatment of the ethical thought of John Cassian (c.360-c.435), a late antique Catholic architect of Latin monasticism doctrinally marginalized for his optimistic views on human agency. Engaging Michel Foucault’s late work on ethics-which sees Cassian as a crucial inaugurator of modern disciplinary subjectivity-she critiques the conceptual limitations that Foucault’s philosophical categories impose on his reading of Cassian, late antique Christianity, and the study of religion. She also pursues a transdisciplinary approach with cognitive neuroscience to argue that ethical formation integrates consciousness, embodiment, and affectivity. She is the volume editor for Mental Religion: The Brain, Cognition, and Culture, as part of the forthcoming Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbooks.

The Workshop on the Philosophy of Religions is committed to maintaining itself as a fully accessible and inclusive workshop.  Please contact Workshop Coordinator Matthew Peterson (mjpeterson@uchicago.edu) in order to make any arrangements necessary to facilitate your participation in workshop events.

Emmaneul Falque: “Crossing the Rubicon”

Professor Emmanuel Falque

Honorary Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy, Catholic University of Paris

Thursday, November 30, 10:00am, Swift 403

For our last meeting of the quarter, Professor Falque will  be leading a discussion with graduate students on his book Crossing the Rubicon: The Borderlands of Philosophy and Theology. Participants are encouraged to read chapters 1 and 6 from the book found here. Coffee and pastries will be served.

Emmanuel Falque is Honorary Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy at the Catholic University of Paris. He specializes in patristic and medieval philosophy and phenomenology. Professor Falque’s books in English include The Metamorphosis of Finitude: An essay on Birth and Resurrection and most recently The Wedding Feast of the Lamb: Eros, the Body, and the Eucharist.

The Workshop on the Philosophy of Religions is committed to maintaining itself as a fully accessible and inclusive workshop.  Please contact Workshop Coordinator Matthew Peterson (mjpeterson@uchicago.edu) in order to make any arrangements necessary to facilitate your participation in workshop events.

Professor Ryan Coyne: “Grand Politics and the Question of Survival in Heidegger’s Black Notebooks”

Professor Ryan Coyne

Associate Professor of the Philosophy of Religions and Theology

Grand Politics and the Question of Survival in Heidegger’s Black Notebooks

Tuesday, November 28, 4:30pm, Swift 201

(N.B. the date and room change)

Food and refreshments will be served

The Workshop on the Philosophy of Religions is committed to maintaining itself as a fully accessible and inclusive workshop.  Please contact Workshop Coordinator Matthew Peterson (mjpeterson@uchicago.edu) in order to make any arrangements necessary to facilitate your participation in workshop events.

Russell Johnson: “‘It Masquerades as a Religion’: Islamophobia, McCarthyism, and the American Imagination”

Russell Johnson

PhD Candidate, Philosophy of Religions

“It Masquerades as a Religion”: Islamophobia, McCarthyism, and the American Imagination

Wednesday, November 15, 4:30pm, Swift 208

Discussions surrounding the recent “Muslim Ban” have brought up deeper disagreements about the status of Islam in America. One group sees Muslims as an ethnocultural group and equates Islamophobia with xenophobia. Another group sees Islam as a “political ideology” that “hides behind being a religion,” to use the words of Trump advisor Michael Flynn. The former group draws parallels between Islamophobia and Nazi-era anti-Semitism, while the latter group interprets Islam through a comparison with global Communism. Drawing on rhetorical analysis and cognitive linguistics, I argue that these historical comparisons are essential to the ways anti-Islamic actions are understood in America. The legacy of the Red Scare in particular has been underappreciated in analyses of contemporary anti-Muslim prejudice. I propose that a comparative theological approach ought to include references to political ideologies like Communism in order to resolve ambiguities in the concept “religion.”

Refreshments will be served

The Workshop on the Philosophy of Religions is committed to maintaining itself as a fully accessible and inclusive workshop.  Please contact Workshop Coordinator Matthew Peterson (mjpeterson@uchicago.edu) in order to make any arrangements necessary to facilitate your participation in workshop events.