Michael S. Allen: When Good Philosophers Make Bad Arguments: Examples from Nyāya and Vedānta

Michael S. Allen

University of Virginia

When Good Philosophers Make Bad Arguments:
Examples from Nyāya and Vedānta

Thursday, January 28th, 4:00pm CT

Virtual Event

RSVP to Rebekah Rosenfeld at rrosenfeld@uchicago.edu for Zoom link.

Michael S. Allen (Assistant Professor, University of Virginia) works on philosophy, religion, and environment in South Asia. He is founder and co-chair of the Hindu Philosophy unit at the American Academy of Religion. He is currently working on a book titled The Ocean of Inquiry: Niścaldās and the Premodern Origins of Modern Hinduism, which focuses on the neglected genre of vernacular Vedānta.

The Workshop is committed to being fully accessible and inclusive.  Please contact Tyler Neenan (tjneenan@uchicago.edu) or Rebekah Rosenfeld (rrosenfeld@uchicago.edu) in order to make any arrangements necessary to facilitate your participation in Workshop events.

Danica Cao: Return to the Fundamental Substance against the Pursuit of Authentic Dharmadhātu—The 1943 Debate between Xiong Shili and Lü Cheng

Danica Cao

MA Student, Philosophy of Religions

Return to the Fundamental Substance against the Pursuit of Authentic Dharmadhātu—The 1943 Debate between Xiong Shili and Lü Cheng

“This paper examines a debate that took place in 1943 between the New Confucian philosopher Xiong Shili 熊十力 (1885-1968), known for his Buddho-Confucian work New Treatise on Consciousness-Only (xin weishi lun 新唯識論), and the Buddhologist Lü Cheng 呂澂 (1896-1989), one of the earliest scholars in modern China to have mastered languages like Sanskrit, Pāli, and Tibetan, and developed new methods of textual criticism. More specifically, it deals with 1) the fundamental contrast between “intrinsic awareness” and “intrinsic quiescence” Lü places between Chinese Buddhism and Indian Buddhism; 2) Xiong’s adoption of the word “ontology” in conjunction with “cosmology” for his philosophy; and 3) Xiong’s critique of teleology in Lü’s scholarly commitments. In engaging closely with these three points of contention, this paper seeks to make sense of the conceptual space charted out by their debate, which is both traditional in its continuation of a series of pre-modern metaphysical oppositions in East Asian thought and modern in the tensions created by their drastically different methodological tendencies. Such a space is created with anxieties over defining their philosophies of religion against Western challenges in the background, but comparisons with Europe hardly enter the debate proper. What sorts of roles does “India” play here as a mediating other? What are the limitations and inspirations of such visions? Can we enlist these thinkers as predecessors to a transcultural philosophy of religions?”

The paper may be accessed here. E-mail Tyler Neenan (tjneenan@uchicago.edu) for the password.

Thursday, December 3, 6:00 PM CDT

Hosted by the Philosophy of Religions Workshop at the University of Chicago. To RSVP and receive a Zoom link, please email Tyler Neenan (tjneenan@uchicago.edu)

The Workshop on the Philosophy of Religions is committed to being a fully accessible and inclusive workshop.  Please contact Workshop Coordinators Rebekah Rosenfeld (rrosenfeld@uchicago.edu) or Tyler Neenan (tjneenan@uchicago.edu) in order to make any arrangements necessary to facilitate your participation in workshop events.

John Marvin: Edward Nelson vs. Arithmetic: God, Iconoclasm, and the (In)consistency of PA

John Marvin

MA Student, Philosophy of Religions in the Divinity School

Edward Nelson vs. Arithmetic: God, Iconoclasm, and the (In)consistency of PA 

This paper examines the final mathematical work of Edward Nelson, his attempted proof of the inconsistency of Peano arithmetic and primitive recursive arithmetic, fo- cusing on its philosophical framing and its admitted religious motivations with consid- eration of both his theologically adjacent writings and his account of a visionary expe- rience. The paper outlines the mathematical and philosophical significance of Nelson’s attempted proof, and clarifies the relationships among that project, his mathematical formalism, and his religious convictions. The article situates Nelson’s thought in terms of its inheritance from Catholic Aristotelianism, iconoclastic and apophatic discourses, and its relationship to post-20th-century foundational debates. This paper will try to address concerns including: how would one be driven by religious convictions and experiences to heterodox positions in the philosophy of mathematics, and why would one feel it necessary to make dramatic technical discoveries to defend such convictions, as Nelson did? The body of this paper presents Nelson’s work and thought in a man- ner accessible to the engaged mathematical layperson, offering a simplified intuition for keystone ideas from modern logic when necessary, with more rigorous and precise discussions offered for interest and accuracy in frequently referenced appendices. The article is intended to be a comprehensive account of Nelson’s final writings and their reception, providing mathematical specialists with a unified resource for the historical and philosophical details surrounding Nelson’s proof attempt as well as with a lucid but sufficiently technical presentation of the proof’s strategies, and, for scholars in other fields, serving as an introduction to and a vignette of a previously inaccessible, philosophically significant event in very recent mathematical history. 

The paper may be accessed here.

Tuesday, November 10th, 12:30 PM

Hosted by the Philosophy of Religions Workshop at the University of Chicago. To RSVP and receive a Zoom link, please email Tyler Neenan (tjneenan@uchicago.edu)

The Workshop on the Philosophy of Religions is committed to being a fully accessible and inclusive workshop.  Please contact Workshop Coordinators Rebekah Rosenfeld (rrosenfeld@uchicago.edu) or Tyler Neenan (tjneenan@uchicago.edu) in order to make any arrangements necessary to facilitate your participation in workshop events.

Mat Messerschmidt: The Nietzschean Body and “Incorporation”

Mat Messerschmidt

PhD Candidate, Committee on Social Thought

The Nietzschean Body and “Incorporation”

with a response by David Kretz,

PhD Student in the Committee on Social Thought & Germanic Studies

In this chapter I examine Heidegger’s interpretation of Nietzsche, observing how Heidegger’s sense of Nietzsche’s philosophy as a “detheologization” of Christian thought depends on the notion that both Protestant Christianity and Nietzsche participate in the continual advancement of a subjectivist metaphysics, a process that culminates in the Nietzschean “body,” the last Western “subject.” Through a critique of Heidegger’s understanding of “incorporation [Einverleibung]” in Nietzsche’s work, I argue that the Nietzschean detheologization that takes place in his notion of the body in fact does not make Nietzsche an unwilling participant in some Christian metaphysics, as Heidegger believes; rather, the Christian legacy in Nietzsche’s body is an emphasis on a human finitude that has more resonances in Heidegger’s own thought than Heidegger would care to admit.

Tuesday, October 13, 12:30 PM

Virtual Meeting via Zoom

To RSVP and receive a Zoom link, please contact Rebekah Rosenfeld at rrosenfeld@uchicago.edu.

The paper may be accessed here. Note: The workshop will be discussing pgs. 19-43.

The Workshop on the Philosophy of Religions is committed to being a fully accessible and inclusive workshop.  Please contact Workshop Coordinators Tyler Neenan (tjneenan@uchicago.edu) or Rebekah Rosenfeld (rrosenfeld@uchicago.edu) in order to make any arrangements necessary to facilitate your participation in workshop events.

Michael Naas : Grace and the Machine:Jacques Derrida’s Perjury and Pardon I (Seminar of 1997-1998)

Michael Naas

Professor of Philosophy at DePaul University

Grace and the Machine:Jacques Derrida’s Perjury and Pardon I (Seminar of 1997-1998)

Tuesday, October 20th 6:00 PM CDT

“This paper focuses on the first volume of Derrida’s seminar Perjury and Pardon (1997- 1998), where Derrida returns, more than a quarter of a century after “Signature Event Context,” to questions of contingency and the speech act and, especially, the possibility of a speech act in writing. After demonstrating that what Derrida means in this seminar by “perjury” (parjure) is not just a lying under oath but a much more general “breach of faith,” I argue that every successful performative is haunted by just such a breach of faith and that writing turns out to be the paradigm for understanding this breach. I go on to show how this displacement of “acts of perjury” from speech to writing, this move to a “speech act” in writing, to what Derrida here often calls an oeuvre, ends up challenging many of the assumptions of speech act theory as articulated by John Austin and those (such as John Searle) who followed him. For such a work or “act” in writing would have to be, for example, essentially detached or detachable from its context, severed right from the start from anything like the intention or the living presence of the author or actor of the act, in a word, severed from the life that would have supposedly produced it. Hence the emphasis here on the “machine,” and thus the question of whether the text or the oeuvre as machine can “produce” something like a speech act and whether this can lead—beyond life—to a sort of grace.”

Hosted by the Religion, Literature, and Visual Culture Club and the Philosophy of Religions Workshop at the University of Chicago. To RSVP and receive a Zoom link, please email Ryan Bingham at ryansbingham@uchicago.edu.

The Workshop on the Philosophy of Religions is committed to being a fully accessible and inclusive workshop.  Please contact Workshop Coordinators Rebekah Rosenfeld (rrosenfeld@uchicago.edu) or Tyler Neenan (tjneenan@uchicago.edu) in order to make any arrangements necessary to facilitate your participation in workshop events.

Tyler Neenan: The Jiji / Weiji Dyad and the End of the Changes

Tyler Neenan

PhD Student, Philosophy of Religions

“The Jiji / Weiji Dyad and the End of the Changes”

Wednesday, April 22, 12:30 PM

Virtual Meeting via Zoom

Please contact rrosenfeld@uchicago.edu for Zoom link and dial-in.

Tyler’s paper may be accessed here.

The Workshop on the Philosophy of Religions is committed to being a fully accessible and inclusive workshop.  Please contact Workshop Coordinators Rebekah Rosenfeld (rrosenfeld@uchicago.edu) or William Underwood (wunderwood@uchicago.edu) in order to make any arrangements necessary to facilitate your participation in workshop events.

William Underwood: “On the Jewish Question”: Marx at the End of Reason

William Underwood

PhD Student, Philosophy of Religions

“On the Jewish Question”: Marx at the End of Reason

with a response by Samuel Catlin,

PhD Candidate in Comparative Literature & Religion, Literature, and Visual Culture

Monday, February 24, 12:30 PM, Swift 200

Refreshments provided

William’s paper may be accessed here.

The Workshop on the Philosophy of Religions is committed to being a fully accessible and inclusive workshop.  Please contact Workshop Coordinators Rebekah Rosenfeld (rrosenfeld@uchicago.edu) or William Underwood (wunderwood@uchicago.edu) in order to make any arrangements necessary to facilitate your participation in workshop events.

Samuel Catlin: Syllabus and Teaching Portfolio Workshop

Samuel Catlin

PhD Candidate, Comparative Literature & Religion, Literature, and Visual Culture

Syllabus Design and Teaching Portfolio Workshop: “Masters of Suspicion: The History of ‘Critique’ and Contemporary Debates in Hermeneutical Theory”

Monday, February 10, 12:30 PM, Swift 200

In this workshop, we will look at a syllabus-in-progress for an upper-level undergraduate seminar in comparative literature, continental, philosophy, and/or religious studies (including the philosophy of religions), titled “Masters of Suspicion: The History of ‘Critique’ and Contemporary Debates in Hermeneutical Theory.” I will supply beforehand the syllabus as well as excerpts from two of the readings, which should be read in advance of the workshop.

The purpose of a syllabus-design workshop is double. The syllabus is in the very roughest stage of conception and I am seeking constructive feedback about the course objectives, structure, readings, etc. Going in the other direction, the workshop contributes to the professional preparation of current pre-candidacy PhD students by giving them a chance to look at a component of most academic job portfolios, the sample syllabus, and learn about the process of developing such syllabi (how many? at what levels? What course content?) as well as the role these documents and related pedagogical materials play in positioning oneself on the academic job market. To that end, the PR Workshop has planned this workshop specifically to benefit pre-candidacy PhD students working at the intersection of (continental) philosophy, religious studies, and/or literary theory.

The course is intended for advanced undergraduates with a working familiarity either with major trends in continental philosophy since the 17th century or with contemporary literary theory. The course treats the notion of a “hermeneutics of suspicion” as it gets articulated in the 1960s by Paul Ricoeur and Michel Foucault; the syllabus aims to situate this notion in a longer genealogy of post-Enlightenment “critique” (especially the critique of religion) and to interrogate the recent, increasingly widespread push for “post-critical” reading in literary studies over the last two decades (e.g. R. Felski, B. Latour, H. Love, S. Marcus and S. Best, F. Moretti, The Point, the later E.K. Sedgwick). I want this course to accomplish three related objectives:

(1)   to get students reflecting about the relationship between the modes of critical reading in which their education has trained them and, by denaturalizing the genealogy of critique, religious modes of engagement with texts against which such critical reading has historically been defined;

(2)   to think seriously about the relationship – genealogical and phenomenological – between “suspicion” and “charity” as hermeneutical and ethical principles;

(3)   to acquaint students with of-the-moment theoretical and methodological debates in the study of literature, especially as these bear on philosophy and religious studies.

Finally, as you shall see on the syllabus document itself, the course is divided in two parallel streams: various short theoretical and philosophical texts, on the one hand, and on the other a single, particularly difficult literary work which the class will read very carefully with an eye toward its explicit thematization of the hermeneutics of suspicion and the unrestricted economy of charity – Herman Melville’s late novel The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade.

Lunch provided

The Workshop on the Philosophy of Religions is committed to being a fully accessible and inclusive workshop.  Please contact Workshop Coordinators Rebekah Rosenfeld (rrosenfeld@uchicago.edu) or William Underwood (wunderwood@uchicago.edu) in order to make any arrangements necessary to facilitate your participation in workshop events.

Daniel Wyche: “Georges Friedmann: From the Great Disequilibrium to the Interior Effort”

Daniel Wyche

PhD Candidate, Philosophy of Religions

Georges Friedmann: From the Great Disequilibrium to the Interior Effort

Monday, January 27, 12:30 PM, Swift 200

Refreshments provided

The Workshop on the Philosophy of Religions is committed to being a fully accessible and inclusive workshop.  Please contact Workshop Coordinators Rebekah Rosenfeld (rrosenfeld@uchicago.edu) or William Underwood (wunderwood@uchicago.edu) in order to make any arrangements necessary to facilitate your participation in workshop events.