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.

Kristóf Oltvai: “Good without Being? Communion, Personhood, and Evil in Jean-Luc Marion’s Theology”

Kristóf Oltvai

MA Student, Divinity School

Good without Being? Communion, Personhood, and Evil in Jean-Luc Marion’s Theology

Wednesday, November 1, 5:00pm, Swift 400 (please note the time and room change)

The paper can be read here

From Augustine to Aquinas and beyond, central figures in Christian theology are often interpreted as advancing an ontological definition of evil, setting evil’s deprivation or nothingness against God’s ipseity as the summum ens. Recent work in the continental philosophy of religion has stigmatized such “ontotheological” readings for importing an almost deistic eudaimonism into Christian ethics. Among these, I argue that Jean-Luc Marion’s “phenomenology of the gift” reframes personhood as a property of phenomenality, not being(ness). Glimpsing Christ as the icon of the Father initiates the givee into seeing beyond both φύσις and οὐσία; this “enhypostasization” serves as the prototype for the ethical encounter with the face of the Other and, perhaps even more fundamentally, with all given phenomena. The hypostatic moment can thus be understood as a transubstantiation of the “besought” (interloqué) into a phenomenal field governed only by the horizon of charity. A radical question for philosophical theology follows: does defining any metaphysical constitution for the person imprison them within solipsistic subjectity (or worse, objectity)? Is being–evil?

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.

William Underwood: “The Time of Love’s Power: Lorde, Marion, and the Politics of the Erotic ‘I'”

William Underwood

PhD Student, Philosophy of Religions

The Time of Love’s Power: Lorde, Marion, and the Politics of the Erotic “I”

Wednesday, October 18, 4:30pm, Swift 208

In the twentieth century, the problem of desire in the constitution of the self-became the hinge of theories that challenged the privilege of a self-possessed subject and its attendant politics of universalist liberation. Defining work in phenomenology, psychoanalysis, critical theory, and literature, this critical countermovement of desire contributed to the critique of existing epistemological paradigms and generated new vistas for both philosophy and political struggle. In this paper, I bring into contact two thinkers—Jean-Luc Marion and Audre Lorde—who subject modern accounts of the subject to reformulation through novel treatments of eroticism, but whose work is rarely, if ever, brought into contact. In so doing, I argue that Lorde’s critical and poetic work extends Marion’s erotic expansion of the phenomenological field, and helps articulate a distinct erotic politics informed by the sociogenic dimensions of phenomenality and oriented toward the project of liberation.

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.

Scott Ferguson: “Descartes, Boyle, and (Early) Kant on Physico-Theology and the Existence of God”

Scott Ferguson

PhD Candidate, Philosophy of Religions

Descartes, Boyle, and (Early) Kant on Physico-Theology and the Existence of God

Wednesday, October 4, 4:30pm, Swift 208

Physico-theology – the attempt to infer God’s existence and concept from nature – has an equivocal position in both Kant and Descartes. Kant consistently praises the beauty of the physico-theological (nee “cosmological”) proof for God’s existence, except that he never grants it any independent validity. Descartes explicitly rejects final causality, seemingly ruling out any theistic proof from nature’s purposiveness, except that Robert Boyle can fairly convincingly show room for just such a proof within Descartes’ thinking. Beyond just laying out the texts, I want to suggest that the reason for these obscurities may be that the basic concepts of physico-theology have just never been clarified – that this sense of “nature,” as an ontological field(a way for entities to be), has never been adequately characterized, nor explored in terms of its link (which I will try to show) to sensation and the union of mind and body.

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.

Cody Jones: “What a Ghost is Owed: Towards a Hauntological Theory of Debt”

Cody Jones
PhD student, Religion, Literature, and Visual Culture
What a Ghost is Owed: Towards a Hauntological Theory of Debt
 
Wednesday, May 31, 4:30pm, Swift 201
What are ghosts, what do they have to do with debt, and should we be agitating for their liberation? Are virtual economics a form of haunted product? Why is terror the affective equivalent of a stock market crash? Have you actually been dead for forty years? Some of these questions will most likely be answered, or at the very least ignored, in this presentation. Works and interlocutors include: Lacan, Bataille, Marx, Reza Negarestani, China Miéville, Derrida, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, That Thing That Happened to You When You Were Home Alone, and the ? emoji.
                                        Refreshments will be served.

Dhruv Raj Nagar: “On the Various Branches of An Other Philosophy: Thinking Otherwise & thinking the Othered in Western Metaphysics”

Dhruv Raj Nagar

PhD Student, Philosophy of Religions

On the Various Branches of An Other Philosophy: Thinking Otherwise & thinking the Othered in Western Metaphysics

Wednesday, May 17, 4:30pm, Swift 201

The paper can be read here

A critique of Western metaphysics, whether directed at its ocularcentrism or logocentrism, ontotheology or metaphysics of presence, may be negotiated in two ways. Firstly, as has been done, by identifying and exposing precisely the elements that contribute to it and recommending remedial substitutes. Or secondly, by simply circumventing the very project of recuperative dialogue and instead initiating another way of doing philosophy that shares almost nothing with the language, premises and content of Western philosophy, while still addressing similar concerns. Only through such an other thinking, which is quite possibly an other of thinking, may it be possible to execute the critical project without in some way being already complicit with the ideology such a project seeks to critique.

An outline of such an other philosophy will be presented here (inspired by the system of Advaita Vedānta). Thus, instead of being constrained by traditional categories of metaphysics, epistemology, theology or ethics dealing with well-established themes of substance, being, presence, autonomy, knowledge, existence and essence, a new branching and thematization of philosophy will be introduced which speaks of magic (magistics), of light and darkness (photology), caves and caverns (speleology), of sleep (somnology), and finally of matters of the heart (cardiology), themes that have often stood neglected in the historical preoccupations of Western philosophy.

Refreshments will be served

Matthew Peterson: “Historicity and Absence: On the Return of Excess in the Study of Religion”

Matthew Peterson

PhD Student, Philosophy of Religions

Historicity and Absence: On the Return of Excess in the Study of Religion

Wednesday, April 26, 4:30pm, Swift 403

The concept of experiential excess, once a defining feature of the study of religion, has seen a revitalization in recent years. This retrieval has been championed by Robert Orsi, a scholar of lived religion who, situating himself within what he calls “the tradition of the more,” wants to turn away from what is socially, linguistically, and historically given in experience to instead leave room for the unpredictability of the intersubjective realm, which he ascribes to the “really real” presence of the gods or the holy. Against this view that the intersubjective and social-historical realms can be so easily distinguished, I draw on the continental philosophical tradition, especially Michel de Certeau, to argue for a sense of the excessive or holy as absent, understood as products of historicity. I then explore whether such a perspectival shift is enough to allow scholars to interrogate excessive experiences alongside or even in light of their theological, atheological, or agnostic commitments, without allowing those commitments to set the terms of the conversation.

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.

Noreen Khawaja (Yale University): “Philosophy, Theory, History”

Noreen Khawaja

Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Yale University

Philosophy, Theory, History

Wednesday, April 5, 4:30, Swift Common Room

Noreen Khawaja specializes in 19th and 20th century European intellectual history, and particularly on the shifting status of religious ideas in late modern Western philosophy and culture. Her research examines the collapse of metaphysics both historically and philosophically. She looks at this issue in relation to secularity, the retrieval of theological traditions, and the rise of critical discourses on religion. Her book on existentialism, The Religion of Existence: Asceticism in Philosophy from Kierkegaard to Sartre was published with the University of Chicago Press in 2016. A newer project looks at the emergence of authenticity as a cultural and aesthetic ideal from the early Surrealists to the present day.

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.