Book Launch & Reading Group: Apocalypse of Truth: Heideggerian Meditations

Please join the Philosophy of Religions Workshop on Wednesday, June 9th for a talk with translator Matthew J. Peterson (PhD Candidate, Divinity School) on Jean Vioulac’s Apocalypse of Truth: Heideggerian Meditations, released this month by the UChicago Press. The talk will be followed by a reading group discussion, which will simply be an opportunity for those who have read the book to discuss it with others in the workshop community. You are welcome to attend one or both events.

Book Launch & Reading Group
Apocalypse of Truth: Heideggerian Meditations

Wednesday, June 9th

4:00pm CT
Talk with translator Matthew J. Peterson

5:00pm CT
Reading group discussion

Virtual Event
RSVP to rrosenfeld@uchicago.edu for Zoom link to one or both sessions.

The book may be purchased through the Seminary Co-op Bookstore or other booksellers.

About the book: We inhabit a time of crisis—totalitarianism, environmental collapse, and the unquestioned rule of neoliberal capitalism. Philosopher Jean Vioulac is invested in and worried by all of this, but his main concern lies with how these phenomena all represent a crisis within—and a threat to—thinking itself. In his first book to be translated into English, Vioulac radicalizes Heidegger’s understanding of truth as disclosure through the notion of truth as apocalypse. This “apocalypse of truth” works as an unveiling that reveals both the finitude and mystery of truth, allowing a full confrontation with truth-as-absence. Engaging with Heidegger, Marx, and St. Paul, as well as contemporary figures including Giorgio Agamben, Alain Badiou, and Slavoj Žižek, Vioulac’s book presents a subtle, masterful exposition of his analysis before culminating in a powerful vision of “the abyss of the deity.” Here, Vioulac articulates a portrait of Christianity as a religion of mourning, waiting for a god who has already passed by, a form of ever-present eschatology whose end has always already taken place. With a preface by Jean-Luc Marion, Apocalypse of Truth presents a major contemporary French thinker to English-speaking audiences for the first time.

About the translator: Matthew Peterson is a doctoral candidate in the philosophy of religions at the University of Chicago Divinity School. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Continental Philosophy Review and The Journal of Religion.

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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.

Division(s) and Transformation(s): Five Cognitive Stations in the Delimitation of Things (有分與物化:知物的五層封野)

 

Chiayu Hsu

Postdoc, UChicago Divinity School

The courses (Daos) of transformation—this is the Zhuangzi’s most manifest and recurrently zig-zagging theme. For Zhuangzi, the world is “changing and transforming, never constant.” The transformations of the ten-thousand things never having begun to reach their limit, we nevertheless draw lines over this world transforming at each moment, dividing it up into sections, and establishing boundaries.
In Part II of a joint series on Zhuangzi & Absolute Division, we will analyze a passage in the Equalizing Assessments of Things which expressly sets forth the delimitation of things within human knowledge, and illustrates what Zhuangzi takes to be the five stations of the cognition, as well as the interrelation between division(s) and transformation(s).

Although we’ve chosen to present Chiayu’s paper in bi-lingual format, with the Chinese and newly translated English side-by-side, conversation will be held in English. No prior background in Chinese is required!

Thursday, May 20th, 6:30pm CT

The workshop will focus on a pre-circulated paper (available here) and will be largely discussion-based. 

Please contact tjneenan@uchicago.edu for the Zoom link. 

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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.

Sonam Kachru: Non-Presentism in Antiquity: South Asian Buddhist Perspectives

Sonam Kachru

Assistant Professor, University of Virginia

Non-Presentism in Antiquity: South Asian Buddhist Perspectives

Sooner or later in one’s exploration of early Buddhism one will come across a suggestion to the effect that, at the end of the day, early Buddhism comes down to an endorsement of the following injunction: One should attend only to the present. What is the argument behind either the injunction or believing that Buddhism comes down to an endorsement of it? Here’s one. (Buddhists believe that) (1) The present uniquely exists; (Buddhists also believe that) (2) one should attend only to what exists or to what one can affect and control: for one can only control or affect what exists. I discuss ancient and contemporary variations on this argument, while noting the instability of it.  For not all early Buddhists believed (1), and even among those that did, not all believed (2). And in any event, the idea of “attention to the present” turns out not to be all that clear, even in cases where we are not dealing with the far more involved varieties of temporal and modal content that can characterize some early Buddhist modes of attention. In the talk based on the pre-circulated essay, I’ll analyze these claims briefly and discuss why the failure to reduce early Buddhism to a combination of ontological and practical presentism matters.

Thursday, April 29th, 4:30pm CT
Please note the new start time of 4:30pm.

Virtual Event
This workshop will focus on a pre-circulated paper (available here) and will be largely discussion-based.
Please contact rrosenfeld@uchicago.edu for the paper password and the Zoom link.

Sonam Kachru (Assistant Professor, University of Virginia) studies the history of philosophy, with a particular focus on the history of Buddhist philosophy (and literature) in Ancient South Asia. He is particularly interested in philosophy of mind (consciousness, attention, imagination), metaphysics, and philosophical anthropology. His first book (forthcoming from Columbia University Press) is entitled Other Lives: Mind and World in Indian Buddhism. He is currently working on a history of norms of attention in Indian Buddhism, a project that also involves a reconsideration of conceptions of self-control and inner purity in practices of self in antiquity, from Athens to Pataliputra.

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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.

Critique, Contradiction, and Common Sense in the Anekāntajayapatākā

Anil Mundra

PhD Candidate, Philosophy of Religions

Critique, Contradiction, and Common Sense in the Anekāntajayapatākā

The Jain theory of “non-one-sidedness” (anekāntavāda) — that any real object possesses contrary properties — has understandably been deemed paradoxical by both its classical Indian detractors and many well-wishing modern proponents. However, examination of a Sanskrit locus classicus, Haribhadrasūri’s Victory Flag of Non-One-Sidedness (Anekāntajayapatākā, c. 8thcentury C.E.), reveals that the theory insists not only on non-contradiction but indeed the dictates of common sense. On this reading, its basic insight turns out rather like Hegel’s “determinate negation” without his idealism.

This is a draft of the central chapter of my dissertation, and it is long and technical. The central concepts of the text come on pages 3, 19, and 28. But beyond that, those of you who understandably do not want to wade through the whole thing might consider choosing your own adventure depending on your interests:
  • If you’re into Anglo-American and “common sense” philosophy, go directly to the second section: “Experience and Intuition, Common Sense and Conventional Practice” (~15 pp.)
  • If you incline more toward Continental philosophy and Hegel, go to the third section: “Contradiction and the Compossibility of Contraries” (~15 pp.)
  • If you’re most interested in Sanskrit intellectual history and exegesis, go to the fourth section: “Hermeneutics and Doxography” (~5 pp.)
  • If you’d rather think about the methodological issues of comparativism, go to the last section “Comparison, Common Sense, and Colonialism” (~2 pp.)

I’m very grateful to anyone who takes the trouble to read and discuss even a single section!

The paper may be accessed here.

Tuesday, April 13th, 12:30 PM

Hosted by the Philosophy of Religions Workshop at the University of Chicago. To RSVP and receive a Zoom link and password for the paper, 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.

The Critics of Metaphysics and the Power of their Judgment, Part II: Heidegger and Derrida

Ryan S. Bingham

PhD Student, Religion, Literature, and Visual Culture

The Critics of Metaphysics and the Power of their Judgment
Part II: Heidegger and Derrida

At the outset of his critical project, Immanuel Kant describes his age as “the genuine age of criticism,” claiming that the “power of judgment” belonging to this age calls for the institution of a peculiar “court of justice”: namely, “the critique of pure reason itself.” Among the critiques of his age, this critique was to have the power to decide “the possibility or impossibility of a metaphysics in general,” which is “the culmination of all culture of human reason.” This critique, demanded by the age’s power of judgment, reached its third and final stage in the critique of the “power of judgment” itself. What did this critique grant to the “power of judgment,” and what judgments concerning metaphysics did it thus make possible? When inheritors of the Kantian critical project have made critique of the power of judgment integral to their own attempt at a critique of metaphysics, what judgments have they made concerning the power of judgment, and how has this immanent critique of critique affected the project of a critique of metaphysics? In this two-part essay, I first situate the critique of the power of judgment within the Kantian critical project, specifically attending to its importance to Kant’s effort to decisively ground a metaphysics. I then attend to the tradition of the critique of the power of judgment as part of a critique of metaphysics on the part of Martin Heidegger and Jacques Derrida. I argue that the critique of the power of judgment comes to serve as a site for the critique of critique itself. For Heidegger, from the mid-1920s to the mid-1930s, this critique entails the uncovering of what is “unthought” in Kant’s transcendental idealism for the sake of either an essential grounding of metaphysics or an overcoming of metaphysics toward his “other beginning.” For Derrida, however, this critique entails the detection of cultural prejudices (e.g., Platonic, Christian, German) as these inform the critique of metaphysics itself in Kant and Heidegger. Far from either pretending to a lack of prejudice or abandoning the critical project, Derrida’s pursuit of the critique of the power of judgment as a critique of the critique of metaphysics promotes renewed critical attention to cultural prejudices, including, notably, those of the critic. Derrida thus uniquely alters the task of criticism.

The paper may be accessed here.

Tuesday, March 9th, 12:30 PM

Hosted by the Philosophy of Religions Workshop at the University of Chicago. To RSVP and receive a Zoom link and password for the paper, please email Rebekah Rosenfeld (rrosenfeld@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.

Ontological Homelessness as a Phenomenology of Belonging: Comparing the Nihilisms of Martin Heidegger and Keiji Nishitani

Anna M. Duong-Topp

MA Student, Divinity School

Ontological Homelessness as a Phenomenology of Belonging: Comparing the Nihilisms of Martin Heidegger and Keiji Nishitani

This analysis investigates how Kyoto School philosopher Keiji Nishitani utilizes the phenomenological framework of Martin Heidegger to express a Zen philosophical perspective on ontological homelessness. An articulation of this framework, herein termed the Structure of Being, summarizes the relationship between ontology, nihilism, and German-Japanese inter-philosophy. Ontological homelessness expounds the nihilistic experience of spatial disillusionment which affects humanity in response to modernity. Further emphasis is placed on the spatial approaches to ontology which Zen Buddhism serves to enhance, particularly through the mystical employments of śūnyatā and samādhi. I conclude that an appropriation of these insights by public praxis can aid in reversing the ontological homelessness experienced in the 21st century. Nishitani’s Religion and Nothingness and Heidegger’s Being and Time are most central to this study, though a few of their later works in conjunction with secondary sources are employed for analytical purposes.

The paper may be accessed here.

Tuesday, February 23rd, 12:30 PM

Hosted by the Philosophy of Religions Workshop at the University of Chicago. To RSVP and receive a Zoom link, please email Rebekah Rosenfeld (rrosenfeld@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.

“Don’t Swim Upriver to that Shallow Pond, Bataille! There’s an Oceanic Lake Ahead”: A Theory of Two Oceanic Forms of Being

Jack Plimpton

MA Student, Philosophy of Religions in the Divinity School

“Don’t Swim Upriver to that Shallow Pond, Bataille! There’s an Oceanic Lake Ahead”: A Theory of Two Oceanic Forms of Being

Through a comparative study of Georges Bataille and Jean Gebser, a theory emerges suggestive of two forms of human existence wherein both hold the quality of consciousness/being as non-differentiation; one as humanity’s origin and another as humanity’s ‘endpoint’ in its mutational becoming. To use an Abrahamic traditional metaphor, the first form of existence is the state of non-differentiation while in Eden whereas the latter is a post-Fallen reunion with God. Bataille exemplifies the position that humanity must retreat into the state of existence before its archaic Fall, before its archaic break from intimate continuity; this is similarly the approach of ascetics. While Gebser recognizes through his own framework the truth in an archaic form of existence, or consciousness, he sees this method as backtracking and alternatively proposes humans integrate their various structures of consciousness to realize a Zen, satori-like, integral enlightenment which transcends differentiation. With Gebser’s method, non-differentiation is achieved again but in a deeper form of non-differentiation. Due to their essence of non-differentiation like water in water, these two forms of human existence raise many questions. Foremost, if these two states of existence can be distinguished, it must be quantitatively by depth, which suggests a new purposive explanation about humanity’s archaic Fall from continuity.

The paper may be accessed here.

Tuesday, February 16th, 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.

What is ‘Comparativism’ in Philosophy of Religions? 

What is ‘Comparativism’ in Philosophy of Religions? 

A faculty conversation sponsored by the Philosophy of Religions Workshop

Tuesday, February 9

6:00-7:00

Virtual Event (Zoom)

Join us to discuss questions like “What is ‘comparativism’ in the Philosophy of Religions?” “How does one communicate between divergent definitions of ‘philosophy’ and ‘religion’ across times and traditions?” “Does comparative work in the Philosophy of Religions have its own distinct object and methodology? Or is there perhaps something of comparativism at stake in the Philosophy of Religions in general?” Professors Daniel Arnold and Brook Ziporyn will share their perspectives on the roles and contemporary challenges of comparativism in the field. A large portion of the conversation will be dedicated to student questions. All are welcome to join! 

Please contact workshop coordinators Rebekah Rosenfeld (rrosenfeld@uchicago.edu) and Tyler Neenan (tjneenan@uchicago.edu) with any questions concerning this event. 

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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.