Kirsten Collins: “That Other Fornication: Jewish Law in the Sources of Foucault’s “Histoire de la sexualité IV””

Kirsten Collins

PhD Student, Religion, Literature, and Visual Culture

That Other Fornication: Jewish Law in the Sources of Foucault’s Histoire de la sexualité IV

This paper examines the implications of Judaism’s unremarked presence in the fourth installment of Foucault’s history of sexuality, Confessions of the Flesh. Judaism appears twice in his text, in paraphrases of the early Christian sources through which he attempts to examine the relationship between flesh and spirit, and the conception of subjectivity that he thinks it has produced. Through close readings of John Chrysostom and John Cassian, both within Foucault’s text and outside of it, I attempt to contextualize these references to Judaism, and through them, to examine some gaps in Foucault’s account of “the relation of the self to the self.”

Paper can be accessed here

Wednesday, April 24, 12:00 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 Coordinator William Underwood (wunderwood@uchicago.edu) in order to make any arrangements necessary to facilitate your participation in workshop events.

Matthew Peterson: “Freud’s Paul: Pathogenesis and the Question of Historical Truth”

Matthew Peterson

PhD Student, Philosophy of Religions

Freud’s Paul: Pathogenesis and the Question of Historical Truth 

Paper can be accessed here

Wednesday, April 17, 12:00 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 Coordinator William Underwood (wunderwood@uchicago.edu) in order to make any arrangements necessary to facilitate your participation in workshop events.

Lawrence McCrea: “Reading and Rationality in Late First Millennium Indian Philosophy”

Lawrence McCrea

Professor of Asian Studies and Classics, Cornell University

“Reading and Rationality in Late First Millennium Indian Philosophy”

Wednesday, April 10th, 4:30 PM, Swift Common Room

Lawrence McCrea is professor of Asian Studies and Classics at Cornell University. His research concerns the history of Indian philosophy, philosophy of language, and poetics, and has appeared in the Journal of Indian PhilosophyJournal of Hindu Studies, and Journal of the American Oriental Society. Professor McCrea is the author of The Teleology of Poetics in Medieval Kashmir (2008), Buddhist Philosophy of Language in India: Jñānaśrīmitra on Exclusion (with Parimal Patil, 2010), as well as the co-editor of New Directions in South Asian Studies: Critical Engagements with Sheldon Pollock (2011).

This paper will consider the history of the theory of the preconditions of textual study (abhidheya-prayojana-sambandha), tracing their development from Mīmāmsā to Dharmakīrtian Buddhists to Nyāya, where they are imported into Jayantabhatta’s model of everyday practical rationality.

The Workshop on the Philosophy of Religions is committed to being 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.

Dhruv Raj Nagar: Sanskrit in between Prior & Posterior Hermeneutics: Sankara’s Apophatic Depth-grammar & its Contribution to Vedic Hermeneutics

Dhruv Raj Nagar

PhD Student, Philosophy of Religions

Sanskrit in between Prior & Posterior Hermeneutics: Śankara’s Apophatic Depth-Grammar & its Contribution to Vedic Hermeneutics

Following Nietzsche’s cautionary remarks in the Genealogy of Morals, Henri Bergson, A.N.
Whitehead and other philosophers have been wary of and sensitive to the way in which language may be implicated in metaphysical discourse, entrenching and naturalizing a substance metaphysics based, for instance, on such grammatical structures as the subject-predicate schema. Later David Bohm dreamed of a language— the rheomode— naturally suited to denote processes and activities as a more accurate description of the world. Now if substance metaphysics may be a product of a substance-centered grammar then already the linguistic preconceptions of the Vedic milieu, as manifest in Vedic Sanskrit, lead us away from a substance-centric grammar to one centered on activity, an insight later explicated in the school of Pūrva Mīmāṃsā, the Prior Hermeneutics of the Veda, according to which language denoting action, accomplishment and ritual creation is language par excellence. Sanskrit, indeed, displays many features of the Bohmian rheomode. The prior-hermeneutists take recourse to various such resources and features of Sanskrit language in order to argue for the fundamentally processual and dynamic character of reality. However I will argue that, in contradistinction to both substance-metaphysical and process-oriented uses of language, the eighth-century philosopher Śaṅkara discovers and develops a Posterior Hermeneutics (Uttara Mīmāṃsā) of the Veda that argues for a quietist and niṣkriya (actionless) explication of Sanskrit and therefore of reality itself by way of foregrounding certain linguistic heterotypes marginalized by the prior-hermeneutic tradition in their exploitation of Sanskrit grammar. Śaṅkara’s Vedānta will thus be found to be grounded in an “apophatic depth-grammar” which, by revealing various depth features of linguistic and sentential cognition makes genuinely new contributions to the discipline of vākyaśāstra. I will discuss some of these features as employed by Śaṅkara, the extent to which they are indebted to and carry forward the Mīmāṃsā project of developing a hermeneutics of the Veda and of language per se, and lastly the question of whether and to what extent the historical articulation of substance metaphysics and its overcoming is peculiar to Western thought and what bearing, if any, it has on the schools of thought under discussion.

Paper can be accessed here

Wednesday, March 6, 12:30 PM, Swift 400

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.

Mendel Kranz: On the Borders of Europe: Zionism and (Post) Colonialism in Memmi and Levinas

Mendel Kranz

PhD Student, Philosophy of Religions

On the Borders of Europe: Zionism and (Post) Colonialism in Memmi and Levinas

This paper tracks the shifting articulations of Judaism as it emerges in France in the latter half of the 20th century—a France, that is, still contending with the Shoah and already deep within the throes of decolonization. This historical moment, I suggest, offers a particularly illuminating window through which to understand how the figure of the Jew is established, paradoxically, inside and outside of Europe, perpetuating a European colonial project in the State of Israel while concomitantly functioning at the site of a political-philosophical critique of the West. In the thinkers and writers analyzed here, the figure of the Jew emerges in a surprising series of moves in a liminal space between these two poles—critique and engagement, antagonists and protagonists, inside but not of the West. It is this series of movements that I want to track here.

Part theoretical exploration part critical genealogy, I ask how this double movement took place. By first engaging with and critiquing recent attempts to think about postcolonialism and Jewishness together, I turn to Albert Memmi and Emmanuel Levinas, who serve as fertile examples for why such models fail to adequately account for the complexity of the problem. For both of them the question is the same: how were they theorizing the position of the Jew in relation to the West and what role did Zionism play? Finally, I ask what such reversals might indicate about our attempts to consider the intertwined histories of Europe, (post) colonialism, Jewishness, and Zionism.

Paper can be accessed here

Wednesday, February 20, 12:30 PM, Swift 400

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.

Tamsin Jones: “Is Academic Theology an Answer to the Problem of Philosophy of Religion?”

Tamsin Jones

Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Trinity College

“Is Academic Theology an Answer to the Problem of Philosophy of Religion?”

Wednesday, February 13th, 4:30 PM, Swift 201

Paper can be accessed beforehand here

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.

 

 

Kristóf Oltvai: Theologizing Otherwise: Culture and/as the Critique of Metaphysics

Kristóf Oltvai

PhD Student, Theology

Theologizing Otherwise: Culture and/as the Critique of Metaphysics in Husserl, Adorno, and Levinas

Although the ‘turn to religion’ in contemporary European philosophy continues to attract interest and debate, scholarly analyses of this shift often remain one-sided, searching only for the impact of supposedly ‘theological’ texts and concepts on ‘philosophical’ ones without considering how these two disciplines’ interaction might reshape what both terms signify. In response, I suggest that the ethical critique of metaphysics as a totalizing conceptual discourse–which becomes, over the course of the 20th century, a critique of ‘philosophy’ as such–redefines ‘theology’ as that which safeguards the value or meaning of human subjectivity against philosophy’s authoritarian impulses. This theology, however, is now found in the whole interhuman world of culture, and not (just) in the historic faith of the Christian churches. I trace this theme from Edmund Husserl’s notions of the Lebenswelt and the crisis of Europe, through Theodor Adorno’s question of “philosophizing after Auschwitz,” to Emmanuel Levinas’ summons to think God on the basis of the interhuman, cultural encounter with the Other.

Paper can be accessed here

Wednesday, February 6, 12:30 PM, Swift 200

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.

Jean-Luc Marion: “What do We Mean When We Speak of Revelation?”

Jean-Luc Marion

Thomas Greeley and Grace McNichols Greeley Professor of Catholic Studies; Professor of Philosophy of Religions, Theology, Philosophy, and the Committee on Social Thought, University of Chicago; Professor Emeritus of Modern Philosophy and Metaphysics, University of Paris IV (Sorbonne)

“What do We Mean When We Speak of Revelation?”

Wednesday, January 16th, Location TBA

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.

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.