Religious Studies PhD Application Clinic

Application Clinic: PhD Programs in Religious Studies

Wednesday, November 18, 2015, 4:30pm: Swift 200

RSVP (Nov 1)

Are you applying to PhD programs in Religious Studies? Let us help you! The Philosophy of Religions Club and Workshop is teaming up with several other groups to offer an application clinic, in which current Div School PhD students will read your statement of purpose and offer constructive feedback to help you score that offer.


RSVP to Workshop Coordinator Anil Mundra ( by November 1st.

If you want to participate please tell us:

  1. a) what area/departments you intend to apply for;
  2. b) whether you are comfortable having your statement read and discussed by the whole group, or would prefer a one-on-one critique.

We will need you to send us the draft of your statement of purpose (NOT your writing sample) by November 11th so the readers have time to formulate their comments.

Then we will meet on November 18th to discuss the statements (over dinner and beverages to take the edge off!)


The PR Workshop

Anil Mundra on Naturalness and Normativity in Religious Studies

Anil Mundra (University of Chicago):

“The Natural, The Normative, and the Study of Religion”

Wednesday, October 28th, 4:30pm: Swift 200

The religious studies academy routinely opposes descriptive or historical to prescriptive or constructive methodologies—witness the categories of the AAR’s book awards, and the committees of the University of Chicago’s Divinity School. Such a bifurcation reflects an ambivalence about the nature of religion: some of us are to conceive of religion as naturally or historically determined, such that it is subject to an explanatory analysis; others must view it as a free activity, such that it is susceptible to injunctive intervention. The dilemma, in short, is whether the academic study of religion is to be normatively evaluative or not. Integrating the insights of thinkers from Hegel to Donald Davidson, I will argue that normativity is an ineliminable (even if often implicit or invisible) element of humanistic description; and that, insofar as religious studies claims to study human agents it inevitably has humanistic dimensions. These dimensions depend on the ability of scholars to recognize the equal humanity of those that they study, which proceeds not only from an imperative to fairness, but more rigorously from the admission that both scholars and their subjects are at once historically conditioned and free.

CONFERENCE – Martin Buber: Philosopher of Dialogue


Martin Buber: Philosopher of Dialogue

Sunday, October 18, 2015 to Monday, October 19, 2015

Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership & the University of Chicago Divinity School

In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Martin Buber’s death, this two-day conference brings together leading scholars from around the country to generate new questions and explore answers relating to the issues at the heart of Buber’s thought.  One of the most profound and influential Jewish philosophers of the twentieth century, Martin Buber articulated his concept of “dialogue” most famously in his 1923 book I and Thou.  He continued to develop it throughout his life in writings on Hasidism and the Hebrew Bible, philosophy, Christianity, and Zionism. This conference will explore various aspects of his dialogical thought.

Dr. Michael Fishbane of the Divinity School, University of Chicago, will present the October 18 keynote address, Religious Authenticity and Spiritual Resistance: Martin Buber and Biblical Hermeneutics.

Dr. Elliot Wolfson of the Department of Religious Studies at University of California, Santa Barbara, will present the keynote address on October 19.

*Please see Registration and Conference Information here.

Monima Chadha on Selflessness and Experience in the Abhidharma

Monima Chadha (Monash University)

“Selfless Minds: An Abhidharma Buddhist Analysis of Experience”

Wednesday, Oct 7th, 4:30 pm

Swift Hall, 106


The Abhidharma view of mind and consciousness emerges as a consequence of the Buddhist doctrines of no-self and impermanence. These two doctrines taken together are not only fundamentally at odds with contemporary science and most Western philosophy but also with our ordinary everyday experiences. This revisionary Buddhist-Abhidharma metaphysics is profoundly counterintuitive. And the Buddhists are acutely aware of this fact. This underlies the Buddhist-Abhidharma drive to develop an accurate descriptive metaphysics of mind. In my paper I provide a rational reconstruction of a Buddhist-Abhidharma account of mind and conscious experience in the absence of mind or any persisting entities. And then I explore whether the sparse Abhidharma ontology can account for the phenomenological and cognitive features of our experience.