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Research at CTMET

Since its foundation in 2007 ctmet has focussed its work on three main research projects. Details of these projects and information about events related to them are given under Heidegger and Religion, Sacrifice and Modern Thought and Phenomenology of Religious Life.

Recent publications authored or co-authored by Centre Members

Martin Halliwell & Joel D.S. Rasmussen (eds), William James and the Transatlantic Conversation. Pragmatism, Pluralism, and Philosophy of Religion (Oxford: OUP, 2014).

William James and the Transatlantic Conversation focuses on the American philosopher and psychologist William James (1842-1910) and his engagements with European thought, together with the multidisciplinary reception of his work on both sides of the Atlantic since his death. James's encounters with European thinkers and ideas ran throughout his early life and across his distinguished international career, in which he participated in a number of transatlantic conversations in science, philosophy, psychology, religion, ethics, and literature. This volume explores and extends these conversations by drawing together twelve scholars from a range of disciplines on both sides of the Atlantic to assess James's work in all its variety, to trace his multidisciplinary reception across the twentieth century, and to evaluate his legacy in the twenty-first century. The first half of the book considers James's many intellectual influences and the second half focuses on A Pluralistic Universe (1909), the published text of his 1908 Hibbert Lectures at Oxford University, as a key text for assessing James's transatlantic conversations. The pluralistic transatlantic currents addressed in the first part of the volume enable a fuller understanding of James's philosophy of pluralism that forms the explicit focus for the second part. Taken as a collection, the volume is unique in scholarship on James in generating transatlantic, interdisciplinary, and cross-generational dialogues, and it repositions James as an important international thinker and arguably the most distinctive American intellectual figure of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Johannes Zachhuber, Theology as Science in Nineteenth-Century Germany. From F.C. Baur to Ernst Troeltsch (Oxford: OUP, 2013).

This study describes the origin, development and crisis of the German nineteenth-century project of theology as science. Its narrative is focused on the two predominant theological schools during this period, the Tübingen School and the Ritschl School. Their work emerges as a grand attempt to synthesize historical and systematic theology within the twin paradigms of historicism and German Idealism. Engaging in detail with the theological, historical and philosophical scholarship of the story's protagonists, Johannes Zachhuber reconstructs the basis of this scholarship as a deep belief in the eventual unity of human knowledge. This idealism clashed with the historicist principles underlying much of the scholars' actual research. The tension between these paradigms ran through the entire period and ultimately led to the disintegration of the project at the end of the century.

Drawing on a wealth of primary sources, many of which have never been used in English speaking scholarship before, Zachhuber embeds the essentially theological story he presents within broader intellectual developments in nineteenth century Germany. In spite of its eventual failure, the project of theology as science in nineteenth century Germany is here described as a paradigmatic intellectual endeavour of European modernity with far-reaching significance beyond the confines of a single academic discipline.

To listen to podcasts of the symposium held for this book in 2013, see http://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/series/sacrifice-and-modern-thought.

Judith Wolfe, Heidegger's Eschatology. Theological Horizons in Martin Heidegger's Early Work (Oxford: OUP, 2013).

Heidegger's Eschatology is a ground-breaking account of Heidegger's early engagement with theology, from his beginnings as an anti-Modernist Catholic to his turn towards an undogmatic Protestantism and finally to a resolutely a-theistic philosophical method. The book centres on Heidegger's developing commitment to an eschatological vision, derived from theological sources but reshaped into a central resource for the development of an atheistic phenomenological account of human existence.

This vision originated in Heidegger's attempt, in the late 1910s, to formulate a phenomenology of religious life that would take seriously the inherent temporality of human existence. In this endeavour, Heidegger turned to two trends in Protestant scholarship: the discovery of eschatology as a central preoccupation of the Early Church by A. Schweitzer and the 'History of Doctrine' School, and the 'existential' eschatology of Karl Barth and Eduard Thurneysen, indebted to Kierkegaard, Dostoevsky, and Franz Overbeck.

His synthesis of such trends within a phenomenological framework (elaborated primarily via readings of Paul and Augustine in his lecture courses of 1921-2) led Heidegger to postulate an existential sense of eschatological unrest as the central characteristic of authentic Christian existence. His description of this expectant restlessness, however, was now inescapably at odds with its Christian sources, since Heidegger's commitment to a phenomenological description of the human situation led him to abstract the 'existential' experience of expectation from its traditional object: the 'blessed hope' for the Kingdom of God. Christian hope thus for Heidegger no longer constitutes, but rather negates 'eschatological' unrest, because such hope projects an end to that unrest, and thus to authentic existence itself. Against the Christian vision, Heidegger therefore develops a systematic 'eschatology without eschaton', paradigmatically expressed as 'being-unto-death'. Judith Wolfe tells the story of his re-conception of eschatology, using a wealth of primary and newly available original-language sources, and offering in-depth analysis of Heidegger's relationship to theological tradition and the theology of his time.

Julia Meszaros and Johannes Zachhuber (eds), Sacrifice and Modern European Thought (Oxford: OUP, 2013).

Sacrifice has always been central to the study of religion yet attempts to understand and assess the concept have usually been controversial. The present book, which is the result of several years of interdisciplinary collaboration, suggests that in many ways the fascination with sacrifice has its roots in modernity itself. Theological developments following the Reformation, the rediscovery of Greek tragedies, and the encounter with the practice of human sacrifice in the Americas triggered a complex and passionate debate in the sixteenth century which has never since abated. Contributors to this volume, leading experts from theology, anthropology, and literary and cultural studies, describe and discuss how this modern fascination for the topic of sacrifice has evolved, how it has shaped theological debate, the literary imagination, and anthropological theory. Individual chapters discuss in depth major theological trajectories, theories of sacrifice including those of Marcel Mauss and René Girard, and current feminist criticism. They engage with sacrifice in the context of religious and philosophical thought, works of literature and film. They explore different yet overlapping aspects of modernity's obsession with sacrifice. The book does not intend to impose a single narrative over all these diverse contributions but brings them into a conversation around a common centre.

Nicholas Adams, George Pattison, and Graham Ward (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Theology and Modern European Thought (Oxford: OUP, 2013).

'Modern European thought' describes a wide range of philosophies, cultural programmes, and political arguments developed in Europe in the period following the French Revolution. Throughout this period, many of the wide range of 'modernisms' (and anti-modernisms) had a distinctly religious and even theological character-not least when religion was subjected to the harshest criticism. Yet for all the breadth and complexity of modern European thought and, in particular, its relations to theology, a distinct body of themes and approaches recurred in each generation. Moreover, many of the issues that took intellectual shape in Europe are now global, rather than narrowly European, and, for good or ill, they form part of Europe's bequest to the world-from colonialism and the economic theories behind globalisation through to democracy to terrorism. This volume attempts to identify and comment on some of the most important of these. The thirty chapters are grouped into six thematic parts, moving from questions of identity and the self, through discussions of the human condition, the age of revolution, the world (both natural and technological), and knowledge methodologies, concluding with a section looking explicitly at how major theological themes have developed in modern European thought. The chapters engage with major thinkers including Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Schleiermacher, Nietzsche, Dostoevsky, Barth, Rahner, Tillich, Bonhoeffer, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Wittgenstein, and Derrida, amongst many others. Taken together, these new essays provide a rich and reflective overview of the interchange between theology, philosophy and critical thought in Europe, over the past two hundred years.

   © Centre for Theology and Modern European Thought 2014