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Past Events at CTMET

Conference: Paul Tillich. Theology and Legacy
14th-15th July 2014
Ertegun House, 37A St Giles, Oxford

Paul Tillich features on anyone’s list of most significant and influential 20th Century theologians. In an age where it is tempting to retreat into intra-theological discussion or dismiss the secular world, Tillich’s vision for a theology which engages with culture and connects religious language with philosophical reflection continues to influence and provoke contemporary theological reflection.

This conference aims to stimulate and provide a platform for current work on Paul Tillich in anticipation of the commencement of the publication of the Collected Works in English from 2015, as well as providing space and time for scholars with an interest in Tillich’s work to meet, get to know each other, and discuss their work. will feature the following keynote speakers:

  • Reinhold Bernhardt (Basel)
  • Marc Boss (Montpellier)
  • Douglas Hedley (Cambridge)
  • Anne-Marie Reijnen (Paris)
  • Christoph Schwöbel (Tübingen)

For more information, including the Call for Papers (deadline 14th February), see tillichoxford2014.wordpress.com

Book at lunchtime: Wednesday 4th June 2014, 12:45pm - 1:45pm

See http://www.torch.ox.ac.uk/book-lunchtime-5 for more information.

William James and the Translatlantic Conversation. Pragmatism, Pluralism, and Philosophy of Religion.
A discussion of the new book edited by Martin Halliwell & Joel D.S. Rasmussen, with Dr Sondra Hausner (Research Fellow and University Lecturer in the Study of Religion, University of Oxford), Dr Michèle Mendelssohn (University Lecturer and Tutorial Fellow, University of Oxford), Dr Simeon Zahl (Junior Research Fellow in Theology, University of Oxford), and the editors.

‘Lucidly capturing some of the most salient moments of James’s transcultural encounters, William James and the Transatlantic Conversation promises to transform the field of James studies by shedding radically new light on all the most important facets of James’s life and work.’
Francesca Bordogna, University of Notre Dame, author of William James at the Boundaries:Philosophy, Science, and the Geography of Knowledge

‘If the conversational mode of thinking is chiefly characterised as an exchange that refuses to be drawn into arid abstractions, […] then William James and the Transatlantic Conversation is a superb example of the type. Across these essays, the range and scope of William James’s conversations with others—and the conversations he is still having with us—are brought to vivid and stimulating life.’
Matthew Bradley, University of Liverpool, editor of the Oxford edition of The Varieties of Religious Experience

‘Drawing insights from many disciplines and many national perspectives, the appearance of this volume represents a significant and substantial scholarly achievement. It will be valuable not only to students of William James but to all interested in transatlantic intellectual and cultural history in the modern age.’
Thomas Albert Howard, Gordon College, Massachusetts, author of God and the Atlantic: America, Europe, and the Religious Divide

Book Description:
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.

Seminar and book launch: Heidegger's Eschatology
Tuesday, 26th November 2013


This seminar on the occasion of the publication of Judith Wolfe's Heidegger's Eschatology. Theological Horizons in Martin Heidegger's Early Work (Oxford: OUP, 2013), and sponsored by St John's College Research Centre, featured the following panelists:
  • Werner Jeanrond
  • Stephen Mulhall
  • Thomas Sheehan
  • The author, Judith Wolfe


Book launch & discussion: Theology as Science in Nineteenth Century Germany | TORCH
Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Part of the TORCH Book Series. A roundtable discussion introduced by Prof Graham Ward (Theology) with Dr Sondra Hausner (Modern Religion), Prof Michael Bentley (History and Philosophy of History) and Dr David Lincicum (New Testament Studies) to celebrate the publication of Johannes Zachhuber's Theology as Science in Nineteenth-Century Germany. From F.C. Baur to Ernst Troeltsch (Oxford: OUP, 2013).

The book 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 Tubingen 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.

Bernd Irlenborn

Relativism and Christian Belief, Bernd Irlenborn
Wednesday, 20th November 2013

Abstract: Most philosophers and theologians would consider atheism as the main opponent of contemporary Christian belief, but there are reasons to question this view. Relativism, although less conspicuous than atheism, might be a far more challenging, even contagious opponent. The paper examines the philosophical concept of relativism and analyses its impact for Christian truth claims.

Prof Bernd Irlenborn is Chair for Philosophy of Religion, Catholic University of Paderborn and Visiting Associate, St John's College Research Centre.

Book Launch and Panel Discussion
Julia Meszaros and Johannes Zachhuber (eds), Sacrifice and Modern European Thought (Oxford: OUP, 2013).
8th November 2013

Featuring: Pamela Sue Anderson, Oliver Davies, Gavin Flood, Sondra Hausner, Julia Meszaros, Johannes Zachhuber, and Joel Rasmussen (Chair).

Furthermore, some short interviews (around 15 minutes each) have been recorded with authors of chapters. Please see http://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/series/sacrifice-and-modern-thought

Podcasts: Sacrifice and Modern Thought
Sacrifice is at the heart of religion. It is not surprising, then, that the 'turn to religion' we have witnessed over the past two decades has led to a renewed interest in sacrifice as well. In light of this, the Centre for Theology and Modern European Thought at the University of Oxford presents five interviews with contributors to the recently-published book Sacrifice and Modern Thought (ed. Zachhuber and Meszaros, 2013). At around 15 minutes in length, each interview provides an insight into how the modern fascination for the topic of sacrifice has evolved, and how the concept of sacrifice in turn has shaped theological debate, the literary imagination and anthropological theory. We hope you enjoy the recordings.
To listen to the podcasts, see http://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/series/sacrifice-and-modern-thought

Martin Heidegger

Heidegger and Antiphilosophy
A lecture given by Prof Richard Wolin (CUNY)
7th June 2013

Was Heidegger an “antiphilosopher?” Was it his view, following Nietzsche, that the Western philosophical tradition, rather than setting us free in accordance with the Socratic maxim, “Virtue is knowledge,” further ensconces us in networks of domination and social control, as his critique of technology, “enframing” (das Gestell), and the ethos of Western humanism (in the 1947 “Letter on Humanism,” for example) might suggest? It would seem that the answer to this question hinges on how one interprets Heidegger’s reconceptualization of truth qua “unconcealment” and “disclosedness” – a revision of he ideal of truth that signifies a radical and possibly risky rejection of “propositional truth” in toto.

William James and the transatlantic conversation
Pragmatism, Pluralism & Philosophy of Religion
23—25th September 2010

This was an international conference to appraise the work and influence of American psychologist and philosopher William James (1842–1910) upon the centenary of his death. In his own time, James engaged and transformed a number of international conversations in science, philosophy, religion, literature and culture, not least through his 1901–2 Gifford Lectures in Edinburgh, and his Hibbert Lectures in Oxford in 1908. Subsequent to his death in 1910, interest in his work has only increased (often in connection with other ‘Pragmatists,’ or with his brother, the novelist Henry James, and his sister, the diarist Alice James). Given the historical vantage of a full century, 2010 marked an appropriate year for an international gathering of scholars from a range of disciplines to assess James’s work, to take stock of his multi-disciplinary reception across the twentieth century and around the globe, and to evaluate his legacy as a resource for twenty-first-century thought.

A conference of the Oxford Centre for Theology and Modern European Thought in collaboration with the Centre for American Studies, University of Leicester the British Association for American Studies and the ian ramsey centre for science and religion, oxford

Kierkegaard’s Upbuilding Discourses
International Conference in Modern European Thought
16–18 April, 2010

Speakers included: Christopher Barnett, Iben Damgaard, Arne Grøn, Helle Møller Jensen, George Pattison, Jolita Pons, David Possen, Hugh Pyper, Joel Rasmussen, Steven Shakespeare, Claudia Welz

The Oxford Centre for Theology and Modern European Thought, in connection with the Søren Kierkegaard Society of the UK, organised this international conference focusing on Kierkegaard’s Upbuilding Discourses. While often overlooked, the Upbuilding Discourses provide a rich ground for understanding Kierkegaard’s wider work, as well as his own identity. Furthermore, the Discourses offer a valuable contribution to a more general discussion of such issues as sin, love, suffering, salvation, and personal identity.

This was the first of three conferences on the discourses and focussed on the 18 Upbuilding Discourses of 1843–4 and the Three Discourses on Imagined Occasions. Further conferences considered the 1847 discourses (Århus 2010) and the last discourses (Copenhagen 2011).

Sacrifice and Modern Thought. A Series of Colloquia and Public Lectures in 2008/09
Michaelmas Term 2008 - Trinity Term 2009

See here for detail of the series of events, including links to some scripts and presentations.

The Political Dimension of Sacrifice. A Residential Conference
28—30 September 2009

Supported by Haniel Logo and the John Fell Fund.

This interdisciplinary conference was organised jointly by CTMET and the Research Programme on Religion, Politics, and Economics, Berlin.

It was devoted to recent changes in the perception of, and discourse about, sacrifice within the political realm. While still pervasive in many areas of modern life, talk about sacrifice has often been replaced by the related yet distinct categories of victimhood and victimization. Notably, the rhetoric of warfare has over the past half century shifted significantly from semantics of sacrifice towards that of victimhood.

As both terms, sacrifice and victim, have their origin in religious practice, their use in political discourse raises important questions about the relationship of religion and politics. To what extent can theological categories be helpful for understanding developments and debates that are largely taking place without explicit religious or theological references? What is the background of current perceptions of sacrifice and of victimhood in the religious history and the theological tradition of the West?

Such questions lead back to ethical and political issues that are of pressing relevance today. Can ‘sacrifices’ still be justified in political discourse and, if so, on which basis? For example, how can a case be made for the demand by the state of its citizens’ lives in extremis? Are there successful strategies for such an attempt on a secular basis, or does the political need for sacrifice necessitate a resacralisation of the political realm? Or, conversely, is there room for the utopia of an end of sacrifice, as some have suggested?

Speakers responded to these questions from the perspectives of Theology, Political Science, Law, Philosophy, and Anthropology.

Speakers and topics:
  • Blandine Chélini-Pont: Sacrifice in the political rhetoric of France and the United States. A comparative perspective
  • Karsten Fischer: Sacrifices and victims in contemporary political discourse. A paradigm shift and its significance
  • Eric Gans: Generative anthropology and sacrificial practice in politics
  • Douglas Hedley: Joseph de Maistre and 20th century debates about sacrifice. Some historical and theological links
  • Nils Ole Oermann: From ‘Sacrifrice’ to ‘Victim’ in the Nuclear Age. Albert Schweitzer as a Case Study
  • Marcia Pally: Sacrificing for the New Jerusalem or sacrificing for ‘the least of these.’ Changes in the religious dimension of American political discourse
  • Rolf Schieder: The failure of secular politics and the case for a civil religion
  • Walter Sparn: The political dimension of sacrifice.
    The ambiguous heritage of Christianity in theological and historical perspective
  • Arundhati Virmani: Self-sacrifice in politics: an Indian model?
  • Johannes Zachhuber: Why did Christ have to die?
    Some theological explanations since the 20th century and their political context



Martin Heidegger

Heidegger and Religion. A Series of Workshops in 2007/08
Michaelmas Term 2007 - Trinity Term 2008




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