Friday, April 15, 2011

"Speculative Philosophies and Religious Practices: New Directions in the Philosophy of Religion and Post-Secular Practical Theology," Centre for Faiths and Public Policy, University of Chester, June 1, 2011.

This workshop is a one-day workshop exploring the intersection between recent trends in continental philosophy of religion and realist versions of public theology. It is an interrogation of the implications – whether political, theological or practical – of the turn to the Real in recent thought. From the perspective of public and practical theology, this involves bolstering the realist strands of the discipline (Manchester Realism and the William Temple Foundation) with the resources of philosophy, constructing a philosophical toolkit for realist public theologians. John Reader and Christopher Baker’s Entering the New Theological Space, for example, has already started drawing on post-Derridean philosophies as theoretical background to their theological enterprises, moving beyond the sociological and pragmatic basis that public theologians have traditionally found sufficient; there is a growing realisation, however, that a new generation of philosophers – the philosophers of the speculative turn – may well be more fruitful for deepening and broadening public theology’s self-understanding. Therefore and from the perspective of philosophy of religion, this interrogation of the Real involves thinking through the consequences of continental philosophy of religion’s recent flirtations with a more realist brand of speculation. The philosophies of Alain Badiou, Slavoj Zizek, Graham Harman, Iain Hamilton Grant and Quentin Meillassoux are beginning to be felt throughout the humanities, and the papers in this workshop, following the lead established in Smith and Whistler’s After the Postsecular and the Postmodern, will begin to think through the broader impact of this new tendency, especially as it impacts on philosophy of religion. In other words, the guiding question for the day is: what has the speculative turn in continental philosophy of religion to do with religious practice? This workshop brings together public theologians and philosophers of religion to inhabit the intersection between philosophical theory and religious phenomena.


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