Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Philosophy of Life

Conference gallore at the moment. Here's another one. It looks fantastic. Steven Shakespeare is one of the co-organisers (I blogged here about his introduction to Radical Orthodoxy, but he's publishing Derrida and Theology soon - can't wait! - and has cool taste in music). Anyway, this conference (Towards a Philosophy of Life: Reflections on the Concept of Life in Continental Philosophy of Religion) has some great speakers lined up (including

  • Dr. Pamela Sue Anderson (The University of Oxford)
  • Professor John D. Caputo (Syracuse University)
  • Professor Don Cupitt (The University of Cambridge)
  • Professor Jean-Yves Lacoste (Institut Catholique, Paris) [couldn't find a uni page!]
  • Professor John Milbank (The University of Nottingham)

It's hosted by Liverpool Hope University, runs from Friday 26th - Sunday 28th June 2009, and the conference organisers expect to edit a book of a selection of papers from the proceedings. Here's the blurb and call for submission details:

"The question whether it is still possible to live is the form in which metaphysics impinges on us urgently today," Adorno, Metaphysics: Concepts and Problems, p.112.

"Traditionally, a common conception of philosophy has been as a melete thanatou or 'meditation upon death'. However, in recent years it is the significance of the concept of 'life' which has begun to receive increasing attention in contemporary European philosophy. Indeed, writing in the wake of the brutalization of life in the death camps of Auschwitz, Adorno poses a central question for current philosophical debate on life, namely, 'How might life live?'

"The aim of this conference is to address this question and in doing so assess recent philosophies of life. In particular, the conference seesk to explore metaphysical, phenomenological, ethical and religious underpinnings of philosophies of life, especially in light of the emergence of 'continental philosophy of religion.' By enquiring into conceptions of life in contemporary philosophical and religious thought, this conference also aims to reconsider the key project of ancient philosophy: the teaching of the good life."

The call for abstracts (400 words) suggests a broad range of themes, including

  • The concept of life in vitalism and philosophies of immanence (Spinoza, Nietzsche, Bergson, Gilles Deleuze, Michel Henry, Alain Badiou, etc)
  • Life, power and politics (esp. Foucault and Giorgio Agamben)
  • Alterity, gift and life: deconstruction and phenomenology
  • Rethinking life in light of the body, natality and sexual difference: feminist philosophy of religion and feminist theology
  • Psychoanalysis (life, death and desire)
  • Theologies of life (creation, incarnation, sacrament and grace)

The deadline for submitting abstracts (400 words) is Friday 17 April 2009. To submit abstracts (or for further details) email Dr. Patrice Haynes -

My thinking on this so far is to try to solidify some of my thoughts regarding Jamie Smith's criqitue of Derridean deconstruction and Caputian deconstructive theology as assuming a logic of determinism (I've blogged about it a few times here and here). Smith characterizes Radical Orthodoxy, or what he is increasingly referring to as a 'catholic postmodernism,' as a logic of incarnation but then doesn't extend the same clear connection to the Christian tradition to deconstructive theolology (by naming it as a logic of determinism). I think I could argue that it can be seen as a logic of creation instead. Yes, deconstruction emphasises finitude, particularity, singularity, determinancy, etc, but it simultaneously emphasises alterity and responsibility. As Caputo has said, we have to "make good" on God's "good" in Genesis. So I think I'm going to write something around these themes, possibly titled something like, "'Making good' on the 'Good' of Life: The Pragmatic Translation of Truth into Justice."

Mark Mason (Chichester University) is one of the guys who has joined the conference group on Facebook. He's written some very interesting things, including a chapter in Evaluating Fresh Expressions. A conference paper he emailed me, entitled "Impossible Ecclesiology? John D. Caputo and the Emerging Church (Movement?)", was great.


welovetea said...

Hey Katherine!

Mike told me about your blog and that you were studying Emerging Christianity, among other things! I just came across this form of Christianity for the first time (ironically enough, by blogging about my own views as what I'd been labeling myself as--a "marginal" Christian) and am totally fascinated!

Anyway, I just linked my blog to yours so I can come back to your work because I definitely have parallel interests. My Masters is on the performativity/resistance of faith in "marginal" Christian groups/"cults" such as Mormons, 7th-Day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and so on.

I'm trying to demonstrate that "close-minded" is a relative term because all kinds of creative renegotiations of faith are happening "within" these "closed" groups. Lots of fun!

Cassandra :)

Conferences and Events said...

this is a great idea!
Thanks so much for all the giveaways!

Katharine Moody said...

Hi Cassandra,

Your work sounds very interesting. Hopefully I can get up to Lancaster when you're doing a presentation next term. Otherwise, it'd be great to read something of yours - for the MA don't you now have to produce like a lit review or something before you start work on the dissertation? We never had to do that, but it sounds sensible. Maybe I could have a look at that if you've had to do one of those?

Anyway, some of my participants talk about orthodoxy as believing in the right way rather than as right belief. This means that they very often position themselves in an oppositional relationship to what they might call "dogmatic" manifestations of religion. So it'd be really interesting to hear more about the "creative renegotiations of faith" happening within the, as you say, "closed" groups you're focusing on.

Email after the holidays. Have a nice break, Katharine x