Seminar: The Quest for God project

Humanities, TBC

The Quest for God: Towards a Philosophically and Experimentally Based Theology of Desire, University of Roehampton/KCL

Prof. Simon Oliver (Durham University), "Teleology, Conscious Intention, and the Quest for God"

Abstract: One way in which we commonly narrate the transition from the medieval to the modern world is through an alleged rejection of final causes or purpose. The question of teleology becomes particularly acute in the area of human consciousness and intention: how can non-purposive, sottish matter give rise to intentional consciousness which rationally deliberates and seeks goals that explain action? This paper will discuss final causation in wider nature and conscious intention. Following hints in the work of the nineteenth century philosopher Félix Ravaisson and the twentieth century theologian Hendri de Lubac, the paper will argue that every human conscious intention is, implicitly or explicitly, however inchoately, a ‘quest for God’ in the form of an ultimate orientation to a final end, namely truth as such.

Date/Time: 20 February 2020, 1-3pm

Location: The Convent Parlourm Digby Stuart College, University of Roehampton

Light refreshments will be served. All welcome!

Further meetings on April 2nd (Clare Carlisle) and April 30th (Jenny Leigh).

For more information, please contact: Fiona.Ellis@roehampton.ac.uk

About the project:

Following the award of a generous grant from the Templeton Religion Trust, we are conducting a one year project on the role of loving desire in the spiritual quest for God. We begin from the hypothesis that the desire for God is a universal part of human nature (though it may not manifest itself under that description). Stage I, led by Fiona Ellis, will unpack the philosophical implications of this concept of desire, make explicit its relation to love, and show how it can be a human way of apprehending the divine. Stage 2, led by Clare Carlisle, will investigate the reciprocal relation between religious desire and religious practice, developing a philosophical account of desire-involving practices alongside an empirical study of religious practitioners. Stage 3, led by John Cottingham, will argue for the universality of the spiritual quest for God by comparing explicitly religious desire with other widespread forms of yearning often thought to be explicable in secular terms, but which turn out under scrutiny to resist such reduction. Research activities involve a workshop at UVA, a capstone conference in June 2020, and a seminar series which will continue next term.

For a snapshot of what the project team were up to in Autumn 2019, please see our January newsletter.