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2016-17 Philosophy Speaker Series

All lectures are free and open to the public. They will be held in Blanchard Hall Room 339 and begin at 7:30p.m. unless indicated otherwise.

Fall 2016 Speakers


A Postmodern Saint? Augustine in France

August 31, 2016 
Dr. James K.A. Smith
, Professor of Philosophy at Calvin College holding the Gary & Henrietta Byker Chair in Applied Reformed Theology & Worldview (Ph.D., Villanova University) at Calvin College

James KA Smith James K.A. Smith gave a lecture on “A Postmodern Saint?: Augustine in France" on Wednesday, August 31, 2016 at 7PM in Coray Auditorium. The link is available if you would like to view his talk, sponsored by The Center for Applied Christian Ethics and the Philosophy Department.


Can Christ be Kant's Rational Person?

September 28, 2016
Dr. Thomas McCall
, Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology and the Director of the Carl F. H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding (Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

Thomas McCall Dr. Thomas McCall discusses how Immanuel Kant famously thought that the rational archetype of a person was important, but that such a person need not actually exist. He also says that a person who is divine cannot be an ultimate moral example. Thomas McCall argues that the orthodox Christian has the resources to respond to Kant's objections while maintaining that Christ is, in fact humanity's ultimate exemplar.


Specifically Christian Sins: Thomas Aquinas on Malitia, Acedia, and the Sins against the Holy Spirit

November 15, 2016
Dr. Colleen McCluskey
, Associate Professor of Philosophy (Ph.D., Iowa University) at Saint Louis University

Colleen McCluskey Does human creativity complete a world that God left unfinished?  Or do our activities of making, building, and inventing mar the goodness of creation?  Thomas Aquinas helps answer these questions by reflecting on Divine creativity and its image in the human being.



Spring 2017 Speakers


Pride - Both Good and Bad

February 16, 2017

Dr. Kevin Timpe, W. H. Jellema Chair in Christian Philosophy (Ph.D., Saint Louis University) at Calvin College 

Kevin TimpeDr. Timpe will focus on the role pride has played in Christian theology and philosophical theology. It will delineate several different types of pride, some positive, some negative, and some downright vicious. It will then explore the role the vice of pride has played in the lives of several influential figures, as well as ways pride bears on some central issues in Christian theology.


The Return of the Natural Law

March 2, 2017

Dr. J Budziszewski, Professor of Philosophy (Ph.D., Saint Louis University) at University of Texas at Austin

J Budziszewski For centuries, the natural law tradition held that the most basic principles of how to live are not only knowable, but actually known:  Even the thief, the adulterer, and the God-mocker know the wrong of theft, the good of fidelity, and the duty of honoring God.  Many modern thinkers spurned this tradition, holding that so-called natural law is neither truly natural nor truly law.  The story might have ended there, yet as a Roman poet wrote, "You can drive nature out with a pitchfork, but it always returns": Today the theory of the moral truths that we can’t not know is experiencing a renaissance.


The Strange Uses of Political Religion

March 13, 2017

Dr. Charles Taylor, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy (Ph.D., Oxford University) at McGill University

Charles TaylorDr. Charles Taylor, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at McGill University, will deliver a philosophy lecture titled "The Strange Uses of Political Religion” at 8:15pm in Barrows Auditorium on Monday, March 13th. Dr. Taylor has been awarded the 2007 Templeton Prize, the 2008 Kyoto Prize in Arts and Philosophy, and the 2016 Berggruen Prize for Philosophy. Dr. Taylor has published widely in the areas of moral philosophy, political philosophy, philosophy of action, philosophy of personal identity, philosophy of language, philosophy of the human sciences, philosophy of mind, epistemology, philosophy of history, and, most recently, his work has focused on the themes of religion and secularization. He is the author of numerous books, including The Explanation of Behaviour (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1964); Hegel (Cambridge University Press, 1975); Sources of the Self: The Making of Modern Identity (Harvard University Press, 1989); The Ethics of Authenticity (Harvard University Press, 1991); A Secular Age (The Belknap Press of Harvard University, 2007); Secularism and Freedom of Conscience, co-authored with Jocelyn Maclure (Harvard University Press, 2011); and The Language Animal (The Belknap Press of Harvard University, 2016).


The Socratic Idea That Reason Should Rule the Whole Soul--and Its Freudian Fate

April 18, 2017

Dr. Jonathan Lear, the John U. Nef Distinguished Service Professor (Ph.D., Rockefeller University) at the Committee on Social Thought and at the Department of Philosophy at The University of Chicago

Jonathan Lear He will lecture, as Søren Kierkegaard might have put it, “Among all we rational animals is there a rational animal to be found?”  The irony arises from our own confusion about what reason is or might be.  This talk will investigate Socrates’s claim in the Republic that it is appropriate for reason to rule the whole soul.  What might he have meant by that?  And how should we inherit his claim?