IRCI Religion & Theology program awarded several research grants from Templeton Religion Trust

Researchers from IRCI’s Religion and Theology unit have recently been awarded several research grants from the Templeton Religion Trust following a highly competitive, international review process.

The grants are associated with the Widening Horizons in Philosophical Theology project, an international initiative based out of the University of St Andrews (UK). The goal of Widening Horizons is to invest in the future of philosophical theology in the broadly continental tradition.

Dr Darren Sarisky’s project is entitled “Hermeneutics and Transcendence: Towards a Synthesis.” He will gather a team of experts in philosophy and theology to delve into recent debates about hermeneutics, inquiring into the conditions under which hermeneutics and transcendence may be combined. How can we both acknowledge and appreciate that human beings understand reality in ways that are specific to them, yet still affirm that it is possible to engage with and know realities that are not reducible to the physical world? The project will result in an edited volume, sample course outlines, and public outreach work.

Professor Christopher Insole and Dr Ben DeSpain will work on a project called “Negative Natural Theology: Freedom and the Limits of Reason.” They will bring together philosophers, theologians, and anthropologists, to explore the hypothesis that a distinctively religious moment can arise when one attempts to overcome the sense of alienation arising from the confrontation between subjective and objective perspectives on our lives. Such a leaning into the divine occurs at the limits of our freedom and reason, and could be considered a “negative natural theology”: natural because it does not draw upon the categories of revelation, but “negative,” because it is self-consciously conducted at the limits of our reason. The project will result in a monograph, two journal articles, and an edited collection, as well as two workshops, and a series of public lectures in Durham Cathedral.

Professor Stephan van Erp’s project is entitled “Metaphysics, Contemplation, and the Religious Life.” The starting point of the effort is the current return of metaphysics in continental philosophy. The renewed interest in metaphysics addresses the tension between reality as a whole and the particularity of experience and the understanding of that reality. The aim of this project is to explore this tension by examining the contemplative practices of the philosophical and theological schools of the religious orders and congregations (from the first half of the twentieth century onwards) with methods familiar to continental philosophy. Bringing together scholars working in phenomenology and metaphysics, as well as systematic, mystical, and historical theology, the project seeks to retrieve contemplative practices from within the religious schools to engender new, practical forms of thought in the twenty-first century.

See the full list of Widening Horizons projects: https://philosophical-theology.wp.st-andrews.ac.uk/projects/

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