Wesleyan Philosophical Society Conference Announcement and Call for Papers

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Conference title: “Curb Your Enthusiasm? Philosophy and Religious Experience.”

Keynote speaker: Merold Westphal, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy Emeritus (Fordham University)

Lectures: “Faith as Passion” and “Reason as Dispassion”

Location: Trevecca Nazarene University, Nashville, Tennessee

Conference Date: March 1, 2012

Call for Papers:
Enthusiasm was described by John Locke as a form of mental assent distinct from both reason and faith, an assent fueled by nothing other than a vain and groundless conviction that one is the recipient of illumination by the Spirit of God.  Locke was among the first in a long line of early modern thinkers, including John Wesley and Immanuel Kant, who warned of the epistemological, ethical, religious and socio-political dangers of countenancing enthusiasm and enthusiasts.  Currently, there are calls within the philosophical community urging us to reconsider the modernist marginalization of religious experience as a warrant for belief and action.  These calls span the analytic and continental divide, with some arguing that claims like ‘God spoke to me’ express properly basic beliefs for which no further evidence is available nor needed and others inviting us to practice philosophy within a discursive space delimited by particularistic creedal confessions.  Questions considered relevant to the theme of the conference include, but are certainly not limited to, the following:

  • Does religious experience warrant a belief in existence of God or perhaps more controversially a divinely inspired call to action?
  • How do issues of ethnicity, gender or class factor into accounts and critiques of religious experience?
  • What are the implications of mystical experience for the philosophy of language?
  • Can the public squares of long-standing liberal democracies or trying-to-emerge democracies accommodate appeals to particularistic religious experience? And if not, should we care?

Note: A special conference session will explore feminist perspectives on issues of religious experience and philosophy.

Click here to download the proposal form. Please submit proposals of 250-500 words, the title of the abstract, along with name, position, and institutional affiliation (if applicable) to Brint Montgomery at Brint@snu.edu by October 1, 2011. The proposal should be sent as an email attachment in Microsoft Word format. Each proposal will undergo a double-blind peer review process.  For further information regarding the conference, see http://wps.snu.edu