Renard Lecture

2015-16 Henry J. Renard, S.J. Endowed Lecture in Philosophy

Thursday, April 7, 2016
6:00 pm
Harper Center 3023

"Transcending Science: Humane Models of Religious Understanding"
By Dr. John Cottingham, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, University of Reading, Professorial Research Fellow, Heythrop College, University of London

Abstract:  In many contemporary debates religion and science are cast as rivals, supposedly offering competing explanations of the origins and nature of the cosmos.  Religion often appears at a disadvantage here: given the magnificent achievements of science in uncovering the workings of nature, theistic speculations about the activities of a supposed immaterial divine agent are apt to seem radically impoverished by comparison.  This paper will argue that we need a more 'humane' model of religious understanding, one that is responsive to the actual role played by religion in the life of the believer.  Understanding the world religiously is less about subscribing to explanatory hypotheses than about a certain mode of engagement with reality, requiring a moral and spiritual transformation of the subject.  This has crucial implications for the appropriate way to philosophize about religion.  Instead of an 'epistemology of control', based on the detached evaluation of evidence, we may need to substitute an 'epistemology of receptivity'. In religion, as in many areas of human life, authentic understanding may require a process of attunement in order for the relevant evidence to become manifest.


The Rev. Henri J. Renard S.J. Endowed Lecture Series

The lecture series is named to honor the Rev. Henri J. Renard, S.J. (1894-1981), a respected and loved professor of philosophy at Creighton University during the years 1947-1969.  Fr. Renard received his bachelor's and master's degrees from St. Louis University, his Doctor of Philosophy degree from the Institute of Philosophy and Theology of Posillipo, Italy, and his Doctor of Sacred Theology degree from the Gregorian University at Rome, Italy.  Many Creighton students have used philosophy books authored by Fr. Renard as they pursued the traditional sequence of philosophy courses within the philosophical system of St. Thomas Aquinas.  

Fr. Renard was a philosopher, an author, a musician, a retreat master, a lover of art, a spiritual director, and a teacher.  At his funeral Fr. Renard's nephew, Fr. John Renard, S.J., summed up his life in this way:  "Henri knew he had received much and he refused to bury his gifts.  He refined them, enjoyed them, and spread that enjoyment around as one who believed in the Incarnation."

The lectures are free and open to the public.
Lectures are funded by the College of Arts and Sciences and the Renard Lecture Endowment

Previous Renard Lectures

2014    "Not My Will But Thy Will Be Done: Eckhart and Aquinas on the Problem of Suffering" by Eleonore Stump, Saint Louis University

2013    "Metaphysical Reflection and the Prospect of Objectivity"  Barry Stroud, University of California, Berkeley

2012    "Tom Paine and the Capitalist Origins of Social Insurance"  Elizabeth Anderson, University of Michigan

2011    "Why Does Irony Matter"   Jonathan Lear, University of Chicago

2010    "Is the Ontological Argument Worthless?  A Neoclassical Theistic Response"   Daniel Dombrowski, University of Seattle

2009    "Autonomy and Its Burdens"    John McDowell, University of Pittsburgh

2008    "Honest(um) to Goodness: Ethics, Morals, and Human Nature"    Calvin Normore, University of California at Los Angeles 

2007    "Responsibility Within Relationship"    Stephen Darwall, University of Michigan

2006    "Change and the Victorians: Charles Darwin and John Henry Newman"    Michael Ruse, Florida State University at Tallahassee

2005    "Bourgeois Philosophy? On the Problem of Leading a Free Life"    Robert Pippin, University of Chicago  

2004    "Ancient Eudaimonism: 'Nobility' as the Motive for Moral Action"    John W. Cooper, Princeton University

2003    "Modernity and Moral Authority, or Why Study the History of Ethics Anyway?"    Jerome B. Schneewind, The Johns Hopkins University

2002    "Injustice and Animals"    Cora Diamond, University of Virginia

2001    "Science, Literature, and the 'Literature of Science'"    Susan Haack, University of Miami

2000    "Secession and the Human Scale of Political Order"    Donald W. Livingston, Emory University

1999    "Should Virtue Make You Happy?"    Julia E. Annas, University of Arizona

1998    "Feminist Internationalism: The Role of Religion"    Martha Craven Nussbaum, University of Chicago

1997    "Gender, Race and Difference: Individual Consideration vs. Group-Based Affirmative Action"    Alison M. Jaggar, University of Colorado

1996    "The Diary and the Map: Sartre and Foucault on Reason in History"    Thomas R. Flynn, Emory University

1995    "Meaningful Lives in a Meaningless World"    Susan Wolf, Johns Hopkins University

1994    "Memoria in Memoriam: Freud and Derrida on Memory and Mourning"    David Farrell Krell, DePaul University

1993    "Theological Uses of Postmodern Philosophy"    Nancey Murphy, Fuller Theological Seminary

1992    "Subjects, Power, and Knowledge: New Challenges to the Philosophy of Science"    Helen Longino, Rice University

1991    "Living in an Ambiguous World"    Terence Penelhum, University of Calgary

1990    "Moving between Places: Narrating the Journey"    Edward S. Casey, State University of New York at Stony Brook

1989    "Human Minds, Languages, and Essences"    G.E.M. Anscombe, Cambridge University

1988    "Directions in Contemporary Philosophy: Hermeneutics, Deconstruction, and Beyond"    John D. Caputo, Villanova University

1987    "The Cosmic Drama: Why God Has a World"    Charles Hartshorne, University of Texas at Austin

1986    "Change in Science"    Ernan McMullin, University of Notre Dame

1985    "Literature and Morality: The John Gardner Debate"    William Gass, Washington University

1984    "The Kantian Version of Liberalism"    Mary J. Gregor, San Diego State University

1983    "The Artful Philosopher"    Ralph M. McInerny, University of Notre Dame

1982    "Romantic Love"    Robert C. Solomon, University of Texas

1981    "The Saint as Philosophical Type"    Albert William Levi, Washington University