PAPERS Resources

AAR Annual Meeting
Denver, CO
November 17-20, 2018

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Global-Critical Philosophy of Religion Seminar
Theme: Philosophies of the Cosmos
Timothy D. Knepper, Drake University, Presiding
Saturday - 9:00 AM-11:30 AM

Recent years have witnessed the publication of several new proposals for a philosophy of religion that is religiously inclusive and critically informed. But there is to date no such textbook for philosophy of religion—no textbook that thoroughly integrates non-theistic religious philosophies and critically engages the methodological and theoretical issues of religious studies. This seminar intends to research and write such a textbook. In this year's session, we will explore philosophies of the cosmos in comparative perspective.

Nathan Eric Dickman, Young Harris College
Where, Not When, Did the Cosmos “Begin”?

I examine a tension between temporal and spatial conceptualization of the genesis of the cosmos to show how chronological characterization of “beginnings” occludes ontological examination, to help my audience distinguish symbolic expression of wonder that the cosmos exists from conceptual accounts of it. In addition, I bring together resources from multiple intellectual and religious traditions in order to perform a philosophy of religions that goes beyond the narrowness, intellectualism, and insularity of institutionalized (analytic) philosophy of religion. I bring Aristotle, Nagarjuna, Maimonides, Kant, Wittgenstein, and Nasr together in conversation about the notion of a “beginning,” and I turn to Ibn Rushd, Tillich, and Pamela Sue Anderson to expose the problem of confusing symbols with concepts. Through this, I seek to shift questions of chronological genesis of the cosmos to questions of spatial principles of order, and suggest that our orientation toward chronology distracts us from ontology, inadvertently getting us stuck in symbolic representation rather than critical conceptualization.

Marie-Helene Gorisse, Ghent University
Cosmology and the Path to Liberation in Jainism

Jainism is a non-theistic philosophico-religious tradition of India which considers the universe as passing through an eternal series of cosmic cycles. Therefore, cosmological investigations are not oriented towards the question of an origin or end of the universe, but towards types of period and transition stages. Moreover, liberated worshiped beings do not interact in any way with the world. Instead, what forms the heart of Jainism is the belief that, like these liberated ones, one can clear her innately all-knowing Self from obstacles to knowledge. In such a system, cosmological investigations focus on the world qua knowable. For example, five of the seven elementary categories define the relation between consciousness and unconscious elements. From an investigation of Jain cosmology, the aim of this lecture is to contribute to the shaping of a grid of questions that could constitute the guidelines of a philosophy of religion encompassing also traditions alike Jainism.

Jeremy Hustwit, Methodist University
Nontheistic Options in Cosmomereology

One category of cosmology that has received scant attention is that of mereology—the relations of wholes to parts. Some nontheistic texts argue that the cosmos can be divided into fundamental objects, others argue for nonindividuation. Some texts argue that the cosmos is to be found within ourselves, and others argue that the cosmos is to be found “out there.” This paper will contrast four different mereologies in nontheistic texts: subjective individuation in the Yoga Sutras, objective individuation in the Abhidhamma Dhātukathā, subjective nonindividuation in the Mulamadhyamikakarika, and finally, objective nonindividuation in the Daodejing. Also, the possibility will be explored that nonindividuated positions annihilate the distinction between objective and subjective routes to the cosmos.

Business Meeting:
Gereon Kopf, Luther College