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Current Courses (Spring 2019)

Topics in Philosophy of Religion:  God, the Intellect, and Perception

The course will be taught by Dean Zimmerman (Rutgers) and Howard Robinson (University Professor at Central European University, and Senior Fellow at Rutgers Center for the Philosophy of Religion). Although officially a graduate course, interested undergraduate majors are invited to contact Zimmerman to discuss whether it might be appropriate for them.

Zimmerman will concentrate on the relation between perception and God. Robinson’s emphasis will be the Intellect and God.

Zimmerman will survey early 20th Century theories of consciousness and perception, beginning with William James (“radical empiricism”), Bertrand Russell (“neutral monism”), and the views of some of their contemporaries (naïve realists and critical realists — including G. F. Stout, an important but largely forgotten psychologist and philosopher). Late 20th century theories of perception will then be discussed (e.g. Chisholm, Goldman, Dretske), leading up to William Alston’s work on perception generally, and the perception of God in particular (in his book, Perceiving God). Recent work on perception (by Howard Robinson, Matt McGrath, Susanna Schellenberg, and others) will be studied for its relevance to Alston’s project.  Alston relies on William James’s Varieties of Religious Experience, which we will read alongside more recent psychological studies of religious experience. 

Robinson will discuss the irreducibility of intellect/thought, drawing on two major kinds of arguments: first, the failure of mechanical and computational models; and second, a quite different argument based on the thesis that intellect must be ontologically fundamental, whilst not being physically fundamental. The latter argument — which constitutes Part II of Robinson’s recent book, From the Knowledge Argument to Mental Substance (Cambridge: 2016) — will involve discussions of vagueness and the “Eleatic Principle”. Having defended the irreducibility of intellect, he will look at reasons for believing that the Platonic realm of “abstract entities” is really a form of divine nous — a mode of understanding, not a set of entities — and that without the priority of nous there could be no finite or physical world.

Upcoming Courses (Spring 2020)

In the Spring of 2020, Brian Leftow and Dean Zimmerman will be co-teaching a course on contemporary issues in the philosophy of religion.

Past Courses

The center has sponsored several top-level seminars in the philosophy of religion led by world-class researchers. In the fall of 2013, Marilyn McCord Adams taught a class on the problem of evil. In the spring of 2014, Bob Adams taught a class on arguments for the existence of God. During the fall of 2014, Bob Adams taught a course on Kant's philosophy of religion, followed by a class on Christology by Marilyn McCord Adams in the spring of 2015. The fall of 2015 witnessed Bob Adams's course on God and Metaphysics, and in the spring of 2016, Dean Zimmerman and Mark Baker co-taught a course on the cognitive science of religion. Keith DeRose (Yale) and Dean Zimmerman co-taught a course on divine foreknowledge in Fall 2016.

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