This is the fifteenth installment of a series of interviews I am conducting with academic philosophers about their religious practices. In this series of interviews, I ask philosophers about their religious practices and the influence on their philosophical work. Follow the links for parts. Follow the links for parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14. The contributors are in various stages of their career, tenured and untenured. Interviews were conducted through e-mail and responses are not edited.
This interview is with Gilah Kletenik, who is currently a doctoral student, studying Jewish Philosophy, in the Hebrew and Judaic Studies Department at New York University. Her specific area is modern Jewish Philosophy and her research interests focus on phenomenology, philosophy of language, aesthetics and political theology.
Could you tell me something about your current religious affiliation/self-identification?
You ask about my “religious” upbringing and affiliation. This word, “religious,” while ubiquitous and obviously familiar, actually reverberates within my Jewish ears as somewhat alien. I will begin by elaborating on this further, so as to contextualize the ensuing response to your line of inquiry and our broader conversation.
[this is cross-posted at Newapps] Richard Dawkins has argued several times (e.g., here) that bringing up your child religiously is a form of child abuse. I think his argument that religious upbringing in general is child abuse has little merit (after all, Dawkins himself is the product of a traditional Anglican upbringing and calls himself – rather proudly – a cultural Anglican, hardly the victim of child abuse). However, his claim in the linked article is that parents who attempt to instill things like Young Earth Creationism (henceforth YEC) in their children are doing something wrong, or are somehow overstepping their role as parents. This question, I believe, is worthy of further attention.
The University of St. Thomas Philosophy Department was just approved to run a tenure-track search this Spring, for a job starting next fall (2010). The text for the ad is below. The ad will appear on the JFP within 48 hours.
Our application site hasn’t yet added this position, but within 48 hours we should be up and receiving applications. The job ad is now up on the UST website, so we can now receive applications
Philosophy position at the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul
The University of St. Thomas Philosophy Department invites applications for at least one tenure-track position to begin Sept. 2010, at the rank of assistant professor or instructor. AOS and AOC are open, but we seek individuals with strengths and interests that complement those of the current department members (we have 23 tenured/tenure-track lines). Applicants should have outstanding reasoning, teaching, and writing skills, and the virtues of collegiality. Ph.D. prior to appointment is preferred but not required. The department is committed to sustaining and developing the Catholic intellectual tradition; in this we are guided by the principles of Ex Corde Ecclesiae and Fides et Ratio. We seek candidates who share these commitments. The teaching load is six courses per year (semester system); there are standard non-teaching duties.
Established in 1885, the University of St. Thomas is located in the major metropolitan area of Minneapolis-St. Paul, and is Minnesota’s largest private university. Its 11,000 students pursue degrees in a wide range of liberal arts, professional, and graduate programs.
Inspired by Catholic intellectual tradition, the University of St. Thomas educates students to be morally responsible leaders who think critically, act wisely, and work skillfully to advance the common good, and seeks to develop individuals who combine career competency with cultural awareness and intellectual curiosity. The successful candidate will possess a commitment to the ideals of this mission.
The University of St. Thomas has a strong commitment to the principles of diversity and inclusion, to equal opportunity policies and practices, and to the principles and goals of affirmative action. In that spirit, the University welcomes nominations and applications from a broad and diverse applicant pool.
Applications should be submitted online at www.stthomas.edu/jobsatust, and include 1) a cover letter that includes discussion of the candidate’s commitment to sustaining and developing the Catholic intellectual tradition, 2) a curriculum vitae, 3) a sample of philosophical writing, 4) evidence of teaching effectiveness, including data from student evaluations of recent courses if available, and 5) transcripts (unofficial versions are acceptable). In addition, candidates should arrange to have at least three letters of recommendation sent, either by email to firstname.lastname@example.org (pdf format preferred) or by mail to: Philosophy Dept. Chair – JRC 241; University of St. Thomas, 2115 Summit Ave.; St. Paul, MN 55105-1096. To be guaranteed full consideration all application materials should be received by February 11. We expect to bring finalists to campus in early March. Review of applications will continue until the position is filled. Please direct any questions to email@example.com.
Given dissertation and job applications and such, I’m pressed for time, so this post might be a little sloppy and quick. At the recent Pacific SCP, Wes Morriston presented on the problem of genocides in the Bible, and he presented what I took to be a very powerful argument that we should not believe that God commanded genocides in the Bible. I will extract one point from his talk, develop the argument, and hope that it creates helpful discussion.
I’ve heard from older, experienced professors that doing a dissertation on or specializing in philosophy of religion may hurt your chances of getting a philosophy job or getting tenure at a secular university. It’s better to focus on some other subject and then do philosophy of religion after you get tenure.
Is this true? If so, why? It doesn’t make sense to me; it seems that schools would want professors who could teach philosophy of religion.
I’m going to teach a course on Science and Religion in the fall for the first time. The course presupposes no (or very little) prior background in philosophy. I was amazed at the number of interesting books that resulted from a search on Amazon using the keywords ‘science’ and ‘religion.’ It’s hard to know where to begin to sort them out. If some of you could recommend texts on science and religion that you think are excellent, I would appreciate it.
One of the assignments I give to my philosophy of religion course is to have students write a paper reflecting on the impact of philosophy on their own religious beliefs. As preparation for this paper, I have them read a number of select autobiographies from God and Philosophers and Philosophers who Believe. This term, I’ve added a number of chapters from the recently published Philosophers without Gods (this is the volume that has the wonderful paper by the late David Lewis, “Divine Evil,” that Michael has mentioned on his blog).
While at the Eastern APA, I picked up Faith and the Life of the Intellect, which is in the same vein, but with contributions by Catholic philosophers working primarily in the Continental tradition. My favorite line in the volume comes from Ralph McInerny:
“It matters who you hang out with philosophically” (239).
But I’m slightly puzzled by a quotation from the chapter by Jude Dougherty:
“Luther had little regard for philosophy. Sworn enemy of Scholasticism, he once remarked that God had sent Aristotle as a punishment for the sins of mankind” (172).
Does anyone know where in Luther’s corpus this comment is found?
I’m teaching an upper-division course in the spring on Aquinas. I’m going to try and devote a third of the course to Aquinas’ philosophical theology, a third to his metaphysics, and a third to his ethics. Pretty soon I’m going to have to put in my book orders. I think that I’m going to use the Cambridge Companion to Aquinas and either The Philosophy of Aquinas or Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae: Critical Essays. But before I order them, I wondered if there are any other candidates that I’m overlooking and should consider. (Let me note that I am quite familiar with Stump’s Aquinas, but think that the level of complexity here is greater than what I should tackle in this course.)
Also, I’m considering either using The Treatise on Human Nature or Summa Theologiae: Questions on God. Any thoughts on which is the better translation (where ‘better’ is a function of both more accurate and readability for undergraduates)?
I teach a 300-level philosophy of religion class every spring semester. In the past, I’ve tended to teach the class as an overview of the various issues. I’ll spend a little over half of the semester on various standards such as religious language, pluralism vs. exclusivism, attributes, a few of the arguments for God’s exsitence (cosmological, ontological), a few of the arguments against God’s existence (evil, hiddenness). I then spend the final 1/3 or so of the class dealing with issues of providence: risk vs. no-risk, whether foreknowledge of various sorts helps with providence, hell/heaven/purgatory, prayer. A previous copy of my syllabus can be found here in case you are interested.
I’m thinking about changing the structure this semester. I’d still focus the first part of the semester on many of the same issues, but try and keep them to no more than half of the course. The second half, I’d like to compare/contrast two extended views of God and His providential interacting with the world. I’m thinking of using Roger’s Perfect Being Theology and would like a good contrasting view. I think that the middle chapters of Flint’s Divine Providence will be too technical. I like Hasker’s God, Time and Knowledge, but it’s narrower in focus than I want. I was thinking about doing a book defending open theism and so took a look at The Openness of God this weekend. I’m only half through the book, but I’ve been very dissapointed. Any other suggestions?
Joe Ulatowski is preparing to teach his first philosophy of religion course and he’s seeking some input on how to proceed. Should he go topical or historical, lecture or discussion, what topics should he focus on? I know some of Prosblogion’s readers could lend him a hand. So, please take a moment to share your wise council with Joe.