Fiona Ellis delivers her talk 'Supernaturalism and Naturalism: Beyond the Divide?' for the 2016-2017 Humane Philosophy Project/Ian Ramsey Centre seminar at the Blackfriars Hall, University of Oxford.
This talk will explore the relation between religious experience and desire. A disjunctive conception of religious experience will be defended – one which involves treating religious experience as a species of desire. Although an expansive naturalist framework will be presupposed, the paper will attempt to bring out the implications for an understanding of the relation between philosophy and theology, and the atheism/theism debate. It is crucial to the argument that there is a defensible conception of supernaturalism, which goes against the grain of much contemporary Anglo-American philosophy.
Fiona Ellis is Reader in Philosophy at Heythrop College, University of London, and Director of its Centre for Philosophy of Religion. She did her graduate work at Oxford under the supervision of David Wiggins and Paul Snowdon, and Wiggins' work (as well as that of John McDowell) is central to the 'expansive' naturalism she defends in God, Value, and Nature (OUP 2014). She is currently editing a volume New Models of Religious Understanding (OUP 2017) which grew out of a project funded by the John Templeton Foundation and Fordham University. She is also co-directing another Templeton funded project – this time in conjunction with the University of Notre Dame where she has a non-residential fellowship to study the relation between religious experience and desire. The question of desire has been central to her recent research, and she has published papers on Schopenhauer, Levinas, and Wagner in this context.