Amber Griffioen delivers her talk 'Recovering Compassio: Suffering, Struggle, and Theodicy as Therapy' for the 2017-2018 Humane Philosophy Project/Ian Ramsey Centre seminar at Blackfriars Hall, University of Oxford.
Abstract: From a theoretical standpoint, the problem of human suffering can be understood as one formulation of the classical problem of evil, which calls into question the compatibility of the existence of a perfect God with the extent to which human beings suffer. Philosophical responses to this problem have traditionally been posed in the form of theodicies, or justifications of the divine. In this talk, I argue that the traditional theodical approach in analytic philosophy of religion exhibits both morally and epistemically harmful tendencies and that philosophers would do better to shift their perspective from the hypothetical and abstract "God's-eye view" to the more concrete standpoint of those who actually undergo or witness to suffering. Drawing on historical and contemporary sources, I will discuss how we can "re-appropriate" the idea of theodicy to both take seriously the testimony of those who suffer and provide therapeutically valuable means of grappling dynamically with the life of faith in the face of the lived experience of horrendous evils.
Amber Griffioen is a Margarete von Wrangell Fellow and Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Konstanz in Germany. In addition to her published work on religious faith and experience, the religious imagination, and medieval mysticism, she also works on issues in Philosophy of Emotion and Agency, Islamic Philosophy, and Philosophy of Sport. She is currently working on two monographs in Philosophy of Religion, as well as on various projects aimed at increasing diversity in Philosophy and expanding the historical philosophical canon.