CIIS Commencement Speech 5/22

Thank you, President Subbiondo. Thanks also to our Academic Vice President Judie Wexler, to our honorary degree recipients Angela Davis and Josef Brinckmann, and to all CIIS faculty and staff for the work you have done to make this day possible for me and for my fellow graduates. I am a philosopher, which is not to…

Religion in Human and Cosmic Evolution: Whitehead’s Alternative Vision

This was an early draft of a paper I presented at the 10th International Whitehead Conference. For video of the actual presentation, click HERE. ——————————— Abstract: This talk compares several approaches to the emergence of religion in human evolution. I contrast Robert Bellah’s and Alfred North Whitehead’s pluralistic, cosmologically oriented accounts to Daniel Dennett’s reductionistic,…

Cosmopolitical Reflections on Economy, Society, and Religion

  When was the day that money became an idol instead of an instrument? Was it August 15, 1971, when to pay for the Vietnam War Nixon shocked the world by erasing the Gold Standard, thereby unilaterally making the value of the US Dollar the reserve currency of the world economy? Or was it in the…

Robert N. Bellah: The Big History of Religion in Human Evolution.

I just returned from a lecture by the sociologist of religion Robert Bellah. He was invited to speak about his book Religion in Human Evolution (2011) by the Dominican University of California. The University has just started a program in Big History, which concerns not only the study of human culture (east, west, and indigenous),…

The Spirit of Integral Poetry: “Waring” the Symbolism of Organism

The Spirit of Integral Poetry: “Waring” the Symbolism of Organism Introduction In the preface of his magisterial account of the evolution of consciousness, The Ever-Present Origin (1985), Jean Gebser warns of a crisis “of decisive finality for life on earth and for humanity,” a spiritual crisis heralding the end of the deficient mentality of the…

More on Myth, Panentheism, and Participation…

Levi Bryant has posted a few more reflections on myth. I’ve pasted some of our discussion over on Larval Subjects below. Bryant also recently posted on what he calls “a-theism,” and I’m more inclined to follow him at least part way in what he suggests. I have a few caveats, however. I do interpret the…

Thinking with Latour and Bellah: Religion beyond Nature and Culture

I’m giving a brief presentation in a course on Christianity and Ecology with Prof. Jacob Sherman on Thursday. In what follows, I’ll try to sketch out what I’d like to say. I plan to briefly summarize the cosmotheandric potential of Robert N. Bellah’s recent tome, Religion and Human Evolution (2011). Bellah develops an account of the…

Work and Play in Human Evolution

At the center of Robert Bellah‘s 700 page account of the axial turn in the evolution of religion (Religion in Human Evolution, 2011) is a theory of play. The relaxed field generated by playfulness, according to Bellah’s richly empirical story, is the source of all human ritual and religion, and indeed of culture more generally. Play is…

Religion and Reality in the University: Thinking with Robert N. Bellah

A quote from Bellah’s recently published book Religion in Human Evolution: From the Paleolithic to the Axial Age. I’ve just started this massive tome, but thus far I think I’m going to really like it. “One could say that if we can no longer glimpse that sacred foundation, the actual university would collapse. For the real…