Philosophy, Religion and Ethics in a Time of Change

Join the Department of Religious Studies for a weekly series of talks covering topics in Chinese Philosophy, laughter, spirituality to the sacred and how we engage with our pasts.

Wednesday 19 May: Learn from Chinese Philosophy in times of lockdown

Thinkers in ancient China cultivated themselves to survive and even flourish in challenging times. How would a Confucian or a Daoist philosopher deal with our present pandemic? This talk with Dr Leslie de Vries explores fascinating Chinese views on ethics, society and the good life and their relevance today.


Wednesday 26 May: Cracking up: can laughter solve moral problems?

There is often an underlying expectation that morality must be taken seriously and considered rationally. This talk with Nicole Graham will consider whether laughter can help us with morality. Can laughter draw attention to moral issues? Can laughter disrupt dominant moral ideas or does it simply reinforce them? Can we learn from laughter?

Wednesday 2 June: What role does religion play in how we engage with our pasts?

This talk will focus on the role that religion plays when people reminisce about their past and how this relates to debates in the study of religion. Using data drawn on as part of a podcast on nostalgia, Dr Chris Deacy will discuss how the way we understand the location and parameters of religion in the contemporary world needs to be re-framed in the light of the presence of those less formal and structured forms of religion which often overlap with formal religious practices but are often articulated without reference to it.

Wednesday 9 June: Making sense of values and meaning-making today: from spirituality to the sacred

With decreasing numbers in the West identifying with traditional religious beliefs and institutions, there has been a growing interest in the study of religion in trying to develop effective ways of thinking about the meanings and values that shape people’s lives. Drawing on his experience of working in this field over the past 20 years, Professor Gordon Lynch examines how different concepts like ‘spirituality’, ‘world-view’ or the ‘sacred’ don’t just describe social realities but come with assumptions about the role that belief and values play in the lives of individuals and groups. Understanding these assumptions more clearly is important not only for understanding the world around us, but imagining the ways it might change in the future.


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