Oregon State University

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Religious Studies as Critical Humanism

Lecture by Richard Brian Miller

Monday, March 13, 2017 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Do good reasons exist to take up the study of religion?  Can the academic study of religion be justified?  These questions seem to have an obvious affirmative answer, yet scholars of religion actually deny themselves reasons for tackling them directly.  For the last half-century, Religious Studies has been preoccupied by questions of method without due attention to the purposes toward which the study of religion should be directed.  Working against the grain of mainstream approaches to Religious Studies, I offer a vision of what such purposes can be and how they connect the study of religion to the core aims of liberal learning, what I call the project of Critical Humanism.  Drawing on the ideas of John Dewey, Edward Said, and Martha Nussbaum, I conceive of Critical Humanism as the project of studying, and participating in, subject-agent formation.  With that proposal in mind, I frame how Religious Studies can justify itself and connect to broader currents in the humanities.  The aim is to identify the intellectual excellences that can animate Religious Studies and to remove the blinders that prevent scholars of religion from seeing those virtues along with the challenges and opportunities that they provide.

Professor Miller is the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Religious Ethics at The University of Chicago Divinity School and the author of numerous books in religion and ethics, most recently, Friends and Other Strangers: Studies in Religion, Ethics, and Culture.

Memorial Union (campus map)
Journey Room: 104
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