Philosophy and the Spiritual Life

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7 – 8 Sep 2018
Oriel College, Oxford (map)
The major religions are all centrally concerned with the spiritual life – with its nature, and with what it takes for human beings to be formed so as to lead such a life. And some have proposed that in its origins, philosophy was fundamentally a spiritual discipline. As Pierre Hadot has put the point, for the philosophical schools of ancient Greece, philosophy was ‘a way of life’, and theorising a secondary activity, worthwhile only in so far as it served the way of life. So, both as philosophers and as scholars of religion, philosophers of religion have good reason to study the spiritual life.

In our own time, there is a further reason for philosophers of religion to be interested in the spiritual life. A generation ago, the notions of spirituality and religion were closely aligned, but in recent years we have all become familiar with attempts to articulate purely secular conceptions of the spiritual life. So we are living through a time when spirituality, and its relationship to religion, has moved to the centre of our public discourse about the nature of the well-lived human life.


John Cottingham (University of Reading and Heythrop College)

Gwen Griffith-Dickson (KCL)

Douglas Hedley (University of Cambridge)

Mark Wynn (University of Leeds)

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