Passion and Passivity

Volume: Passion and Passivity

Feb. 13-14, 2009
Albrecht Auditorium, Claremont Graduate University
Sponsored by Claremont Graduate University, Pomona College, Claremont McKenna College

Conference Chair
Ingolf U. Dalferth
Danforth Professor of the Philosophy of Religion
Claremont Graduate University

The interplay between activity and passivity in religious practices in general, and religious beliefs and emotions in particular, is a central and controversial issue in philosophical theological and psychological thought. For many, religion is not merely logos and ethos but also, and importantly so, pathos; not merely (if at all) knowledge and morality but above all affect, emotion, passion and feeling. However, is the pathos-dimension of religion to be conceived as feeling, affect or emotion at all, or is it more like Schleiermacher’s ‘feeling of absolute dependence’, which is not an emotion but that which grounds all emotion, cognition, and action? Does religion have a single emotional center? Are there specific religious emotions or spiritual affects as Plato (divine madness), Luther and Calvin (fear, awe love), R Otto (mysterium tremendum et facinans) or R Holland (‘oceanic’ feeling) have thought? Or are religious fear, religious love. and religious joy only the normal emotions of fear, love, and joy directed to a religious object, as William James has argued? But then how do religious emotions differ from ‘ordinary’ emotions?

These and related questions will be addressed in sessions on (religious) passions, affects and emotions in the rhetorical and empirical traditions, on feeling, dependence and passivity, on active and passive aspects of religious imagination, spiritual emotions and a number of other related topics. Speakers will include Arne Groen (Copenhagen), Jamie Ferreira (Charlottesville), Michael Moxter (Hamburg), Robert C. Roberts (Boulder). Philipp Stoellger (Rostock).


Friday, Feb. 13

9:00 am Amy Schmitter: Natural Passions in the Seventeenth Century
University of Alberta
10:30 am Coffee
11:00 am Michael Moxter: Emotion and Symbolic Expression. From Schleiermacher to Cassirer and back again
University of Hamburg
12:30 pm Lunch
2:30 pm Short Paper Session

  • Mark Cullum: Psychological Passivity in Augustine
    Abilene Christian University
  • Christopher Dickson: Schleiermacher through Wittgenstein
    Azusa Pacific University
  • Thandeka: Schleiermacher and Affective Neuroscience
    Visiting Scholar Claremont School of Theology
4:00 pm Coffee
4:30 pm Jamie Ferreira: Passion, Passivity, and Imagination
University of Virginia
6:00 pm Reception

Saturday, Feb. 14

9:00 am Philipp Stoellger: Passions Performance, About the Effects of Affects
University of Rostock
10:30 am Coffee
11:00 am Teri Merrick: Wonder as a Characteristically Religious Emotion
Azusa Pacific University
12:30 pm Lunch
2:30 pm Short Paper Session

  • Svetlana Beggs: Tolstoy’s Quest for Purity
    University of California Riverside
  • Dylan Pahman: Emotions as Judgments
    Kuyper College
4:00 pm Coffee
4:30 pm Robert Roberts: Emotions in the Epistemology of Paul the Apostle 
Baylor University
6:00 pm General Discussion and Closing Remarks