Sunday, April 16, 2017


Philippa Foot rejected Kant’s notion that morality consists of a single categorical imperative by arguing that morality may instead consist of a system of hypothetical imperatives (Virtues and Vices and Other Essays in Moral Philosophy, University of California Press, 1978, pp. 157-173). But one problem with Foot’s argument is that morality may consist of not only imperatives (commands or requirements) but also permissions, prescriptions, admonitions, and prohibitions. These various categories of deontic modality describe the moral possibility or necessity (permissibility or obligatoriness) of a given action. A given action may be permissible but not obligatory, or both permissible and obligatory, or neither permissible nor obligatory. A more nuanced conception of morality than that of either Kant or Foot must therefore be sought.

What is post-analytic philosophy?

What does the fact that there are dictionaries of philosophy say about philosophy?

Do what extent do we write ourselves into being? Can we each have a written as well as spoken identity? What happens to our concepts of ourselves when we cannot write? To write ourselves into being may also be to write ourselves into history. We may construct ourselves by writing about ourselves, and our histories may be written as well as unwritten (spoken or acted out).

Kinds of power include political, military, economic, social, legal, legislative, judiciary, executive, electoral, penal, disciplinary, coercive, rhetorical, persuasive, and dramatic power.

Is an opinion about things as important to philosophy as it is to social criticism? Do opinionated people make the best philosophers?

Politics may teach us that “seeing” (injustice, inequity, social dysfunction, or our own economic insecurity) is somehow “believing” (in a particular political party, candidate, regime, or system of power). But religion may teach us that “believing” (in a supernatural being or divine power) is somehow “seeing” (ultimate reality).

“dis/advantage” may symbolize the fine line between advantage and disadvantage, just as “dis/appearing,” “dis/approving,” and “dis/arranging” may symbolize the fine line between appearing and disappearing, approving and disapproving, and arranging and disarranging.

Irruption/eruption/interruption/disruption/       abruption may signify a breach, a rupture, an outburst, even an act of violence, but also an emergence, a bringing forth, a beginning and simultaneous ending.

Whenever I visit the Eisenhower Library at Johns Hopkins, I go directly to the philosophy section on level B (two levels below the ground floor). My mission is usually to find an interesting book to read or to find some book that I’ve already read about and found in the library catalogue. The philosophy section consists of about a dozen double rows of metal shelves filled with books from floor to ceiling. There are two rows of desks separating the philosophy section from the religion section. Each desk is enclosed by a wooden partition, with a sign above it saying THIS IS AN ASSIGNED WORKSTATION. IF YOU ARE NOT ASSIGNED TO THIS WORKSTATION, PLEASE USE ONE THAT IS NOT ASSIGNED. But there are no unassigned work stations, so in order to sit down, I have to break the rules. I have to become a kind of trespasser. But of course all the desks are usually empty, unless there’s an examination period scheduled for semester courses and students are studying at the library. Most of the time, I can choose whatever desk I want. The padded chair in front of each desk is so dusty, however, that regardless of which one I choose, I have to slap the seat several times and wait for the dust to clear before I can sit down. Then I’m able to ask myself, “”In what way, and for whom, is my engagement in philosophy an act of trespass? On whose terrain am I trespassing? Does engaged philosophy necessarily entail a kind of trespass? Must we all be trespassers in one way or another in order to engage in philosophy?”

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Conference on Race, Recognition and Respect, Johns Hopkins University, April 8, 2017

I had the good fortune to be able to attend a philosophy conference at Johns Hopkins today, and to meet some distinguished philosophers. The conference was sponsored by the Department of Philosophy and the Center for Africana Studies. Below are some photos.

Falguni Sheth, speaking eloquently about "Race, Vulnerability, and Violence"

Charles Mills, delivering an enlightening, inspiring, and entertaining lecture on "Rawls, Liberalism, and Racial Justice"

Meeting Professor Sheth

Meeting Professor Mills

Sunday, April 2, 2017

What is Lived Theology?

The term “lived theology” may be definable in so many ways that no single definition may be adequate. Lived theology may be a philosophical or practical theology. It may be a moral, ethical, pastoral, ecumenical, or political theology, It may be a theological aesthetics or theological hermeneutics. It may be a liberation theology, resistance theology, reconciliation theology, or some other kind of social theology.
      Perhaps instead of trying to answer the question, “What is lived theology?”, we each should try to answer the question, “What does it mean to live my theology?” We each may need to ask ourselves: Am I living my theology? Do my actions reflect my theology? Is my theology dying or dead, or is it a living thing? Do I believe in a living God? How am I living my faith?
      We may also have to distinguish between theology as dogma or doctrine and theology as daily practice or social action. We may at some point have to think about our own lives differently, and think about theology differently. If we say that God is love, and that we believe in a theology of love, then we each may have to ask ourselves: Am I trying to love others in the same way that God loves each of us? Am I showing love and understanding toward others in the same way that God shows love and understanding toward each of us?
      Lived theology is not something that can be done merely individually; it must be done collectively. To really live theology, we cannot merely act as individuals, we must live our theology as members of a (spiritual, religious, vocational, or social) community.
      Perhaps we should also distinguish between “living theology” (or expressing in our daily lives what we believe about God) and “living theologically” (or acting according to a rule book or set of doctrines). The phrase “living theology” may also have different meanings, depending on whether the emphasis is placed on the word “living” or on the word “theology.” Living theology places the emphasis on our daily actions and ongoing experiences, while living theology places the emphasis on our religious beliefs and convictions about the nature of God.
      Carl R. Holladay, professor of New Testament studies at Emory University Candler School of Theology, explains that “living our theology…is inseparable from having and doing theology.” We cannot really have a theology without living and doing that theology.  When we do theology, we are putting our faith into action. Lived theology is faith in action.1
      David Dark, professor of religion at Belmont University College of Theology, answers the question “What is Lived Theology?” by saying, “One would think that the “lived” in “lived theology” would in some sense be redundant. But we have our world so divided up, and our God-talk so divided up from our actual lived commitments, that the term “lived theology” ends up being a very helpful provocation.”2
       Charles Marsh, professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia, explains that lived theology as a subject of theological writing, research, and teaching examines the impact of our daily experiences on our theological beliefs and practices. Lived theology may be a unique way of understanding how we feel God’s presence in our lives.3
     Insofar as “living” means “living in a body,” “lived theology” means theology lived in a body (or through the body as a medium of experience) or embodied theology. The corporeality of lived theology anchors it in daily experience. It cannot be merely a spiritual practice; it must also be social and communal.
      Insofar as theology is a mode of discourse about God, the discursivity of lived theology may be expressed by our capacity to communicate (e.g. by speech or writing) through our daily actions our thoughts and feelings about God.


1Carl R. Holladay, A Critical Introduction to the New Testament: Interpreting the Message and Meaning of Jesus Christ (Nashville: Abington Press, 2005), p. 10.
2David Dark, “What is Lived Theology?", The Project on Lived Theology (Sept. 4, 2015), online at
3Charles Marsh, “Lived Theology: Method, Style, and Pedagogy,” in Lived Theology: New Perspectives on Method, Style, and Pedagogy, edited by Charles Marsh, Peter Slade, and Sarah Azaransky (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), pp. 6-7.