Session I…..State of the Inquiry
Session I: State of the Inquiry
Friday 7 October—Day One
Why Is There Anything? State of the Science, State of the Philosophy, State of the Theology.
Moderated by Denys Turner
The Conference’s introductory session began at 10:00 AM following the Continental breakfast at the Greenberg Center. It was intended to establish a common foundation for the discussion to follow in subsequent sessions through presentations by the three Yale senior faculty conference coordinators.
• Michael Della Rocca commented on the state of the inquiry from a philosophical perspective.
• Priyamvada Natarajan commented from a scientific perspective.
• Denys Turner commented from the perspective of Western theology and religious studies.
In their presentations, Professors Della Rocca, Natarajan, and Turner did not seek to provide answers to the foundational question “why is there anything”, nor to whether the three perspectives are commensurable, but suggested a frame within which the conversation could intelligibly begin.
Michael Della Rocca is the Andrew Downey Orrick Professor of Philosophy at Yale and immediate past chair of Yale’s Department of Philosophy. He is an authority on the history of early modern philosophy (particularly rationalism) and metaphysics, and is also interested in philosophy of mind and epistemology. He is the author of “Spinoza,” part of the Routledge Philosophers Series, and “Representation and the Mind-Body Problem in Spinoza.” He is the editor of “The Oxford Handbook of Spinoza.” His many articles have explored such topics as essentialism and judgment and will, as well as the philosophies of Spinoza. He has also written a number of reviews of books on philosophical issues. [more]
Priyamvada Natarajan is a professor in the departments of Astronomy and Physics at Yale University. She is noted for key contributions to two of the most challenging problems in cosmology: mapping dark matter and dark energy as well as tracing the accretion history of black holes. Her work using gravitational lensing techniques has provided a deeper understanding of the granularity of dark matter in clusters of galaxies. She has developed theoretical models to describe the assembly and accretion history of black holes as well as the formation of seed black holes in the Universe. [more]
Denys Turner is a British academic in the field of philosophy and theology. He is currently Horace Tracy Pitkin Professor of Historical Theology at Yale University having been appointed in 2005, previously having been Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity at Cambridge University. He has done extensive work on the study of the traditions of Western Christian mysticism, with emphasis on doctrines of religious language and of selfhood and on the links between the Classical traditions of spirituality and mysticism and the social and political commitments of Christianity, with some reference to questions of the nature of religious language and post-modernity. [more]