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October 2013 Events


01)  October 11 | Cosmic Affect Symposium           
02)  October 14 | Enlightenment or Orthodoxy?: The Historicization of Theology, c. 1580-1700 | Dmitri Levitin
03)  October 29 | Blasphemy and Democratic Citizenship | Christoph Baumgartner

Unless otherwise noted, all BCSR events are free and open to the public.

Cosmic Affect Symposium
Friday, October 11, 2013, 9 am-6:30 pm 
Geballe Room, Townsend Center for the Humanities 
220 Stephens Hall, UC Berkeley 

Cosmic Affect is a one-day interdisciplinary symposium at UC Berkeley on medieval mysticism and contemporary speculative philosophy that will engage the texts of Augustine, Eriugena, Eckhart, Böhme, Heidegger, Bataille, among others.
9 am Coffee
9:30-11:30 am
Cosmic Pangs: Böhme's Theory of Qualities (Niklaus Largier, UC Berkeley)
Cosmic Diligence, Temporal Affection (Thomas Carlson, UC Santa Barbara)
1:30-3:30 pm
Between Joy and Sorrow: On Mystic Indiscernibility and Cosmic Life (Alex Dubilet, UC Berkeley)
Paradisical Pessimism: On the Crucifixion Darkness and the Cosmic Materiality of Sorrow (Nicola Masciandaro, Brooklyn College)
4-6:30 pm Seminar
The seminar centers around a discussion of the lectures and a set of pre-circulated readings. Pre-registration for the seminar is required, but open to all. If you are interested in participating please email Alex Dubilet ( before Monday, October 7th.
Sponsored by The Townsend Center for the Humanities, The Department of German, The Program in Medieval Studies, The Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion, and The Rhetoric Department.

Enlightenment or Orthodoxy?: The Historicization of Theology, c. 1580-1700
Dmitri Levitin, Research Fellow, Trinity College, Cambridge University
Monday, October 14, 2013, 5-7 pm
3335 Dwinelle Hall, UC Berkeley

It is commonly assumed that the historicization of religion and theology only occurred in the wake of an ‘early enlightenment,’ and against the forces of confessionalisation and dogmatic theology. This lecture will argue that in England the process occurred much earlier, and crucially, at the service of confessional identity. Due to structural changes in the nature of theology tuition—most of the evidence for which remains hidden in untapped manuscript sources—English divines invested both materially and intellectually in leading European scholarship. This led them to some remarkable speculation on the history of the biblical text, and on the relationship between the Judeo-Christian tradition and paganism, whether between the biblical Jews and the ancient Egyptians and Zoroastrians, or between early Christians and Hellenistic philosophy. It was this confessionalised investment in erudition, rather than tolerationist politics or explicit opposition to clerical learning, that had the most profound impact on attitudes to faith in early modern England.
Dmitri Levitin is a historian of early modern British and European intellectual and religious culture. He received his PhD at Selwyn College, Cambridge, before moving to a Research Fellowship at Trinity College, Cambridge. He has been appointed to a Chancellor's Fellowship at the University of Edinburgh, and is currently spending two months as a visiting scholar at the Folger Library in Washington D.C. He has published on various aspects of early modern history of scholarship, history of science and history of religion, and his first book, entitled Ancient Wisdom in the Age of the New Science: Histories of Philosophy in Seventeenth-Century England, is due out next year.
Co-sponsored by the Department of History and the Designated Emphasis in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies.

Blasphemy and Democratic Citizenship
Christoph Baumgartner, Associate Professor of Ethics, Utrecht University
Tuesday, October 29, 2013, 5-7 pm
370 Dwinelle Hall, UC Berkeley

It has been argued that acts that offend religious sensibilities of believers could stimulate public debate about religion, politics and society. Believers who feel offended by, e.g., images that denigrate their religion should counter the offense by actively participating in the discussion about such images instead of calling for political action or legal restrictions of freedom of expression. This lecture will explore the possibility that under specific circumstances, such counter-speech can be effectively silenced. This results from specific constellations in public debate where the ‘felicity conditions’ of equal participation in public debate are not in place for members of religious minorities, or for proponents of views that are in conflict with dominant assumptions in society. A political-ethical understanding of democratic citizenship as ‘collective virtue’ can help us to understand, and possibly deal with this ‘phenomenon of silencing.’
Christoph Baumgartner studied Theology and Chemistry at the University of Tübingen, Germany, where he obtained his PhD in 2004 with a dissertation on the problem of motivation in environmental ethics. He was academic coordinator of the Interdepartmental Centre for Ethics in the Sciences and the Humanities at the University of Tübingen (2001-2004). Since 2004 he is a lecturer and researcher in ethics at Utrecht University. In 2008/2009 he was a research fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIAS). Principal topics of his current research and teaching are religion in the public sphere, freedom of religion and freedom of expression, secularity and (post-) secularism, citizenship, environmental ethics, and the 'ethics of war and terrorism,' amongst others.

The Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion is dedicated to fostering critical and creative scholarship on religion, and to cultivating energetic conversations about religion's place in the world, past, present, and future.

For more information, please contact, 510 642 1382.
4327 Dwinelle Hall • University of California, Berkeley • Berkeley, CA 94720 • USA

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