I thoroughly enjoyed the first day at the conference, listening to some good papers, hearing good questions, meeting some interesting scholars and students, and just overall having a philosophical theological par-tay!
The first paper presentation I attended was from an undergraduate, who presented on Hegel. She explained Hegel’s phenomenology in his historical context, by discussing the thinkers who influenced him–Descartes, Locke, Hume, and Kant. She further explained that Hegel’s contributions are more in the field of epistemology than metaphysics. When she finished her paper, she got some good questions on the relationship of epistemology with metaphysics and she responded to those questions very well.
I had lunch at Quizno’s. Very tasty, but no Co-Cola.
After lunch, I went to two more presentations, one on how neuro-biology does not disprove free will. This was essentially an argument against physicalism, and the presenter’s purpose was mainly to show the limits of scientific inquiry into the human constitution. I would like to have seen him go further and explicitly defend substance dualism, but I had to make peace with disappointment on that score.
The next paper following the neuro-biology one was a defense of theosis against charges of blurring the distinction between Creator and creature and the absorption of the creature into the divine. Very good treatment of the topic as far as I could tell. It was a concept that did not seem to be familiar to the audience (myself included), and a few had a hard time applying some of the terms, but the presenter did a nice job of explaining and illustrating those terms.
I spent the next hour or so getting ready for my own presentation. Right before I spoke, I heard a well articulated paper on the importance of dialogue with other religious traditions in order to advance social justice issues. I’ve been interested in civility lately, so this presentation caught my interest immediately.
I presented my paper, and it went great. Got some good questions and had great discussion. I also got some valuable feedback.
Overall, it has been a very beneficial conference. The discussions have been challenging, respectful, and insightful, and the papers have been valuable and erudite. Looking forward to hearing my colleague John Laing discuss middle knowledge in the morning.