Adjudicating Faith in Modern Constitutional Democracies
Courts in constitutional democracies face tough questions in developing a principled jurisprudence for the adjudication of claims based on faith.
This lecture considers some of the recent jurisprudence from Europe, North America, India and South Africa and discuss key questions including whether it is possible to identify a principled basis for the adjudication of claims based on faith, whether cross-jurisdictional learning is possible and proper and whether different social, political and religious contexts should and do make a difference to answering these questions.
Lecture 5: Extreme Language: Discovery Under Pressure
One of the most complex aspects of our language is that we refine the patterns we create in it - by rhyme and metre and metaphor - in the confidence that through this process we will discover something about what our habitual language does not disclose.
Lecture 4: Material Words - Language as Physicality
When we analyse speech, we are not only discussing how words work. Speech also includes gesture and rhythm. As such, speech is a means not only of mapping our environment, but also of 'handling' our environment and its direct impact upon us (a point that can be illustrated with reference to studies of autistic behaviour).
When we speak we create a new material situation. Correspondingly, we cannot actually think and 'represent' the reality of material situations without assuming an intelligent or intelligible form of some sort: 'mindless' matter is a chimera.
Lecture 3: No Last Words: Language as Unfinished Business
Intelligent life has something to do with knowing what to do next, and how to 'go on'. The focus of knowledge is not necessarily the would-be final, or exhaustive, system. We can learn something about the nature of knowing if we think about the sorts of knowledge involved in physical crafts, where a good and credible performance makes ever new performances possible.
Lecture 2: Can We Say What We Like? Language, Freedom and Determinism
If speech is a physical act, is it ultimately something we must think of as part of a pre-determined material system?
It is difficult to state this without contradiction. Indeed, once we recognise the unstable relationship between what we say and the environment we are seeking to put into words, we cannot treat speech as simply another physical process. Further, we cannot ignore the way in which speech is 'bound' to stimuli that it does not originate (if we did, we could have no conception of what a mistake or a lie was).
When we speak about the world we inhabit, we do so in terms that go well beyond simply listing the elements of what we perceive; that is, we construct schematic models, we extrapolate, we invent, and we use our imagination.
Lecture 6: Silence in Modern and Future Christianities
We consider the democratisation of the quest for silence in industrial society: the tangling of a secular society with the silences provided by Christian tradition, through for instance the popularity of retreats, or the observance of silence in remembrance. We see the importance of 'whistle-blowing' to modern Christianity, and its use of the historical discipline. We ponder the relation of agnosticism to silence; the role of music in silence and Christian understanding; the relationship between Word and Spirit in the future of Christian life.