Lecture Books

The Edge of Words: God and the Habits of Language

“Does the way we talk as human beings tell us anything about God?” In The Edge of Words, the product of his 2013 Gifford Lectures, Rowan Williams explores the ways in which “ordinary language” gestures in the direction of what he refers to as a “hinterland” of meaning. In so doing, Williams reimagines the task of natural theology as a theological discourse about discourse.

Elements of the Science of Religion, Part I: Morphological

Although much of Tiele’s other work focuses on ritual and religious practice, Elements of Science of Religion argues that such studies of praxis are merely preliminary and do not represent the actual purpose of science of religion. This first lecture series deals with Tiele’s working definition of religion and the constant changes experienced in the evolution of all religions.

Elements of the Science of Religion, Part II: Ontological

Here the author departs widely from the primary theme of much of his earlier works, taking a much more philosophical perspective than his studies on near-ancient Eastern religions. Yet he demands that the study of religion is neither dogmatic nor apologetic and that it sticks as near as possible to the strict rules set within other fields of scientific study. In this volume, the author lays out the rudiments of religion that are permanent.

The Elusive Mind

H. D. Lewis does not attempt an exhaustive survey of recent controversies about the mind-body problem. His plan is to select some typical and influential discussions of the question and subject those to fairly detailed examination. The first position on which he comments, in chapter 1, is that of Professor Gilbert Ryle in his The Concept of Mind as well as the philosophy of Descartes.

The Elusive Self

Hywel Lewis’ primary thesis in The Elusive Self is that human beings are best understood as a complex integration of mental and physical states.  In the first chapter, Lewis begins by recognizing the problem that this dualism has for conceiving of a constant personal identity, noting that a dualistic emphasis on sentient experience inherently raises questions of worth and significance.  He further posits that dualism is largely self-evident, because it is based primarily on experience (p. 8).

Emergent Evolution

According to the author, emergent evolution works upwards from matter, through life, to consciousness, which attains in humankind its highest reflective or supra-reflective level. It accepts the ‘more’ at each ascending stage as that which is given, and accepts it to the full. Emergent evolution urges that the ‘more’ of any given stage, even the highest, involves the ‘less’ of the stages which were precedent to it and continue to coexist with it.

Emotion and Peace of Mind

In Emotion and Peace of Mind, Sorabji examines how the Stoics developed the idea of emotions as judgements internal to the mind, differing from Platonists, who regarded emotions as rooted in the irrational faculties of the soul. He argues that for ancient philosophers and early Christians alike, philosophical analyses on the human emotions provided useful therapies for emotional disturbance. For the same reason, he expects that the ancient philosophy of emotions will contribute to current strands in psychotherapy and psychology.

Ethics in an Age of Technology

Ethics in an Age of Technology constitutes the second of a two-part series of Gifford Lectures that Ian Barbour presented at the University of Aberdeen. The first portion of the lectures, published as Religion in an Age of Science, probed the interaction of religion with the “methods and series of science.” This volume “deals with the challenges to ethics arising from technology and applied science” (xv).

The Evolution of Religion, vol. 1

In his opening chapter of The Evolution of Religion, vol. 1, Caird argues that the science of religion is one the earliest and one of the latest of the sciences. It is one of the earliest because philosophy, which is the parent of the sciences, is the child of religion; it is one of the latest because knowledge comes in and through experience. Having established a continuum of the science and evolution of religion, Caird seeks some general idea or definition of religion which might serve as a guide in his subsequent discussion.

The Evolution of Religion, vol. 2

In the first set of lectures contained in The Evolution of Religion, vol. 1, Caird endeavours to establish religion as one of the great factors or elements in our conscious life. More specifically, he tries to show that, just as a consciousness of the object and the subject, of the world without and the self within, must be supposed to exist in all rational beings, so in all rational beings there is at least a dawning consciousness of the unity presupposed in this difference, of the universal which originates and transcends this elementary distinction of our life.

The Evolution of the Soul, rev. ed.

This thoroughly revised and expanded edition of Swinburne’s classic of philosophy has reinforced and revised his argument for a philosophical defense of substance dualism. Aware of the deeply "unfashionable" nature of his thought Swinburne’s carefully constructed arguments range across a host of varied fields and modern insights in order to move beyond and refine Cartesian dualism.

The Evolution of Theology in the Greek Philosophers, vol. 1

Caird presents an outline of Greek philosophy, discusses its influence on the development of theology, and addresses the question of the genesis of Platonic philosophy in its logical, ethical, metaphysical, and theological aspects. He also presents an account of the theoretical and practical philosophy of Aristotle and of the Stoics. After initial discussion on the development of religion and its relation to theology, Caird focuses on the central idea of religion, and on the opposition of the secular and the religious consciousness.

The Evolution of Theology in the Greek Philosophers, vol. 2

Volume 2 begins with discussion of Aristotle's most significant conclusions, and Caird then turns to an exposition of the general character of post-Aristotelian philosophy, this exposition providing him with a context within which he can investigate the origin and the principles of Stoic philosophy, the Stoic synthesis of pantheism and individualism, the Stoic conception of the chief good, and the Stoic view of practical ethics. These reflections are completed by a lecture describing the transition from stoicism to neo-Platonism.

Exemplarist Moral Theory

In her 2015 Gifford Lectures, Linda Trinkaus Zagzebski advances a new empirically-based form of moral theory she calls Exemplarist Moral Theory (EMT). In this brief review, I discuss several components of her theory.

Experiments in Living

In Experiments in Living: A Study of the Nature and Foundation of Ethics or Morals in Light of Recent Work in Social Anthropology, Macbeath’s themes are concerned with the nature and the knowledge of our duties and obligations, the principles according to which they are determined and the ways in which we discover them—whether they are regarded as duties to obey or rules to realize ends.

Facing Gaia: Eight Lectures on the New Climatic Regime

In this extended reworking of his Gifford Lectures, noted anthropologist and pioneer of the field of science and technology studies Bruno Latour turns his attention to the pressing matter of climate catastrophe. Seeking a way of radically shaking culture out of sleep walking into ecocide, and aware that the increasingly fragile state of the ecology and environmental state of the world exposes the myth of liberal humanistic progress, Latour turns to the historic idea of Gaia, first developed by the maverick English scientist James Lovelock.

Fact, Faith and Fiction in the Development of Science

This posthumously published volume of Hookyaas Gifford Lectures, first delivered at the University of St Andrews in 1976 is not only a fascinating insight into the development of science throughout history, but also a magnum opus volume for a distinguished and insightful thinker in the history and philosophy of science. After delivering the lectures in 1976, Hookyaas worked on this volume extensively up until 1998, revising, sections, improving elements of argumentation, and with the help of colleagues, modifying content where necessary.