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Lectures

Trinity and Theism

  • Raimon Panikkar
1988
University of Edinburgh

Panikkar offers a “holistic vision” of how to move beyond cultural and religious divisions by finding a triadic principle—the Trinity in Christian tradition—in all human thought. He proposes alternatives to the various “all or nothing” dualisms of human belief by reviving “nondualistic” ideas in Western and Eastern thought and, in the latter case, ancient Indian philosophy especially. The themes “rhythm” and “continuous creation” (creatio continua) are used to describe various states of nondualism.

Humanity, Environment and God

  • Anthony J. P. Kenny
  • Don Cupitt
  • John D. Barrow
  • John Morris Roberts
  • John S. Habgood
  • Richard Dawkins
1988
University of Glasgow

The 1988 centenary Gifford Lecturers were co-presented by Don Cupitt, John Barrow, Richard Dawkins, John Roberts, Anthony Kenny and John Habgood, six leading scholars from the disciplines of history, philosophy, theology, zoology and astrophysics, who addressed, through their plurality of voices, some of the traditional aspects of natural theology as identified in Max Müller's original Gifford Lectures given one hundred years previously, in 1888.

Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry

  • Alasdair C. MacIntyre
1987
University of Edinburgh

The book discussed herein was compiled after Alasdair MacIntyre presented his lecture at Edinburgh, as well as Yale, and largely focuses on the differences between these audiences to outline his point on the gaps between schools of philosophy. MacIntyre discusses three very different and mutually antagonistic conceptions of moral enquiry, each stemming from a seminal late nineteenth-century text: the ninth edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Nietzsche’s Zur Genealodie De Moral and Pope Leo XIII’sAeterni Patris. MacIntyre lays out the issues in the opening chapters by placing the purpose of the Gifford series within the current context of philosophical debate, and traces the roots of dissent through the past few centuries of philosophy. The remaining chapters discuss the Augustinian, Aristotelian and Thomistic viewpoints of moral enquiry. MacIntyre concludes with discussion of tradition and genealogy in the areas of knowledge, information and philosophical understanding. His views on re-conceiving the university and the lecture as an institution and a genre are highly persuasive towards more productive philosophical debate. The most that one can hope is for these disagreements to become more constructive. It was with that aim that MacIntyre delivered and published these lectures.

Behind the Eye

  • Donald MacCrimmon MacKay
1986
University of Glasgow

In his 1986 course of Glasgow Gifford Lectures, posthumously published as Behind the Eye, Donald MacCrimmon MacKay surveys key trends in brain science and information theory and discusses their influence upon the topics of identity, theism and causality. Though science and technology have revealed a great deal about the inner workings of the human mind, MacKay argues that increased scientific knowledge need not bring about the end of theism’s intellectual credibility.

In Praise of Divinity

  • Freeman J. Dyson
1985
University of Aberdeen

First Series: Life in the Universe

Introduction

The Search For Who We Are

  • Carl Sagan
1985
University of Glasgow

Professor Carl Sagan’s Glasgow University Gifford Lectures, delivered in October 1985 under the theme The Search for Who We Are, have been published as The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God (2006).

Creation and the Spirit of God

  • Jürgen Moltmann
1984 to 1985
University of Edinburgh

Jürgen Moltmann seeks to articulate a doctrine of creation for humanity that centers upon God’s creating and sustaining activity within the world. Recent ecological destruction illustrates clearly the impact humanity has upon the world, and Moltmann advocates that humanity’s understanding of God’s relationship with the world must be understood to clarify an ecological doctrine of creation that nurtures life and the created world.

The Construction of Reality

  • Michael A. Arbib
  • Mary Brenda Hesse
1983
University of Edinburgh

In this book, Michael Arbib, a researcher in artificial intelligence and brain theory, joins forces with Mary Hesse, a philosopher of science, to present an integrated account of how humans ‘construct’ reality through interaction with the social and physical world around them. The book is a major expansion of the Gifford Lectures delivered by the authors at the University of Edinburgh in the autumn of 1983.

Models, Mind and Man

  • Anthony J. Sanford
1982
University of Glasgow

Sanford’s brief 1982–1983 Gifford Lectures consisted of five lectures that explored the nature of cognition with respect to language, common sense and value. His work is based on the premise that natural theology must take into consideration not only the external natural world but also the symbolic world of concepts, language and cognition.

Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals

  • Iris Murdoch
1981 to 1982
University of Edinburgh

This book, a revised and expanded version of Murdoch’s 1982 Gifford Lectures, is an intriguing, scholarly, but sprawling work that proceeds reflectively through an enormous range of topics, including art and religion, morals and politics, Wittgenstein, metaphysics, deconstruction, Schopenhauer, imagination, and Martin Buber. What Murdoch presents here is not a systematic treatise, but what can be described as ‘a huge hall of reflection full of light and space and fresh air, in which ideas and intuitions can be unsystematically nurtured’.

Knowledge and the Sacred

  • Seyyed Hossein Nasr
1980
University of Edinburgh

In Knowledge and the Sacred Nasr analyzes humanity’s pursuit of knowledge and proposes that in every culture throughout human history humanity’s quest for knowledge has been a sacred activity as men and women seek to discover the Divine. Drawing from many traditions including philosophy, Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, and Zoroastrianism, Nasr explores humanity’s quest for knowledge and quest for the Divine and how these quests relate to one another throughout history.

Knowledge and the Sacred

  • Seyyed Hossein Nasr
1980
University of Edinburgh

In Knowledge and the Sacred Nasr analyzes humanity’s pursuit of knowledge and proposes that in every culture throughout human history humanity’s quest for knowledge has been a sacred activity as men and women seek to discover the Divine. Drawing from many traditions including philosophy, Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, and Zoroastrianism, Nasr explores humanity’s quest for knowledge and quest for the Divine and how these quests relate to one another throughout history.

Beyond Ideology

  • Ninian Roderick Smart
1979 to 1980
University of Edinburgh

In Beyond Ideology, Ninian Smart faces up to the reality that in the world of humans there exist different Beyonds, or at the very least there are different maps of the world hereafter. From this it becomes clear that the problem of the plurality of religions cannot be left unaddressed. Smart’s consideration of the plurality of religions is completed in a much broader perspective than is usual.

The New Biology

1979
University of Glasgow

While Brenner's lectures were never published, the archives at Glasgow University record the following individual lecture titles:

Myth, Magic, and Denial: The Treacherous Allies

  • David Stafford-Clark
1977
University of St. Andrews

David Stafford-Clark (1916–1999), one of Britain's foremost psychiatrists, delivered his Gifford Lectures – "Magic, Myth, and Denial: The Treacherous Allies" – at the University of St Andrews in 1977.

Fact, Faith and Fiction in the Development of Science

  • Reijer Hooykaas
1975
University of St. Andrews

Reijer Kooyhaas (1906–1994), a leading historian of science, delivered his Gifford Lectures – "Fact, Faith and Fiction in the Development of Science" – at the University of St Andrews 1975–1977.  The lectures were published posthumously by Kluwer Academic Publishers in 1999.

Morality: Religious and Secular

  • Basil George Mitchell
1974
University of Glasgow

In Morality, Religious and Secular: The Dilemma of the Traditional Conscience, Basil Mitchell wrestles with the relationship between morality and theism. Through a critical examination of three wholly secular moral theories—rational/scientific humanism, romantic humanism and liberal humanism—he concludes that non-religious moralities, though simpler in some ways, fail to meet the demands of the ‘traditional conscience’.

The Road of Science and the Ways to God

  • Stanley L. Jaki
1974 to 1976
University of Edinburgh

The lectures seek to demonstrate by historical and epistemological analysis the necessary dependence of the rise of science in the West, and its continuation in the whole world, upon the cultural and metaphysical matrix provided by the Judeo-Christian worldview. The key and unique features of that worldview required for science to be born and mature include conviction of the world’s rationality, intelligibility and contingency, summarized by the Thomistic proofs for the existence of God.

The Central Questions of Philosophy

  • Alfred J. Ayer
1972
University of St. Andrews

The lectures discuss some central themes in contemporary analytic philosophy, with special attention to the theory of knowledge.

The Life of the Mind

  • Hannah Arendt
1972 to 1974
University of Aberdeen

The Life of the Mind was originally intended to cover an examination of three fundamental aspects of mind: ThinkingWilling, and Judging. Arendt’s death in 1975 precluded the completion of the entire work, leaving only the first two volumes for publication.

Critique of Heaven and Earth

  • Arend Theodoor van Leeuwen
  • Arend van Leeuwen
1970 to 1972
University of Aberdeen

Arend’s Gifford Lectures, ‘Critique of Heaven and Earth’, delivered in Aberdeen in 1970 and 1972, were published in two volumes: Critique of Heaven (1972) and Critique of Earth (1974). The series sets out to address something of a revolution in the domain of natural theology through an investigation of the works of Karl Marx.

Animal Nature and Human Nature

  • William Homan Thorpe
1969
University of St. Andrews

W. H. Thorpe’s Gifford Lectures repeatedly consider the question of what, given our current understanding of science, makes humanity different from the other animals. Many beautiful and detailed accounts of what we know of animal behaviour, and what we may infer from that data, are deployed to demonstrate that we simply have to reject most of the older theories. Animals do use tools and language, and the songs of birds approach something genuinely aesthetic.

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