College Talk: "Ineffability: Ethics, Theology, Philosophy" by Stephen Mulhall, University of Oxford

Tuesday, April 5, 2022 - 12:30pm to Wednesday, April 6, 2022 - 2:30am
Abstract: In this lecture, Prof. Mulhall will – primarily against the background of Wittgenstein’s thought – consider how sense might be made of invocations of the ineffable in ethical and theological contexts, despite the familiar concern that talk about ‘that which transcends our understanding’ must itself be senseless (since such talk could communicate something to us only if it succeeds in referring to that which it denies can intelligibly be referred to or thought about). By drawing on Wittgenstein’s early thoughts about judgements of absolute value, and Cora Diamond’s way of linking certain aspects of Christian religious thought to the role of conjectures in mathematics and riddles in ordinary language, he wants to articulate and defend the suggestion that we can make good human sense of the deliberate resort to unintelligible forms of language when seeking to delineate God’s nature. About: Stephen Mulhall is Professor of Philosophy, and Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy, at New College, Oxford. He was previously a Reader in Philosophy at the University of Essex, and a Prize Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. His research interests include: Wittgenstein; Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger and Sartre; the relation between philosophy, theology and religion; and the relation between philosophy and the arts – especially film and literature.

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