Conference presentations by our graduate students.

Students retain the copyright of their research and conference papers. Under the terms of our Non-Exclusive Licence students grant ICS the right to preserve and disseminate their publications via the ICS Institutional Repository and other third party databases.

Recent Submissions

  • The Ordeal of Solitude: Solitary Confinement in Prisons and Monasteries

    Kirby, Joseph; Institute for Christian Studies (2014-05-04)
  • Songs of Solidarity: A New Approach to Liturgical Music and Community Cohesion

    Johnson, Matthew E.; Institute for Christian Studies (2014-03-06)
    In this paper, I will focus on a single type of music used in a religious setting, namely congregational song, which I will broadly refer to as “liturgical music.” Though liturgical music in the context of Christian community serves a variety of functions for community participants, this paper will focus on two major functions liturgical music plays in the way it facilitates community coherence: (1) it connects participants via embodied empathetic imagination to a particular defining narrative or mythology, and (2) it connects participants via co-performance directly to one another. I will suggest that liturgical art in religious community is actually a constitutive force in that community, having the capability of illuminating and affirming the communal identity shared by the participants. Participation in liturgical music is a way of actively shaping the community as a community, re-telling together a deeply held defining mythology in the context of the present world and creating a shared moment of co-performance in which participants enter into true face-to-face relationships with one another. Finally, I will illustrate how these functions may play out in a religious community through an analysis of Psalm 136’s content and use in ancient Israelite liturgy.
  • A Particular Collision: Arendt, CERN, and Reformational Philosophy

    Johnson, Matthew E.; Institute for Christian Studies (2014-03-27)
    In this paper, I will explore how recent discoveries in particle physics that are part of the pursuit of a so-called “unified theory of everything” play into a worldview that has the potential to poison ethical life. I will explicate Hannah Arendt’s critique of modern science’s pursuit of knowledge by means of (what she calls) “acting into nature,” and I will place the groundbreaking experimental research at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland, as well as the theoretical search for a unified “theory of everything,” within the scope of Arendt’s critique. In order to maintain Arendt’s concept of unprecedented newness inherent in human action (or what she calls “natality”) as a response to a scientific reductionism that tends to accompany these claims and pursuits of theoretical physics and to expose what is at stake in Arendt’s critique, I will turn to the anti-reductionistic Reformational philosophy of Herman Dooyeweerd and D. H. Th. Vollenhoven, which offers a model that resonates with Arendt’s critique of modern science, while also allowing for a potentially viable way forward for considerations of the scope of scientific knowledge. Finally, I will conclude with the implications of this Reformational anti-reductionism on Arendt’s concern that human action, with its power to create new and unprecedented historical situations and natural processes, must be held accountable by reflection. What is learned from Arendt and the Reformational philosophers is that giving ground to the possibility of a unified theory of everything carries with it a determinism that disallows the recognition of both newness and irreducible complexity, both of which are essential to the ethical life.
  • Impeccability Amid the Principalities: Christ's Sinlessness in a Culture of Sinful Systems

    Van't Land, Andrew; Institute for Christian Studies (2013-10-19)
  • Meditations on Life, Death, and Technology in the Style of a Japanese Poet

    Kirby, Joseph; Institute for Christian Studies (Stony Brook University, 2012-03)
    In this paper, I will attempt to resurrect the essence of this poetry in the form of a philosophic essay, in response to the riddle “Still Life?”, already initiated with a brief reflection on the history of Japanese renga, carried forward through a series of reflections on the relationship between language and the world, language and death, and concluded with a surprising hypothesis on the relationship between language and life, written in the context of the ecological disaster threatening humanity with extinction.
  • Cosmogenetic Labour in the Crisis of the Anthropocene

    Kirby, Joseph; Institute for Christian Studies (2013-02-14)
    As the insights from anthropology slowly filter into philosophy, it is becoming clear that technology should not be thought of as a contingent product of the European Enlightenment; instead, in the words of archaeologist Timothy Taylor, “technology, within the framework of some 2 to 3 million years, has, physically and mentally, made us.”1 Our huge brains, our dexterous hands, our upright stance, our ability to speak – these distinct characteristics of our biology could only evolve in the context of a new kind of development, a complexifying matrix of techniques and artifacts. Taylor calls us “a new, symbiont form of life,” with the technology that we project around ourselves forming “the nonbiological aspect of the artificial ape.”2 I argue that this insight calls for a massive change in perspective. In short, we need to understand life as an explosion. Growing out of geothermal vents into the oceans, out of the oceans onto the land, this explosion is now constrained by the barrier of the atmosphere, beyond which lies the void of space. The only way the living explosion will ever be able to transcend this barrier is through the kind of symbiosis between technology and biology described by Taylor. With reference to the long neglected ecological thought of Krafft Ehricke, I argue that the ecological crisis should not be seen as the death-throws of nature, but rather as the birth-pangs of a new mode of life, the crisis whereby the biosphere expands beyond the geosphere, to infuse extraterrestrial fields of matter with the beauty of living form. As the progenitors of technology, this cosmogenetic labour is one of the duties of humanity with regard to the living process that birthed us. 1 Timothy Taylor, The Artificial Ape (), 198. 2 Taylor, The Artificial Ape, 194.