Occasional Lectures and Seminars
Reports on Previous Years’ Activities
The Institute has often sponsored or co-sponsored lectures and seminars delivered by its members, friends and visiting scholars, or by other visitors to Oxford.
“Aquinas, Wisdom and Virtue Epistemology”: 18 January 2018
Speaker: Prof Paul O’Grady (Department of Philosophy, Trinity College, Dublin)
“The Atonement and the Problem of Shame”: 9 October 2017
Speaker: Professor Eleonore Stump (Robert J. Henle, S.J., Professor of Philosophy, Saint Louis University; Patron of the Institute)
Abstract: As an exercise in philosophical theology, Prof Stump enquired whether the Christian doctrine of the Atonement could constitute a solution to the problem of shame in human life. The Atonement, all agree, deals with guilt. But shame is distinct from guilt, if in subtle ways.
Read more>> As an exercise in philosophical theology, Prof Stump enquired whether the Christian doctrine of the Atonement could constitute a solution to the problem of shame in human life. The Atonement, all agree, deals with guilt. But shame is distinct from guilt, if in subtle ways. A guilty person fears that another will not desire his/her good, but rather impose punishment. One who is shamed fears that others will not desire union with him/her. Shame can be due to (a) one’s own wrongdoing, even after it has been repented of; (b) to others’ wrongdoing; (c) to a defect of nature; (d) to the group to which one belongs. Honour is the natural remedy for shame – and if an honour that outweighs the shame also has some intrinsic relationship to the shame, it will defeat the shame.
Chalcedonian Christology holds that God has taken human nature to himself, and in that nature God has suffered. In his crucifixion, God incarnate joined the shame of humanity. Further, for many theologians, the Incarnation would not have happened if there had not been sin and shame to defeat. Hence the Atonement defeats our shame, in sense (d), the shame that attaches to all human beings as members of a fallen race. If, as is widely held, Christ in his Passion opened himself to the psyches of all other human beings, and in a sense bore their sins in himself, then he did his part towards a personal union with each human being. If a human being opens him/herself to Christ, the union that results also seems to defeat personal shame, shame in senses (a), (b) and (c).
However, further work is called for to show how this union defeats the shame generated by relative standing, i.e. shame that attaches to personal sins worse than those of most people.
Text: With her kind permission, the text of Prof Stump’s lecture may be read here [give link]
“Time and Creation in Albert, Bonaventure, and Thomas”: 1 March 2016
Speaker: Dr William E Carroll, Research Fellow, Blackfriars Hall, Member of the Institute’s Advisory Board
“Thomistic Animalism”: 27 November 2015
Speaker: Dr Janice Chik (Ave Maria University)
Abstract: Animalism, according to its strongest proponents, is the view that human beings are ‘essentially or most fundamentally animals’. Specifically, ‘we are essentially animals if we couldn’t possibly exist without being animals’ (Olson 2008). Although prone to misinterpretation, animalism understood properly is compatible with Aquinas’s theory of subsistent intellect. Against recent challenges (Hughes 2015), I defend the view that Thomistic animalism not only is intelligible, but is indeed crucial for understanding Aquinas’s view of human nature and rationality.
Later work: Prof Chik spoke in the 2017 Aquinas Seminar Series on ‘Thomistic Animalism : Language Animals or Animal Agents?’ See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KTXbOayN3g
“ ‘Without Any Doubt, the Old Law Was Good’: Thomas Aquinas on the Torah as a Good Form of Life and Worship”: 8 September 2015
Co-Sponsors: The Oxford Council of Christians and Jews
Speaker: Dr Richard Conrad OP, Director of the Aquinas Institute
“ ‘For Your Sake I Have Studied … and Kept Vigil’ – Reverence and Reflection in Aquinas’s Corpus Christi Liturgy”: 28 May 2015
Speaker: Dr Barbara R Walters, Professor of Sociology, City University of New York; co-author of The Feast of Corpus Christi, author of The Politics of Aesthetic Judgment; visiting scholar at Blackfriars Hall
In this seminar, Professor Walters shared some of her current research on the Office of Corpus Christi as composed by St Thomas.