News & Events

Carse to Speak on Ignorance and the Power of Religion

April 28, 2009

Hartwick College will welcome speaker James Carse, who will present Ignorance and the Power of Religion at 5 p.m. May 4 in Shineman Chapel House. The talk, which is free and open to the public, is the culmination of the Cyrus Mehri Religious Pluralism Initiative and is sponsored by the Cyrus Mehri Global Pluralism Fellowship and the Theta Alpha Kappa Religious Studies Honor Society.

As professor emeritus and former director of the religious studies program at New York University, Carse is trained in both philosophy and religion. His primary academic focus is on the dynamic encounter between two very different ways of thinking, and included the course Theism, Atheism, and Existentialism, a study of the thought of Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Sartre. Other figures often appearing in his teaching include Plato, Sankara, Siddhartha, Augustine, Maimonides, Hegel, Freud, Wittgenstein, and the medieval mystics.

Carse’s talk will center on the longevity of religion and the common notion that religion is a matter of belief—that once a person has decided to believe, the question of a preferred religion is settled. The reality, he says, is that “over the millennia of their history, the range of the practices, institutions, and sacred texts in all religions has become so vast that no one person, however learned, can understand any one of them fully."

“For that reason, an incurable and permanent ignorance claims a prominent place within every act of belief, no matter how passionately held. Therefore, whether one is a believer or unbeliever, before any definitive position on belief is taken, it is necessary first to assess the significance of an ignorance so profound.”

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Hartwick College is a private liberal arts and sciences college of 1,480 students, located in Oneonta, NY in the northern foothills of the Catskill Mountains. Hartwick’s expansive Liberal Arts in Practice curriculum merges traditional liberal arts study, personalized teaching, and experiential learning approaches to emphasize Connecting the Classroom to the World. Add to that a wide range of off-campus internships, collaborative research, study-abroad opportunities, and a unique January Term, and Hartwick prepares students for the world ahead. Strong financial aid and scholarship programs keep a Hartwick education affordable.

Contact: Jennifer Moritz
Phone: 607-431-4038