Philosophy of Religions

The Philosophy of Religions area considers philosophical issues arising from various religious beliefs and practices, and from critical reflection upon them. Work in this area requires historical understanding of the discipline as it developed in the West, but it is also possible to specialize in the philosophical thought of a non-Western religious tradition, as well as to do constructive philosophical work that draws upon the resources of more than one tradition.



Daniel A. Arnold, Daniel Brudney, Steven Collins, Ryan Coyne, Arnold I. Davidson, Kevin Hector, Matthew Kapstein, Jean-Luc Marion, Françoise Meltzer, Josef Stern, Brook A. Ziporyn

Philosophy of Religions brief overview (PDF)

Progress Conference format

The progress (or pre-exam) conference is normally held in the spring quarter of the second year, or the fall of the third year. In Philosophy of Religions, the progress conference is held with the a group of area faculty,  and will normally include assessment of coursework to date, cogency of the course of study petition, readiness for qualifying examinations, and development of the dissertation project. A report from the advisor and a timeline for the qualifying examinations is submitted to the Dean of Students following the conference.

Written Examinations

Ph.D. students concentrating in the Philosophy of Religions area are required to take three exams offered by the area. All students are required to take exam 1, “The Modern Background,” and one of two exams focused on particular thinkers and trends from the twentieth century: either exam 2, “Anglo-American Philosophy of Religions in the Twentieth Century,” or exam 3, “Continental Philosophy of Religions in the Twentieth Century.” A third exam emphasizing work in the field is also required, and its selection will typically be a function of the student's particular area of focus. For students pursuing a program of comparative work, this will normally be one of the exams under the rubric of exam 4, “Comparative Philosophy of Religions” (e.g., an exam in Indian Buddhist philosophy); for students not pursuing a program of comparative work, the third exam will normally be the other of the two twentieth-century exams. In some cases, students not pursuing a program in comparative work may select as the third exam one of those offered by the Committee on Constructive Studies (“Metaphysics,” “Hermeneutics and Religious Reflection,” or “Issues in Contemporary Theory”). The student’s examining committee should include at least four faculty examiners, three of whom should be members of the Philosophy of Religions faculty.

1. The Modern Background
2. Anglo-American Philosophy of Religions in the Twentieth Century
3. Continental Philosophy of Religions in the Twentieth Century
4. Comparative Philosophy of Religions view information on exams in Indian philosophy (pdf)

Full Area Overview and Exam Information (pdf)


Selected Philosophy of Religions Courses

DVPR 30201 Indian Philosophy. Kapstein/Arnold
DVPR 31202 Spiritual Exercises and Moral Perfectionism. Davidson
DVPR 31500 History of Early Modern Philosophy. Marion
DVPR 33400 Knowledge of the Other. Marion
DVPR 34500 Spinoza and the Question of Being. Marion
DVPR 34801 Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-century Philosophy of Religion. Brudney
DVPR 35200 Modern Philosophy of Religion: The Enlightenment. Arnold
DVPR 39200 Simone Weil. Meltzer
DVPR 39400 Philosophical Thought and Expression, Twentieth- Century Europe. Davidson
DVPR 39500 Topics in Contemporary Continental Thought. Davidson 
DVPR 40500 Twentieth-Century Continental Philosophy and Theology. Davidson 
DVPR 40600 The End of Metaphysics. Marion 
DVPR 41400 De-theologizing Christianity. Coyne 
DVPR 42600 Buddhist Thought in Tibet. Kapstein  

DVPR 42800 Madhyamaka. Arnold
DVPR 42802 Saints: Economies of Transgression. Metlzer/Elsner

DVPR 43100 Modern Ideas of Human Freedom. Coyne 

DVPR 43500 “Imaginaire” and “Imaginal” in the History and Philosophy of Religions. Kapstein
DVPR 43600 Lacan's Ethics. Coyne
DVPR 43700 Theology and Philosophy. Gamwell
DVPR 43800 Heidegger through the “Turn.” Coyne
DVPR 44000 Readings in Philosophical Sanskrit. Kapstein
DVPR 46300 Hartshorne: Metaphysics and Philosophical Theology. Gamwell
DVPR 46700 Pluralism and Philosophy of Religions. Arnold
DVPR 47200 Philosophical Reflections on Death. Arnold
DVPR 47400 Theories of Religion as Philosophy of Mind. Arnold
DVPR 47900 The Philosophical Career of Vasubandhu. Arnold
DVPR 48200 Music, Meaning, and Mantra in Aspects of Indian Thought. Kapstein
DVPR 48300 Topics in the Philosophy of Religion. Kapstein
DVPR 48800 Issues in Buddhist Philosophy of Language. Arnold
DVPR 50200 Buddhist Epistemology: The Philosophy of Dharmakirti. Arnold
DVPR 50201 Seminar: Contemporary Critical Theory. Meltzer
DVPR 50300 Franciscan Thought and Images. Davidson
DVPR 50400 History of Philosophical Theology. Davidson
DVPR 50600 Buddha Nature. Kapstein
DVPR 50700 Philosophy of the Ordinary. Davidson
DVPR 50800 Historical Epistemology. Davidson
DVPR 51100 Practices of the Self. Davidson
DVPR 52200 Theories of Desire. Meltzer
DVPR 53000 What Is a Phenomenon? Marion
DVPR 54700 The Phenomenology of Love. Marion