Nathan Phillips

The Will to Truth: Philosophy and the Phenomenological Turn from Nietzsche, Husserl, and Heidegger


I am grateful for the opportunity to spend the 2013-14 academic year at the Martin Marty Center for the Advanced Study of Religion at the University of Chicago. It will provide the space for progress in the writing of the dissertation, as well as face time with colleagues at the MMC. The Martin Marty Center is unique in its mission and in the opportunity it provides for researchers who gather at its auspices. It is not often in the academy that one has the chance to sit in such a sustained and rigorous engagement and conversation with colleagues working in the different areas of research in religion. I am eager to hear their work, to critically raise questions, and to receive feedback. I hope not only to develop by means of a comprehensive engagement with the problems that my colleagues will pose, but also to find new avenues for development in my own work. That is, to find elements in the work of others that bear on my own thinking, as well as places where I can provide support for the work of others. My dissertation is concerned with the conversion in the status of truth from Nietzsche, Husserl, and Heidegger. There is a quotation from Nietzsche's On Truth and Lying in an Extra-Moral Sense (1873) which has struck me since I first heard it, and which continues to motivate or spur the guiding problem in my research: "Deception, flattery, lying, deluding, talking behind the back, putting up a false front, living in borrowed splendor, wearing a mask, hiding behind convention, playing a role for others and for oneself - in short, a continuous fluttering around the solitary flame of vanity - is so much the rule and the law among men that there is almost nothing which is less comprehensible than how an honest and pure drive for truth could have arisen among them [?]" The thesis of my dissertation is that, notwithstanding our capacity or incapacity to answer such a "question," it is the question of truth which will demand a transformation. I am excited to pursue the question of truth with my colleagues at the Martin Marty Center this academic year. It is my hope that the seminars and discussions will in their own way address such a turn.