CFP: [Religion] The Question of Transcendence: The Sacred, The Human and Modern Culture

full name / name of organization: 
Amir Khan
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The Third Annual Generative Anthropology Summer Conference

The Question of Transcendence: The Sacred, The Human and Modern Culture

The University of Ottawa, June 19-21, 2009

“Generative Anthropology is founded on the principle that the uniquely
human activity of representation, including above all language, cannot be
understood independently of transcendence. ... ‘Ordinary human language’
is a form, indeed the fundamental form of transcendence, and ... the
atheistic critiques that proclaim the superfluity of God and miracles are
blind to the fact that language is as much of a miracle as the biblical
act of creation. This does not mean that representation cannot be
explained without supernatural forces, merely that the ontology of
language has more in common with that of God than with that of animal
communication or the genetic code. ... Humans invent, use and modify
language in a collective setting. Each use of a word or symbol takes
place before this virtual community, whose members’ mutual recognition as
fellow language-users is ultimately dependant on a shared sense of the

                                                        (Eric Gans, 2008)

Plenary Speakers:

Eric Gans, UCLA
Mark Vessey, UBC
Andrew J. McKenna, Loyola U. Chicago

Proposals are invited for papers which investigate, from any disciplinary
perspective, the ongoing issue of the transcendent or sacred in modern

Possible topics include:

- the debate over the “new atheism”
- ancient and medieval origins of modern ideas of transcendence
- models of transcendence in market society
- political violence and the "transcendence" of history
- philosophy of mind, neuroscience, and experiences of transcendence
- modern literary treatments of transcendence
- psychological approaches to spiritual experience
- transcendence and the philosophy of representation
- signs of transcendence: icon, index, and symbol in philosophy
- philosophy, anthropology and faith in human transcendence
- transcendence in conflict with materialist ontologies
- romanticism and other non-religious strategies of transcendence
- modern theology, otherworldliness, and transcendence
- the persistence of mysticism in modernity
- ethnographic approaches to ritual transcendence
- “transcendence” in modernity: the history of an idea

Preference will be given to papers which explicitly engage with
Generative Anthropology, but we also welcome submissions by scholars new
to but curious about GA. Generative Anthropology is rooted in an
hypothesis of the origin of language, the human and culture. A way of
thinking modeled by Eric Gans in a series of books including Science and
Faith (1990), Originary Thinking (1993), Signs of Paradox (1997) and The
Scenic Imagination (2007), it has been taken up by scholars international
in range and diverse in disciplines. An introduction as well as detailed
information and references can be found at the site of the online journal
Anthropoetics ( and in The Originary
Hypothesis: A Minimal Proposal for Humanistic Inquiry (2007), ed. Adam

Ottawa, Canada’s Capital, is an attractive, modern and fully bilingual
city, offering a superb suite of national museums and other attractions,
including the National Gallery of Canada, The Canadian Museum of
Civilization, The War Museum of Canada and the Canadian parliament.
Highly international in character, well supplied with dining,
entertainment and shopping options, Ottawa is safe, scenic and, in June,
pleasingly sultry. It is also an intellectual and research hub, with
three universities and many governmental research agencies as well as
important international high-tech facilities. For more on Ottawa, see

Abstracts for papers of 20 to 25 minutes should be sent by attachment in
MS-Word or Word Perfect to Professor Ian Dennis at
Deadline: March 1, 2009.

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Received on Sun Sep 07 2008 - 12:52:42 EDT