The British Society for the Philosophy of Religion (Registered charity 1027548)

The BSPR's Twelfth Conference 

Philosophy and the Spiritual Life

Oriel College, Oxford, Thursday 7th and Friday 8th September, 2017 

Call for Papers

The major religions are all centrally concerned with the spiritual life – with its nature, and with what it takes for human beings to be formed so as to lead such a life. And some have proposed that in its origins, philosophy was fundamentally a spiritual discipline. As Pierre Hadot has put the point, for the philosophical schools of ancient Greece, philosophy was ‘a way of life’, and theorising a secondary activity, worthwhile only in so far as it served the way of life. So both as philosophers and as scholars of religion, philosophers of religion have good reason to study the spiritual life.

In our own time, there is a further reason for philosophers of religion to be interested in the spiritual life. A generation ago, the notions of spirituality and religion were closely aligned, but in recent years we have all become familiar with attempts to articulate purely secular conceptions of the spiritual life. So we are living through a time when spirituality, and its relationship to religion, has moved to the centre of our public discourse about the nature of the well-lived human life.

The conference organisers welcome papers taking a philosophical approach to all aspects of the spiritual life, including secular and diverse religious perspectives. We also encourage submissions from scholars working in neighbouring philosophical fields, on themes such as value, emotion and perception, and papers that seek to make connections between the philosophy of religion and disciplines with an interest in kindred questions, such as anthropology and literature.

Please send abstracts either in the body of an email or as a .doc file (no pdfs) of a maximum of 250 words to Victoria Harrison ( by the end of March 2017. Unfortunately, it will not be possible to consider abstracts that exceed the word limit or that are submitted after the closing date (allowance being made to colleagues in other time zones).

Final versions of accepted papers will be due one month before the conference begins.

Preference will be shown towards papers that are on the theme of the conference. Time and space at the conference will be limited, so we shall have to be selective, even allowing for the fact that we plan to run parallel sessions and request people presenting papers to keep to half-hour slots. 

In order to keep to the tight timetabling required to permit participants to hear (the whole of) as many papers  as possible, papers should take ideally fifteen minutes and an absolute maximum twenty minutes to deliver, leaving ten minutes or so for discussion.