17th of May 2024 at 2:15 pm: David Lloyd Dusenbury “What Is This Sophia?” Jesus, the Gospels, and the History of Philosophy

The notion that the life and sayings of Jesus are philosophically inspiring – or philosophically inspired – might strike many of us as odd. Nevertheless, Jesus has been a recurring figure in philosophical texts for twenty centuries (or even twenty-one, depending on how one Syrian philosopher’s letter is dated). From the beginning, Jesus’s sayings have been seen by certain non-Christians as “wise” – and by Christians, as transcending what Paul of Tarsus calls the “human tradition” of philosophy. There is no mention of philosophy (philosophia) in the gospels, and yet, some of Jesus’s first hearers ask: “What is this wisdom (sophia) that has been given to him?” (Mark 6:2). In this lecture, we will ask several related questions: Do certain sayings in the gospels have clear parallels in ‘pagan’ philosophical traditions? Did the Graeco-Roman genre of philosopher-martyrs inform the gospels’ Passion narratives? Is there evidence that first- and second-century Jews, ‘pagans’, and Christians all saw Jesus as (inter alia) a philosophical figure? And can re-situating Jesus in the history of philosophy help us to better understand what we know of his life and death – and, indeed, of the history of philosophy?

Bio: David Lloyd Dusenbury is a philosopher and historian of ideas. He is currently senior fellow at Budapest’s Danube Institute and visiting professor at Eötvös Loránd University. His books include The Innocence of Pontius Pilate: How the Roman Trial of Jesus Shaped History and I Judge No One: A Political Life of Jesus (both published by Hurst and Oxford University Press). Last year, he held the Chair for Jewish-Christian Relations at the University of Antwerp.

16th century philosophy session April 19th at 2:15 pm, with Kaarlo Havu and Pekka Kärkkäinen

Kaarlo Havu (UH): Erasmus on Peace and the Common Good
The presentation explores the ways in which Erasmus associated the common good with peace within Christianity in the 1520s and 1530s. As is well known, during the Reformation Erasmus defended dialogue with Luther and his followers and defended a view of Christianity that left a lot of freedom of interpretation on non-essential (adiaphoric) questions of faith. His lenient attitude to religious differences of opinion has sometimes been connected with an inherently pluralistic worldview. In contrast to this tradition, this presentation suggests that Erasmus conceptualized many of his central ideas on the importance of conversation, on the range of adiaphoric issues, and on the freedom of the will primarily as a defense of the common good and peace within Christendom.
Pekka Kärkkäinen (UH): On the Context of Melanchthon’s Theory of Emotions

Philip Melanchthon was one of the most famous Lutheran Reformers, but also a prolific writer in philosophy. In the paper I will look at his presentation of emotions in the psychological treatise Commentarius de anima (1540). I will focus on reading his text in the context of one scholastic author, Jodocus Trutfetter of Eisenach, and two humanists, Johannes Bernhardi and Juan Luis Vives. All three were contemporaries of Melanchthon and he was familiar with their psychological writings. Moreover, I will discuss also the way Melanchthon adopted views of some ancient writers such as Galen and Plutarch into his theories of emotions.

Elad Carmel: Book launch 15th of March 2024

The seminar will gather 15th of March at 2:15 pm within the University of Helsinki Main Building (Fabianinkatu 33), 4th floor, faculty hall. The focus will be on Elad Carmel’s freshly released book Anticlerical Legacies: The Deistic Reception of Thomas Hobbes, c. 1670-1740 (Politics, Culture and Society in Early Modern Britain, Manchester University Press, 2024) with Heikki Haara (UH)  and Alexandra Chadwick (JYU) acting as commentators.