Dec 18, 2018 at 3–5 pm
Venue: Think Corner, Lounge (Yliopistonkatu 4, 2nd floor)

The CoE in Reason and Religious Recognition supported by the Finnish Institute of France is organizing a roundtable on political extremism and radicalization. The theme is illustrated by the case of the so-called “gilets jaunes” (yellow vests) protest movement. The main themes concerning radicalization are among all, economic conditions, migration and mutual recognition in contemporary societies.


Thomas Bouvatier, Researcher (radicalization, counter-radicalization), Centre d’études des radicalisations et de leurs traitements, Université Paris VII; psychoanalyst

Tarja Mankkinen, Head of Development in the Police Department, Finnish Ministry of the Interior

Johanna Sumiala, Associate Professor (media and communicator), Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki (SA project: Hybrid Terrorizing)

Teemu Tammikko, Senior Research Fellow (terrorism, counter-terrorism, political and extreme violence), Finnish Institute of International Affairs


Nicolas Faucher, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Centre of Excellence, Reason and Religious Recognitions, Faculty of Theology, University of Helsinki (more information:

1 February 2019: Faith and the Will to Believe – A Comparative Workshop in Pragmatism and Medieval Philosophy

Faculty of Theology
Vuorikatu 3, 2nd floor’s library (209)
For more information:

10 am Introduction by Risto Saarinen
10.15 am Ritva Palmén: “Free Movement of the Mind: Wonder in Twelfth-Century Philosophical Psychology”
11.15 am Mark Boespflug: “Faith, the Akrasia Objection and the Possibility of Believing Voluntarily in Peter of Ailly”
12.15 Lunch break
1.45 pm Nicolas Faucher: “Conscience and Authority: James and Peirce on the Medieval Views on Belief”
2.45 pm Sami Pihlström: “The Will to Believe and Holistic Pragmatism”
4.15 pm Dan-Johan Eklund: “Doxastic Voluntarism and Christian Faith”
5.15 pm Conclusion
6 pm Dinner at Ateljé Finne (for the speakers)

In his famous essay on “The Will to Believe”, William James has this to say on scholastic thought: 

“Scholastic orthodoxy, to which one must always go when one wishes to find perfectly clear statement, has beautifully elaborated this absolutist conviction in a doctrine which it calls that of ‘objective evidence.’ If, for example, I am unable to doubt that I now exist before you, that two is less than three, or that if all men are mortal then I am mortal too, it is because these things illumine my intellect irresistibly. The final ground of this objective evidence possessed by certain propositions is the adequatio intellectus nostri cum re[the agreement of our intellect with the thing known]. The certitude it brings involves an aptitudinem ad extorquendam certum assensum[an aptitude for extorting a certain assent from our intellect] on the part of the truth envisaged, and on the side of the subject a quietem in cognitione[ a quiet rest in knowledge], when once the object is mentally received, that leaves no possibility of doubt behind; and in the whole transaction nothing operates but the entitas ipsa[entity itself] of the object and the entitas ipsaof the mind.”


“Scholastic orthodoxy” seems to refer here more to Aquinas and his school than to any other scholastic thinker or trend. But James’ general view nonetheless aptly reflects the medieval scholastic common opinion. It is indeed true that, for virtually all medieval thinkers, there are some propositions that, whether, as James affirms, they “illumine” the human intellect, or they are known through the intellect’s light, can be assented to with perfect and irrefragable certainty, which constrains the intellect, and beyond which no further intellectual examination is required, or indeed possible.

There is, however, another kind of light, afforded by grace, that many medieval thinkers accept. This light, which was described in many different ways all along the 13thcentury, neither constrains the human intellect to assent to the truth of the objects of faith, nor does it put its investigation to rest. Rather it makes it see the objects of faith as things that must be believed.

The vocabulary medieval authors use to describe this apprehension is strikingly similar to James’ vocabulary when he describes what might be called, in his terms, our passional relation to live hypotheses. Where he speaks of “scintillat[ing] with credibility”, where he says that,“for us, not insight, but the prestige of the opinions, is what makes the spark shoot from them and light up our sleeping magazines of faith”, Aquinas speaks of a “simple light” of faith which “non-discursively” shows that we must believe this or that object. More strikingly, Peter John Olivi, a crucial author among 13thcentury scholastics, speaks of the relucentia, the “light-reflection” of objects of faith, as well as, more generally, the scintillatiothat characterizes actions we must perform, as they are presented by our conscience, including acts of faith. Many other authors provide similar descriptions.

Light metaphors are omnipresent in both James and medieval thinkers as regards belief, faith, or credulitas, but does that mean that there is anything in common in their philosophical views? Our working hypothesis is that there is, inasmuch as both James’ view and the medieval family of views describe an experience that is supposed to be universal; not founded on reason but on volition, emotion, and desire; and leading us to propositional belief in a certain set of objects.

Even more crucially, perhaps, that our religious belief be a choice in the most proper sense of the term is an essential feature of both James’ view and the whole medieval Latin tradition’s family of views. The idea that believing is a full-fledged choice for which we may be considered responsible; that our affective relation with what must be believed and the proponent of what must be believed (God, the Church, a certain community, etc.) plays a fundamental role in our coming to believe; that taking into account our interest in believing (whether it be coming to know the truth or reaching salvation) is at the basis of our choice are all features of both pragmatist views of belief and medieval Latin views.

Of course, there are some obvious differences. Whether James defends a kind of direct doxastic voluntarism remains an open question, while medieval authors usually clearly defend either a direct or indirect conception of doxastic voluntarism. It also seems that, while James appears to think our will to believe is triggered even before we adopt any view of our ability to reach the truth, whether empiricist or absolutist, to reprise the alternative he presents, the medieval authors seem to think of the light of faith in an absolutist framework: one can know that they ought to believe something, even though they do not immediately apprehend its truth.

 Beyond such differences, it seems possible and of great interest to ask some common questions of these different conceptions. What is the experience of having to believe? What are the warrants of belief that can be constructed on the basis of this experience? What is the precise role of the will in the process leading to belief? What kind of influences determine what we want to believe, what we feel we must believe, what we end up believing? More broadly, what are the common elements of medieval Latin and Pragmatist epistemologies? The proposed workshop is an invitation to examine the answers to these questions provided by the medieval Latin tradition and the Pragmatist tradition, and to see whether, across the centuries, their confrontation might allow us to glimpse some universal feature in philosophical conceptions of belief, especially voluntary belief.

Accepting Wrong Beliefs

Dec 17-18, 2018
Faculty of Theology
Vuorikatu 3, Faculty Hall 524

Organized by the Academy of Finland’s Centre of Excellence,
Reason and Religious Recognition with support from the Laboratoire
d’études sur les monothéismes, the Ecole pratique des hautes études, the
Institut universitaire de France and the Institut français de Finlande

For more information:

Monday, 17 December 2018
1 pm Lunch
3 pm Introduction
3.15 pm Ziad Bou Akl (CNRS) – Ijtihad and Wrong Beliefs in the Islamic Legal
Commentator: Jari Kaukua (University of Jyväskylä)
4.15 pm John A. Demetracopoulos (University of Patras) – Tolerating vs.
Suppressing Dissenting Voices in Late Byzantine Thought:
Philosophical and Theological Arguments
Commentator: Damaskinos Olkinuora (University of Eastern

5.15 pm Break
5.30 pm Tianyue Wu (Peking University) – Erroneous Conscience in Aquinas
Commentator: Simo Knuuttila (University of Helsinki)
6.30 pm Rudolf Schüssler (University of Bayreuth) – Absolving Penitents Who
Hold (in the Confessor’s View) Wrong Moral Beliefs
Commentator: Risto Saarinen (University of Helsinki)

Tuesday, 18 December 2018
9 am John Marenbon (University of Cambridge) – Accepting Wrong Beliefs
in the Long Middle Ages
Commentator: Jose Filipe Da Silva (University of Helsinki)
10 am Christophe Grellard (Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes) – Accepting
Heretical Beliefs. Ockham’s View of Heresy and Its Reception in the
Early Sixteenth Century
Commentator: Pekka Kärkkäinen (University of Helsinki)
11 am Nicolas Faucher – Introspection and Other Faiths in the Medieval
Latin Tradition
Commentator: Tianyue Wu (Peking University)
12 pm Lunch
1.15 pm Concluding remarks by Ritva Palmén (Helsinki Collegium for
Advanced Studies) and final roundtable. The roundtable will include
the participation and interventions of two experts of contemporary
religious phenomena, Thierry Lamote and Thomas Bouvatier, both
from the Centre d’études des radicalisations et de leurs traitements
(Paris VII University)


Totuuden jälkeinen aika. Valeuutiset. Vaihtoehtoiset faktat. Erilaiset todellisuuskuplat. Konsulttiretoriikka. Uusia käsitteitä. Ja vanhoja käsitteitä, joille annetaan uusia merkityssisältöjä. Yhteiskunnallisen keskustelun retoriikka on kokenut suuria muutoksia 2000-luvulla – eikä vain yhteiskunnallisen keskustelun retoriikka, vaan uudet puheen ja argumentoinnin tavat ovat levittäytyneet eri elämänalueille. Mitä tämä kaikki merkitsee demokratian, kansalaisoikeuksien tai vastuullisen yksityisen ja yhteisöllisen toimijuuden näkökulmasta? Meitä ei ehkä uhkaa totalitarismi, mutta olemmeko totuuden tavoittelun hämärtymisen ja kielen rappion myötä luisumassa uudenlaisiin vapauden – ja vastuun – menettämisen muotoihin? Onko Orwell siis sittenkin ajankohtaisempi kuin koskaan?

Järjestämme perjantaina 2.11.2018 klo 10-16 Helsingin yliopiston teologisen tiedekunnan tiedekuntasalissa (Fabianinkatu 24, 5. kerros) avoimen seminaarin, johon on kutsuttu eri tieteenalojen edustajia käyttämään lyhyitä (max 15 min) puheenvuoroja. Tarkoitus on yhdessä yrittää analysoida tätä aikaa ja luoda ymmärrystä siitä, missä olemme ja mihin olemme menossa.

Seminaarin ideoijina, koollekutsujina ja puheenjohtajina toimivat professori Jukka Kekkonen (HY, oikeustieteellinen tiedekunta) ja professori Sami Pihlström (HY, teologinen tiedekunta).

Alustava ohjelma:

10.15 – 10.30 Jukka Kekkonen (HY) & Sami Pihlström (HY): Avaus
10.30 – 10.45 Ilkka Niiniluoto (HY): Postmodernismista totuudenjälkeiseen aikaan
10.45 – 11.00 Sara Heinämaa (JY): Kaksi järjenkäytön murroskohtaa: vihapuhe ja uuskieli
11.00 – 11.15 Jaana Hallamaa (HY): Totuus ideologisoituu – so what?
11.15 – 11.30 Sami Pihlström (HY): James – Rorty – Trump – O’Brien?
11.30 – 12.00 Keskustelua
12.00 – 13.15 Lounastauko
13.15 – 13.30 Sari Kivistö (TaY): Satiiri ja totuus
13.30 – 13.45 Jukka Kekkonen (HY): Historian vääristely poliittisen retoriikan keinona
13.45 – 14.00 Laura Kolbe (HY): (tbc)
14.00 – 14.15 Ilkka Arminen (HY): Post-yhteiskunta
14.15 – 14.45 Keskustelua & kahvitauko
14.45 – 15.00 Jyrki Knuutila (HY): Uskonnollinen totuus ja politiikka
15.00 – 15.15 Risto Saarinen (HY): Uskonto vastamediassa
15.15 – 15.30 Kari Enqvist (HY): Käytännöllisesti katsoen totta
15.30 – 16.00 Loppukeskustelu

Paul, Gift and Grace

Professor John Barclay (Durham University) will deliver a guest lecture titled
Paul, Gift and Grace
at Faculty Hall (524), Vuorikatu 3, 5th floor
Friday, 26 October, 10.15-11.45 am

From 13.15-15.00 pm, an open seminar with three papers:
Risto Saarinen, A Review of Barclay, Paul and the Gift
Katja Kujanpää, Biblical Quotations in Romans
Niko Huttunen, Mutual Recognition in the Greco-Roman World

On Dialogue and Reconciliation – Exploring New Avenues

CoE in ‘Reason and Religious Recognition’in cooperation with Al Amana Centre and Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission organizes a workshop at the Faculty of Theology 16 August 2018, 13.00–17.00

13.00–13.15 Welcome and opening words
13.15–13.45 Risto Saarinen: Recognition – from Theory to Practice
13.45–14.15 Tanja Viikki: What Role Does Religion Play in Dialogue and Peace-
building? Experiences and Learnings
14.15–14.45 Aaro Rytkönen: Building Peace, Trust and Reconciliation: Al Amana
Centre and Its Mission
14.45–15.15 Coffee break
15.15–16.45 Panel discussion: What Is Reconciliation?
Panelists: Risto Saarinen, Tanja Viikki, Aaro Rytkönen, Sara Gehlin; Chair: Anna-Liisa Tolonen

Practical Information
The workshop takes place at the Faculty of Theology, University of Helsinki, in the Faculty Hall (Vuorikatu 3, 5th floor). Coffee will be served for all participants. The first language used in the workshop is English, but participants may also present their comments and questions in Finnish.
The workshop is open only by invitation.

SBL International Meeting / EABS Annual Conference in Helsinki, July 30 – August 3, 2018: Contributions of the Members of the Centre of Excellence

Find listed below all the sessions which involve members of the CoE. For more information and the full program, see here.

July 30 – 4 PM–6 PM
Opening Session, Great Hall – Unioninkatu 34, Päärakennus (Main Building)

  • Outi Lehtipuu, chair of the local organizing committee, words of welcome
  • Ismo Dunderberg and Siiri Toiviainen, panelists discussing “What I Would Like to See Happening in Biblical Studies

July 31 – 9 AM–11 AM
Bodies of Communication (EABS), Room 6 – Fabianinkatu 33, Päärakennus

  • Siiri Toiviainen, Pleasure Isn’t Always about Sex: Gregory of Nyssa on Genesis 3 as a Hedonist Error

Nida Institute for Biblical Scholarship at the American Bible Society: Translating Bible for a Digital Age, Room 203 – Fabianinkatu 26, Kielikeskus

  • Niko Huttunen, Cultural Gap: Translating Strange Thoughts

Open Forum for New Testament and Early Christian Studies (EABS), Room 106 – Fabianinkatu 26, Kielikeskus

  • Outi Lehtipuu, presiding

July 31 – 2 PM–3:30 PM

Early Christianity (EABS), Festive Hall (Juhlasali) – Fabianinkatu 26, Kielikeskus

Memorial Session in Honour of Heikki Räisänen

  • Ismo Dunderberg, presiding

July 31 – 2 PM–5:30 PM

Citizens and Aliens in Greco-Roman Antiquity (EABS), P 724 – Yliopistonkatu 3, Porthania

  • Maijastina Kahlos and Joona Salminen, presiding

Construction of Identity in the Ancient World: Intersections and Reflections (EABS), Auditorium IV – Fabianinkatu 33, Päärakennus

  • Marika Rauhala, Negotiating the Masculine Ideal: Gender Stereotypes in Ancient Religious Discourse

July 31 – 4 PM–5:30

Feminist Interpretations: Feminist Interpretation of Family Relationships and Health Care (EABS), Room 115 – Fabianinkatu 26, Kielikeskus

  • Vilja Alanko: Becoming a Subject: Mother-daughter Relationships in the Acts of Thecla

August 1 – 9 AM–11 AM
Enoch within and outside the Books of Enoch: Parabiblical Writings, Iconography and Oral Tradition (EABS), Room 15 – Fabianinkatu 33, Päärakennus

  • Ivan Miroshnikov together with Alexey Somov, Institute for Bible Translation, The Function of Enoch and Elijah in the Eschatological Scenario of the Apocalypse of Elijah

Virtue in Biblical Literature (EABS), P 723 – Yliopistonkatu 3, Porthania

  • Anna-Liisa Tolonen, Beyond Reason? The “Manliness” of the Mother in 4 Maccabees


August 1 – 2 PM–3:30 PM

Judaica, Room 106 – Fabianinkatu 26, Kielikeskus

  • Sami Yli-Karjanmaa, Philo’s Reincarnational Anthropology: A Comparison with Clement


August 1 – 2 PM–5:30 PM

Biblical Reception History and Authority in the Middle Ages and Beyond (EABS), Room 406 – Fabianinkatu 26, Kielikeskus

  • Ritva Palmén, presiding
  • Mikko Posti, God’s Knowledge of Creation in Scholastic Theology: Biblical and Philosophical Perspectives
  • Sami Pihlström together with Sari Kivistö, University of Tampere, The Emergence of Antitheodicism: On the Literary and Philosophical Reception of the Book of Job
  • Heikki J. Koskinen, Textual Interpretation, Metaphysical Power, and Pathologies of Recognition


August 1 – 4 PM–5:30 PM

Status of Women in the Profession, Room 6 – Fabianinkatu 33, Päärakennus

  • Outi Lehtipuu, panelist discussing “Teaching Gender and the Bible”


August 2 – 9 AM–11 AM

Virtue in Biblical Literature (EABS), Room 16 – Fabianinkatu 33, Päärakennus

  • Anna-Liisa Tolonen, presiding


August 2 – 2 PM–4:30 PM

Nag Hammadi and Gnosticism, Auditorium III – Fabianinkatu 33, Päärakennus

  • Ulla Tervahauta, presiding


August 2 – 2 PM–5:30 PM

Archaeology and the Biblical World, Room 204 – Fabianinkatu 26, Kielikeskus

  • Raimo Hakola, The Ancient Synagogue at Horvat Kur, Galilee: Excavations 20102018


Construction of Identity in the Ancient World: Intersections and Reflections (EABS), Room 406 – Fabianinkatu 26, Kielikeskus

  • Marika Rauhala, presiding


Virtue in Biblical Literature (EABS), Room 16 – Fabianinkatu 33, Päärakennus

  • Anna-Liisa Tolonen, presiding
  • Siiri Toiviainen, Virtue in Abundance: Solomon as an Anti-hedonist Exemplar in Gregory of Nyssa’s Homilies on Ecclesiastes