Climate, God, and Uncertainty: A Transcendental Naturalistic Approach to Bruno Latour

18 January 2023

We are deeply honoured to welcome Professor Arthur Petersen (DPhil DPA PhD MA MSc FISSR FIET FRSA FHEA MAE), Professor of Science, Technology and Public Policy at University College London (UCL) and Editor of Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science, to lead a session of the International Interfaith Reading Group on Science and Region in Interfaith Contexts.

Here are the details of this fascinating event.

Topic: Climate, God, and Uncertainty: A Transcendental Naturalistic Approach to Bruno Latour

Abstract: In this session, I will introduce my recently completed research project (executed as a DPhil project) on assessing what climate change means for philosophy, which features a methodological intervention with respect to naturalism in the science-and-religion discussion. French thinker Bruno Latour (1947–2022), in his Facing Gaia: Eight Lectures on the New Climatic Regime ([2015] 2017), provides a penetrating analysis of the philosophical implications of climate change and its associated uncertainties. My project aims to philosophically clarify and qualify his thought—which I argue can be considered a major contribution to science-and-religion. In doing this, I develop a cultural philosophical approach that I call ‘transcendental naturalism’.
I show the extent to which Latour’s occasionalist empiricist philosophy is comparable to and different from, on the one hand, the radical empiricist philosophy of William James (1842–1910), and, on the other hand, the transcendental empiricist philosophy of Heinrich Rickert (1863–1936). Both James and Rickert had developed philosophies that surpass the Cartesian dualisms of subject/object, mind/body, culture/nature, etc., and Latour’s philosophy turns out to be an unreflexive amalgam of a radical empiricist approach to experience (à la James) and a transcendental empiricist approach to values (à la Rickert). The transcendental naturalism that I propose offers a methodology for interpreting the relationships between science and religion, and it can be applied to reinterpret the interface between science and politics in the context of climate change, highlighting, for instance, issues such as the religious disenchantment of nature, the scientific disbelief in a plurality of value-laden perspectives, and the disregard for non-modern worldviews in politics.

Speaker: Professor Arthur Petersen (DPhil DPA PhD MA MSc FISSR FIET FRSA FHEA MAE), Professor of Science, Technology and Public Policy at University College London (UCL) and Editor of Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science.

Chair: Dr Bethany Sollereder, School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh, UK

Time: 18:00-19:00 GMT | 19:00-20:00 CEST | 10:00-11:00 PST | 12:00-13:00 CST | 13:00-14:00 EST

Venue: Online

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