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School of History, Philosophy and Culture
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
+44 (0)1865 488495
Professor in the Philosophy of Religion. Main research interests involve applying feminist ideas to the philosophy of religion, and considering the uses of psychoanalysis for a contemporary philosophy. Currently working on the themes of failure and loss. Also interested in the possibility of developing a philosophy of religion that engages with practical politics.
Philosophy of religion, and particularly feminist approaches to the subject. Also the relationship between psychoanalytic theory and philosophy of religion.
Co-organiser of interdisciplinary seminar series 2014-15 on 'Success in the Neoliberal Life Cycle: Alternative Perspectives on a Dominant Paradigm.'
Currently writing on failure and loss.
In consumer economies, success has increasingly been defined in terms of material attainment and the achievement of status. This model of 'the good life' and its formulas for success ignore the haunting possibility that one may not succeed and as a result be deemed 'a failure'. How to be a Failure and Still Live Well explores that often neglected theme of failure, not just as the opposite of achievement, but also, and more importantly, how it has been conflated with loss: that which haunts all transient, mortal human experience.
Understanding loss as a form of failure affects our ability to cope with the everyday losses that permeate existence as a result of the natural processes of ageing, death, and decay. Engaging with loss and thinking about what it inevitability means for our lives and commitments, allows different values to emerge than those connected to success as attainment. Relationships, spontaneity, and generosity are explored as qualities that arise from taking seriously our vulnerability and that form the basis for richer accounts of what it might mean to 'live well'.
For over twenty years, Beverley Clack and Brian R. Clack’s distinctive and thought-provoking introduction to the philosophy of religion has been of enormous value to students and scholars, providing an approach to the subject that is bold and refreshingly alternative. This revised and updated edition retains the accessibility which makes the book popular, while furthering its distinctive argument regarding the human dimension of religion. The central emphasis of the philosophy of religion – the concept of God, and the arguments for and against God’s existence – is reflected in thorough analyses, while alternative approaches to traditional philosophical theism are explored. The treatments of both the miraculous and immortality have been revised and expanded, and the concluding chapter updates the investigation of how philosophy of religion might be conducted in an age defined by religious terrorism. Clear, systematic and highly critical, the third edition of The Philosophy of Religion will continue to be essential reading for students and scholars of this fascinating and important subject.--Provided by publisher.
In this timely collection, contributors from a number of disciplines discuss neoliberal visions of success, and the subsequent effects they have on the construction of the lifecycle. Frequently mentioned in popular political discourse, the notion of neoliberalism is often deployed as shorthand for the consensus that austerity is necessary and the hard-working individual can survive it. This volume unpicks and interrogates the term by engaging with the interface between the political ubiquity of neoliberal forms and its lived experience in neoliberal societies, cutting across a multiplicity of factors including gender, age, and access to education. Impressive in its wide scope and analysis, Interrogating the Neoliberal Lifecycle presents an informed discussion not only of the limits of the neoliberal paradigm but also of possible alternatives.
This paper considers the impact that the practices of friendship might have on shaping philosophical activity in the twenty-first century. To consider what it means to practise philosophy necessitates understanding the effect that the structures of the contemporary university have on philosophical enquiry. Maintaining the historic sense of the university as a place where conversations take place which aim at deepening the understanding of one’s world is increasingly difficult in universities structured by the imperatives of the neoliberal economic policies of the last forty years. The model of friendship, because it is both personal and conversational, has the power to reinvigorate not just the practice of philosophy but also the understanding of the university as a place for deep learning.
This article considers the relationship between philosophy of religion and an approach to the study of religion, which prioritises the experience of lived religion. Considering how individuals and communities live out their faith challenges some of the assumptions of analytic philosophers of religion regarding the position the philosopher should adopt when approaching the investigation of religion. If philosophy is understood principally as a means for analysing belief, it will have little space for an engagement with what it feels like to live out one’s faith.
This paper suggests ways in which a philosophy modelled as dance provides the means of challenging political strucures that emphasise control and constraint at the expense of spontaneity and creativity. Through combining Arendt's claim that spontaneity is the quintessential human quality with Nietzsche's modelling of philosophy as disruptive dancing, the possibilities of modelling philosophy as dance are explored. Envisaging philosophical practice in this way provides a corrective to the prioritising of certainty in philosophical method, thus enabling further reflection on what it means to promote human flourishing.
In this chapter I consider what might be called the ‘Third Way’ death manuals of Philip Gould and Kate Gross, who were both, in different ways, involved with the New Labour Project. Their memoirs describe their experiences of dying, and are notable for the conclusions to which they come; conclusions which suggest values at odds with the individualist and progressive narratives that shape neoliberal views of what it means to life well. In considering the tensions and possibilities that shape their respective narratives, new ways of living in the face of death become possible.
In this paper I explore the model of success arising from the neoliberal account of subjectivity. My focus is on the problems this model of the successful life encounters when confronted with the inevitability and inescapability of death. This necessitates, firstly, addressing the model of failure that arises from the neoliberal account of success; and secondly, resisting the neoliberal construction of death as the ultimate failure in order to reassert the fact that to be human is to be mortal. My contention is that recognising the inevitability of death for the human subject enables a set of values to emerge which are more conducive to human flourishing than those currently offered by dominant neoliberal philosophies.
Rather than offering another ‘solution’ to the problem of evil, in the form of, say, a theodicy, the discussion of this chapter is situated within an ethical framework concerned with unmasking the enactment and perpetuation of ‘structural evils’ on the political and social levels. Indebted to the insights of feminist philosophers such as Michèle Le Doeuff, but also Hannah Arendt’s analysis of evil, the novelist Muriel Spark, and Pierre Bourdieu’s work on social suffering, the chapter seeks, not to justify the ways of God, but to critique and transform unjust structures, and to pave the way for alternatives that might best support human flourishing. This necessitates attempting to identify and understand the sources of human wickedness—social and individual—while contending that, ultimately, the only appropriate response to evil and suffering is to commit to a reorientation of the self towards others and the world.
Before becoming an academic, Bev worked in the Press Office of the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Barbican Centre in London (1989). She is currently City Councillor for St Clements, Oxford (Labour and Co-operative Party) (2012-2016).