God and the Unconditional

April 1, 2022 - April 2, 2022
Christian Philosophy at Villanova (CPaV) , Augustinian Institute (Villanova University)

800 Lancaster Ave
United States

This will be an accessible event, including organized related activities

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Syracuse University
Villanova University
Fordham University


University of Pennsylvania
Villanova University

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The Augustinian Institute, the Augustinian Chair of Villanova University, and Christian Philosophy at Villanova (CPaV) invite graduate students and early career scholars to submit paper proposals on the theme of “God and the Unconditional” for a conference to be held at Villanova University on April 1-2, 2022. The event will feature a roundtable discussion with John Caputo, William Desmond, and Christina Gschwandtner. 

In contemporary continental philosophy of religion, the idea of unconditionality has become increasingly prevalent for describing the divine. In general, the unconditional refers to that which approaches or appears to us before we set any conditions upon it. For instance, Jean-Luc Marion argues that givenness is unconditional because it offers what is given prior to an a priori condition we could assign to what appears. God resides above the horizons of objectivity and being as givenness or love. More specifically, John Caputo describes the divine as an unconditional call that opens into an unpredictable future which subverts all constructions and conditions. On the other hand, William Desmond argues that unconditionality cannot be so open-ended, and instead ascribes it to being’s overdeterminacy. This conference will focus on the idea of unconditionality, exploring the ways in which the term has been applied to the divine, potential problems that arise in this application, and what ideas qualify as unconditional. Relevant questions include but are not limited to: how could we experience something unconditional? Is unconditionality too indeterminate a term for God? Does God have phenomenological or metaphysical limits? How does unconditionality pertain to the critique of ontotheology? What are some expressions of unconditionality in our experience (such as saturated phenomena in Marion or the ethical call in Levinas) or in the history of philosophy (contemporary readings of Anselm’s ontological argument)? What are perspectives that Eastern philosophy of religion can contribute to this topic?  


We invite topics on:

Continental philosophy of religion

Phenomenology of religion

The theological turn in phenomenology and its critics

Hermeneutics and deconstruction of religion

Philosophical theology

Systematic Theology

Biblical Theology

Orthodox philosophy of religion

Eastern philosophy of religion



Political theology


We welcome papers at all stages of development and see this as an opportunity to workshop new ideas and papers in progress. Abstracts should be no longer than 300 words, and final papers should be suitable for a 20-minute presentation, around 3000 words, followed by 10 minutes of Q&A. Proposals should be submitted to Olivia Click [email protected] and prepared for blind review. With your submission, please include a cover page with the presenter’s name, institutional affiliation, and contact information. Acceptance notifications will be sent out January 28, 2022. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Jennifer Wang at [email protected].    

Extended submission deadline: Jan. 18, 2022

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March 25, 2022, 9:00am EST

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