PolyFaith: Religion and Polymathic Thinking

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Monday, November 12th 2018
Wednesday, November 14, 2018
When: 5:00pm - 6:30pm
Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study, DML 241
3550 Trousdale Parkway
Los Angeles, CA
Wednesday, November 14, 2018 - 17:00

We are all citizens of one world, we are all of one blood. To hate people because they were born in another country, because they speak a different language, or because they take a different view on this subject or that, is a great folly. Desist, I implore you, for we are all equally human. . . . Let us have but one end in view: the welfare of humanity. The school is the manufactory of humanity.

Comenius, circa 1640


Higher education is intended to equip one with the tools for critical thinking. Faith, on the other hand, according to Webster’s dictionary, presupposes a firm belief in something for which there is not necessarily any proof, thus is independent of critical thinking. Are critical thinking and faith incompatible positionings?  Kant stated that we needed to set thinking aside to make room for faith.  The father of modern education, 17th century philosopher, pedagogue and theologian Cominius, advocated for universal education to lead the learned to faith. How has our use of reason specifically affected our understanding of faith, or vice versa? How can we then address this duality in our modern higher education system?  Can faith and intellectualism coexist?  Is this dichotomy insurmountable? Is there room for reason and faith in our methods of critique and human experience?  Interfaith Council President Shradha Jain will engage Professor of Philosophy Sharon Lloyd and Associate Professor of Religion David Albertson on these inquiries, then open the discussion up to our student polymaths. Let’s convene, explore, and converse! 

Sharon Lloyd, Professor of Philosophy, Law, and Political Science

Sharon Lloyd focuses on the history of political philosophy, with special attention to the moral and political theory of philosopher Thomas Hobbes. Trained and mentored by John Rawls, one of the most influential political philosophers of the 20th century, Professor Lloyd's scholarly interests in political philosophy and its history, contemporary liberalism and liberal feminist philosophy reflect that tutelage. She has particular interest in the moral and political theories of Machiavelli, Mill, Hobbes, Marx, and Rawls.  Lloyd's work in philosophy has attracted the interest of legal scholars and is often published in law reviews and she is regarded as an important voice in the current generation of liberal feminists. Professor Lloyd enjoys teaching in USC's honors program and general education on such topics as self-identity and moral responsibility, political obligation, and social ethics for earthlings and others through science fiction.

David Albertson, Associate Professor of Religion

David Albertson is an associate professor of religion. He studies the history of Christian thought in medieval and early modern Europe. He’s particularly interested in the way that theological discourses have been conditioned by other modes of knowledge, including philosophy, natural science, visual culture, and contemplative practices. His first book, Mathematical Theologies: Nicholas of Cusa and the Legacy of Thierry of Chartres, examined the fifteenth-century German polymath, Nicholas of Cusa, whose writings combined mystical theology with medieval number theory. He is currently writing a sequel that explores religious uses of geometrical diagrams during debates over iconoclasm in the Renaissance and Reformation. He received his B.A. in Religion from Stanford University, his M.Div. Theology and Ph.D. in Religion from the University of Chicago.