College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

1. Religion since Cicero

First lecture of Professor Jeffrey Stout's Gifford Lecture series.

Event Details

Date: Monday 1 May 2017, 5.30 - 6.30pm

The lecture may be followed by questions. Latest finishing time is 7pm.

Venue: Business School Auditorium, 29 Buccleuch Place, Edinburgh, EH8 9JS

Lecture abstract

The term 'religion' has roots in ancient Rome. It can be used neutrally to designate acts, attitudes, dispositions, practices, obligations, roles, and institutions related in some way to divine worship, devotion, or piety. Cicero spoke of religion in that way, but also distinguished between true religion (a moral virtue) and its counterfeits. Lucretius gave 'religion' a negative connotation, by defining it as something inherently dangerous, irrational, or oppressive. Hume split the difference by saying that true religion is a virtue but too rare and lacking in practical implications to be of political value. When we discuss religion’s relation to politics, we have many prior usages at our disposal and much room for maneuver. The ideal of ethical religion heralded in modern freedom movements has received insufficient attention.

Lecture video

Related links

Click here for more information on the second lecture of the series.

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For lecture summaries and to take part in the discussion visit the Gifford Lectures Blog.