1. Religion since Cicero
First lecture of Professor Jeffrey Stout's Gifford Lecture series.
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
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.