Georgetown University’s Michael Slater Will Lecture on American Religious Philosophy

April 11, 2014
Michael SlaterMichael Slater courtesy photo.

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Media contact: Terry Goodrich, (254) 710-3321

WACO, Texas (April 11, 2014) – The department of philosophy at Baylor University will host Michael Slater, Ph.D., lecturer of theology at Georgetown University, as he gives his lecture “James and Dewey as Theorists of Religion,” at 12:20 p.m. Wednesday, April 16, in Room 108 of Morrison Hall, 1410 S. Fifth St.

Slater will compare the views of two influential American philosophers of the 20th century, William James and John Dewey, and conclude by looking at their rather contemporary thoughts about the nature and function of religious faith.

James was a former professor of psychology and philosophy at Harvard University and had become the most famous living American psychologist and philosopher of his time. His manner of evaluating philosophy was by considering the meaning and truth of ideas in terms of the functional difference they make in a person’s life. With this method he explored religious belief, metaphysics, human freedom, moral values and social philosophy.

Dewey, during his time, was a leader of the school of thought of pragmatism, which viewed knowledge as stemming from the way man responds to his environment. Based on this thought, human inquisition should be viewed as a result of a desire to overcome an obstacle by changing the environment. Dewey also was a leading social commenter on popular social issues.

“Although James and Dewey held a number of philosophical views in common, including a common commitment to pragmatism, their accounts of religion nevertheless differ markedly in several important respects,” Slater said.

Slater specializes in American philosophy and the history of modern religious thought, philosophy of religion and religious ethics. He is the author of two books: “William James on Ethics and Faith” and “Pragmatism and the Philosophy of Religion.” He also taught as an instructor in Baylor’s philosophy department and the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core from 2005 to 2006.

For more details, please contact the department of philosophy at 254-710-3368.

by Rachel Miller, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805


Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.


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