John Cottingham
Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, University of Reading
Honorary Fellow, St John’s College, Oxford University
Professor Emeritus of Philosophy of Religion, Roehampton University
Honorary Professorial Research Fellow, University of Buckingham

former President of the Mind Association, and of the Aristotelian Society;
former Chair, British Society for the History of Philosophy;
former President, British Society for the Philosophy of Religio

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JGC 2016

Research and publications

John Cottingham has published over thirty books – fifteen as sole author, a further nine editions and translations, plus (either as single or joint editor) eight edited collections – together with over 150 articles in learned journals or books. From 1993-2012 he was Editor of Ratio, the international journal of analytic philosophy. His main research interests are as follows:

Philosophy of Religion
Titles include:
The Humane Perspective: Philosophical Reflections
on Human Nature, The Search for Meaning, and the Role of Religion

(Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2024).
In Search of the Soul (Princeton University Press, 2020)
How to Believe (Bloomsbury, 2015).
Philosophy of Religion: Towards a More Humane Approach
(Cambridge University Press, 2014)
Why Believe? (Continuum, 2009)
The Spiritual Dimension (Cambridge University Press, 2005)

Early-Modern Philosophy, especially Descartes
Titles include:
Cartesian Reflections (Oxford University Press, 2008)
Western Philosophy (Revised 3rd edn, Wiley-Blackwell, 2021)
The Rationalists (Oxford University Press, 1988)

Moral Philosophy
Titles include:
Partiality and Impartiality (Oxford University Press, 2010)
The Moral Life [Festschrift with Response] (Palgrave 2008)
On the Meaning of Life (Routledge, 2003)
Philosophy and the Good Life:
Reason and the Passions in Greek, Cartesian and Psychoanalytic Ethics
(Cambridge University Press, 1998)

Click here for full list of books

Some recent and forthcoming articles:

What is Existence? New Blackfriars Vol. 105 (2024), pp. 3–12.

Which Naturalism?’, New Blackfriars, Vol. 103, Issue 1107 (September 2022).

The Meaning of Life and Transcendence’, in Iddo Landau (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Meaning in Life (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2022), Ch. 12, pp. 205-215.

Bereavement, Grief and Mourning’, in Mikołaj Sławkowski-Rode (ed.), Meanings of Mourning: Perspectives on Death, Loss and Grief (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books/Rowman & Littlefield, 2022), Ch. 8, pp. 119-30.

Engagement, immersion and enactment: the role of spiritual practice in religious belief’, in J. Aaron Simmons, Neal DeRoo and Bruce Benson (ed.), Philosophies of Liturgy: Explorations of Embodied Religious Practice (London: Bloomsbury, 2023), Ch. 3, pp. 47-60.

Religion without Magic: Responding to the Natural World’, in Michiel Meijer and Herbert De Vriese (eds), The Philosophy of Reenchantment (London: Routledge, 2020), Ch. 2.

From desire to encounter: the human quest for the infinite’, Religious Studies (2019) 55, 375-388.

Swinburne’s hyper-Cartesian dualism’, in M. Iwanicki (ed.), Symposium on Richard Swinburne’s Are We Souls or Bodies? with replies by the author, Roczniki Filozoficzne, Vol. LXIX, issue 1, (2021), pp. 21-29.

Brain Laterality and Religious Awareness’, Religion, Brain and Behavior, 2019, DOI

Psychoanalysis and Religion’, in R. Gipps and M. Lacewing (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Psychoanalysis (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019), pp. 537-552.

Loving Kindness and Mercy: their Human and Cosmic Significance’. Philosophy, 94 (2019), pp. 27-42.

Philosophy, Religion, and Spirituality’, in David McPherson (ed.), Spirituality and the Good Life: Philosophical Approaches (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017), Ch. 1, pp. 11-28.

Transcending science: humane models of religious understanding’, in F. Ellis (ed.), New Models of Religious Understanding (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), pp. 23-41.

Wittgenstein and Philosophy of Religion’ in H-J Glock and J. Hyman (eds), A Companion to Wittgenstein (Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2017), Ch. 42, pp. 639-650.

Love and Religion’, in C. Grau and A. Smuts (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Love (2017), Ch. 35.

Evil and the Meaning of Life’, in C. Meister and P. Moser (eds), The Cambridge Companion to the Problem of Evil (2017).

‘Saints and Saintliness’ in Oxford Handbook of the Epistemology of Theology, 2017.

The Spiritual and the Sacred: Prospects for Convergence between Religious and Non-Religious Accounts’ in Richard Norman and Tony Carroll (eds), Religion and Atheism: Beyond the Divide (London: Routledge, 2017), Ch. 11, pp. 130-139.

‘Theism and Meaning in Life’ in European Journal for the Philosophy of Religion 8/2 (2016), pp. 47-58.

Click here for full list of articles.

Selection of broadcasts, interviews and video presentations

Religious Inquiry. Video interview with Nathan Ormond, June 2022.

Reading our Times. Podcast interview with Nick Spencer (Senior Fellow, Theos Think Tank) on In Search of the Soul, June 2022.

Philosophy and the Spiritual Dimension, Podcast interview with Tripp Fuller May 2021.

Interview on The Soul with Dr Sahar Joakim, posted on YouTube 14 May 2021.

On Understanding the Soul’ . Interview on Daily Life Lessons. (July 2020)

'Theory to No End'. Podcast interview with Camelia Raghinaru on Desire, Encounter and the Human Quest for the Infinite. (Recorded August 2020)

Why are we here?’ Interview with Ard Louis, Professor of Theoretical Physics at Oxford University and David Malone, produced by Tern TV for television documentary series. (Filmed September 2015).

‘Cosmos, Consciousness, Meaning.’ Series of PBS/TV interviews on the Philosophy of Religion with Robert Kuhn, published on the Closer to Truth website.

‘Descartes, God and Secularism.’ Paper given at Benedictus Academic Research Forum, Burlington House, London, June 2015.

Why Believe? Talk on philosophy of religion for St John’s Nottingham Video Timeline Project, January 2012

Confronting the Cosmos: Scientific Rationality and Human Understanding. Talk at Ian Ramsey Centre, Oxford University, 2012.

Talk on René Descartes for St John’s Nottingham Video Timeline Project, January 2012

‘Descartes: Cogito ergo Sum’. Broadcast discussion with Melvin Bragg, Susan James, and Stephen Mulhall, BBC Radio Four, 28 April 2011.

‘On the Meaning of Life’. Interview with Nigel Warburton; podcast produced by David Edmonds. May 2007.

‘Spinoza’. Broadcast discussion on In Our Time, with Melvin Bragg, Jonathan Rée and Sarah Hutton, BBC Radio Four, 3 May 2007.

Click here for full list of broadcasts interviews etc.

Selection of recent talks and presentations

‘In Search of the Soul.’ Talk given to Burford Literary Festival, Warwick Hall, Burford, Oxfordshire, September 2022.

‘Spiritual Experience: its Scope, its Phenomenology, and its Source’. Paper given (via Zoom) for seminar series on Spirituality and Experience, University of Roehampton/Università Roma Tre Centre for Practical Philosophy, Theology and Religion, April 2022.

‘Nature, Science, and God’. Opening keynote address for New Generation Research Exchange Masterclass programme, sponsored by Templeton New Horizons initiative for Science and Religion in Eastern Europe, St Cross College, Oxford University, April 2022

‘Which Naturalism?’ Paper given (via Zoom) for international seminar series on Agency and the World organized by Università Roma Tre/ University of Roehampton, March 2021.

‘Descartes’s Spiritual Journey: The Religious Dimension of Descartes’s Thought.’ Inaugural Lecture for Philosophers in Jesuit Education annual lecture series, delivered via Zoom, May 2021.

‘Human incompleteness and the desire for the good’. Paper given at international capstone seminar (held via Zoom) for the Templeton Religion Trust funded research project The Quest for God: Towards a Philosophically and Experimentally Based Theology of Desire, December 2020.

‘The Human Longing for the Transcendent: Tragic Illusion or Intimation of Reality?’ Seminar paper given for the research project The Quest for God: Towards a Philosophically and Experimentally Based Theology of Desire, Kings College London, December 2019.

‘How to Believe’
. Annual Mary Ward Lecture, sponsored by the Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology, delivered at the Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge, May 2019.

‘Perchè credere?’. Interview with Lucinda Buja and Giorgio Durante as part of the 2018-19
Riviera dei libri series, Oratorio di S. Caterina, Cervo, Liguria, Italy, May 2019.

‘Love, Transcendence and Value.’ Paper given at
conference on The Ontology of Love, Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Cambridge, April 2019.

‘ “Strength Made Perfect in Weakness”: Aristotelian versus Christian Conceptions of the Good Life.’ Paper given at end of year conference for research project on Virtues of Powerlessness: Faith, Love and Hope in a Secular World. Senate House, University of London, June 2018.

‘Humane Philosophy, Spiritual Experience and Religious Understanding’. Bennett Lecture given at
McMurry University, Abilene Texas, March 2018.

‘Why Does the History of Philosophy Matter?’ Inaugural lecture for annual lecture series of the British Society for the History of Philosophy, Kings College London, November 2017.

‘The Passions and Religious Belief: Early-Modern and Contemporary Perspectives.’ Paper given for Royal Institute of Philosophy 2017-18 lecture series on
The Passions and the Emotions, Gordon Square, London, October 2017.

‘Engagement, Immersion and Enactment: The Role of Spiritual Practice in Religious Belief’. Keynote lecture at British Society for the Philosophy of Religion Conference on Philosophy and the Spiritual Life, Oriel College, Oxford, September 2017.

Click here for full list of talks