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Oxford Circus Easter 2019. Message from the Extinction Rebellion campaign.

Autumn conference 2019

Call for Papers

The conference will be on Saturday 2 November 2019 at Corpus Christi College, Oxford

‘Every man a liar’: truth, text, rhetoric

Philosophers have made it their business to write about truth. Moderns such as  Frege, Wittgenstein, Ramsey, Ayer, Austin, Strawson, Quine and Putnam have all made contributions to the discussion..
     In a monograph,Truth, Paul Horwich reminds us that ‘propositions are the bearers of truth’. Truth is of consequence in ‘the aims of science, the relations of language to the world, the character of sound reasoning and the conditions for successful planning.’ He asks what are the relations between truth and ‘affiliated phenomena such as verification, practical success, reference, meaning, logical validity and assertion?’
     Francis Bacon, who took all knowledge as his province, noticed the strangeness ‘that men should love lies where neither they make for pleasure, as with poets, nor for advantage as with the merchant, but for the lie’s sake.... (Yet) a mixture of a lie doth ever add pleasure.’ Moreover ‘a lie faces God [presumably in view of his Judgement] and shrinks from man.’ (Essays, 1625).

‘What is truth?’
Pilate’s question to Jesus in John 18 is rhetorical, and he does not stay for an answer. While he may not be asking as a philosopher, his question may act to emphasise a theme important in John’s narrative. Truth, like Logos, encompasses a great deal in the Johannine text. So in Paul’s dialectic in Romans 3 (‘Every man a liar’) imagined voices of dissent express an idea that has to be false. God is in the right a priori, despite instances where his elect people have manifestly failed and forfeited their privileged part in the divine plan. Sin is the sine qua non of the salvation Paul expounded to Jews and Gentiles alike, and God had allowed for it since the beginning, going so far as to make his Son sin.
     Human minds are ever curious to know the truth even as they dally with lies.The narrative momentum of crime fiction is towards the uncovering of the concealed. Shakespeare’s Hamlet launches with a mystery, a suspected murder. Audiences and readers are kept in suspense waiting for an anagnorisis in which the truth of the matter will be revealed and justice done; and even though the play’s the thing, it may function well enough playing with the uncertainty and just moving on.
     Writing that departs from the literal in the direction, for example, of metaphor and allegory, has excited suspicion since Plato. Bunyan was a strenuous advocate of allegory, and had more doubts about gaining a hearing it seems than Paul writing to the Galatians. So how can a writer invent the truth? Can writing express something as Logocentric and totalising as Truth? Papers are invited which discuss specific literary texts in the light of issues such as these.

Select bibliography

The deadline for offers is 31 May 2019 (email Dr Roger Kojecky secretary@clsg.org). Proposals giving a provisional title should state in about 250 words by email how you will approach your subject. Add a short paragraph about your background.

Members and non-members welcome.

Conference booking

CLSG Autumn Conference 2018

CLSG: exploring Christian and Biblical themes in literature

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The Christian Literary Studies Group in association with the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship