Philosophy and Faith

What is faith? Does faith actually entail belief, or can it encompass doubt? Are asceticism and the erotic actually at odds or are they entwined through worship? Are there uses for theological categories for the atheist? This course examines these questions drawing on Pascal, Kierkegaard, Simone Weil and contemporary theology as well as political philosophers and cultural theorists such as Slavoj Žižek. Faith will be explored in terms of commitment and fidelity rather than merely belief. Indeed, one question for the faithful is whether one can be sure that they know what they believe. Another, Kantian concern is whether reason requires faith to make sense of itself. In short, this course examines what the atheist or nonbeliever can get out of religious belief.



  • Introduction to key terms and theorists: We begin by examining the various questions that are raised by the very term faith. One particular question will be the private versus public notion of faith and whether faith is an individual or collective endeavour.
  • Pascal: This lesson examines Pascal’s Wager but it will also examine the poetry of his conception fo faith, arguing in part that there’s something anticipatory about Kant’s notion of the mathematically sublime.
  • Kierkegaard: Kierkegaard’s notion of faith can easily be rendered superficial. Yes, he argued that faith took one beyond morality. But he also associate faith with activity and action, rather than just merely the personal.
  • Faith and Mysticism in Simone Weil and others: This class will examine the fascinating figure of Simone Weil and her christian mysticism.
  • Job and the Resurrection: This class will look at secular and religious interpretations for the resurrection of Christ but also the affliction of Job.
  • Political Faith: This lesson examines Zizek’s emphasis on faith and the metatragic condition.

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Understand philosophical ideas relevant to religion and theology
  2. Describe the key ideas related to Pascal and Kierkegaard,.
  3. Consider the relevance of notions of Faith today.