Institute for Ecstatic Naturalism.


Institute for Ecstatic Naturalism

About Ecstatic Naturalism

Contemporary ecstatic naturalism was first formulated in Professor Robert S. Corrington’s Nature and Spirit: An Essay in Ecstatic Naturalism (Fordham University Press, 1992). This has been followed by a number of publications further extending the scope of this unique portrayal of nature, perhaps best expressed in his Ecstatic Naturalism: Signs of the World (Indiana University Press, 1994) and A Semiotic Theory of Theology and Philosophy (Cambridge University Press, 2000). More recently Professor Corrington has written the following books: Nature’s Sublime: An Essay in Aesthetic Naturalism (2015) (Lexington Books), Deep Pantheism: Toward a New Transcendentalism (2016) (Lexington Books), and Nature and Nothingness: An Essay in Ordinal Phenomenology (2017) (Lexington Books). In these later works Corrington probes into the correlation of psychosemiotics with the psychoanalytic theories of Freud, Rank, Jung, Reich and Kristeva wherein the human unconscious shows itself to be the multiform gateway to the vast underconscious of nature. Theologically, panentheism is critiqued for its intemperate application of theories of relation and teleology to an unwieldy theory of nature as the “order of orders.”

Seventh International Congress On Ecstatic Naturalism

Friday, April 7th 9 a.m.–8th 6 p.m.
Ehinger Student Center Crawford Room

Themes: Suffering And Evil In Nature: Western And Asian Perspectives


  • Plenary address by Ursula Goodenough of Washington University in St. Louis Missouri
  • Six distinguished professors from Korea to present papers


It is a vexing issue as to whether nature can be evil or not.  While most would say “no” it is still a topic worth probing.  Is evil a merely human trait or does it somehow come from the unconscious of nature; namely, from nature naturing?  If we can talk of an ordinal psychoanalysis of nature, is the door then open for a robust discussion of evil beyond the human in the context of a non-theistic religious naturalism?  The problem of suffering seems easier to deal with.  Is there suffering in nature?  Virtually everyone would answer “yes.”  But the issue of human and non-human suffering remains a complex one and, for some, involves a muted form of theodicy to “justify” suffering.  Yet the facts of Darwinian evolution are stark and discouraging, given that extinction is one of the few certainties in evolution.  But when we transition to the problem of human suffering, the issues multiply, especially for religious naturalism.  The Congress will explore both issues from a variety of religious naturalistic perspectives, among them being ecstatic naturalism.

Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize

Given to a graduate student, or someone who got her or his phd within the past five years, for the best paper by a junior scholar. The prize comes with a $500 award.

To qualify for the emerson prize, you must write on ecstatic naturalism per se. As in the other papers, the page limit is 8 pages. Send the completed paper to either of the above emails by March 10th.

The general theme of the congress should take place within the context of religious or non-religious naturalism as in the previous six years.

Overnight Accommodations

For a reduced room rate, please call the Madison Hotel in Morristown, NJ at 800-526-0729 and mention you are attending this conference at Drew University.

Travel from Madison Hotel to Drew University

There is a shuttle bus from the hotel to Drew and private rides with graduate students can be arranged. For more information please contact Robert Corrington at 201-400-4135.

Co-Chairs of 2017 Congress

Robert S. Corrington (Drew University)
Jea Sophia Oh (West Chester University of Pennsylvania)

Ursula Goodenough – Plenary Speaker

Professor Ursula Goodenough is a world-renowned researcher in the relation between genetics and evolution. Mother of five children, she received her PhD from Harvard University in biology. For years, she has been on the faculty of Washington University in Saint Louis and has co-taught an undergraduate course on The Epic of Evolution for non-science majors and graduate courses on microbial biology. Professor Goodenough is working on the life-cycle of flagellated green alga. She is the President of the Religious Naturalist Association and has been elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She identifies herself as a religious naturalist and has written a best-selling book, The Sacred Depths of Nature.