April 11-12, 2014, Drew University, Madison, NJ


The theme for the Fourth International Congress on Ecstatic Naturalism is: Nature and Psyche.  Among the issues dealt with under this broad heading are: the nature of the personal verses the collective unconscious, the relation between the human unconscious and the unconscious of nature, and the relationship between nature naturing and the various modes of the unconscious.  Thinkers addressed as they relate to ecstatic naturalism and the issue of the psyche include, William James, C.S. Peirce, Henry David Thoreau, Martin Heidegger, Martin O. Yalcin, Robert Neville, and C.G. Jung.  A special session is devoted to celebrating the centennial of the birth of Justus Buchler, America’s premier metaphysician and author of Metaphysics of Natural Complexes (1966 & 1990).  Ordinal psychoanalysis is exhibited as a method for opening up the various orders of the psyche beyond the ones disclosed by pre-ordinal forms of psychoanalysis. The ethical implications of ecstatic naturalism are explored as they emerge from the general metaphysical schema.  Finally, Gnosticism and Neo-Platonism are reexamined from the standpoint of ecstatic naturalism and shown to share important features, especially aesthetic, in common with contemporary ecstatic naturalism.

Visit the Institute for Ecstatic Naturalism’s website for more information.


Registration Fees:
$12 Student Registration Fee
$65 All Other Registrants

Registration Fee due upon arrival Friday 4/11.  Prepayments will not be accepted.
Please make checks payable to Drew University

Questions? Please contact Abby Wernicki at aturnerl@drew.edu or (610) 504-4200.



Friday, April 11th

10:30 AM

Registration in Seminary Hall – Second  Floor

11:00 AM – 1:00 PM

“’Don’t Touch That!’: The Terra Impulse and the Ontological Wound”
Theresa M. Ellis – The University of Redlands

“Humor and Selving: A Psychological Theory of Humor and its Relation to Involution and Evolution”
Kwang Yu Lee – Drew University

“Journeys into the Abyss: Nature, Psyche and Authenticity in a Comparison Between Jung’s the Red Book and Ancient Gnosticism”
Jean Felipe de Assis – Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

1:15 – 3:15 PM

“Doing Justus to Nature and Psyche: Buchler and Yalcin’s Poetic Engagement of Sacred Folds and Thoreau’s Morning Work”
Robert King – Utah State University

“Finding Nature: Science, Religion, and Philosophy”
Daniel Mininger – Drew University

“Love in the Modern World: An Ordinal Psychoanalytic Reading of Personal Technologies, Artificial Intelligence, and Romance in Spike Jonze’s Her”
Lydia York – Drew University

3:30 – 5:30 PM

“Ever Not Quite: William James at the Nexus of Nature and Psyche”
AJ Turner – Union Theological Seminary

“Our Hearts Are in The Trim: Corrington And His Promise”
Guy Woodward – Independent Scholar

“Ecstatic Dwelling: Mindfulness (Besinnung) in Heidegger and Corrington”
Rose Ellen Dunn – Princeton Theological Seminary

5:45 – 6:15 PM

Group photograph

6:30 PM


8:00 PM

Plenary Address: “Ontology and Divinity: Wonder, Undecidability, and the Possibility of Naturalism”
John J. Thatamanil – Union Theological Seminary


Saturday, April 12th

9:15 AM

Breakfast in the Atrium

10:00 AM – 12:00 PM

“Moral Aesthetics and the Psyche: An Opening Inquiry into an Ethics for Ecstatic Naturalism”
Nicholas Wernicki – Peirce College

“Neoplatonic Theurgists as Aesthetic Naturalists”
Marilynn Lawrence – Immaculata University

“Humor and Joy in Ecstatic Naturalism: A Contrary Look at Robert Neville’s Reading of Nature’s Religion”
Joseph M. Kramp – Florida Gulf Coast University

12:15 – 1:15 PM


1:30 – 3:00 PM

Centennial Recognition of Justus Buchler’s Birth

“Discussion as a Form of Query: A Perspective on Buchler’s Educational Theory and Practice”
Pamela Crosby – NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education

“Where Did Buchler’s Metaphysics Come From?”
Lawrence Cahoone – College of the Holy Cross

3:15 – 4:45 PM

“Evolutionary Love and Ecstatic Naturalism”
Adam Crabtree – Centre for Training in Psychotherapy, Toronto

“Charles Peirce’s Semiotic Theory of the Self: An Ecstatic Naturalist Interpretation”
Thurman Willison – Union Theological Seminary

5:00 – 6:30 PM

“Natura Naturans: Two Conceptions of its Character, Importance, and Relations”
Donald A. Crosby – Professor Emeritus, Colorado State University

“Speculative Naturalism: A Bleak Theology in Light of the Tragic”
Leon J. Niemoczynski – Immaculata University

6:30 PM

Dinner on your own

8:00 PM

Dana Rainey – Liturgical Dance – followed by wine and cheese

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). 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.”

In his semiotic trilogy, (Ecstatic NaturalismNature’s Self, and Nature’s Religion) Corrington locates the human process within vast natural potencies that shape and groove all that we say, contrive, surmise, conjecture, build or dream. His 2003 work, Riding the Windhorse: On Manic-Depressive Order and the Quest for Wholeness, applies the regnant categories of ecstatic naturalism to the highly destructive yet creative mode of attunement found in manic-depressive disorder.

As part of his procedure of emancipatory reenactment, Professor Corrington has addressed the philosophy of the founder of pragmaticism and the larger tradition of semiotics in his 1993 book, Introduction to C.S. Peirce. He has used this procedure in regrounding the psychoanalysis of Wilhelm Reich in his 2003 work, Wilhelm Reich: Psychoanalyst and Radical Naturalist. In both cases slumbering potencies are set free to appear in their relevant sphere of prevalence thus coaxing latent momenta from nature naturing into their fitful puissance in nature natured.

Ecstatic naturalism has roots in Protestant Liberalism, most notably Tillich. Equally primary are the writings of Euro-American pragmatists and pragmaticists, but without the relativistic stance of Neo-Pragmatism. Robert Neville’s work has been approached from within this template. From the beginning, the dialogue with phenomenology has led to an ordinal phenomenology working in tandem with a horizonal hermeneutics to articulate regnant orders of relevance: cf., The Community of Interpreters (Mercer 1987 & 1995). Increasingly, the powerful system of Schopenhauer has emerged as one of the most important dialogue partners of ecstatic naturalism, helping open the door to an aesthetic transfiguration (replacement?) of religion. Aesthetic sacred folds hold and proffer the irruptions of the so-called holy within the innumerable orders of the “world.”

An ecstatic naturalism is a perspective that seeks to move toward an aesthetic phenomenology of nature’s “sacred folds”—special centers of numinous meaning and power that may be found throughout nature, where “nature” may be understood to mean an encompassing reality that has no other, there is no referent “for” nature nor any outside “to” nature. Nature is all that there is: nature is whatever is, in whatever way. From nature’s sacred folds emerges a fierce self-othering, nature naturing, where “it” moves ecstatically ejecting semiotically dense momenta.Nature naturing is the inexhaustible well of nature’s atemporal creating underconscious, “it” is the not-yet-in-time mode of preordinal expression. This preordinal expression manifests itself as created nature, a plane of immanence composed of innumerable orders, or nature natured. The plane of nature natured is not without access to its depth dimension however, and the creativity of the depth dimension does not necessarily evidence a telic plan, either. Nature naturing is not the unified will or intelligence of a supreme Being, and “it” is not the sacred, for there is no “whatness” to nature naturing, but only “its” “how.” Unlike other theological perspectives friendly to the tradition of naturalism (process thought, for example) an ecstatic naturalism denies thatnature naturing molds nature natured simply into pleasing shapes. Melancholy, pain, and anguish are just as much to be accounted for in the aesthetic phenomenology that an ecstatic naturalism employs. For ecstatic naturalism,naturing naturing is “beyond good and evil” and “sustains the just and the unjust, beautiful and the demonic, the fragmented and the harmonious, the honorific and the detestable, the living and the dead (via effects) and the realms of the possible and the actual.”

From the ecstatic naturalist standpoint, as noted, the distinction between nature naturing and nature natured colors and specifies almost all aspects of, and possibilities for, human life. It indicates, among other things, that the unconscious is far more important, both religiously and philosophically, than has usually been acknowledged. While the conscious represents only one set of aspects of our relation with nature natured, the unconscious is our direct connection both to wider aspects of nature natured, and in certain respects, to the potencies that emerge fromnature naturing. The conscious life is much more precarious than traditional monotheisms would allow, but also more magical than traditional naturalisms could recognize.