April 12-13, 2013, Drew University, Madison, NJ

Theme

The Red Room, Henri Matisse, 1908

The Third International Congress on Ecstatic Naturalism continues the work of the first two Congresses in extending the philosophical and theological implications of ecstatic naturalism, a perspective originally developed by Professor Robert S. Corrington.  The point of origin for ecstatic naturalism is the ontological divide between nature naturing (natura naturans) and nature natured (natura naturata).  Nature naturing is defined as “nature perennially creating itself out of itself alone,” while nature natured is defined as “the innumerable orders of the world.”

The papers of this year’s Congress will focus on the relation of ecstatic naturalism to art and aesthetics.  Questions are raised as to whether and how art can transform or perhaps replace religion as the or a primary mode of comportment toward the world.  Historically the correlations of ecstatic naturalism to empirical and process metaphysics will be examined as will the roles psychoanalysis can play in both personal and social transformation, especially through art and a transfigured relation to nature.

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.

Register

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

Registration Fee due upon arrival Friday 4/13.  Prepayments will not be accepted.
Please make checks payable to Drew University

 

Schedule

All sessions will be held in Seminary Hall

Friday, April 12th

12:30 – 1:30 PM

Wade Mitchell, “Turbulent Memories: The Uneasy Artifacts of an Aesthetic Religion”

Theresa Ellis, ”Science, Ecstatic Naturalism, and the Far Side of Nature”

1:45 – 3:15 PM

Kwang Yu Lee, “The Art of Corrington’s Aesthetic Naturalism: A Symphony of post-Freudian Psychoanalysis on Selving”

Jean Assis, ”Notions of Nature and the Correlation between Art and Religion: Exploring Inadequacies as an Attempt to Re-Enchant the World”

3:30 – 4:15 PM

Robert King, ”The Man Who Walked Through Signs: Colin Fletcher, Corrington, and the “Depth Dimension” of Nature Naturing”

4:20 – 4:55 PM

Group photograph and meditation in the book display room

5:00 – 6:00 PM

Martin O. Yalcin and Leon Niemoczynski, Panel on Nature’s Sublime and AJTP special issue: Corrington 3: From Ecstatic to Aesthetic Naturalism? 

6:00 – 7:00 PM

Dinner

7:00 PM

Plenary Address: Being a Religious Naturalist, Ursula Goodenough – Washington University – Introduced by Laurel Kearns – Drew University

 

Saturday, April 13th

9:00 – 10:30 AM

Marilynn Lawrence, ”Authenticity and the Artist: Art as Sacred Unfolding”

Donald Crosby, ”Religious Symbols and Ecstatic Naturalism”

10:45 – 12:15 PM

Rafael Reyes, ”Signs of the Beautiful: Notions of Value in Ecstatic Naturalism and Process Naturalism”

Demian Wheeler, ”American Religious Empiricism and the Possibility of an Ecstatic Naturalist Process Metaphysics”

12:30 – 2:00 PM

Lunch

2:00 – 3:30 PM

Elijah Prewitt-Davis, ”An Artist’s Faith: Nietzsche’s Aesthetic Death of God”

Abigail T. Wernicki, ”Ecstasy and the Will: Navigating the Terrain of the Ontological Wound”

3:45 – 5:15 PM

Nathan Greeley, ”Corrington and Romanticism: The Legacy of Romantic Art, Philosophy, and Theology in Ecstatic Naturalism”

Mark S. Cladis, ”Religion, Democracy and the Environmental Imagination: A Triscopic Ecopoetics”

6:00 – 8:00 PM

Dinner

8:00 PM

Sublime Journeys in the Arts

Nature’s Sublime in Modern and Contemporary Visual Art , Sara Lynn Henry – Independent Curator and Art Historian

The Sublime in Contemporary Theatre: Magellanica: A New and Accurate Map of the World - EM Lewis – Playwright – Sloane Drayson-Knigge Director.

 

Presenters

Jean Assis, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Paper: “Notions of Nature and the Correlation between Art and Religion: Exploring Inadequacies as an Attempt to Re-Enchant the World”

Mark S. Cladis, Brown University
Paper: “Religion, Democracy and the Environmental Imagination: A Triscopic Ecopoetics”

Donald Crosby, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy Colorado State University
Paper: “Religious Symbols and Ecstatic Naturalism”

Elijah Prewitt-DavisDrew University
Paper: “An Artist’s Faith: Nietzsche’s Aesthetic Death of God”

Theresa Ellis, The University of Redlands
Paper: “Science, Ecstatic Naturalism, and the Far Side of Nature”

Ursula Goodenough, Washington University
Plenary Address: “Being a Religious Naturalist”

Nathan Greeley, Claremont Graduate University
Paper: “Corrington and Romanticism: The Legacy of Romantic Art, Philosophy, and Theology in Ecstatic Naturalism”

Sara Lynn Henry, Independent Curator and Art Historian
Closing Reflections: “Sublime Journeys in the Arts Nature’s Sublime in Modern and Contemporary Visual Art”

Robert King, Utah State University
Paper: “The Man Who Walked Through Signs: Colin Fletcher, Corrington, and the “Depth Dimension” of Nature Naturing”

Marilynn Lawrence, Immaculata University
Paper: “Authenticity and the Artist: Art as Sacred Unfolding”

Kwang Yu Lee, Drew University
Paper: “The Art of Corrington’s Aesthetic Naturalism: A Symphony of post-Freudian Psychoanalysis on Selving”

EM Lewis, Playwright; Sloane Drayson-Knigge, Director
The Sublime in Contemporary Theatre: Magellanica: A New and Accurate Map of the World 

Wade Mitchell, Drew University
Paper: “Turbulent Memories: The Uneasy Artifacts of an Aesthetic Religion”

Leon Niemoczynski, Immaculata University
Panel Discussion: On Nature’s Sublime and AJTP special issue: Corrington 3: From Ecstatic to Aesthetic Naturalism? 

Rafael Reyes, Claremont Graduate University
Paper: “Signs of the Beautiful: Notions of Value in Ecstatic Naturalism and Process Naturalism”

LeRon Shults, University of Agder, Norway
Paper: “Deleuze and Ecstatic Naturalism: Comparisons, Contrasts, and Complementary Constructions”

Abigail T. Wernicki, Drew University
Paper: “Ecstasy and the Will: Navigating the Terrain of the Ontological Wound”

Demian Wheeler, Union Theological Seminary
Paper: “American Religious Empiricism and the Possibility of an Ecstatic Naturalist Process Metaphysics”

Martin O. Yalcin, Montclair State University
Panel Discussion: On Nature’s Sublime and AJTP special issue: Corrington 3: From Ecstatic to Aesthetic Naturalism?