Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Templeton Funding for Philosophy

There was a conference at St. Louis University last weekend on causal powers (Putting Powers to Work). The program looked excellent. I note that the John Templeton Foundation was a sponsor. IMO this is an excellent use of their funds, given how they describe the portion of their mission which is devoted to "Science and the Big Questions". One subset of this funding area is called "Philosophy and Theology" (other areas relate to direct science grants, which are obviously welcome, and also the promotion of "dialogue" between science and "theology and/or philosophy").

The reason this is notable is that until recently the Foundation's material and grant record struck me as notable for a neglect of philosophy in (often quixotic-seeming) pursuit of dialogue between science and religion. Three years ago, I wrote a letter to the foundation about this, and got a polite reply acknowledging this but saying it was in keeping with the founder's vision.

Since then, the Foundation has been revamping its organization and programs fairly extensively, and philosophy has been getting more into the mix -- notable was a recent significant grant for the study of free will. Hopefully, they will continue to fund pure philosophical research, particularly in the areas of metaphysics which are indispensible IMO if one wants to pursue answers to "Big Questions". Looking at the free will program and the inclusion of a philosophy of religion talk at the powers conference, it appears Templeton will likely insist on some PoR or theology aspect to these programs, but I would think that needn't be problem as long as it's not heavy-handed.

2 comments:

Thoughts said...

The trouble with religious bodies funding philosophy and science is that Augustine was made a saint so presentism is semi-divine. The big problems of philosophy from morality (free will) to philosophy of mind and of science from multiverses to big bangs are problems of the nature of time. Presentists can offer nothing to this discussion.

Tor Hershman said...

Yeah, their, and most's, philosophy izzzzzz, "If we like it, it's philosophy."