Luther as Philosopher

The aim of this project is to consider Martin Luther and his influence from a philosophical perspective. While Luther has been widely studied by theologians and historians, he has been largely ignored by philosophers who work on the history of ideas (e.g. the authoritative and comprehensive Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy has no entry on Luther). This is in contrast to other key theological figures, such as Augustine and Aquinas (who have extensive entries in SEP). However, many of his central positions have significant philosophical implications and are often defended in terms that are not just theological. Moreover, because historians of philosophy have not generally engaged with Luther’s work, they have also overlooked Luther’s influence on philosophers who have come after him; but key northern European philosophers such as Leibniz, Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Heidegger were all educated in the broadly Lutheran tradition. We therefore propose to explore the way in which understanding this Lutheran background can shed new light on the thinking of these major philosophers.
However, it is of course impossible to do this without learning from the work of theologians and historians on Luther. The project will therefore be fully interdisciplinary, involving colleagues from a range of fields.
Our first workshop, Disputation against Scholastic Theology, was held on 1 May 2018 and was run as a reading group which provoked plenty of interesting discussion. Please now join us for our 2nd workshop, details below

The second workshop will be held at the University of Leeds, 13th June, 13.00-17.00 in the Boardroom at the IDEA Centre, University of Leeds, 17 Blenheim Terrace, Leeds LS2 9JT, webpage:

The workshop will focus on The Bondage of the Will, and cover the section WA 661-699, where Luther criticises Erasmus’s arguments for free will. The recommended translation is Rupp & Watson.
The session will be run as a reading group.

All are welcome to attend, and there is no registration fee, but we would be grateful if you can book so that we can keep an eye on numbers. See Eventbrite page here:

There will be a project conference on the theme of ‘Luther as philosopher’, to be held at the Humanities Research Institute, the University of Sheffield, on 11th and 12th September. Confirmed speakers are David Bagchi (Hull), Clare Carlisle (KCL), Sophie Grace Chappell (Open), Theodore Dieter (Strasbourg), Daphne Hampson (Oxford), Iona Hine (Sheffield), Spencer Johnston (Cambridge), Volker Leppin (Tübingen), Wayne Martin (Essex), Simon Podmore (Hope, Liverpool), Robert Stern (Sheffield). Further details to follow

Full details available here 

For any inquiries about these events, please contact Robert Stern: 

Lead Academic from Lead University
Robert Stern – Philosophy,  University of Sheffield
Lead Academics from other institutions

  • David Efird  – Philosophy,  University of York
  • Joe Saunders – Interdisciplinary Ethics Applied Centre, University of Leeds

Other members of staff associated with this project

  • Anthony Milton -History, University of  Sheffield
  • Michael Braddick – History, University of Sheffield
  • Cathy Shrank – English University of Sheffield
  • Hugh Pyper – Philosophy/SIIBS* , University of Sheffield)
  • Ryan Byerly – Philosophy/SIIBS* , University of Sheffield
  • Iona Hine  – English/SIIBS* , University of Sheffield
  • Tom Stoneham  – Philosophy,  University of York
  • Catherine Wilson –  Philosophy, University of York
  • Tim Stanton – Politics University of York
  • Mark Wynn – Religion, University of Leeds
  • Rachel Muers – Religion, University of  Leeds
  • Stefan Skrimshire  – Religion, University of  Leeds
  • Simon Hewitt – Philosophy, University of Leeds

* SIIBS is the Sheffield Institute for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies

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