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Gonzaga Exhibit Traces Faith Traditions of Political Philosophy

Posted on July 3, 2014 in: Academics, Events, Faculty & Staff, Faith, Feature Stories
Item 30 of the exhibition:  Giorgione, “Three Philosophers.”

Item 30 of the exhibition: Giorgione, “Three Philosophers.”

SPOKANE, Wash. – Gonzaga University is hosting 25 scholars from throughout the country for a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute for College and University Teachers through July 10. As a result, a distinctive book exhibit tracing political philosophy in the Middle Ages will be available for the public when the Institute concludes.

The exhibition, “Thinking About Faith and Politics: Three Traditions of Political Philosophy in the Middle Ages,” will be available daily in the Cowles Rare Books Room at Gonzaga’s Foley Center Library from July 11 through Aug. 15. The materials on display chronicle the development of medieval political philosophy and to illustrate the fascinating history of preserving medieval political philosophy through subsequent publication. View the exhibition online [].

Gonzaga philosophy Professor Douglas Kries received a $154,548 grant from the NEH in collaboration with two other universities to present the Institute, titled “Medieval Political Philosophy: Islamic, Jewish and Christian.” The scholars are studying and discussing how to best teach undergraduate courses addressing all three of the religious traditions within which medieval political philosophy emerged: Islamic, Jewish, and Christian.

Kries, co-director of the Institute, said medieval political philosophy is especially important because it was when ancient political philosophy encountered the three revealed religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

“Studying the appropriation of Plato and Aristotle within the context of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity helps students see the relevance of medieval thought to political problems human beings always face. We can see that all around the world the relationship of religion to political life is a major issue, but studying such questions through the eyes of the great authors of the Middle Ages has been on the wane,” he said. “We hope to begin to reverse that trend by preparing teachers at our NEH Institute.”

Kries is the Bernard J. Coughlin, S.J., Professor of Christian Philosophy at Gonzaga, and co-director of the NEH Summer Institute. He created the exhibit with GU Special Collections Librarian Stephanie Plowman and Korissa Fitterer, administrative assistant for NEH’s Summer Program at Gonzaga. The other Institute co-directors are Joshua Parens, of the University of Dallas, and Joseph Macfarland of St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland. Professors Haim Kreisel of Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Israel and Charles Butterworth of the University of Maryland also have presented at the Institute.

The exhibit is dedicated to Fredric W. Schlatter, S.J., professor emeritus of classics at Gonzaga and longtime lover of many books in the display.

For more information, please contact Professor Kries at (509) 313-6720 or via email [].

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