Converging Wisdom? Questioning the Continued Relevance of the Perennial Philosophy

Sunday, October 2, 2022 3:00 pm EST

This three-day conference will examine the claim that the different and sometimes conflicting teachings of the many religions nevertheless reveal a similarity of metaphysical insight and spiritually liberating wisdom, all rooted in one divine Source. Most of the speakers will represent one or another of the great world religions.

The Perennial Philosophy teaches that there is one transcendent Mystery, one supreme and eternal Truth that has manifested itself throughout history as a primordial wisdom accessible to all people and in various ways in their religions. Despite the very notable differences in the formal doctrines they espouse, the world religions bear witness to a similarity of underlying spiritual and metaphysical insight: Thus, the changing world of multiplicity is understood to derive its meaning from its relation to an ontologically real eternal Absolute; the human person bears within it a natural orientation to this Absolute; and the final goal of life is the attainment of a mystical ego-transcending unity with this ultimate Reality. The assertion here is not that people of the different religions are making exactly the same transcendent experience, only giving it diverging names and expressions unavoidably shaped by the cultural presuppositions and societal conditions of their time. Rather the followers of the different religions are said to apprehend the supreme Truth in quite different and distinct ways, but ways that also manifest common spiritual principles that derive from a single transcendent Source. The analogy sometimes given is that of a pure light passing through a glass prism to reveal a spectrum of differing colors. All the colors are united in their source, and yet each is truly distinct and different from all the others. Is this the proper way to understand the many religions? Do they have one Source expressing itself in different ways or is this a simplistic approach to understanding religious pluralism today? What is the proper way to understand the nature of God and the human state? These and other topics will be discussed at the conference by scholars representing different religions, at times showcasing examples of Perennialist thought within their home tradition. Join us on Sunday, October 2, 2022, from 3:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. ET.


Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Keynote Speaker
The George Washington University

Adnan Aslan
Respect Graduate School

Jeremy Brown
University of Notre Dame

Catherine Cornille
Boston College

Michael Fitzgerald
Independent Scholar

David Bentley Hart
Independent Scholar

Patrick Laude
Georgetown University

Jeffrey Long
Elizabethtown College

Bradley Malkovsky
University of Notre Dame

Swami Medhananda (Ayon Maharaj)
Vedanta Society of Southern California

Harry Oldmeadow
formerly of La Trobe University, Bendigo

Trent Pomplun
University of Notre Dame

Anantanand Rambachan
Saint Olaf College

Perry Schmidt-Leukel
University of Münster

Reza Shah-Kazemi
Aga Khan Centre, London

Mateus Soares de Azevedo
Independent Scholar

Steven Taylor
Leeds Becket University

Charles Upton
Independent Scholar

Carol Zaleski
Smith College

Philip Zaleski
Smith College

Alireza Ziarani
formerly of Clarkson University

Register here

For more information visit the event website.

Religion and PhilosophyCollege of Arts and LettersDepartment of Theology