October 2013‎ > ‎

3. Faculty Spotlight - Ronald A. Kuipers

Ronald A. Kuipers, BA (King’s University College), MPhil (Institute for Christian Studies), Ph.D. (VU University, Amsterdam), is Associate Professor of the Philosophy of Religion and the Director of ICS’ Centre for Philosophy Religion, and Social Ethics.

An internationally respected scholar of the philosophical school know as American Pragmatism, Kuipers has published two well-received monographs on the work of the notorious philosophical bad boy Richard Rorty: Solidarity and the Stranger: Themes in the Social Philosophy of Richard Rorty (UPA, 1997), and the simply titled Richard Rorty (Bloomsbury, 2013, a volume in their Contemporary American Thinkers series). Kuipers’ scholarly contributions also draw from the work of the so-called “Frankfurt School” of critical theory (Habermas) as well as the tradition of philosophical hermeneutics in continental philosophy (Paul Ricoeur and Charles Taylor). Thanks to his apprenticeship as a graduate student at ICS, Kuipers brings a reformationally Christian intellectual orientation into his critical exploration of these and other fields of contemporary philosophy.

Kuipers’ work in the philosophy of religion explores the continuing social and political relevance of religious traditions and life patterns in a secular age. As evidenced in his book Critical Faith: Toward a Renewed Understanding of Religious Life and its Public Accountability (Editions Rodopi, 2002), Kuipers is particularly concerned to highlight the ways in which religious faith remains a ‘critical’ or crucial component of contemporary social and political life, providing persons of faith with a significant and imaginative alternative life vision to the one currently pervading an unjust status quo. In concert with that effort, he also explores and develops the potential for contemporary religious life patterns to assume more dialogical, self-critical forms.

As the Director of ICS’ new Centre for Philosophy, Religion and Social Ethics, Kuipers finds his time split between his regular ICS teaching and research assignments and the projects he is directing at the CPRSE. Significant among the latter is a partnered research project with the Christian Reformed Church entitled "Justice and Faith: Individual Spirituality and Social Responsibility in the Christian Reformed Church of Canada". This community-based research project will take Kuipers and his team of researchers into CRC congregations across Canada in order to stimulate dialogue about the relationship between the life of faith and the call to pursue justice. With King’s University College in Edmonton, the CPRSE is also planning a conference on economic justice to be held at the King’s campus on May 12-13, 2014. Entitled "Are We There Yet? Economic Justice and the Common Good", the conference will feature keynote speakers Dr. Christopher Lind and the Hon. Diane Ablonczy, PC MP for Calgary-Nose Hill and former cabinet minister.

This fall Kuipers is teaching one of his favourite courses, Wittgenstein, Language, and the Philosophy of Religion. With a crop of 11 keen students from ICS and the Toronto School of Theology, the group is exploring what prompted Wittgenstein to claim “Wisdom is grey. Life on the other hand and religion are full of colour.”