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Rico Vitz
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Turning East: Contemporary Philosophers and the Ancient Christian Faith

The Orthodox Church is one of the largest religious groups in the world. Yet, it remains an enigma in the West, especially among those who mistake it either for a Greek version of Roman Catholicism or for an exotic mixture of Christianity and eastern religion. Many, however, are coming to recognize the Orthodox Church for what it is: a worldwide community of Christian disciples that has been faithful to the apostolic command, “stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or by our epistle” (2 Thess 2.15). Consequently, growing numbers of people are finding their true home in the Church that has “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2.42).

Among these converts are dozens of contemporary philosophers. Some are accomplished, world-renowned, senior scholars. Others are junior scholars in the earliest stages of their careers. As a group, they belong neither to any particular philosophical ‘school’ nor to any particular Orthodox jurisdiction. What they have in common is a desire to enter deeply into an authentic and loving communion with the Living God, with God’s people, and ultimately with all of God’s creation.

Turning East is a collection of autobiographical essays in which sixteen of these philosophers describe their personal journeys to the Orthodox Church, explain their reasons for becoming Orthodox Christians, and offer a sense of how their conversions have changed their lives.

Watch a presentation by Rico Vitz, Editor of Turning East



Jeffrey Bishop holds the Tenet Chair in Health Care Ethics and is the Director of the Albert Gnaegi Center for Health Care Ethics at Saint Louis University, and a member of All Saints of North America Orthodox Church in St Louis, Missouri. He is the author of The Anticipatory Corpse: Medicine, Power, and the Care of the Dying (Notre Dame), as well as various articles, including “Biopolitics, Terri Schiavo, and the Sovereign Subject of Death” (Journal of Medicine and Philosophy), “Framing Euthanasia” (Journal of Medical Ethics), “Mind-Body Unity: Gregory of Nyssa and a Surprising Fourth Century C.E. Perspective” (Perspectives in Biology and Medicine).

David Bradshaw is Professor in and Chair of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Kentucky and a member of St Athanasius Orthodox Church in Nicholasville, Kentucky. He is the author of Aristotle East and West: Metaphysics and the Division of Christendom (Cambridge) as well as a number of articles, including “Time and Eternity in the Greek Fathers” (The Thomist), “The Concept of the Divine Energies” (Philosophy and Theology), and “Maximus the Confessor” (The Cambridge History of Philosophy in Late Antiquity)

Mark J. Cherry is the Dr. Patricia A. Hayes Professor in Applied Ethics at St Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, and a member of St Elias Orthodox Church in Austin, Texas. He is the author of Kidney for Sale by Owner (Georgetown). He is the editor of Natural Law and the Possibility of a Global Ethics (Springer), Pluralistic Casuistry (Springer), Persons and Their Bodies: Rights, Responsibilities, and Relationships (Springer), The Death of Metaphysics; The Death of Culture (Springer), The Normativity of the Natural (Springer), and the co-editor with Ana Smith Iltis of At the Roots of Christia Bioethics (Scrivener) and Religious Perspectives on Bioethics (Routledge), as well as the co-editor with John F. Peppin of Regional Perspectives in Bioethics (Routledge). He is also the editor of the Journal of Medicine and Philosophy and of Christian Bioethics, as well as the editor-in-chief of the Health-Care Ethics Committee Forum, and series co-editor of the Annals of Bioethics.

Terence Cuneo is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Vermont and a member of St Jacob of Alaska Orthodox Church in Northfield Falls, Vermont. He is the author of The Normative Web: An Argument for Moral Realism (Oxford), the editor of Religion in the Liberal Polity (Notre Dame), the co-editor of Foundations of Ethics: An Anthology (Blackwell) and The Cambridge Companion to Thomas Reid (Cambridge). He has also authored various articles, including “A Puzzle Regarding Reid’s Theory of Motives” (British Journal for the History of Philosophy) and “If These Walls Could Only Speak: Icons as Vehicles of Divine Discourse” (Faith and Philosophy).

Corinna Delkeskamp-Hayes is Director of European Programs, International Studies in Philosophy and Medicine, Freigericht, Germany, and a member of Nikolauskirche in Frankfurt. She is the author of numerous articles, including “Respecting, Protecting, Persons, Humans, and Conceptual Muddles in the Bioethics Convention” (Journal of Medicine and Philosophy), “Generic versus Catholic Hospital
Chaplaincy” (Christian Bioethics), “Freedom-Costs of Canonical Individualism: Enforced Euthanasia Tolerance in Belgium and the Problem of European Liberalism” (Journal of Medicine and Philosophy), and many others.

Travis Dumsday is Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Livingstone College in Salisbury, North Carolina, and a member of St Luke Greek Orthodox Church in Mooresville, North Carolina. He is the author of a number of articles, including “Natural Kinds and the Problem of Complex Essences” (Australasian Journal of Philosophy), “Divine Hiddenness, Free-Will, and the Victims of Wrongdoing” (Faith and Philosophy), “Abortion and Non-Fallacious Potentiality: A Reply to Berkich” (Dialogue), and “Religious Experience: An Unguarded Front in Hume’s Account of Miracles” (International Philosophical Quarterly).

H.Tristram Engelhardt, Jr., is Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Rice University, and Professor Emeritus in the Department of Medicine and the Department of Community Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. He is a member of St George Orthodox Church in Houston and was tonsured a reader by His Grace, the Right Rev. Bishop BASIL, of the Diocese of Wichita on the 16th of November, 1996. He is the author or editor of numerous books and dozens of peer-reviewed articles, including The Foundations of Bioethics (Oxford), The Foundations of Christian Bioethics (Scrivener), Bioethics and Secular Humanism (Trinity), Global Bioethics: The Collapse of Consensus (Scrivener), and Mind-Body: A Categorial Relation (Nijhoff). He is also the senior editor of the journal Christian Bioethics and The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy.

Bruce Foltz is Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Senior Honors Program at Eckerd College in St Petersburg, Florida, and a member of St Nicholas Orthodox Church in Pinellas Park. He is the author of Inhabiting the Earth: Heidegger, Environmental Ethics, and the Metaphysics of Nature (Humanities Press) and The Noetics of Nature: Environment as Epiphany (forthcoming, Fordham University Press) and co-editor of Rethinking Nature: Essays in Environmental Philosophy (Indiana University Press), and Toward an Ecology of Transfiguration: Orthodox Christian Perspectives on Environment, Nature, and Creation (forthcoming, Fordham University Press). He is also the author of numerous articles on Heidegger, Russian and Byzantine philosophy, mysticism, and the philosophy of the natural as well as founder of the International Association for Environmental Philosophy and co-founder of the Society for Nature, Philosophy, and Religion

Jonathan D. Jacobs is Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Saint Louis University and a member of Sts Cyril and Methody Orthodox Church in Granite City, Illinois. He is the author or co-author of various articles, including “A Powers Theory of Modality” (Philosophical Studies), “Powerful Qualities, not Pure Powers” (The Monist), “Emergent Individuals” (The Philosophical Quarterly), “Emergent Individuals and the Resurrection” (European Journal for Philosophy of Religion), and “An Eastern Orthodox Conception of Theosis and Human Nature” (Faith and Philosophy).

Kelly Dean Jolley is Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Auburn University in Alabama and a member of Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church in Columbus, Georgia. He is the author of The Concept ‘Horse’ Paradox and Wittgensteinian Conceptual Investigations (Ashgate), the editor of Wittgenstein: Key Concepts (Acumen), and the author and co-author of numerous articles, including “What is it Like to be a Phenomenologist? (Philosophical Quarterly), “Polyanna Realism: Moral Perception and Moral Properties” (Australasian Journal of Philosophy), and “(Kivy on) the Form-Content Identity Thesis” (The British Journal of Aesthetics).

Fr John D. Jones is Professor of Philosophy at Marquette University. He is the Associate Priest of Sts Cyril and Methodius Orthodox Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop JOB on May 2, 2009. He is the author of Pseudo- Dionysius Areopagite: The Divine Names and Mystical Theology (Marquette University Press), Poverty and the Human Condition (Edwin Mellen Press), and several dozen peer-reviewed articles focusing on his main areas of research: Dionysius the Areopagite, medieval philosophy, and social philosophy.

Ágúst Symeon Magnússon is a Ph.D candidate at Marquette University and a member of Sts Cyril and Methodius Orthodox Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Richard Otte is Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a member of Sts Peter and Paul Orthodox Church in Ben Lomond, California. He is the author of numerous articles and chapters in books, including “Comparative Confirmation and the Problem of Evil” (Probability in the Philosophy of Religion), “Theory Comparison in Science and Religion” (Reason, Metaphysics, and Mind), “Transworld Depravity and Unobtainable Worlds” (Philosophy and Phenomenological Research), and “A Solution to a Problem for Bayesian Confirmation Theory” (The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science).

Fr David Starr is a Tutor at St John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is rector of St Juliana of Lazarevo Russian Orthodox Parish in Santa Fe, and was ordained to the priesthood by His Eminence, Archbishop Kyrill, on January 5, 2011.

Richard Swinburne is Emeritus Nolloth Professor of the Philosophy of the Christian Religion, University of Oxford, as well as an Emeritus Fellow of Oriel College, Oxford, and a Fellow of the British Academy. He the author of more than twenty books and dozens of peer-reviewed articles. Some of his most recent works include second editions of Revelation (Oxford), Faith and Reason (Oxford), The Existence of God (Oxford), and two shorter and more “popular” books, Is there a God? (Oxford) and Was Jesus God? (Oxford). He is a member of the Greek Orthodox Parish of the Holy Trinity in Oxford.

Rico Vitz is Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Azusa Pacific University and a member of St Barnabas Orthodox Church in Costa Mesa, California. He is the author of Reforming the Art of Living: Nature, Virtue, and Religion in Descartes’s Epistemology (Springer, forthcoming) as well as various articles and chapters, including “The Nature and Functions of Sympathy in Hume’s Philosophy” (The Oxford Handbook of David Hume, forthcoming), “Thomas More and the Christian ‘Superstition’: A Puzzle for Hume’s Psychology of Religious Belief” (The Modern Schoolman, forthcoming), “Doxastic Virtues in Hume’s Epistemology” (Hume Studies), and “Sympathy and Benevolence in Hume’s Moral Psychology” (Journal of the History of Philosophy).