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TANSA 2014: Perspectives on Human Nature

The contemplation of human nature and personhood has occupied theologians, philosophers, scientists, poets, painters and writers, not mention the everyday person, throughout history. Developments in both natural and social sciences continue to redefine how we might thing of ourselves as human – resulting in what one scholar calls ‘conflicting ontologies of the person’ making themselves felt in the everyday world. At one level, reductionist outlooks reduce the human person to a complex relationship of organic material – the flesh is all we are – while other approaches recognise human qualities and dimensions – seen in cultures, in our communities and in our minds – that transcend reductionist approaches.

The 2014 TANSA seminar series will explore the ongoing questions of what it means to be human. From theological perspectives such as human beings made in the image of God, the increasing colonisation of human and non-human life by technology, debates over human rights, and through to philosophical and scientific portraits of human existence, the seminar series will bring theological reflection into dialogue with these various understandings of human nature in order to aid us in understanding our place in the world.

For a schedule of talks, see Events, or download the flyer.


The next event, originally scheduled for Thursday, October 16, has been postponed.

This talk will now be on THURSDAY NOVEMBER 13 at 7pm at Laidlaw College's Auckland campus.

Dr. Yael Klangwisan, Laidlaw College.

Madness, literature and the Hebrew Bible

In the modern psychiatric model, the medical institution has sought to separate the insane from the sane and provide diagnoses to clarify madness from reason.  Literature however rejects these straightjackets and could be seen as a mediating space where madness contends with reason and where the repressed becomes expressed.   The French theorists such as Felman, Foucault, Baitaille, Derrida were fascinated by this dynamic “mad” property of literature that undermines the “imperialism of reason”.  Lacan even went so far as to say that writing saved novelists like James Joyce from full madness.  The bible as literature also contains wild and wonderful vignettes offering the gift of madness “in our place”.  Such figures are Jacob, Nebuchadnezzar, the Shulamith, Jonah, and Balaam all of which would in this day be prescribed a good dose of seroquel, valium and given a course of DBT.  The “madness” of biblical characters and the madness of biblical writings seem to offer a subversion of the status quo and a questioning what is known and the possibility of new knowledge.

For additional names and e-mail addresses to be added to the TANSA information list please advise Christina Partridge of Laidlaw College, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


Our new book!

Taking Rational Trouble flyer

Taking Rational Trouble Over the Mysteries

Reactions to Atheism

Pickwick Publications, 2013

Edited by Nicola Hoggard Creegan and Andrew Shepherd, this volume collects essays by New Zealand writers engaging "new atheists" and continuing themes. Most of these essays have come out of TANSA seminars and conferences.