Dr Gavin Hyman
MA (Exeter), PhD (Cambridge)
I have always been interested in the questions that should stand at the heart of any University; questions of truth, meaning, being and reality. This has meant that my interest in religion has always been inseparable from my interest in philosophy. I remain convinced that exploring these questions solely through religion or solely through philosophy is unduly restrictive, and that some of the most creative and stimulating thinking takes place at the frontier between religion and philosophy. Most of my research and teaching is located precisely at this intersection.
I believe that these kinds of ‘big questions’ are perennially important for reflective human beings, and universities are places in which they can most fruitfully be explored. Contemporary society is framed by all sorts of assumptions that are rarely questioned but perhaps should be. Both religion and philosophy are discourses that cause us to question so much of what we would otherwise take for granted. They provoke us to think differently, to see the world differently and to challenge the values that would otherwise unquestioningly prevail. When religious and philosophical reflection causes us to question the values that prevail in our world, this leads inevitably to the domain of the political as well, and much of my recent work has been examining the political dimensions of philosophy and religious thought. This makes the Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion at Lancaster a particularly appropriate one in which to pursue both my teaching and my research.
It follows from all this that I teach my students not simply to acquire new information or to learn new facts, but actively to think. Such thinking allows students to challenge conventional thinking for themselves. It also allows them to articulate their own points of view and to defend these through the development of rigorous and thoughtful arguments. As different perspectives and arguments actively confront and engage each other, we all advance further in the collective pursuit of truth, a pursuit that is at the heart of both religion and philosophy.