Imagination 2019

The Nordic Society for Philosophy of Religion (NSPR)

Wings of Desire

The Limits and Potentialities of Imagination within the Philosophy of Religion

June 13-15, 2019


In recent decades, the power of imagination has been subject to actualization and reinterpretation in America, Britain, Germany, and other countries outside the Nordic region. Not only the philosophy of religion but also literary studies and philosophy in general have contributed to this renewal of the study of imagination, which includes renewed interest in the philosophies of phantasia and imaginatio from antiquity and the middle ages.


The Nordic Society for Philosophy of Religion’s 2019 conference “Wings of Desire” focuses on the limits and potentialities of imagination within the philosophy of religion. This conference intends to highlight the imagination to a degree hitherto not witnessed in the Nordic region, thus giving way for international research to have greater impact on Nordic research and the society in general. The conference also intends to explore what could be the result if Nordic researchers contributed to the study of imagination. Concepts such as “Danish Design,” “Nordic Noir,” and “New Nordic Cuisine” are widespread. Is a Nordic understanding of the imagination thinkable? An understanding that is not reducible to what Søren Kierkegaard, N.F.S. Grundtvig, or K.E. Løgstrup said but is a product of new thought and contemporary international exchange.


The conference “Wings of Desire” will disclose and investigate recent developments in the study of imagination and develop their potential contribution to contemporary philosophy of religion. What characterizes the most potent recent developments in this field? How do they strengthen the philosophy of religion? Can they pave the way for a brighter future for such philosophy? A future in which the philosophy of religion represents not a minor academic discipline but a crucial path to new understandings of discrepancies and commonalities between various contemporary academic disciplines, as well as, a crucial path to the solution of contemporary problems that concern not only the academic world but also society as a whole and our common future? To this end, the topic of the conference is divided into four subtopics encompassing “Truth and Imagination,” “Religious Imagination,” “Imagination, Art, and Theology,” and “Religion and Political Imagination.” They refer to questions currently debated within the study of imagination.


The subtopic “Truth and Imagination” deals with imagination’s importance for human knowledge and moral action. What do contemporary studies (in various academic fields and disciplines) learn us about the imagination, how does their learning relate to the traditional understandings of phantasia and imaginatio, and what might they contribute to the philosophy of religion? Is imagination a prerequisite for experience, thinking, and moral action; or is it the epitome thereof; or does it rather constitute a limit? What is the epistemological role of thought experiments, what does moral imagination imply, and do imaginability and metaphysical possibility contradict each other?


The subtopic “Religious Imagination” explores the potential differentia specifica of religious imagination compared to, e.g., moral or aesthetic imagination and to imagination in general. Which are the better ways of qualifying a concept of religious imagination? Why does it make sense to regard imagination as essential to religion? How does the imagination manifest itself religiously, and what does it contribute? How does it affect our understanding of religion, when we neglect or highlight its imaginary component? Are there crucial differences or similarities between various religions what concerns the element of imagination and/or their understanding of this power?


The subtopic “Imagination, Art, and Theology” deals with the imagination regarded as a creative force. Since antiquity, the imagination was considered essential to thinking, and many modern philosophers regarded religion as its product. Imagination’s part in religion makes it an important theological topic; could it also be a crucial force in theological thought itself? Could imagination be what drives and enriches the study of that which reason cannot understand but must think? Art, as well, is a product of imagination. Could imagination be a potent mediator between aesthetic and religious experience and between art and theology?


The subtopic “Religion and Political Imagination” focuses on the social impact of imagination that is manifest in and formed by religion (religious artefacts, institutions, organizations, etc.). What characterizes current religious expressions of the social/political imaginary of our time and the imaginary quality of these expressions? In which ways do religion and imagination contribute to and interact in our construction and naming of our common world? What characterizes the contemporary role of utopia, apocalypse, and messianism, and how can philosophy of religion nourished by the study of imagination contribute to a better understanding of such phenomena?



The Nordic Society for Philosophy of Religion invites papers on the limits and potentialities of imagination in the philosophy of religion. Papers with a foothold in various schools of thought are welcomed, provided they promote the development of the philosophy of religion. The Society gladly accepts papers from PhD-students; participation in the conference and presentation of a paper is awarded with two ECTS. Submitted papers must be categorized within one of the aforementioned subtopics of the conference. Please indicate by submission to which subtopic your paper contributes. Submissions must be long abstracts (800-1200 words in length) presenting both the main ideas and claims of the paper and the arguments in favor of them. Please note that full paper submissions will not be accepted. For each talk, there will be time for a 20-25 minute presentation, with about another 20 minutes designated for discussion.


The deadline for submissions of abstracts is 1 April, 2019.  

Please send your abstract as a pdf to .



The conference will be held at Frederik Nielsens Vej 4, Aarhus University, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark.



The conference is organized by Associate Professor Ulrik Nissen, Department of Theology, School of Culture and Society, Aarhus University. For updates concerning the conference, please visit the conference page

All questions about submissions or about the conference in general should be emailed to 

Aarhus University, Faculty of Arts, School of Communication and Culture