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Senior Presented at Philosophical Society Conference

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Westminster College senior religion and philosophy major John Allison presented at a meeting of the West Virginia Philosophical Society Oct. 22 at Wheeling Jesuit University.

Allison's paper, "(Pseudo) Dionysian: Is Negative Theology Essentially Tragic?," evolved from a term paper written for a class taught by Dr. David Goldberg, Westminster associate professor of philosophy and Allison's adviser for the paper.  It was one of two papers by an undergraduate student accepted for presentation at the conference.

The paper examined the Christian tradition of negative theology that conceptualizes God as mysterious and unknowable and compared that concept with philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche's idea that the world is unknowable.  For Nietzsche, not knowing the world as it exists was a tragic thing.  Allison argued that the negative theological form of Christianity is analogously tragic in some sense.  Not knowing who/what God is has tragic consequences for this type of theology.

"It's always rewarding to share the fruit of my research with others in my field of study," Allison said.  "After hours of reading and digging through religious and philosophical work, it's great to have a forum in which I can present my own ideas and get feedback to help develop my scholarship."

Allison is a son of Dale and Kristine Allison of Pittsburgh and a graduate of homeschooling.

Contact Goldberg at (724) 946-7153 or email for additional information.

About Westminster College...
Founded in 1852 and related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Westminster College ranks first in the nation as "Best College for Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math," according to Forbes.com. Westminster, a top-tier liberal arts college, ranks third in graduation rate performance, according to U.S. News Best Colleges guide. Westminster ranked 6th among liberal arts colleges in social mobility, according to the Washington Monthly College Guide, and is one of the most affordable national liberal arts colleges in Pennsylvania. Westminster is also honored as one of "The Best 376 Colleges" by The Princeton Review, and is named to the President's Honor Roll for excellence in service learning.

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John Allison