In Memoriam: 1955 - 2017
Professor of Modern European Philosophy of Religion, Fellow in Philosophy, Regent's Park College University of Oxford, Faculties of Philosophy and Theology
Oxford, United Kingdom
It is with profound sadness that we report the death of Professor Pamela Sue Anderson who died on Sunday, March 12, 2017. Pamela struggled with cancer for over two years but she pursued her life and work with determination and care to the very end. Pamela brought an immense intelligence and kind spirit to the meetings of The Enhancing Life Project. She was also a forceful spokeswoman for the Project and our shared work. Most importantly, she was an engaging and insightful colleague to all of us and, to some of us, a beloved friend. She will be greatly missed by everyone even as her work will continue to inform our collective efforts.
Dr. Pamela Sue Anderson was Professor of Modern European Philosophy of Religion, University of Oxford; and Fellow in Philosophy, Regent’s Park College, Oxford, UK. She received her doctorate from the University of Oxford in 1989 and an honorary doctorate from Lund University in 2009. Anderson published numerous articles in twentieth-century European philosophy (of religion), after completing her Oxford DPhil: part of which was published in Ricoeur and Kant (1993); she also developed the groundwork for a new field: feminist philosophy of religion. Her other books include A Feminist Philosophy of Religion: the Rationality and Myths of Religious Belief (1998); Feminist Philosophy of Religion: Critical Readings, co-edited with Beverley Clack (2004); New Topics in Feminist Philosophy of Religion: Contestations and Transcendence Incarnate (2010); Kant and Theology, co-authored with Jordan Bell (2010); Re-visioning Gender in Philosophy of Religion: Reason, Love and Epistemic Locatedness (2012); she was a Guest Editor of Sophia: International Journal of Philosophy and Traditions, special issue on ‘Feminist Philosophy of Religion’ (2014); she was also Guest Editor of Text Matters: A Journal of Literature, Theory and Culture, special issue on ‘Re-visioning Ricoeur and Kristeva’ (2014); In Dialogue with Michèle Le Doeuff was forthcoming; and her monograph for the Templeton Project was Enhancing Capable Life: Transformative Change, Confidence and Creativity.
‘Enhancing Capable Life: Transformative Change, Confidence and Creativity’ intends to articulate a transformed conceptual scheme, with new concepts for humans to live by, for an ontology of becoming. First of all, I stipulate a concept of capability, which is a priori: we are created capable. This capability is generic, serving as a threshold for enhancing human life. Second, the concept of vulnerability is grasped a posteriori, capturing the precariousness of life as experienced daily; as vulnerable we become undone by one another in grief, rage and desire. Third, the concept of life refers to a continuous process of change; when we are undone by loss a transformative change is not about our choice, but our becoming. Fourth, confidence is a social phenomenon: being utterly changed by grief, we lose confidence in our own capability as bereaved. However, capability is not contingent; we cannot lose it. Yet it can become obscured; if so, it will need to be enhanced. Human enhancement is ‘measured’ by the equalizing threshold of capability, shared by each subject as a birthright. With an engaged grasp of capability, our conceptual scheme can fill out what are variable, human capacities for affection, conation and cognition; these capacities vary according to our social worlds and our bodily specificities. So, we are all capable, even when we are vulnerable and lacking in confidence; enhancing capable life is always possible, not as something we achieve, but as something intuited as the ontological condition for a creative process of life together.