Philosophy of Religion


Long one of the School of Religious Studies’ principal disciplinary foci, McGill’s program in Philosophy of Religion is anchored by the John W. McConnell Chair in Philosophy of Religion. The Chair was established when the unit itself was founded as a Faculty of Divinity, in 1948. It has afforded the philosophy of religion a central position in the study of religion at McGill. Professors James Sutherland Thomson (Theology, Glasgow) and Joseph C. McClelland (Theology, Edinburgh), the first holders of the Chair, were also Deans of the Faculty, before Maurice Boutin (Theology, Munich) held the Chair from 1991-2010. The Chair has long been dedicated to the investigation of historical and systematic relations between European philosophies and Theology.


Garth Green, John W. McConnell Professor of Philosophy of Religion; Director of School of Religious Studies
Jim Kanaris,  CAS Associate Professor of Philosophy of Religion
George di Giovanni, Affiliate Member School of Religious Studies, Emeritus Professor, Department of Philosophy

The Philosophy of Religion program is led currently by two members of the School of Religious Studies: Professors Garth Green (John W. McConnell Professor of Philosophy of Religion) and Jim Kanaris (CAS Associate Professor of Philosophy of Religion). Professor Green focuses on medieval philosophical theology, particularly Christian neo-Platonism, on German Idealism, particularly Kant and Fichte, and on French Phenomenology. Professor Kanaris focuses on the relation between contemporary, post-phenomenological philosophy and theory of religion.

Two contributing members of the Department of Philosophy are actively involved in several graduate co-supervisions: Professor George di Giovanni (an Affiliate Faculty Member of Religious Studies) and Professor Philip Buckley, as are members from within the School of Religious Studies itself.



Philosophy of Religion at SRS offers a uniquely wide range of introductory and advanced undergraduate courses that address traditional topics in the field while cultivating forms of philosophizing germane to religious studies. Courses range from the 300-student Introduction to the Study of Religions (RELG 207), which traces the history of philosophy and theory of religion, to the more discipline-specific, 50-student "Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion" (RELG 341), to advanced courses in Phenomenology of Religion (RELG 351; RELG 555), Religion, Philosophy, Modernity (RELG 380), and Theories of Religion (RELG 456), amongst others. The principal focus of our program is a large and dynamic graduate community. All graduate students are enrolled in coursework in the theory and philosophy of religion. Graduate seminars include, for example, Professor Green’s Modern Philosophy of Religion (RELG 641) Contemporary Philosophy of Religion (RELG 642), as well as Professor Kanaris' Currents in Philosophy of Religion (RELG 535). The program also offers seminars from contributing faculty and associate members. Further, all doctoral students take Professor Kanaris’ required seminar, Meaning and Interpretation (RELG 745), to engage the methodological controversies surrounding the history and concept of religion.

Strategic Partnership Initiative

In 2014 and 2015, formal partnership agreements with Louvain (Belgium) and with Padova (Italy) were signed: in 2017, another partnership with Strasbourg (France) was finalized. These partnerships afford graduate students access to an international network of leading institutions and scholars in the field, as well as unparalleled research, publication, and professional development opportunities. It is intended that these partnerships will effect a new model of graduate formation in the field. Funded by both internal and external grants, McGill students at both the MA and the PhD levels have participated already in seminars, research exchanges, conferences, and translation and publication projects with colleagues in our partner institutions.

Program Initiatives

In 2015, with the help of a SSHRC Connections Grant, Professor Green co-hosted (with Professor Jean Grondin, Université de Montréal) the International Conference of the Société Francophone de Philosophie de la Religion, entitled Religion et Vérité: Tâches et défis d’une philosophie de la religion à l’âge post-séculier. Podcasts of keynote addresses by Charles Taylor and Jean Greisch are available here and here. The proceedings will be published in 2017 as Religion et vérité: La philosophie de la religion à l’âge séculier (Garth Green and Jean Grondin, eds. (Presses Universitaires de Strasbourg, Collection "Philosophie de la religion," 2017). In 2013, with the help of a SSHRC Research Grant, Professor Kanaris hosted an international conference on the future of philosophy of religion. The proceedings have been published by the State University of New York Press as Reconfigurations of Philosophy of Religion: A Possible Future (2018). In 2010, he also hosted a conference in honor of School of Religious Studies emeritus professor Maurice Boutin. The proceedings were published in 2013 by Brill entitled Polyphonic Thinking and the Divine. SRS also saw two visiting Professorships in the field of Philosophy of Religion, including Prof. Douglas Hedley (2018) and Prof. Sean McGrath (2019). The School of Religious Studies will be hosting the Canadian Society for Philosophy of Religion conference in May 2021.

Graduate Students

Graduate Students meet and present their work regularly in the student-run Philosophisches Seminar that includes both graduate students and faculty members. Current advanced graduate students include the following:


Jason Blakeburn (2016-) was a Bishop's and Oikos Scholar at Oklahoma City University where he earned his B.A. in Philosophy and Religion and received a Gold Letzeiser Medal for his work. He was the Dean’s Fellow at Boston University (in Philosophy, Theology, and Ethics), where he earned his Master of Theological Studies and Master of Sacred Theology degrees, with a thesis entitled "Nothing Matters: Philosophical and Theological Varieties of Nothingness.” He has presented at numerous conferences in the United States, Canada, and Europe. During his Ph.D., he has completed several research fellowships, including McGill's Building 21 BLUE fellowship and a research stay at KU Leuven. His dissertation project will chart the development of the F.W.J. Schelling's philosophy of religion as a response to the ontological problem, - "Why is there something and not nothing?" - the concept of nonbeing, and role of religion.
Daniel Fishley (2018-), FRQSC Doctoral Award (2020-2024), M.A.:2016 (University of Calgary), MTS: 2018 (University of Toronto). Daniel's research examines the relationship between Christian mystical theology and contemporary Continental philosophy. Specifically, his research seeks to evidence the impact and influence of key Christian mystical themes as expressed in the work of theologians like Meister Eckhart and Pseudo-Dionysius on contemporary philosophers like Slavoj Žižek and Jean-Luc Marion.
Photo of Elyse MacLeod Elyse MacLeod (Ph.D. 2018-), holds an M.A. in philosophy of religion from Concordia University, where she studied Quebec’s ‘accommodation crisis’ through the lens of Gadamerian philosophical hermeneutics. Her Ph.D. research focuses on meta-theory in the study of religion, and how this discourse can be critically supplemented by both Philosophical Hermeneutics and Affect Theory. More specifically, her work seeks to offer a hermeneutical/affect-oriented critique of the emerging discipline of interreligious studies and demonstrate how this critique can help further the stated goals of the discipline. Elyse is an FRQSC Doctoral Award recipient, a former oral history fellow at the Museum of Jewish Montreal, and co-editor of the Journal of the Council for Research on Religion.
Matthew Nini (2017-) holds an M.A. in Philosophy of Religion (McGill), during which he was a SSHRC-CGM Fellow. Now a doctoral student at the same university, he has received McGill University Tomlinson and Max Stern Fellowships. Nini has participated at numerous academic conferences both in Canada and abroad, and has held research fellowships at the University of Strasbourg (France), and Albert-Ludwigs-Universität (Freiburg-im-Breisgau, Germany). His research focuses on the later philosophy of Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762-1814), one of the central figures of German Idealism, and the new historical trajectory that a re-evaluation of Fichte’s work inaugurates.
Adam Smith (2019-),MITACS- M.A.; 2019 in  Philosophy of Religion (McGill). McGill Arts Graduate Student Research Award (2020). Adam studies Michel Henry and his context within French philosophy of religion more broadly. In particular, his research is focused on Henry’s text L’essence de la manifestation and the sources Henry uses, particularly those drawn from German Idealism and Early Modern French philosophy, to stake out his philosophical and phenomenological positions. 




Recently Completed Supervisory Projects

PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Hadi Fakhoury (PhD, 2020). "F.W.J. Schelling’s Later Philosophy of Religion: A Study and Translation of ‘Der Monotheismus’"
SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship (2015-2018), M.A., 2013 in Islamic Studies (McGill). H. Fakhoury is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard Divinity School (2020).
Jingjing Li (PhD, 2019); "Same road, different tracks A comparative study of Edmund Husserl’s phenomenology and Chinese Yogācāra Philosophy."
PBEEE Doctoral Fellow (2013-2018), B.A., East China Normal University (ECNU), M.A., ENS (Ecole Normale Supérieur) - ECNU Graduate Program in Early Modern Chinese Philosophy, OeAD Fellow at the University of Vienna, ECNU Award for research at the University of Copenhagen.  She has published in both English and Chinese on Yogacara Buddhism, Husserl’s phenomenology, modern Chinese Buddhism, modern Confucianism, and German idealism (Kant and Fichte). Dr. Li is an Assistant Professor (UD) at the Institute of Philosophy, Universiteit Leiden.
Paolo Livieri (Ph.D., 2019) obtained his Ph.D. at the School of Religious Studies with a thesis entitled: "F.H. Jacobi's' On divine things and their revelation.' A study and translation.
He is currently JSPS Fellow at the Department of Philosophy, Hosei University (Tokyo, Japan).
Ph.D. at the University of Padova (Italy), FQRSC Fellow at McGill (2014-2017), Post-Doc at Aachen University (Germany). Research activities at the Universities of Bochum and Münster (Germany), Hosei (Japan), Padova and Verona (Italy). He is author of books, essays, translations and editions in the field of German Idealism.

Master of Arts

Jacob Benjamins (M.A., 2014); “Metaphor and Phenomenology of Religion: Paul Ricoeur's Hermeneutics and the Inter-Animation of Discourses.”

Anne-Marie de Vreede (M.A., 2019);"The nature of consciousness in Fichte's philosophy of religion (1804-1806): a blessed life as the vocation of humankind."

Matthew Nini (M.A., 2015; SSHRC M.A. Fellow); “Analogy as the Foundation of a Transcendental Thomism in the works of Joseph Maréchal.”

Adam Smith (M.A., 2019); "Michel Henry's ontology of corpore-l self-knowledge: an interpretation of Philosophie et phénoménologie du corps"

Elvira Vitouchanskaia (M.A., 2014; FQRSC M.A. Fellow); “The Transcendental Idea of ‘Religion’: Kant and Fichte.”

Wawrzyniec Jack Prus (M.A., 2016); “Materializing Religion: The New Materialism in Religious Studies.”

Post Doctoral

James Bryson (SSHRC Post-Doctoral Fellow), “Franz von Baader's Philosophy of Religion: A Neo-Platonic Response to Hegelian Idealism.” (2013-2015)

Roberto Formisano (European Union-Marie Curie Post-Doctoral Fellow); “Kant et Michel Henry: Une phénoménologie transcendantale.” (2014-15)

Marina Pisano  (PhD, Philosophy, University of Cagliari), Globusdoc Graduate Research Trainee, “What is Passed Over in Silence in Michel Henry’s Philosophy”. (2019-2020)

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