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Dr Douglas Hedley

Dr Douglas Hedley

Reader in Hermeneutics and Metaphysics

Fellow, Clare College

Research Committee

Douglas Hedley is accepting applications for PhD students.

Office Phone: 01223 763028


Dr Douglas Hedley is Principal Investigator on the AHRC grant The Cambridge Platonists at the Origins of Enlightenment: texts, debates, and reception (1650-1730).

In 2013-14, Douglas Hedley was a Templeton Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Studies, University of Notre Dame.

Douglas Hedley is also co-chair of the Platonism and Neoplatonism section of the American Academy of Religion and a past Secretary of the British Society for the Philosophy of Religion and past President of the European Society for the Philosophy of Religion.

In March 2002 he was Directeur d'études invité at the EPHE, Sorbonne, and from January to March 2004 he was the Alan Richardson Fellow of the Theology Department in Durham. He is, with Lieven Boeve and Wim Drees, editor of the Series 'Studies in Philosophical Theology' published by Peeters in Leuven.

In December 2006 Douglas Hedley was the Teape lecturer in India, lecturing in Bangalore, Delhi, Kolkata and Hyderabad. He has been external examiner at the Universities of Manchester and Oxford.

Douglas Hedley studied Philosophy and Theology at Keble College, Oxford and in 1992 gained a doctorate in the Philosophy Faculty at the University of Munich under the supervision of Werner Beierwaltes. In 1993 he was awarded a post-doctoral Fellowship by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeindshaft for work on seventeenth century theology and the Cambridge Platonists.

In 1995 he taught at Nottingham University and in 1996 moved to the Divinity Faculty in Cambridge.

Additional Contact Information:

College Number: 01223 333255

Subject area and speciality

Philosophy of Religion specialists:
  • Contemporary philosophy of religion
  • History of Platonism-Neoplatonism
  • Early modern philosophy
  • Romanticism and Idealism
Religious Studies specialists:
  • The Romantic appropriation of the Sanskrit tradition
  • Comparative philosophy of religion

Research Interests

  • Contemporary philosophy of religion
  • History of Platonism-Neoplatonism
  • Early modern philosophy
  • Romanticism and Idealism


  • First year introduction to Philosophy of Religion and Ethics, paper A8
  • Second year Philosophical Theology, paper B10
  • Self and Salvation, paper D1(g)
  • Imagination, paper D2(g)

Key Publications

Douglas Hedley has published a Trilogy on the religious imagination.

  • Living Forms of the Imagination is a philosophical and theological exploration of 'imagination' in religious belief. It grew out of a lecture given in Jena, developed into seminars in Paris, and was finished in Naples, the home of Vico. It is a defence of the High Romantic view of the Imagination as a 'repetition in the finite mind of the eternal act of creation in the infinite I AM'
  • The second volume, on sacrifice entitled Sacrifice Imagined: Violence, Atonement and the Sacred, was published by Continuum in 2011. This is a theme of many religions. Many critics of Christianity view it as not merely false but wicked because of its brutal and destructive component. Vico, De Maistre and Girard are key figures in the appraisal of the link between violence, sublimation of the individual will, and the sacred.
  • The final volume is entitled The Iconic Imagination. The link between imagination and the metaphysics of the "image" is explored in this concluding volume of the trilogy.

He has also published a major monograph on Coleridge's philosophy of religion.

More detailed information is available by looking at Douglas Hedley's CV.

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