skip to primary navigationskip to content

The D Society overview

The D Society is the main senior seminar in the faculty for Philosophy of Religion and Ethics. It is chaired by Professor Catherine Pickstock.

Professor Donald Mackinnon
Professor Donald Mackinnon

Papers are invited from a wide range of philosophers, philosophers of religion and ethicists, both internal to Cambridge and from outside. A short response paper from a graduate student or faculty member usually opens the discussion.

Founded in 1921 by Professor James Bethune-Baker, the D Society was originally a subscription society intended to supplement the (then) predominantly biblical emphases of the faculty to include doctrinal and philosophical discussion. Under Professor Donald MacKinnon's chairmanship it became the main locus in the university for the interaction between senior members of the Philosophy and Divinity faculties; and under Professor Nicholas Lash it was transformed into a regular senior seminar in the faculty. 

The seminar is open to all interested members of the University, and to visitors who may wish to attend. Graduate students in Philosophy of Religion and Ethics are encouraged to come from the beginning of their programme and to make the seminars, and the enjoyable tea that follows, a place of regular interaction.

Members of the D Society are also encouraged to attend the regular public lectures in Philosophy of Religion, including the Stanton Lectures.


 D Society 2016-2017: THE SACRIFICE OF ISAAC

This year, the D Society will be exploring the theme of THE SACRIFICE OF ISAAC from a range of perspectives: critical, theological, philosophical, artistic, poetical, musical, theatrical. The seminars will run from 28 October 2016 to 2 June 2017 during Full Term, from 1.30pm-3.30pm, with an informal lunch in the Selwyn Room 12.30-1.30pm for the speaker to meet
with graduate students.

Lent Term 2017 Programme:

 Meetings will be held at 1.30 in the Lightfoot Room, Faculty of Divinity.

  • 27th January: 'Benjamin Britten: "Abraham and Isaac"' ~ Mr Andrew Reid, Director of the Royal School of Church Music
  • 10th February: 'Grammars of Sacrifice: Ancient texts on futures, modalities, and what would have/could have/should have happened in Genesis 22' ~ Professor Yvonne Sherwood, Professor of Biblical Cultures and Politics
  • 24th February: “Obedience as a Religious Virtue: Aquinas and Kant on the Sacrifice of
    Isaac,” ~ Professor Rudi te Velde, Professor at the Tilburg School of Theology
  • 10th March 2017: “A Sacrifice Scene and an Unseen Sacrifice: Visual Depictions of Abraham
    and Isaac,” ~ Professor Ben Quash, Professor of Christianity and the Arts, King’s College, London


Easter Term 2017 Programme:

  • 5th May 2017: “Isaac and Iphigenaia: the sacrifice of tragedy,” ~ Dr Simone Kotva, Research Fellow, Emmanuel College, Cambridge
  • 19th May 2017: “Be My Knife: A contextual reading of the Akedah,” ~ Dr Diana Lipton, Lecturer in the Bible at the Hebrew University’s Rothberg International School
  • 9th June 2017: 'Myn offeryng I make': the Brome Mystery Play of Abraham and Isaac (A
    Festival Reading) ~ Christian Coppa,