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Matthew W. Fell


My project brings the philosophical anthropology of Thomas Aquinas into dialogue with contemporary scientific research concerning the evolutionary origins of language. The question of the origins of language has been described as the “hardest question in science” [Christiansen and Kirby, 2003] and I show that it tests the limits of modern philosophies of language. I advocate Aquinas’ thought as an alternative to modern accounts of knowledge and language and as a resource for the scientific inquiry.

I have a MA with distinction in Systematic and Philosophical Theology from the University of Nottingham (2018). During my MA I worked under Aaron Riches, Conor Cunningham and Simeon Zahl on projects that considered questions such as: the constituting relation between Christology and Christian metaphysics; how Pneumatology might inform theological reflections upon language; and the relevance of Thomas Aquinas for the current debate concerning the evolutionary origins of language. My doctorate work will build upon these projects and I intend to revise and publish some of them in the next year.

I also have a MA with distinction in Post-Colonial Studies from the University of Kent (2009). My undergraduate studies were in History and English and American Literature.

I am undertaking my PhD part time. For the rest of my working life I am the course director of a church internship program that serves a network of churches across Europe.

Subject area and speciality

Christian Theology specialists:

Creation, consciousness and language in Thomas Aquinas: How does Aquinas' understanding of these concepts relate to contemporary accounts of origins of human languages?

Research Interests

Theological accounts of language
Thomas Aquinas
Evolutionary theory and the doctrine of creation
Participatory metaphysics in the history of Christian doctrine
The history and beliefs of Charismatic Christianity
The reappropriation of traditional liturgy amongst Evangelicals

Other Professional Activities

Research assistent to Dr. Simeon Zahl, May 2019 to the present.

Panel chair for the Metaphysics session at the New Trinitarian Ontologies conference, Cambridge, September 2019

Noesis Seminar, March 2019, presenting a paper titled 'We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life ... and Language?'  (University of Cambridge)

Other Publications

“Signs in the Dust: A Theory of Natural Culture and Cultural Nature”,
Scottish Journal of Theology (2019) [forthcoming]

 “Essence in the Age of Evolution: A New Theory of Natural Kinds”,
Theology and Science (2019) [forthcoming]

 “The Evolution of the Sensitive Soul: Learning and the evolution of consciousness”,
Theology and Science (2019) [forthcoming]


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