Charles Taliaferro Profile

Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Emeritus Oscar and Gertrude Boe Overby Distinguished Professor

Member, Cambridge Centre for the Study of Platonism, Cambridge University

Office Hours: I am fully vaccinated and can meet on the St. Olaf campus by appointment or by zoom. The St. Olaf mailing address is fine, but mail will be more immediate if sent to: Dr. Charles Taliaferro, 510 Groveland Avenue (#222), Mpls, MN 55403. Phone 612-353-5776

Charles Taliaferro BA (Goddard College), MA (University of Rhode Island), Master of Theological Studies (Harvard Divinity School), MA, Ph.D. (Brown University) has been a professor at Sl. Olaf College for 36 years where he served as Chair of the Philosophy Department (2013-2019), teaching previously at the University of Massachusetts, the University of Notre Dame, and Middlesex Community College. He is the author, co-author or editor of over 35 books, four published by Cambridge University Press; three of his books are audio books that can be ordered here:

Aesthetics: A Beginner’s Guide
Philosophy of Religion: A Beginner’s Guide
A Brief History of the Soul

His books and papers have been translated into Russian, Chinese, Portugues, German, Farsi, Korean, Spanish, and Turkish (in process). He is the Editor-in-Chief of Open Theology and is on the editorial boards of Sophia, Religious Studies Review, and Philosophy Compass. He has given invited lectures at Oxford, Cambridge, Saint Andrews, the University of Glasgow, Uppsala University, Copenhagen University, the Gregorian (Rome), the University of London, the University of Toronto, Mount Royal University, the University of Chicago, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, NYU, the University of Wisconsin, Middlebury, Carleton, Macalister, and at universities in China, Russia, Brazil, Germany, and Austria.  He has co-authored over twenty book chapters and articles with St. Olaf undergraduate students and recent graduates. With Elsa Marty (St. Olaf grad, University of Chicago doctoral student), he co-edited two editions of A Dictionary in Philosophy of Religion (London: Bloomsbury, 2010, 2018) involving over 35 scholars. He is the co-editor with Chad Meister of a six volume The History of Evil (Routledge). He is the senior co-editor with Stewart Goetz of the four volume The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Philosophy of Religion, with four Associate Editors, 15 Assistant Editors, over 450 entries by over 350 scholars from around the world.

Two of his most recent books: Is God Invisible? An Essay on Religion and Aesthetics, co-authored with Jil Evans. Here is an endorsement by Margaret Miles:

“What does it mean to describe God as invisible? How does this relate to God’s transcendence? And in what sense, if any, can God be manifested in experience? Taliaferro and Evans offer an important, timely, and original contribution to these pressing questions, writing with erudition, enthusiasm, and depth, and engaging with a huge variety of thinkers and artists who have engaged with the relevant issues. Their approach is truly interdisciplinary, it cuts across the supposed distinction between analytic and continental philosophy, and it offers a compelling framework in terms of which to comprehend the relation between self and God. This remarkable book is a must-read for anyone interested in philosophy of religion, theology, aesthetics, and the question of life’s meaning.”

Taliaferro is the author of Religions; A Quick Immersion. Here are two endorsements:

“You will not find a better guide for a quick immersion into religion than Charles Taliaferro. With his erudite knowledge of the history and nature of religion, his even-handed presentation, and his concise and engaging prose, he takes the reader on a journey in this book that is both stimulating and highly instructive. A splendid read!”
– Chad Meister, Professor of Philosophy and Theology, Bethel University

“Serious without being sombre, Religions: A Quick Immersion provides a comprehensive account of the breadth and depth of the worldviews of the major world religions. As it does so, it displays much learning, lightly worn.”
– T. J. Mawson, University of Oxford

Taliaferro reports that the great love of his life has been 40 years of professor-student relations; to be continued… Two drawings of CT by students:

Charles in October 2019 with two Rugby philosophy students.

Taliaferro reports: “I am in awe of the diversity of professions that students have gone on to undertake after graduation, including becoming professors in Philosophy, Theology, Religious Studies, Classics, History, English, and Archeology, teachers in High School, lawyers in multiple fields including Space Law at the U.S. Space Command in Colorado, medical doctors, dentists, nurses, and health professionals, social workers, therapists, vetinarians, the arts (painting, music, filmmaking, theatre), the religious life (two monks, one nun, an Orthodox Bishop, and many Pastors), working in business and financial firms, insurance and real estate, chefs and food industry, farmers, librarians, a pilot, stand-up comedy, circus work, a police officer, the military, a magician, scientists (physics, chemistry, biology, ecology) and mathematics, professional sports, computer companies, two novelists, and more. It has been a huge honor to have worked with each of them when they were in college or university.”

Charles’s CV may be found here.

His television work on Mental Engineering may be found here.

Professor Taliaferro rarely uses conventional mid-term or final exams. Instead, Taliaferro assigns students “creative finals” in which they can create some final project that reflects some aspect of the course they have taken. In the course Philosophical Theology two students made a casket with the writings of Kierkegaard printed on the inside and outside, encouraging the professor and class members to enter the casket to contemplate the meaning of life and death.

Prof. Taliaferro contemplating Kierkegaard.