Dewi Zephaniah Phillips

Dewi Zephaniah Phillips (24 November 1934 – 25 July 2006), known as D. Z. Phillips, Dewi Z, Dizzy, or simply DZ, was a Welsh philosopher. He was a leading proponent of Wittgensteinian philosophy of religion. He had an academic career spanning five decades, and at the time of his death he held the Danforth Chair in Philosophy of religion at Claremont Graduate University, California, and was Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Swansea University.

Dewi Zephaniah Phillips
Dewi Zephaniah Phillips
Dewi Phillips late in life
Born24 November 1934
Died25 July 2006 (aged 71)
Alma materSwansea University
Era20th-century philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
SchoolAnalytic philosophy
Main interests
Philosophy of religion, ethics, philosophy of literature
Notable ideas
A new role for the philosophy of religion: not in uniting theology and philosophy, but in recognising and analysing their different functions[1]


Dewi Zephaniah Phillips was born in Swansea, South Wales, on 24 November 1934. He was the youngest son of David and Alice Phillips, and one of three brothers. (He was predeceased by the Reverend Cadfan Phillips and Keri Phillips.) He attended the Bishop Gore School, Swansea, and studied at Swansea University (1952–58) and the University of Oxford (St Catherine's Society) (1958–61).

From 1959 until 1961 he was Minister of Fabian’s Bay Congregational Church, Swansea. In 1959 he married Margaret Monica Hanford. They would have three sons, Aled, Steffan and Rhys – and four grandchildren, Ceri, Bethan, Sian and Emyr.

Phillips began his academic career at Queen's College, Dundee, in 1961, before joining the University College of North Wales, Bangor, in 1963.

In 1965 he returned to Swansea University, to take up a lectureship in the Department of Philosophy. Promoted to a senior lectureship in 1967, he became professor and head of department in 1971. He also served as Dean of the Faculty of Arts (1982–1985) and as a Vice-Principal (1989–1992).

In 1993 he was appointed Danforth Professor of Philosophy of Religion at the Claremont Graduate University in California, and thereafter divided his time between Claremont and Swansea where, in 1996, he became the Rush Rhees Professor Emeritus and Director of the Rush Rhees Archives and Peter Winch Archives based in Swansea University. He held both positions until his death in 2006.

Phillips gave many endowed lectures during his tenure at California's Claremont Graduate University. These included the Cardinal Mercier Lectures (Leuven), Marett Lecture (Oxford), Riddell Lectures (Newcastle), McMartin Lectures (Carleton University, in Ottawa), Hintz Lecture (Tucson), the Aquinas Lecture (Oxford), and Vonhoff Lectures (Groningen).

His teachers at Swansea – J. R. Jones, R. F. Holland, Peter Winch, and, most importantly, Rush Rhees inspired an untiring devotion to philosophy. His research interests included the philosophy of religion, ethics, philosophy and literature, Simone Weil, Søren Kierkegaard, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. He contributed much to Swansea University's reputation as a centre of Wittgenstein's philosophy. Indeed, Phillips's distinctive contribution to philosophy, and a handful of other philosophers associated with Swansea, is recognised among professional philosophers as "the Swansea school" of philosophy.

The Swansea school of thought is, perhaps, most thoroughly articulated as a positive research program in Phillips' own book on the subject, "Philosophy's Cool Place" (1999), in which he argues for the merits of "contemplative philosophy." On this view, philosophy is an activity involving both inquiries about reality and elucidations of the various contexts in which people live and speak. In contrast to the New Wittgenstein school of thought, philosophy is not limited to purely "therapeutic" treatments and the removing of philosophical confusion. Here, Phillips is primarily indebted to the work of Rush Rhees. For Phillips, what gives philosophy its unique disciplinary feature is its primary concern with the question of the nature of reality: "How can philosophy give an account of reality which shows that it is necessary to go beyond simply noting differences between various modes of discourse, without invoking a common measure of 'the real' or assuming that all modes of discourse have a common subject, namely, Reality?"[2]

Outside philosophy and academia, his commitment to the language and culture of Wales was clear. He was instrumental in the founding of the Taliesin Arts Centre on the university campus in Swansea, and promoted the use of the Welsh language in local schools. He was honoured by membership of the Gorsedd Circle of the National Eisteddfod.

Phillips died of a heart attack in Swansea University Library, on 25 July 2006. He was 71.

Published works

D. Z. Phillips was perhaps best known for his publications in the philosophy of religion, but he has also published articles in ethics, philosophy and literature, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Welsh language publications in Welsh literature. He was editor of the journal Philosophical Investigations (Blackwells) and the Swansea Series in Philosophy (Palgrave), as well as the Claremont Studies in the Philosophy of Religion and Wittgensteinian Studies series. Selected publications:

  • Athronyddu Am Grefydd (Philosophising About Religion)
  • Belief, Change and Forms of Life
  • Concept of Prayer, The
  • Death and Immortality
  • Dramâu Gwenlyn Parry
  • Faith after Foundationalism
  • Faith and Philosophical Enquiry
  • From Fantasy to Faith
  • Ffiniau (Y Lolfa)
  • Interventions in Ethics,London: Blackwell, 1992
  • Introducing Philosophy: The Challenge of Scepticism
  • Kant and Kierkegaard on Religion (co-edited with Timothy Tessin)
  • Moral Practices (with H O Mounce)
  • Philosophy's Cool Place
  • Problem of Evil and the Problem of God (2005)
  • Recovering Religious Concepts
  • Religion and Friendly Fire
  • Religion and Hume's Legacy (co-edited with Timothy Tessin)
  • Religion and the Hermeneutics of Contemplation
  • Religion without Explanation
  • R.S. Thomas: Poet of the Hidden God
  • Sense and Delusion (with Ilham Dilman)
  • Through a Darkening Glass, Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1982
  • Wittgenstein and Religion
  • Wittgensteinian Fideism? (Co-written with Kai Nielsen)


  1. ^ Philosophy of Religion (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
  2. ^ DZ Phillips, Philosophy's Cool Place (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1999), 11.

External links

1934 in Wales

This article is about the particular significance of the year 1934 to Wales and its people.

2006 in Wales

This article is about the particular significance of the year 2006 to Wales and its people.

Bishop Gore School

The Bishop Gore School (Welsh: Ysgol Esgob Gore) is a secondary school in Swansea in Wales, founded on 14 September 1682 by Hugh Gore (1613–1691), Bishop of Waterford and Lismore. It is situated in Sketty, close to Singleton Park and Swansea University. In December 2013 the school was ranked in the second highest of five bands by the Welsh Government, based on performance in exams, value added performance, disadvantaged pupils' performance, and attendance.


Dewi may refer to either a Welsh or Southeast Asian name. Neither is pronounced as "dewy".

Irenaean theodicy

The Irenaean theodicy is a Christian theodicy (a response to the problem of evil). It defends the probability of an omnipotent and omnibenevolent (all-powerful and perfectly loving) God in the face of evidence of evil in the world. Numerous variations of theodicy have been proposed which all maintain that, while evil exists, God is either not responsible for creating evil, or he is not guilty for creating evil. Typically, the Irenaean theodicy asserts that the world is the best of all possible worlds because it allows humans to fully develop. Most versions of the Irenaean theodicy propose that creation is incomplete, as humans are not yet fully developed, and experiencing evil and suffering is necessary for such development.

Second-century philosopher and theologian Irenaeus, after whom the theodicy is named, proposed a two-stage creation process in which humans require free will and the experience of evil to develop. Another early Christian theologian, Origen, presented a response to the problem of evil which cast the world as a schoolroom or hospital for the soul; theologian Mark Scott has argued that Origen, rather than Irenaeus, ought to be considered the father of this kind of theodicy. Friedrich Schleiermacher argued in the nineteenth century that God must necessarily create flawlessly, so this world must be the best possible world because it allows God's purposes to be naturally fulfilled. In 1966, philosopher John Hick discussed the similarities of the preceding theodicies, calling them all "Irenaean". He supported the view that creation is incomplete and argued that the world is best placed for the full moral development of humans, as it presents genuine moral choices. British philosopher Richard Swinburne proposed that, to make a free moral choice, humans must have experience of the consequences of their own actions and that natural evil must exist to provide such choices.

The development of process theology has challenged the Irenaean tradition by teaching that God's power is limited and that he cannot be responsible for evil. Twentieth-century philosopher Alvin Plantinga opposed the idea that this is the best possible world, arguing that there could always be at least one more good person, in every possible world. His free will defence was not a theodicy because he was trying to show the logical compatibility of evil and the existence of God, rather than the probability of God. D. Z. Phillips and Fyodor Dostoyevsky challenged the instrumental use of suffering, suggesting that love cannot be expressed through suffering. However, Dostoyevsky also states that the beauty of love is evident, in that love can continue to grow, withstand and overcome even the most evil acts. Michael Tooley argued that the magnitude of suffering is excessive and that, in some cases, cannot lead to moral development. French theologian Henri Blocher criticised Hick's universalism, arguing that such a view negates free will, which was similarly important to the theodicy.

James Francis Ross

James Francis Ross (October 9, 1931 – July 12, 2010) was an American philosopher. James Ross, a creative thinker in philosophy of religion, law, metaphysics and philosophy of mind, was a member of the Philosophy Department at the University of Pennsylvania from 1962 until his death. He published widely.

List of Welsh people

This is a list of Welsh people (Welsh: rhestr Cymry); an ethnic group and nation associated with Wales.

Historian John Davies argues that the origin of the Welsh nation can be traced to the late 4th and early 5th centuries, following the Roman departure from Britain, although Brythonic or other Celtic languages seem to have been spoken in Wales since much earlier.This list is for people of Welsh heritage and descent, and for those otherwise perceived as Welsh; through either birth or adoption. Only those meeting notability criteria are included. A few people appear in more than one section of the list.

List of Welsh writers

List of Welsh writers is an incomplete alphabetical list of writers from Wales. It includes writers in all literary genres, writing in English, Welsh, Latin, or any other language. Description as a writer precedes other occupations. It is a subsidiary to the List of Welsh people. See also List of Welsh-language authors, List of Welsh women writers and List of Welsh-language poets (6th century to c. 1600). Abbreviations: c. = about, fl. = active; B = writing in Brythonic, C = writing in Chinese, E = writing in English (including Middle English), F = writing in French, G = writing in German, L = writing in Latin, sl = writing in sign language, W = writing in Welsh (including Middle Welsh).

List of important publications in philosophy

This is a list of important publications in philosophy, organized by field. The publications on this list are regarded as important because they have served or are serving as one or more of the following roles:

Foundation – A publication whose ideas would go on to be the foundation of a topic or field within philosophy.

Breakthrough – A publication that changed or added to philosophical knowledge significantly.

Influence – A publication that has had a significant impact on the academic study of philosophy or the world.

List of people from Swansea

This is a list of notable people born in, or associated with, the city of Swansea, in Britain.

Marett Lecture

The Robert Ranulph Marett Memorial Lectureship at Exeter College, Oxford is a memorial lecture established in memory of R. R. Marett, D.Litt., D.Sc., F.B.A., Rector of the College 1928-43, by subscribers to a Memorial Fund.

Problem of religious language

The problem of religious language considers whether it is possible to talk about God meaningfully if the traditional conceptions of God as being incorporeal, infinite, and timeless, are accepted. Because these traditional conceptions of God make it difficult to describe God, religious language has the potential to be meaningless. Theories of religious language either attempt to demonstrate that such language is meaningless, or attempt to show how religious language can still be meaningful.

Traditionally, religious language has been explained as via negativa, analogy, symbolism, or myth, each of which describes a way of talking about God in human terms. The via negativa is a way of referring to God according to what God is not; analogy uses human qualities as standards against which to compare divine qualities; symbolism is used non-literally to describe otherwise ineffable experiences; and a mythological interpretation of religion attempts to reveal fundamental truths behind religious stories. Alternative explanations of religious language cast it as having political, performative, or imperative functions.

Empiricist David Hume's requirement that claims about reality must be verified by evidence influenced the logical positivist movement, particularly the philosopher A. J. Ayer. The movement proposed that, for a statement to hold meaning, it must be possible to verify its truthfulness empirically – with evidence from the senses. Consequently, the logical positivists argued that religious language must be meaningless because the propositions it makes are impossible to verify. Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein has been regarded as a logical positivist by some academics because he distinguished between things that can and cannot be spoken about; others have argued that he could not have been a logical positivist because he emphasised the importance of mysticism. British philosopher Antony Flew proposed a similar challenge based on the principle that, in so far as assertions of religious belief cannot be empirically falsified, religious statements are rendered meaningless.

The analogy of games – most commonly associated with Ludwig Wittgenstein – has been proposed as a way of establishing meaning in religious language. The theory asserts that language must be understood in terms of a game: just as each game has its own rules determining what can and cannot be done, so each context of language has its own rules determining what is and is not meaningful. Religion is classified as a possible and legitimate language game which is meaningful within its own context. Various parables have also been proposed to solve the problem of meaning in religious language. R. M. Hare used his parable of a lunatic to introduce the concept of "bliks" – unfalsifiable beliefs according to which a worldview is established – which are not necessarily meaningless. Basil Mitchell used a parable to show that faith can be logical, even if it seems unverifiable. John Hick used his parable of the Celestial City to propose his theory of eschatological verification, the view that if there is an afterlife, then religious statements will be verifiable after death.

Simone Weil

Simone Adolphine Weil (; French: [simɔn vɛj] (listen); 3 February 1909 – 24 August 1943) was a French philosopher, mystic, and political activist. The mathematician André Weil was her brother.After her graduation from formal education, Weil became a teacher. She taught intermittently throughout the 1930s, taking several breaks due to poor health and to devote herself to political activism, work that would see her assisting in the trade union movement, taking the side of the Anarchists known as the Durruti Column in the Spanish Civil War, and spending more than a year working as a labourer, mostly in auto factories, so she could better understand the working class.

Taking a path that was unusual among twentieth-century left-leaning intellectuals, she became more religious and inclined towards mysticism as her life progressed. Weil wrote throughout her life, though most of her writings did not attract much attention until after her death. In the 1950s and 1960s, her work became famous in continental Europe and throughout the English-speaking world. Her thought has continued to be the subject of extensive scholarship across a wide range of fields. A meta study from the University of Calgary found that between 1995 and 2012 over 2,500 new scholarly works had been published about her.Albert Camus described her as "the only great spirit of our times".

Swansea University

Swansea University (Welsh: Prifysgol Abertawe) is a public research university located in Swansea, Wales, United Kingdom. It was chartered as University College of Swansea in 1920, as the fourth college of the University of Wales. In 1996, it changed its name to the University of Wales Swansea following structural changes within the University of Wales. The title of Swansea University was formally adopted on 1 September 2007 when the University of Wales became a non-membership confederal institution and the former members became universities in their own right.Swansea University has 7 colleges spread across its two campuses which are located on the coastline of Swansea Bay. The Singleton Park Campus is set in the grounds of Singleton Park to the west of Swansea city centre. The £450 million Bay Campus, which opened in September 2015, is located adjacent to Jersey Marine Beach to the east of Swansea city centre which is in the Neath Port Talbot Area.

It is the third largest university in Wales in terms of number of students. It currently offers about 330 undergraduate courses and 120 post-graduate courses to 19,160 undergraduate and postgraduate students. In 2014 Swansea was named University of the Year in the Student Choice Awards and shortlisted in the same category in the Times Higher Education awards.In 2016, Swansea University was named as the best university in Wales by The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017 League Table. It was also awarded the inaugural Welsh University of the Year title.In 2017, Hillary Rodham Clinton received an honorary doctorate at Swansea University and unveiled a commemorative stone to mark the renaming of the College of Law to the Hillary Rodham Clinton School of Law.

Zephaniah (name)

Zephaniah is both a given name and surname. Name is Hebrew origin and it means "God has hidden".

Notable people with the name include:

Zephaniah Webster Bunce (1787–1889), American businessman

Zephaniah Kingsley Sr. (1734–1792), British merchant

Zephaniah Kingsley (1765–1843), American planter

Zephaniah Alexander Looby (1899–1972), American lawyer

Zephaniah Swift Moore (1770–1823), American Congregational clergyman

Zephaniah Ncube (born 1957), Zimbabwean long-distance runner

Zephaniah Platt (1735–1807), American politician

Zephaniah Platt (1796–1871), American politician

Zephaniah Skinner (born 1989), Australian rules footballer

Zephaniah Swift (1759–1823), American author

Zephaniah Thomas (born 1989), English footballer

Zephaniah Turner, Jr. (1812–1876), American politician

Zephaniah Williams (1795–1874), Welsh Chartist

Benjamin Zephaniah (born 1958), British writer and dub poet with West Indian roots

John Zephaniah Bell (1794–1883), Scottish artist

John Zephaniah Holwell (1711–1798), British surgeon

Dewi Zephaniah Phillips (1934–2006), Welsh philosopher

Charles Zephaniah Platt (1773–1822), American politician

Related articles
Concepts in religion
Conceptions of God
Existence of God
Religious language
Problem of evil
Philosophersof religion

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