Meredith Trexler Drees

Visiting Year: 2022-2023

I am currently a Research Fellow at Notre Dame's Center for Philosophy of Religion, as well as an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Religion and Philosophy at Kansas Wesleyan University. I am also the Director of Experiential Learning and the Wesleyan Journey Program. My areas of specialization include Iris Murdoch, Kant’s Critique of Judgment, Ancient Philosophy, Aesthetics, and Ethics. I have additional interests in Kant’s Theory of Religion, C.S. Lewis, Simone Weil, and Feminist Theology.

While at the Center for Philosophy of Religion, I am working on a manuscript, which is a subsequent development to my recent book, Aesthetic Experience and Moral Vision in Plato, Kant, and Murdoch: Looking Good/Being Good. This new manuscript centers around a Kantian-inspired version of Iris Murdoch's moral vision, where her Idea of Perfection is fleshed out as the perfect person -- the personified idea, Jesus, taken as a prototype (Vorbild); i.e., as a real empirical embodiment of Kant’s archetype (Urbild), or idea of moral perfection. I am considering how this move might shed light on underappreciated aspects of Murdoch and Kant, including the relationship between Jesus, sublimity, and self-sacrificial love, an apparent juxtaposition between Jesus and Lucifer in Kant’s philosophy, the question as to whether forgiveness is possible without God, belief in Jesus’ divinity, and the relationship between Achtung and pride. In my view, Kant’s affirmation of religion is the main area of life that can be revolutionized through a Murdochian kind of moral vision. By empowering us to call upon the divine archetype just as Jesus did, this vision gives us not only hope but also power.