In today’s modern parlance, a symposium is a meeting or conference of experts convened to discuss a specific subject, usually in front of an audience. In Ancient Greece a symposium was a drinking party that featured intellectual conversation. Anyone who has ever been to an academic symposium knows that sometimes the best discussions happen at the Greek-inspired symposiums in the evenings. Perhaps the ancient Greeks knew what they were doing.
Terrible puns aside, we have founded this space, inspired by both meanings of the term, for Christian Ethicists who span denominational and ideological boundaries to engage in thoughtful discussion about a variety of contemporary topics, in public. Our roster of contributors (professors, scholars, activists, and graduate students) are experts in Christian ethical traditions who are committed to collegially exploring their ideas in public spaces. None of us profess to have “the” Christian ethical perspective on any issue. In fact, one of the purposes of this space is to demonstrate that there are multiple “Christian” ways of approaching an issue. And, that those multiple approaches sometimes conflict and contradict. Imagine that!
The most famous symposium in history belongs to Plato, whose magisterial work, Συμπόσιον, laid the foundation for philosophical ethical exploration for the past 2.5 millennia. Plato’s Symposium features a (fictional) drinking conversation between seven people who seek to define the origins, purpose, and meaning of love. Some of our colleagues would argue that this remains the chief function of Christian ethics, to define love and illustrate how humanity ought to conduct itself to attain and sustain it. The ethicists who contribute to this space, imbibed on the new wine of Christ, simply wish to continue along the path that Plato set out for us. Thus, we are humbled to present to you, Symposium Ethics: An Online Communion of Christian Ethicists.