About

Overview

Helen De Cruz

I hold the Danforth Chair in the Humanities at Saint Louis University.

Before, I had appointments as Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) at Oxford Brookes University, assistant professor at the VU Amsterdam, postdoctoral fellow of the British Academy at Oxford University, FWO postdoctoral fellow at the University of Leuven, and as Templeton residential fellow at Oxford University. I obtained my PhD in philosophy at the University of Groningen in 2011, and a PhD in archaeology and art sciences at the Free University Brussels in 2007. I have a broad range of interests, but my main areas of specialization are philosophy of cognitive science and philosophy of religion. In addition, I have published work in general philosophy of science, epistemology, aesthetics, and metaphilosophy.

Most of my published work attempts to understand why humans engage in philosophy, religious reflection, mathematics, art, and science. We spend what seem on the face of it outlandish amounts of time and energy on these pursuits, which appear to be inessential in keeping us alive in the struggle for survival and reproduction. Why do we make life even more complicated than it already is? Yet, even in times and places where humans did not have access to such things as industrial crop farming, modern medicine, and fossil-fuel powered technology, we enjoyed these excesses. Art, philosophy, and religion lay serious claims to being true human universals. If humans across times and cultures have found these pursuits worthwhile, we should ask why this is so. In my view, culture serves human needs and interests of us as biological organisms. They help us to expand our cognitive limitations and enhance our abilities.

An image still from me talking to Robert Kuhn in Closer to Truth

This work also has a normative dimension: I believe culture ought to serve these needs, which I situate in our reality as biological, evolved organisms and which include spiritual, emotional, and epistemic needs. Probably the best synthesis of this overarching project is my recent book Wonderstruck (Princeton University Press, 2024). Another example is my co-authored book with Johan De Smedt, A Natural History of Natural Theology (MIT Press, 2014) which presents a critique and evaluation of arguments for the existence of God as constrained and conditioned by human cognitve dispositions.

You can watch a 4-minute video of my views on culture with Closer to Truth here.

On this webpage, you can download papers, find my contact details, my CV, information about my research, past and current research projects, teaching resources, and public philosophy and other activities.

Editorial responsibilities

I am currently (from July 2023) editor-in-chief for Res Philosophica, associate editor for Ergo, editorial board member of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and editorial board member for the section on Religion in Philosophy and Theology, Mohr Siebeck Verlag

I was also executive editor for Journal of Analytic Theology, and managing editor for Faith and Philosophy. Both roles I handed over in 2023, so as to better concentrate on Res Philosophica.

Further, I am on the editorial board for Religious Studies, Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science, Philosophical Psychology and The Philosophical Forum.

Biographical notes

Helen De Cruz

Longer academic bio (200 words):

Helen De Cruz holds the Danforth Chair in the Humanities at Saint Louis University. Her work examines why and how humans engage in pursuits that seem remote from the immediate concerns of survival and reproduction, such as theology, mathematics, and science. She is author of several monographs, most recently Wonderstruck: How Awe and Wonder Shape the Way We Think (Princeton University Press, forthcoming) and Religious Disagreement (Cambridge University, 2019). She has recently edited and illustrated the volume Philosophy Illustrated: Forty-Two Thought Experiments to Broaden Your Mind (Oxford University Press, 2022), and is co-editor of Philosophy through Science Fiction Stories (with Johan De Smedt and Eric Schwitzgebel, Bloomsbury, 2021), as well as of Avatar: The Last Airbender and Philosophy (forthcoming with Wiley). Her papers have appeared in journals such as Philosophical Studies, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Philosophers' Imprint. In addition to her PhD in Philosophy (2011, University of Groningen), she holds a PhD in Archaeology and Art Sciences (2007, Free University of Brussels). She has written public philosophy for among others the Guardian, Aeon, Psyche, and The Raven Magazine. In her spare time, she writes short fiction that has appeared in venues such as EscapePod and Hyphenpunk, and plays the Renaissance lute and archlute.

Helen De Cruz

Shorter academic bio (100 words):

Helen De Cruz holds the Danforth Chair in the Humanities at Saint Louis University. She is author of Wonderstruck: How Awe and Wonder Shape the Way We Think (Princeton University Press, in press), Religious Disagreement (Cambridge University, 2019), and she has edited and illustrated Philosophy Illustrated: Forty-Two Thought Experiments to Broaden Your Mind (Oxford University Press, 2022). In addition to her PhD in philosophy (2011, University of Groningen), she holds a PhD in archaeology and art sciences (2007, Free University of Brussels).

Fiction bio (70 words):

Helen De Cruz is a Philosophy Professor, holder of the Danforth Chair in the Humanities at Saint Louis University. In their spare time, they play the Renaissance lute and archlute. They write fiction, and draw and paint. Their fiction has appeared in EscapePod, HyphenPunk, and Kaleidotrope. They are co-editor, with Eric Schwitzgebel and Johan De Smedt, of the anthology Philosophy Through Science Fiction Stories (Bloomsbury, 2021).

Links

You can also find information about me on the following websites: