Lorraine Keller

Religious Experience Residential Fellow

Lorraine is a visiting fellow with the Experience Project. She has been teaching at Niagara University since she received her Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame in 2012. Lorraine’s dissertation is an extended critique of the theory of structured propositions, and her published work continues to explore and critique this established view. More generally, her research is primarily situated at the intersection of the philosophy of language, metaphysics, and the philosophy of logic.

Lorraine’s project at Notre Dame involves applying recent work in philosophy of language and linguistics—specifically, work at the interface of semantics and pragmatics—to the problems of explaining how or whether we can think accurately and speak meaningfully about a transcendent being.
Lorraine's project also invokes the Carmelite mystical tradition—in particular, the works of Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross. According to Carmelite mysticism, the soul goes through a purgative process on its path to union with God, which involves the transformation of the soul’s cognitive and appetitive powers. The result is that the individual’s capacity to “grasp” God’s nature changes. What the mystic grasps is not, however, communicable in natural language. So there’s an interesting cluster of questions about in what such grasping consists: does the mystic grasp true contents (propositions?) about God that just aren’t expressible in human language? Or does she gain the ability to grasp some sort of non-conceptual content? Or is ‘content’ simply the wrong word for describing what she grasps?