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Dr Simon Ravenscroft

Dr Simon Ravenscroft

Research Associate


Simon joined the VHI in April 2015, having recently completed his PhD in philosophy of religion at Peterhouse, University of Cambridge. His doctoral research was funded by the AHRC, and concerned a critical re-interpretation of the work of the radical Catholic social theorist and philosopher of history Ivan Illich (1926-2002).

Alongside his work at the VHI, Simon is an active member of the Policy Fellows Network at Cambridge University's Centre of Science and Policy, meeting senior figures from Whitehall and the wider policy community to advise on social and economic policy matters from a humanities perspective; he lectures for Michigan State University’s ‘Integrated Arts and Humanities’ Study Abroad Programme and for the Sutton Trust as part of their access scheme for Cambridge. He co-led for several years an inter-departmental reading group in phenomenology, held at Corpus Christi College, and at the VHI has co-organised the 'St Paul and Radical Philosophy' reading group in 2016, and the 'Forms of Life, Forms of Discourse' seminar in 2017. He led the organisation of the 2015 'Patents on Life' conference, and is continuing work on an edited volume issuing from that event.

In June 2016, he was elected to a Murphy Research Fellowship by the Terrence J. Murphy Institute, University of St Thomas, Minnesota, a role for which he will continue to be based at the VHI.

Research Interests

Simon’s work sits at the intersection of theology, philosophy, literature, political and social theory, and economics. He is particularly concerned to investigate the origins and guiding assumptions of economic modernity (widely construed), to resist the reduction of cultural and social goods to narrowly economic and utilitarian factors, and to develop a constructive social ethics around the value of shared experience. With this in mind, Simon is exploring new research on the social and political significance of laughter, and the paradox of 'wise folly', drawing primarily on sources in theology, philosophy, and literature. Areas of interest include ‘Pauline folly’ in the New Testament, wherein divine wisdom is depicted as human foolishness; historical traditions of the Holy Fool, the court jester, and mediaeval carnival; ‘wise folly’ as a prominent theme in the Renaissance, especially in the work of Erasmus, Rabelais and Shakespeare; and contemporary renditions of the comic, folly, irony, ambivalence and their social significance, both scholarly and artistic, including by Henri Bergson, Mikhail Bakhtin, Vladimir Propp, G. K. Chesterton, Sigmund Freud, Simone de Beauvoir, Enid Welsford, Samuel Beckett, and Umberto Eco.

Key Publications

Selected academic

  • Patents on Life: Through the Lenses of Law, Religion, and Global Justice (co-edited with Thomas C. Berg and Roman Cholij – title tbc). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2018/19.
  • “Charité, amour et don dans l'oeuvre d'Ivan Illich”. In Ivan Illich, l'alchimiste des possibles, edited by Martin Fortier and Thierry Paquot, 165-211. Paris: Lemieux Editeur, 2016.
  • "Producing Happiness: Huxley and Dostoevsky on Love and Politics". Noesis: Theology, Philosophy, Poetics 2 (2015): 47-55.

 Popular articles, essays etc.


Centre of Science & Policy:

Twitter: @S_R_Ravenscroft


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