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Von Hügel Institute

for Critical Catholic Inquiry


Simon joined the VHI in April 2015, having recently completed his PhD in philosophy of religion at Peterhouse, 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).

At the VHI Simon 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.

He was Murphy Research Fellow at the VHI from June 2016 to August 2017, a position held in conjunction with the Murphy Institute at the University of St Thomas, Minnesota. He is Outreach Fellow in the Arts at Magdalene College, Cambridge.


My past research has criss-crossed the disciplines of theology, philosophy, literature, political and social theory, and economics. Broadly I try to be open to any topic that allows me to bring philosophical and theological reasoning to bear in interesting ways on issues of contemporary social, political, economic, and/or existential significance. Unfortunately, this means that my work has tended to be somewhat unsystematic and ad hoc. My doctoral thesis was on the work of the late Catholic radical Ivan Illich, re-examining his thinking around the fate of social relations under conditions of economic modernity. A major postdoctoral project has been on the ethical issues surrounding the patenting of life forms, bringing moral, religious, and political considerations into conversation with developments in law and biotechnology, and will conclude with the publication of a co-edited volume with Cambridge University Press in 2019. My latest research is on laughter, exploring what life in its comic aspect has to do with questions of power, knowledge, and religious faith.


Key publications: 

Selected academic

  • “Play and Interruption as a Mode of Human Action in Arendt, Dostoevsky, and Kharms”. Janus Head 19 (2021): forthcoming. 
  • “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.

 Popular books, articles, essays etc.

  • "Producing Happiness: Huxley and Dostoevsky on Love and Politics". Noesis: Theology, Philosophy, Poetics 2 (2015): 47-55.


Magdalene College:

Centre of Science & Policy:

Twitter: @S_R_Ravenscroft


Research Associate
Outreach Fellow, Director of Studies and College Lecturer in TRPR, Magdalene College, Cambridge
Director of Studies in TRPR, St Edmund's College, Cambridge
Dr Simon  Ravenscroft

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