Professor Mark Wynn

Professor Mark Wynn

Professor of Philosophy and Religion

Summary: Philosophy of religion; philosophical study of religious practice; philosophy, religion and place; religion and emotion; philosophy and the spiritual life; medieval philosophy and theology

Mark Wynn joined the School in 2013, having previously held appointments at the University of Exeter, the Australian Catholic University, the University of Glasgow (where he was the Gifford Research Fellow), and King’s College, London. He completed his BA (Philosophy and Theology) and DPhil at the University of Oxford.

His research aims to bring together a fine-grained account of religious traditions and philosophical reflection on themes such as: the relationship between worldview and conceptions of the human good; the behavioural, emotional and perceptual, as well as creedal, practices that define particular forms of spiritual life; the role of the arts in the transmission of religious traditions; the importance of place-relative practices in sustaining religious and spiritual identities.

In general, his research rests on the thought that religious traditions constitute extended experiments in human possibilities – and the belief that in some cases, the careful retrieval of those traditions can throw new light on contemporary questions about how to live well.

Mark is the Editor of Religious Studies, and serves on the Board of the Bloomsbury series in Philosophy of Religion. In September of 2017, he concluded a two-year term as President of the British Society for the Philosophy of Religion, and in 2015 he gave the Wilde Lectures in Natural Religion at the University of Oxford.

With Tasia Scrutton, Mark has secured funding from the John Templeton Foundation and St Louis University for a project on Mental Suffering, the Experience of Beauty, and Well-Being. More information is available here: He is also the Mentor for Adam Willows' postdoctoral project, funded via the Science-Engaged Theology scheme:

Research interests

Philosophy and theology of the spiritual life

Contemporary issues in philosophical theology and philosophy of religion

The philosophical study of religious practices, and the material context of those practices, including the philosophy and theology of place, and the philosophy and theology of the emotions

Medieval philosophy and theology

For an overview of some of Mark's interests, see:

Research supervision

Mark has acted as first supervisor for a wide range of PhD topics. Some recent examples include: existential feelings as a source for religious belief; John Paul II’s theological anthropology, with particular reference to the question of suffering; the viability of naturalistic accounts of 'spirituality' (with Stephen Lea); a comparison of Islamic and Christian perspectives on euthanasia (with Ian Netton and Michael Hauskeller).

He is currently supervising PhD projects on a Christological reading of Dante's Divine Comedy (with Matthew Treherne) and on Quaker spiritual experience and the York Retreat (with Rachel Muers).

He would be pleased to supervise research students with an interest in: contemporary issues in philosophy of religion and philosophical theology; philosophical and theological perspectives on religion in its material context; and the ‘spiritual life’ broadly conceived, including practices of spiritual formation.

Some recent publications


Renewing the Senses: A Study of the Philosophy and Theology of the Spiritual Life (Oxford University Press, 2013).

Faith and Place: An Essay in Embodied Religious Epistemology (Oxford University Press, 2009).

Emotional Experience and Religious Understanding: Integrating Perception, Conception and Feeling (Cambridge University Press, 2005).

Other publications

Aesthetic Goods and the Nature of Religious Understanding, in Ellis, F (ed), New Models of Religious Understanding, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017, pp. 116-133.

Between Heaven and Earth: Sensory Experience and the Goods of the Spiritual Life, in McPherson, D (ed) Spirituality and the Good Life: Philosophical Approaches, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017, pp. 101-116.

How to Think of Think of Religious Commitment as a Ground for Moral Commitment: A Thomistic Perspective on the Moral Philosophies of John Cottingham and Raimond Gaita, in Kvanvig, J (ed) Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion, Vol. 8, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017, pp. 313-341.

Metaphysics and Emotional Experience: Some Themes Drawn from John of the Cross, in Corrigan J (ed) Feeling Religion, Durham NC: Duke University Press, 2017, pp. 53-68.

On the Goods of the Religious Life: Contextualising the Approach of Richard Swinburne, Religious Studies (special issue in honour of the work of Richard Swinburne, ed. T. Mawson), vol. 53, 2017, 371-385.

Renewing Our Understanding of Religion: Philosophy of Religion and the Goals of the Spiritual Life, in Draper, P and Schellenberg, J (eds) Renewing Philosophy of Religion, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017, pp. 79-93.

Tradition, in Aquino, F, Abraham, D (eds) Oxford Handbook of the Epistemology of Theology, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017, pp. 126-140.

Religious Thought and the Sensory World, in Bryson J (ed) The Religious Philosophy of Roger Scruton, London: Bloomsbury, 2016, pp. 147-154.

Supererogation and the Relationship Between Religious and Secular Ethics: Some Perspectives Drawn from Thomas Aquinas and John of the Cross, in Cowley C (ed) Supererogation, Cambridge: Royal Institute of Philosophy, 2015, pp. 163-183.

Religious Faith, in Oppy G (ed) Handbook of Contemporary Philosophy of Religion, London: Routledge, 2015, pp. 167-179.

Religious Experience and Natural Theology, in Re Manning R (ed) Oxford Handbook of Natural Theology, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013, 325-39

Religion and Mental Health: The Case of Conversion Experience with Particular Reference to William James's The Varieties of Religious Experience, in Cook C (ed) Spirituality, Theology and Mental Health: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, London: SCM Press, 2013, 124-40.

Renewing the Senses: Conversion Experience and the Phenomenology of the Spiritual Life, International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, vol. 72, 2012, 211-226.

Mystery, Humility and Religious Practice in the Thought of St John of the Cross, European Journal for Philosophy of Religion, vol. 4, 2012, 89-108.

Theism and Aesthetics, in Taliaferro C, Harrison V, Goetz S (eds) The Routledge Companion to Theism, London: Routledge, 2012, 564-76.

Re-enchanting the World: The Possibility of Materially Mediated Religious Experience, in MacSwain R, Worley T (eds) Theology, Aesthetics, and Culture: Conversations with the Work of David Brown, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012, 115-127.

Taking the Appearances Seriously: Architectural Experience and the Phenomenological Case for Religious Belief, Religious Studies, vol. 47, 2011, 331-344.

Naturalism, Supernaturalism and Some Meanings of Pilgrimage, in Brace C, Bailey, A , Carter S, Harvey D, Thomas N (eds) Emerging Geographies of Belief, Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 2011, 154-167.

Charity and Human Flourishing: Some Reflections Drawn from Thomas Aquinas, in Higton, M, Law J, Rowland C (eds) Theology and Human Flourishing: Essays in Honour of Timothy J. Gorringe, Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2011, 224-237.

Religion in its Material Context: Some Considerations Drawn From Contemporary Philosophies of Place, in Carlisle J, Carter J, Whistler D (eds) Moral Powers, Fragile Beliefs, London: Continuum, 2011, 221-242.

Imaging Religious Thoughts in the Appearances of Sensory Things, in Evans J, Taliaferro C (eds) Turning Images in Philosophy, Science and Religion: A New Book of Nature, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011, 207-225.