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Dr Simon Ravenscroft

Dr Simon Ravenscroft is an Official Fellow, Director of Studies and College Lecturer in Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion, as well as an undergraduate Tutor and Admissions Tutor at Magdalene, and a Research Associate in theology and philosophy at the Von Hügel Institute.

After studying in Wales and Nottingham, I came to Cambridge in 2010. I undertook an AHRC-funded PhD in philosophy of religion at Peterhouse, followed by postdoctoral work at the Von Hügel Institute (St Edmund’s College) and as a Murphy Research Fellow with the University of St Thomas, Minnesota. My research has criss-crossed the disciplines of theology, philosophy, literature, political and social theory, and economics. 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. This concluded 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.

I have been a Fellow at Magdalene in some capacity or other since 2018, and currently have a number of responsibilities, including as an undergraduate Tutor, Admissions Tutor, and Director of Studies for the Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion Tripos.

Research Interests

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 (or fortunately), this means that my research has tended to be somewhat unsystematic and ad hoc!


PhD, MA, BTh

Selected Publications


“On Surprise and the Indirectness of the Theological in the Work of Ivan Illich”. Política Común 15 (2022): forthcoming.

“Play and Interruption as a Mode of Human Action in Arendt, Dostoevsky, and Kharms”. Janus Head 19 (2021): 61-76.

Patents on Life: Religious, Moral, and Social Justice Aspects of Biotechnology and Intellectual Property (co-edited with Thomas C. Berg and Roman Cholij). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019.

“Morality, Religion, and Patents” (with Kathleen Liddell). In Patents on Life: Religious, Moral, and Social Justice Aspects of Biotechnology and Intellectual Property. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019.

“Irony as a Way of Life?”. Reviews in Religion and Theology, 24 (2017): 228-235.

“Modernity and the Economics of Gift and Charity: On Ivan Illich’s Critique of Abstract Philanthropy”. Telos 174 (2016): 149-170.

“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.

“Usury in the Inferno: Auditing Dante’s Debt to the Scholastics”. Comitatus: A Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies 42 (2011): 89-114.


“Plucking Grain on the Sabbath: Mark 2:23-28; Matt 12:1-8; Luke 6:1-5”. The Visual Commentary on Scripture. King's College London: 2021.

"Rotten Riches: James 4:13-5:6", with Ruth Jackson. The Visual Commentary on Scripture. King's College London: 2019.

Martin Buber’s I and Thou (Macat Guides). London: Routledge, 2018.

"Beyond the Impasse: Review of Johannes Hoff, The Analogical Turn”. The Living Church, 1 June 2017.

"Of Elephants and Cynics: Rehabilitating Truth in a Post-Truth Age". ABC Religion & Ethics, 22 May 2017.

Plato’s Symposium (Macat Guides) (with Richard Ellis). London: Routledge, 2017

"The Joyful Uselessness of Ivan Illich: Reply to Scialabba". forthetimebeing: A Blog of the Luce Project on Religion and Its Publics, 31 March 2017.

"Levity and Theology: On Playing the Fool in Academia and Life". ABC Religion & Ethics, 7 April 2016, and Noesis: Theology, Philosophy, Poetics 3 (2016): 68-78.

"Patenting Life: Rethinking Social Justice, the Politics of Knowledge and Theologies of Property". ABC Religion & Ethics, 11 Feb. 2016.

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

"In Kierkegaard's Reflektion?: Arcade Fire in a 'Reflective Age'". PopMatters, 8 Sept. 2014.

“Cultural Value and the Contradictions of Modern Conservatism”. The Cultural Value Initiative, 2 June 2013.

“‘Disvalue’? An Illichian Case for a Cultural Value Discourse”. The Cultural Value Initiative, 9 Nov. 2012.