Brian Clack

Brian Clack

Phone: (619) 260-2738


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Brian Clack

Associate Professor
Psychoanalysis, Philosophy of Religion
The nature of religious belief and atheism

Brian R. Clack, PhD, joined the faculty of the Department of Philosophy in 2007, having previously taught in Oxford, England. Clack was educated at the University of London, where he gained a BA in Religious Studies, an MSc in Theoretical Psychoanalytic Studies, and a PhD in Philosophy.

Clack's research focuses predominantly on issues in the philosophy of religion, particularly the critical analysis of religion and naturalistic accounts of its origin. As well as co-authoring a widely-used textbook on the subject (The Philosophy of Religion: A Critical Introduction, Polity Press, first edition 1998, second edition 2008), Clack is also the author of two studies of Wittgenstein's conception of religion (Wittgenstein, Frazer and Religion, Macmillan, 1999; and An Introduction to Wittgenstein's Philosophy of Religion, Edinburgh University Press, 1999).

Clack's most recent work has focused on Freudian theory and its interpretation of both religion and the human condition. His research on these matters resulted in the publication in 2014 of his book Love, Drugs, Art, Religion: The Pains and Consolations of Existence (Ashgate, 2014). This book explores the sources of human suffering and the coping strategies typically utilized by human beings. Hence, as well as discussing religion, Clack also explores here the role of intoxication, sexual love and the enjoyment of art in the amelioration of frustration and suffering. The philosopher John Cottingham has described Clack's book as "a sensitive and wide-ranging exploration of the human condition, rich in reference and informed by powerful literary and psychoanalytic insights."

Educational Background

  • PhD, University of London, Philosophy
  • MSc, University of London, Theoretical Psychoanalytic Studies
  • BA, University of London, Religious Studies


  • Love, Drugs, Art, Religion: The Pains and Consolations of Existence (Ashgate, 2014) This book takes as it starting point Freud's suggestion that human life is so hard to bear that it requires nothing short of cultural and psychological palliative care. Each of the 'palliative measures' mentioned by Freud - intoxicants, religion, art and love - is examined, and their role in the mitigation of suffering is evaluated.
  • The Philosophy of Religion: A Critical Introduction (Polity Press, second edition 2008) An introduction to the central problems of the philosophy of religion (including the arguments for the existence of God, the problem of evil, the problem of religious language, and the miraculous), emphasizing the human dimension of religion. It also engages with current world events, discussing the impact of 9/11 on the study of religious belief.
  • Wittgenstein, Frazer and Religion (Macmillan, 1999) An exposition and critical analysis of Ludwig Wittgenstein's conception of magic and primitive religion.
  • An Introduction to Wittgenstein's Philosophy of Religion (Edinburgh University Press, 1999) The book constitutes an introductory survey and evaluation both of Wittgenstein's philosophy and of his changing conception of religion, from the early view of the ineffability of the mystical to the later grammatical analysis of religious discourse.
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