COTR Museia – Fast Five with Vance Mattson

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Vance Mattson is a Religious Studies, Sociology, and Philosophy instructor at College of the Rockies. On March 21 he will be presenting The Death of God and Modern Life an exploration of Friedrich Nietzche’s idea of “the death of God” and the significance of this ‘event’ for modern life, including its causes, consequences (including the onset of cultural nihilism), and the surprising alternatives it reveals for modern people in search of meaning in life.


1. What sparked your passion for Philosophy, Sociology, and Religious Studies?

Probably big ideas. I was first interested in Psychology, then Sociology, but soon found these disciplines collapsed into more fundamental philosophical questions.  Religious Studies also addresses these questions but claims to have the answers in an absolute sense (and through different means), which are also worthy to investigate.  In a nutshell, it is interest in the larger questions, coupled with the major considerations of the modern period, especially the ideas of Nietzsche, Marx, Freud, Weber, etc., though the philosophies of both Eastern and Indigenous traditions are of equal interest.


2. What do you love most about teaching these topics at the College?

The best aspect of the College is the smaller setting (and diverse student body) where you can know each student by name and ideas, and discuss the pertinent topics together as a forum.  This allows multiple perspectives to emerge, which deepens and vitalizes the pursuit of truth and knowledge.

3. You have an interesting side hobby. Can you tell us a little about your eagle tracking

I study the breeding population of Golden Eagles in the mountains of B.C., especially the Southern Rockies and Purcells.  This has never been done so it is exciting to gain knowledge of the population and compare it to known regions around the world. The basic purpose is conservation, but the treasure is the beauty of the eagles, their habitat, and the discovery of each new territory.


4.    Of the programs you teach, you seem to have a particular affinity for philosophy.
Why do you
feel we need philosophy in our lives?

Philosophy examines the basic questions of life, which also means confronting the knowledge of our culture, be it religious, economic, technological, etc.  If we neglect this, we simply accept preexisting systems and trends.  It thus allows individuals to transcend their culture, and thus (to the extent possible), gain freedom from its limitations and biases.  More generally, we live more meaningful lives if we reflect on the human condition, versus living only practically, habitually, egoistically, and so on.


5.       What can people expect at your March 21 talk?

The talk will be a general overview of Nietzsche’s idea of “the death of God”, the consequences of it (as understood by him, and others), and outline various responses to it.  It will clarify the distinction between those who seek a return to traditional answers, and those who claim the best path lies beyond tradition (this includes Nietzsche’s concept of the “overman”).



Vance Mattson’s lecture on ‘The Death of God and Modern Life’ will be held at College of the Rockies’ Cranbrook campus on March 21 from 6:30 – 8:00 pm.  Please pre-register for this FREE session by March 14, 2024 and stay tuned for another lecture coming up in June.

What is a Museia? It is a festival of honour of the Greek muses who inspire sciences, mathematics, literature, and arts.

For more information on programs within the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences visit Arts, Humanities, and Social Science – College of the Rockies (cotr.bc.ca).