Phenomenology of religion can refer to three distinct groups of phenomenological projects reflecting on religion. The term is used in the field of religious studies to designate the search for patterns of religious experiences or practices across traditions and to the methodology that shows religion to be a unique human experience deserving its own field of study. Philosophical phenomenology in the Husserlian tradition also engages religious questions at times. Finally, there is a group of contemporary French philosophers who advocate a phenomenology of religious experience. The first two groups are examined in this article and the third in the sequel. For the first group, the article briefly considers the projects of Rudolf Otto, Mircea Eliade, Brede Kristensen, and Gerardus van der Leeuw, as well as their contemporary interpreters in the field of religious studies. As representative of the second approach, the article considers Max Scheler, Edith Stein, and Gerda Walther as well as commenting briefly on the contemporary work of Natalie Depraz and Anthony Steinbock.
This article is part II of a consideration of phenomenology of religion focusing in this part on the conversation in contemporary French phenomenology. It begins with a brief comment about Heidegger's phenomenology of religious life and then engages most heavily those thinkers who discuss the phenomenon of religion in the Francophone context: Jean Héring, Emmanuel Lévinas, Jean‐Luc Marion, Michel Henry, Jean‐Yves Lacoste, Jean‐Louis Chrétien, and Emmanuel Falque. The article concludes with a brief consideration of the contemporary Anglophone conversation and the ways in which these French thinkers are appropriated in the current discussion about the phenomenality of religion.
In this paper I consider Ricœur’s negotiation of the boundary or relationship between philosophy and religion in light of the larger debate in contemporary French philosophy. I suggest that contrasting his way of dealing with the intersection of the two discourses to that of two other French thinkers (Jean-Luc Marion and Michel Henry) illuminates his stance more fully. I begin with a brief outline of Ricœur’s claims about the distinction or relation between the discourses, then reflect on those of Marion and Henry, who although they do not relate them in the same way still together form a significant contrast to Ricœur’s perspective, and conclude with a fuller consideration of Ricœur’s methodology in light of this comparison. I suggest that it is in particular his hermeneutic commitments that lead him both to more rigorous distinctions between discourses and ironically to greater mediation.
This paper takes its departure from Michel Henry’s criticism of a technological view that “extends its reign to the whole planet, sowing desolation and ruin everywhere” (I am the Truth, 271). It argues that although Henry’s critique of technology is helpful and important, it does not go far enough, inasmuch as it excludes all non-human beings from the Truth of “Life” he advocates against the destructive truths of technology and therefore cannot fully articulate the way in which technology does in fact cause “desolation and ruin” on the entire planet. At the same time I suggest that this strict division between human and non-human life is not essential to Henry’s project, which may well have resources for a more environmentally friendly proposal. The first part of the paper lays out Henry’s critique of technology in some detail, highlighting the ways in which it contains important insights for our contemporary situation. The second part of the paper explores the stark division Henry draws between human generation from the divine life and the creation of everything else, including his rejection of any identification of humans with “protozoa and honey bees,” which would seem to suggest a complete lack of concern for non-human life. The final part of the paper seeks to find a way beyond this dichotomy by showing how non-human life may be included in Henry’s proposal in a way that extends his critique of technology in environmentally conscious ways without losing his phenomenological insights about the human condition.
In this interview, Claude Romano discusses his phenomenological project of the event in relation to hermeneutics, reason, realism, and some other fundamental problems of phenomenology. He explains common themes in his phenomenological project and elucidates why he considers it important to leave behind the transcendental perspective in phenomenology. He distinguishes his descriptive realism from other realist movements in contemporary French philosophy. The interview also questions the Eurocentric orientation of many phenomenological authors and considers the possibility of going beyond such assumptions in phenomenology.
This paper highlights several problems in the contemporary phenomenological analysis of religious experience in Continental philosophy of religion, especially in its French iteration, as manifested in such thinkers as Jean-Luc Marion, Michel Henry, Jean-Yves Lacoste, Jean-Louis Chrétien, Emmanuel Falque, and others. After laying out the main issues, the paper proposes a fuller investigation of religious practices, such as liturgy or ritual, as a fruitful way to address some of the identified limitations. The final section of the paper assesses what questions remain and how one might draw on existing resources in these thinkers to push a phenomenological analysis of religious practices further in ways that broaden phenomenology of religion beyond its current somewhat narrow strictures and commitments.
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