Phenomenology of Life in a Dialogue Between Chinese and Occidental Philosophy
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A universal thought dispenses with communication. In this context Levinas confronts a variety of exemplary philosophical assessments. Thus viewed, this myth leads to a structural eclipse of the normatively embellished violence of our universalized political claims in the name of their ethically disguised unconditionality.
The extraordinary and, hence, implicitly irrational, violent, etc. To cut a long story short, even in this sophisticated design religion in the last analysis retains the nimbus of the disorderly, i. In one and the same gesture, however, the projective construction of the extraordinary other in terms of a disordering potential is eclipsed and disavowed.
In other words: it might indeed be the case that we yet understand ourselves wrongly, that we yet apply our allegedly universal principles inadequately, yes, all this might be the case. Such a move, however, is not at all innocent. And still worse: in the last analysis this very tendency even seems to provide an absolution for a practice of reason that closes itself off in an auto-immunizing way.
In another context, we also need to think about the economic hubris or rather self-abandonment of reason to the idolatrous forces of the market which creates a manifold of disavowed violences in the maelstrom of globalization Appadurai , 35—48 : given that human finitude is being more and more related to the existential fact of the exhaustibility of natural resources, one need not wonder that religious semantics are becoming increasingly present in this regard, too.
In all these contexts, thus viewed, major patterns for the justification of religious violence can easily be brought to the fore Clarke I argue, however, that it is all too easy to reduce the philosophical question of religious violence to a mere matter of the discursive legitimization or delegitimization of such violence. What this means can be clarified with regard to a widespread explication of violence in terms of an instrumental response to a denial of recognition, an explanation which is quite prevalent in current social and political theory.
Instrumental rationality may indeed be of major relevance in such cases, but still more basic is the fact that denials of recognition, be it in form of bodily violation, legal degradation, or cultural humiliation are not simply perceived on a merely cognitive or discursive basis. They are rather experienced in flesh in a variety of negative affects like shame and anger Honneth , , —, As Honneth , exemplarily holds,. If such inhibitions on action are overcome through involvement in collective resistance, individuals uncover a form of expression with which they can indirectly convince themselves of their moral or social worth.
Especially the community-instituting potential of religion, which has culpably been overlooked in the vast majority of recent discourse, mightily comes to the fore again in this context Braeckman The question yet remains how such an account is to be shaped. It is exactly this question that I attempt to confront in the remainder of this paper. It is indeed at this juncture where we touch upon the central phenomenon that should concern us — the seemingly paradoxical intertwining of reason and its technological avatars with its assumed other, i.
Thus viewed, I propose to focus religion and religious violence in terms of the intertwining of experiences of transcendence and practices of self - transcendence that they appear to revolve around. To confront this intertwining, an integrated phenomenological account is needed. In the following section, I will explore the potentials of contemporary phenomenology to develop such an account. After a longer period of structural disinterest, French phenomenology has demonstrated strong interest in religion more recently.
I argue, however, that exactly this polemic understanding has kept us from assessing the vast potential phenomenology harbors for developing a critical philosophy of religion.
Instead of serving a veiled theological purpose, a phenomenological reassessment of these figures of givenness will serve as a relief for philosophy of religion and perhaps also for theological thought. A critical synthesis of some among their major insights shall help me to pave the path for the integrated account I have in mind.
They furthermore unfold it in a variety of thematic regards historic event, work of art, embodiment, otherness , including, in the last analysis, also the religious phenomena of revelation. Indeed the question whether or not his work may sometimes transgress the border between phenomenology and theology is not of paramount importance here. This sort of criticism rather all too quickly tends to lose sight of the truly important insight that his change of perspective regarding the phenomenality of unconditional givenness entails. In this truly phenomenological perspective unconditional givenness, finally, does not only become an issue in a recourse to theophanies or epiphanies anymore.
This move, however, testifies not only to the general irreducibility of givenness. In its basic transcendence this dimension is also resistant, as he frequently emphasizes, to mere categorical analysis and conceptual thought. Marion b , 18 10 in order to open up a productive venue for a post - foundational phenomenology of religion that lets itself not be overdetermined by metaphysical interdicts or theological presuppositions.
Martin Buber (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
In conceiving givenness in terms of saturation, i. According to this correlation, givenness is recovered in the experience of something extra-ordinary that calls upon the subject to respond to its summons. Put differently, confronted with an excess of intuition over the intentions worked out by the ego, our preconceived conceptual grip on the world is challenged and the instituted meanings it entails are shaken. Their excessive constitution is turned into a pattern of phenomenality as such, investing it with a gift-like, i.
On the one hand, this attests clearly to the eminent possibility to rethink God in terms of the gift Horner On the other hand, however, it manages to do so, as Waldenfels , —, — objects, only on the basis of a surreptitiously claimed direct access to the invisible. Yet another problem is of paramount importance for a phenomenology of religion, namely a limited understanding of embodiment.
At a first glance this kind of criticism might appear counterintuitive. All this is definitely true.
To be more precise, it eclipses, as Falque and Waldenfels , also see, the various facets of a bodily self-withdrawal of the incarnate subject and, hand in hand with this, its inherently intersubjective or rather inter-corporeal constitution. Thus viewed, these thinkers definitely open rich pathways for a phenomenological theology Rivera but definitely not for a phenomenology of religion.
As we will see soon, the correlation of call and response is also at the center of his account. And especially in his last works on recognition and forgiveness it becomes very clear that he borrows concepts from both fields as, e. Yet the vexed question concerning the relationship between philosophy and theology and its methodological reflection is not the important issue here.
Thus viewed, the basic correlation between affective call and creative response becomes graspable in its most comprehensive scope and overall importance. With the call thus a quite different articulation of responding breaks forth, namely one that centrally involves passivity, i. The difficulty here does not concern the limited capacity of intentional consciousness to constitute a beyond of intentionality in terms of representation.
With this decision he definitely parts ways with the radicalized phenomenologies which revolve around the idea of some originary, unconditioned, or absolute self - givenness. The afore-mentioned feelings, e.
Huang Zhiyang 黄致阳
Yet this undoubtedly rich idea — and its articulation in terms of the work of translation — is not the point I would like to get to. This is the case since we cannot confront it beyond the circular hermeneutic status of the phenomenology of religion we are dealing with. And indeed, without the pre-givenness of the absolute we would, in the last analysis, only know texts , i. The absolute declares itself here and now. In testimony there is an immediacy of the absolute without which there would be nothing to interpret. This immediacy functions as origin, as initium, on this side of which we can go no further.
Beginning there, interpretation will be the endless mediation of this immediacy. But without it interpretation will forever be only an interpretation of interpretation. Given this, the event of manifestation and its interpretation are constitutively and irreducibly intertwined. This assessment may definitely be true.
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This approach may seem overly limited due to the fact that it proceeds through the narrow defile of one cultural fact, the existence of written documents, and thus because it is limited to cultures which possess books, but it will seem less limited if we comprehend what enlargement of our experience of the world results from the existence of such documents.
Moreover, by choosing this angle of attack, we immediately establish a correspondence with the fact that the claim of revealed speech reaches us today through writings to be interpreted. As far as I see, this question concerns not so much the experiential pre- givenness of the call as its responsive articulation and attestation. Put differently, it concerns the phenomenological status of experiencing interpretations of foundational experiences , which, to my understanding, becomes reduced to a very specific and narrow interpretation of experience in this case.
This problem becomes prominent in the context of the claims that are negotiated between philosophical and theological hermeneutics. But such methodological questions are not important here. This existential twist that the question of mediation receives on the level of the individual is, however, far from being an innocent move. It is exactly this twofold deficit which needs to be countered on philosophical terrain in order to develop a genuine, i.
How this can be conceived concretely and how it may help us to confront religious violence, will be discussed in the following section. At a first glance, this criticism might appear as a too bold verdict. It is, however, strongly sustained by the fact that these positions largely focus on the analysis of personal religious experiences at the expense of its larger social, cultural and political dimensions, including its various institutions or embodiments Mensch This seems to be the case since it apparently threatens the teleological outlook of reason defended by phenomenology.
But that is not all.
To this difficulty another one has been added. Put differently, I argue that an exploration of the intertwining between experience affective call and interpretation response in terms of embodied action will help us to develop a truly integrative phenomenological account of religion and, finally, religious violence. To say it again. Affectivity, to use a different terminology, exposes him to both impulses from below as well as from beyond — to e.