It may seem odd to find a phenomenologist among the ranks of the Critical Religion Research Project but there are in fact many points of similiarity between the two. The same kind of academic strictures that are called for by Critical Religion can be found right at the beginning of Phenomenology with Husserl’s desire for a rigorous science and philosophical radicalism. Phenomenology like Critical Religion does not build upwards thinking toward grand theories but looks to dig deeper and deeper holding nothing above scrutiny.
I am a second year PhD student with a background that consists of an MA (hones) in Philosophy and Religious Studies and an Msc in Religious Studies at Edinburgh. My research focuses on the topic of Proper Phenomenology arguing that “phenomenology of religion” is a title that actually consists of two competing strands – phenomenology of religion in the philosophical sense and phenomenology-of-religion in the history of religions sense. It is my contention that phenomenology of religion construed in the philosophical sense can greatly benefit Religious Studies departments, and Social Sciences more generally, in a period when we are uncertain of the identity and future of the subject. Not only can phenomenology proper help us delineate social from natural science it can help scrutinise and call into question the analytic concept of “Religion”. Finally phenomenology provides an important understanding and standpoint on one of the most important debates involving many universities today – the public benefit of academic study.
Phenomenology simpliciter means, in the words of Heidegger, “to let that which shows itself be seen from itself in the very way in which it shows itself from itself”. Unlike other philosophical systems it does not propose to develop grand theories or detailed metaphysics but to describe what presents itself to us as detailed and accurately as possible. Phenomenology proper is the development of this view that it is possible to give accurate descriptions of phenomena via such tools as epoche and the reduction. In my research of and development of an understanding of phenomenology proper I have drawn extensively on the work of Husserl, Scheler, Heidegger, and Sartre.
As well as my research at Stirling I am also a sub-editor and roundtable convener for the Religious Studies Project.
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