Monday, February 28, 2011

Phenomenology and Theolgoical Method part 1


I am always going on about how scientific methods are not adequate for the big “oceanic” questions that people harbor most deeply in their hearts. These questions are not the questions that science asks, not that with which it is equipped to deal. The scientific reductionism solution, the atheist solution, is to mock the question, our methods don’t give us control over the answer; therefore, the question is wrong. Don’t ask the question because we can’t answer it, if we can’t answer it with our methods it’s a bad question. Rather than dismiss he question, since this is the deepest longing of humans to know, we can search for other methods. Fortunately, there are other sources of knowledge. In this chapter I will discuss a combination of alternatives, mainly phenomenology, but also deductive reasoning, general philosophical thinking and aspect of social sciences, in other words, a global approach applied on a case by case basis. The overall goal is to produce a framework in which the realization of God can proceed without the issues of skepticism and science tainting the process before it can ever get started. In this chapter I will:

(1) Discuss phenomenology in general terms,

(2) Talk about verification and other methods in general

(3) Then return to the subject of phenomenology with an emphasis upon Heidegger’s take on being as a prerequisite for the discussion of Tillich’s ontology and the meaning of “being itself.”

Religion and the Ground of Being

Skeptics see religion as a question about empirical proofs of the existence of one additional thing in reality, besides all the things we regularly see in the universe; God, as opposed to a universe with everything in it that is in the God universe, but minus God. In other words for them God is just another object tin the universe to prove through empirical means. To them belief in God is just adding another fact to the universe. Belief in God is much more than that. Belief in God is not adding a fact to the universe; it’s an understanding of our relation to the universe. Belief in God is about understanding our relation to the universe, and that relation is as contingent beings, creatures whose being is derived form the ground of being. When we make this realization there is no more doubt. To realize the nature of being is to realize not only the reality of God but also the reality of oneself as creature of God. Of course this can’t have the same kind of verification that scientific work has, if it did it wouldn’t be a take on the basic nature of reality. This does not mean there are no methods that help secure the certainty that is found in the heart of one who has made such a realization. It is hoped that understanding this will lead others to seek that realization.

We can see and understand this method looking at the nature of religious evolution in the evolution of humanity. Of course history of religions and comparative religions are extremely complex, time and space do not permit me to do them justice here. In a thumbnail sketch we can see the roots of Tillich’s concept of God as being itself coming out of this evolutionary development. Anthropologists understand religion as developing as man evolved. No one invented religion, no one decided one day to make up some entity called a God. Religion existed before gods existed. The instinctive realization toward integration into being was part of our ancient ancestors, part of our pre-human heritage. It grew up with us and began to down on us in ways that could be consciously pondered and portrayed as we began to grasp symbolic representation and to think about death and to wonder about the things around us. Atheists still use the old ninetieth century structural functionalist explanation for the origins of religion; the need to explain the thunder, the need to explain rain, the need to manipulate a higher power to make the crops grow. This explanation isn’t really accepted now days because now we realize there’s something more to it all; the sense of he numinous. To those outside looking in religion seems to be about ceremonies and the need to manipulate powers to those involved in It the reality is quite different. As I’ve already said atheists don’t listen to religious people as to why they believe, they are more concerned with assigning the explanations that flatter their own view point. The realization of the sense of the numinous the idea that there is a special quality to being that can be found all around us, the sense of the holy is the preferred explanation for thinkers such as Huston Smith:

"It is the experience of the transcendent, including the human response to that experience, that creates faith, or more precisely the life of faith. [Huston] Smith seems to regard human beings as having a propensity for faith, so that one speaks of their faith as "innate." In his analysis, faith and transcendence are more accurate descriptions of the lives of religious human beings than conventional uses of the word, religion. The reason for this has to do with the distinction between participant and observer. This is a fundamental distinction for Smith, separating religious people (the participants) from the detached, so-called objective students of religious people (the observers). Smith's argument is that religious persons do not ordinarily have "a religion." The word, religion, comes into usage not as the participant's word but as the observer's word, one that focuses on observable doctrines, institutions, ceremonies, and other practices. By contrast, faith is about the nonobservable, life-shaping vision of transcendence held by a participant..."

Smith considers transcendence to be the one dimension common to all peoples of religious faith: "what they have in common lies not in the tradition that introduces them to transcendence, [not in their faith by which they personally respond, but] in that to which they respond, the transcendent itself..."[i]

The issue of religious adaptation to culture is most interesting because it illustrates the plastic nature of religion, and highlights the fact that belief is not just adding a fact to the universe but is actually an orientation to one’s own place in being. First we see humanity beginning to understand about pictures and representation, and in that same era, or before it perhaps but certainly in that era we began burying out dead with plants and herbs that would help them either because we expected them to have some sort of afterlife in which these things could be used, or we began to feel that they symbolically suggested our wishes for them. In this general era, the “pre historic” the “stone age” humans began to sense the presence of spiritual forces and began burying their dead [ii] with herbs and drawing their hands on cave walls, because these things offered some sense of connection with spiritual forces. Some of the flowers put in the graves did not grow in the area; all are used in folk medicine with healing prosperities, indicating they had significance for a belief system.[iii] Humans had a belief in sprits long before they believed in gods. What they were actually doing in all of this was coming to understand not only that the world and how they already knew to live in it, but the idea of its enchantment. The skeptic can only see that they were wrong, stupid ancient man so wrong about the existence of this extra object no one can see; what really seems to have been going on was a discovery about himself, we are living in a world filled with spiritual forces, he began to feel this. After several thousand years of pondering such things finally began to conceptualize these forces are personal and can be named and thus came up with the concept of gods. This concept was rooted in the first inklings of an understanding about our own lives and what it means to live in the world, to be part of being.

Religious belief is an adaptation to culture because it is filtered through the lens of the cultural construct in order to be understood and shared in communication. The skeptic imagines the origin of religion to have been such as his/her observation of modern religion goes, a set of people try to understand why water falls out of the sky every so often and so they make up a story about a big man up there who pours water out of his huge boot, or whatever. The evolutionary practices of religious people as conform to their cultures have aided and abided this idea as it has been foisted upon the public. When we look at the nature of religion in the ancient world, even earlier we don’t an outside observer we see a practitioner who may resort to drawing upon a reservoir of knowledge that he already posses to explain the world, but he/she already posses that knowledge because it’s part of his/her way of life. Religion was not segmented factions battling to see whose set of doctrines came to dominate, in the ancient world religion was not about theology it was even “religion” that word was not used, it was ‘obedience.’ As human began sharpening their concepts they used the king as a model to represent deity because the king was the most powerful person around. Yet human understanding about life was already grasping the concept of the spirit and one’s place in being well before this understanding was ever called “religious belief.” The idea of God who is worshipped and has followers who chose one God over another a latter development, just as priest craft was a latter development.[iv]

Rudolph Otto coined the term “sense of the numinous, in his work The Idea of The Holy in order to capture the mysterious essence of the quality of feeling that stands behind all religion. He used words like “dread” and mysterium Tremendum to get across these are not ordinary feelings; words failed him in being able to describe what exactly he was talking, but this is the essence of mystical or “peak” experience. These terms are used to indicate a feeling or a sense that is beyond the ordinary sense in which we use them. It is non-rational, not irrational. It’s not “crazy” but can’t be analyzed or pinned down and distilled in reason. [v] The sense of the numinous is related to mystical experience and stands at the origin of religion in human thinking; this is essentially why religion exists. It is not hard to understand that this is the feeling related to the mysteries of life, death and the great beyond that led our ancient nameless primordial ancestors to draw their hands on cave walls and bury their dead with flowers to think about the other world and the forced that enchanted the universe with a sense they could not comprehend. At the center of this feeling is the sense of which we read above, of which Smith and Ideonopolis speak, “transcendence itself.” This is a realization about their place in the world, their being and their relation to the rest of being. They did not try to dissect it or psychoanalyze it away, they lived it out. The way to recapture it and live it again is to open up to the sense of wonder in being and allows the sense of being to suggest the categories into which we focus our understanding. There are methodologies that will allow us to do this.


One such source or methodology is phenomenology. Phenomenology is a very complex subject. It’s different things, it’s an attitude, a methodology, a philosophy, a commitment to certain a kind of philosophy, and more. Here I’m only concerned with the essentials of phenomenological method. I won’t go into the history of it or the ins and outs of the philosophical developments as a school. I will quote David Woodruf Smith in the article used by Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy to define “Phenomenology:”

Phenomenology is the study of structures of consciousness as experienced from the first-person point of view. The central structure of an experience is its intentionality, its being directed toward something, as it is an experience of or about some object. An experience is directed toward an object by virtue of its content or meaning (which represents the object) together with appropriate enabling conditions.

Phenomenology as a discipline is distinct from but related to other key disciplines in philosophy, such as ontology, epistemology, logic, and ethics. Phenomenology has been practiced in various guises for centuries, but it came into its own in the early 20th century in the works of Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty and others. Phenomenological issues of intentionality, consciousness, qualia, and first-person perspective have been prominent in recent philosophy of mind.

Phenomenology is commonly understood in either of two ways: as a disciplinary field in philosophy, or as a movement in the history of philosophy.

The discipline of phenomenology may be defined initially as the study of structures of experience, or consciousness. Literally, phenomenology is the study of “phenomena”: appearances of things, or things as they appear in our experience, or the ways we experience things, thus the meanings things have in our experience. Phenomenology studies conscious experience as experienced from the subjective or first person point of view. [vi]This field of philosophy is then to be distinguished from, and related to, the other main fields of philosophy: ontology (the study of being or what is), epistemology (the study of knowledge), logic (the study of valid reasoning), ethics (the study of right and wrong action), etc.

John Macquarrie explains phenomenology as theological method.[vii] Both as theological method and in a more general way a major aspect and type of phenomenological method is description. What is described? Phenomena are what we describe in descriptive theological method; namely, the phenomena in question of the effects upon humans of our searches and experiences in seeking to answer these great oceanic questions. Macquarrie refers to this form of method as “a care analytical description,… letting us see that which shows itself (phenomena) by removing, as far as possible, concealments, distortions, and whatever else might prevent us from seeing the phenomena as it actually gives itself .”[viii]

This notion of phenomena giving itself is very important. We have seen in past articles that one of the main problems with taking a scientific approach to theological and ontological questions is that reductionists tend to lose the phenomena; thus the antidote for losing phenomena is saving it, by adequate description. This method begins where thee action is, so to speak, with the phenomena. In theology that means the effects of experiences and beliefs upon the people who have the experience and hold the beliefs. This is crucial for our study since the point of it is to develop an understanding of “realizing” the reality of God as an alternative to “proofs” that no one believes or listens to. In a sense even the most rigidly logical proofs are admittedly not about proving the existence of God, but of providing the basis upon which to understand belief as rational. By preserving the phenomena of religious experience we can understand such experience as an even more rational basis for belief. If this sounds like a self fulfilling prophesy or "confirmation bias," it’s just that it’s already been done a thousand times. Each and every new believer must do it for himself/herself, and old believers occasionally need to go back and re-do it again. This descriptive method also puts us at the ground level so to speak, where the basis for actual belief is really formed. Macquarrie points that that “in proceeding by description rather than deduction it moves on a more secure ground”[ix] Logic can fall into fallacy, of course description always leave some things out, or doesn’t include all the phenomena because our point of view is selective. If we are through and incorporate a multiplicity of view points we are probably on more cautious ground than if we plunge into deductive proof. After all, to make a deductive proof requires treating God as a “thing” that can be proved. The phenomenological method in the theology does not pretend to observe God, but to observe the effects of experiences reputed to be experiences of God’s aspect upon those who have them.

In my forthcoming work, The Trace of God[x] I explicate a huge body of social science research surrounding religious/”mystical” and its effects upon those who have such experiences. Through the theoretical work of W.T. Stace, William James and the works of the great mystics, researchers such as Ralph Hood Jr. were able to verify a measurement scale that can identify valid mystical experience. Since these experiences can be identified and defined, at least in terms of a phenomenological description, that is describing their effects, they can be studied quantitatively to some extent. Thus such descriptions can be scientific, and that scientific approach can be applied to a phenomenological approach. The researchers who have done those studies would not think of them selves as phenomenologists, nor would the philosophers who do think of themselves that way think of the studies as examples of phenomenology. But that is a good example of a point where science and phenomenology meet. Obviously, we can’t study God empirically. We can study what we think seems to be the “co-determinate” of God, the trace, the foot print in the snow so to speak. Hegel spoke of the foot prints of God in the sands of time, I speak of the fingerprints of God on the lives of the believers. It is humans who ask questions about why we are here, and humans who find answers such as God and other theological concepts. It is upon the human psyche, “heart,” that such answers present themselves in the form of experiences. Therefore, a description of religious experience is crucial to an understanding of theological method. Macquarrie reflects upon the human connection in understanding of religious truth, and asks if this dimension of experiencing the numinous, the presence of God, means that religion reduces to emotional subjectivity? [xi] This is a real misunderstanding of the nature of Schleiermacher, it is crucial for this project because Schleiermacher’s work lies at the heart of the “realization.” Moreover, social science analysis can help to keep the touchstone in less subjective approaches.

Nevertheless, most phenomenological work will not involve empirical studies, nor does it need to. Tillich’s approach involves description of being from a philosophical view point. Macquarrie takes up revelation as the basis of a clear understanding of the divine, God’s self revelation to humanity. But in order to come to place where ground work is laid he discusses broadly the major categories of knowing and the principle modes of thinking. His aim is to find a place among these for revelation. Among these modes of knowing is “calculative thinking.” Heidegger, Macquarrie’s guide to the phenomenological, sees this as a kind of bare thinking that dominates and imposes its shallow orientation of subject/object upon the thinker. This sort of thinking approaches thought as an object, the object is to be manipulated, handled, deal with. The most sophisticated version of this kind of thinking is technology. [xii]But “technology” Is not just machines and gadgets. In the 90s the Post modernists were fond of speaking of “technology” as the manipulative gimmick that goes with the production of the machine, the thinking part of the production of what we normally call “technology.” The sort of knowledge produced by this kind of thinking is “objective knowledge.” In this sort of knowing we subject what is known and surpass it, transcended it. Even theoretical understanding of the natural world is the extension of control over the natural world.[xiii] In this sort of thinking we are active and the objects of our thought are passive. “Our activities are observing, experimenting, measuring and deducing…”[xiv] Hopefully in the previous critique I have demonstrated that “objectivity” is a pretense. There is no objectivity there are only varying degrees of subjectivity. Through scientific methods we might keep subjectivity to a minimum. There is truth, but we can never actually achieve “objectivity” in our own attitudes or perceptions. We can approach truth, however, to a greater degree. But that does not always involve getting away from subjectivity.

The second level of thinking that Macquarrie designates is “existential” thinking. This sort of thinking is not aimed at use, control, or manipulation. It may aim toward well being of the thinker or others. Both of these kinds of thinking are common in everyday thought. Existential thinking does not take what it thought about as the object to be controlled, but as another subject to reveal itself to us. It often involves participation, placing the thinker into the position of the other. “Heidegger’s own existential analytic is an illustration of this. It is thinking about the constitution of human existence, yet it is not calculative that takes such existence as object.” [xv] Macquaarrie’s example of this tendency in Heidegger is that of fear. The “objective” description of fear would begin with recording physiological changes in the body when experiencing fear, while the existential would allow a first hand account of the feelings of subject while afraid.[xvi] An example comes from a discussion I had with an atheist friend about the book Leviathan and the Air Pump,. by Steven Shappin and Simon Schaffer.[xvii] I kept trying to discuss what I felt was the view of the authors that Boyle’s creation of a factory of science facts was a propaganda move to beat Hobbes, and is reason for beating Hobbes was political and theological and not just scientific. My friend kept talking about how Boyle was right scientifically. It was as though he said, even he denied this, that as long he got his facts right it didn’t matter how or why he got them. He was exhibiting the calculative thinking, and the tendency of those who enjoy it to focus on that as the only means of knowing, while I was trying to broaden his horizons (well, that and Prove I’m right). This is an illustration of the two kinds of thinking. The one, “just the facts,” the other sees the relevance of the existential. Of course, as my own attitude illustrates, the existential can be co-opted by ego and is not an guarantee against corruption or wrong motives.

A special aspect of existential thinking is “repetitive” thinking. This does not mean a mechanical repetition but a resurgence of some memory or recorded experience handed down, that against becomes “alive” and “fresh.” One such example is obvious, the accounts of the resurrection of Christ in the gospels for example. Another good Biblical example is the Passover sadder of Hebrew Passover. The re-telling of the flight from Egypt and freeing of salves, escape through the parted red sea, the wiping out of the Egyptian army. This is told and re-told every year, and takes on a life of-its-own. This type of thinking can also be seen in documents, novels, poems, favorite music. Macquarrie points out that we can think of others in objective terms, that is usually construed as domineering or “objectifying” and is seen as wrong and hurtful.[xviii] Then there is personal knowledge; in which persons accept each other on equal terms as subjects rather than the dominating subject/object or “I-it” dichotomy. “Hence in truly personal knowledge we do not subject the other, or master, or transcend him but meet him on a footing of mutuality and reciprocity.”[xix] Theologians often claim that revelation is in the vein of person knowledge, an “I-thou” meeting between God and humanity. Macquarrie lists three problems with this: (1) a “I-thou” requires physical meeting necessary to hear voices and see facial gestures and that’s how get clues to meaning. Revelatory encounter would have to be only analogous to I-thou. (2) I-thou is equal, reciprocity, give and take, this is not indicative of revelatory encounter between humans and God, in which the human is often overwhelmed by the grandeur of God. We can take an informal attitude toward communion with God but we can never actually be in God’s presence in a very “deep” way without being overwhelmed. (3) in I-thou situation two beings meet and know each other. But in God/human relation, if we understand it the way Macquarrie and Tillich do, God as being itself, then its’ not an encounter between two beings but between a being and Being itself. This could be a huge difference. Surely personal thinking has aspects of revelation and may lead us to revelatory encounter, but it can’t really be such an encounter itself.[xx]

Despite these problems the religious experience is justified to some extent in using the language of person encounter, since religious experience seems to be analogous to active self disclosure of that which is being experienced, the one revealing “himself.” Yet, these phenomenological modes of thinking are still inadequate, although that’s just part of the deal; it is par for the theological course. The basis of mystical theology says that God is beyond our understanding, as has been discussed in the previous chapter. Of course phenomenological thinking will be inadequate to understand God, because nothing will enable us to truly understand God except mystical experience and that we can’t talk about accurately. But if science defenders are justified in saying “it’s the only method that gives us systematic certain knowledge,” surely the mystic is justified in saying that mystical consciousness is the only method that gives certainly even if it can’t be related in words, the phenomenologist in saying it’s the only method that brings insight in an area that is beyond our understanding.[xxi] Yet, there is a third mode of phenomenological thinking that Heidegger points us to, that of “primordial thinking.”

Primordial thinking is meditative as opposed to calculative. Macquarrie describes it as “thinking that waits and listens.” [xxii] Heidegger describes it as an “occurrence of being.” [xxiii] It is explicitly compared to both the insights of religion and of poetry. Primordial thinking provides a paradigm for understanding revelatory thinking. This would seem to be an attitude that allows intuitive sense of being itself. What is known in this intuitive sense is not another being but being itself. Macquarrie doesn’t discuss the next obvious question any analytical skeptic would be asking right now, how can it be verified? That’s really issue with scientific thinking, not that it’s ‘certain’ not that it’s the only ‘systematic’ thinking, or course it’s not the only systematic thinking by any means but it is verifiable. Scientific thinking is only verifiable because it only accepted as scientific that which can be verified by its method. That makes the verifiability of other forms of thinking that much harder, if they are willing to take on ideas that can’t be verified such as belief in God. As I pointed out already, what can be verified about belief is the effects of belief upon the believer. That can be verified by measuring the effects once we have a way to identify the actual experience and separate it form something else. Heidegger never did any such social science research on primordial thinking. This doesn’t mean that verifiability escapes notice of the theologian. I’ll have to bracket this discussion for now but I will definitely return to it. I’m still not through describing primordial thinking.

Primordial thinking, according to Macquarrie, contains two more characteristics similar to those of revelation, it is gift-like, that is it presents itself seemingly without being forced or controlled or pried loose. In this sense the insights of this form of thinking seem gracious. The only real condition for reception is that we be open to the intuitive sense of the realization. The other aspect is its overwhelming nature, its tendency to grab the experience and hold attention and to awe the experiencer..

It is more true to say that being grasps us than that we grasp being, yet it grasps us in such a way that we are not simply overwhelmed by it. In the religious experience of revelation, the overwhealmingness of being is matched by its grace, the tremendum by its fascinans, for being gives itself and opens itself, so that we stand in the grace and openness of being. It reveals itself not only in otherness but also in kinship, so that even as we are grasped by it, we can to some extent grasp it in turn and hold to it.

At this point it is necessary to remind ourselves that anxiety and joy, judgment and grace, the sense of otherness and the sense of kinship, the tremendum and the fascinans , man’s sense of disorder and his transcending drive toward fulfillment, are always, so to speak, two sides of a single coin. Sometimes one may predominate, sometimes the other; they may be differently weighted in the experience of different individuals or generations; they may be variously evaluated by different interpreters; but finally they are inseparable and any attempt seize on one side and to set it up in isolation can result only in superficiality.[xxiv]

At this point Macquarrie compares revelatory thinking to esthetic experience, and to moral experience. Knowledge of particular beings arises out of our perceiving them and what our intellect works about them based upon those perceptions. But our knowledge of the awareness of being is more global than that. It arises out of our total range of perception regarding being in the world. It strikes me that this knowledge is both that of a participant and an observer.[xxv] The understanding of being that we reach has to be reached through a global understanding of the full range of knowledge. This global aspect as well as the participant observer aspect is like esthetic or artistic thinking. What is known to the esthetic thinker is not an additional fact added to knowledge but a knowledge perspective of the whole or the depth of what confronts us, as Macquarrie puts it; there’s a term for that that Macquarrie uses, Gestalt. [xxvi] We understand being by our global experience of the world and our lives in the world, and that global experience tells us something about being, something that comes from the perceptive of the whole not merely an additional fact, and it adds to the understanding of the whole. This knowledge, this Gestalt, is much like our understanding of revelation or of religious experience in that the overwhelming aspect is there as well as the idea that the divine is not just another fact in the world but is presented to our awareness as part of the revelation of the whole, the basis of the whole. This kind of thinking is like moral thinking in that it lays a claim of ultimacy upon the individual. True moral thinking lays a claim of ultimacy, while this can be mistaken for convention by those who are bereft of moral understanding the one upon whom that claim is laid understands it quite well.

This idea of understanding the whole, gestalt, is crucial because it’s the opposite of reduction. Since reductionism is a major problem for understanding being and the world, because it loses phenomena and isolates phenomena from its context in our lives, the opposite method is indicated. Rather reduce something to the basic parts that make it up we understand it as a whole. The entire enterprise of speaking of God as being itself is a reflection of this process, because it seeks to understand God not as just an additional fact added to the world, but as a whole, the global understanding of being as reflected in human being in the world. The problem here is the atheist charge of “subjectivity.” Phenomenology is often confused by its critics with introspection or psychology. Phenomenology is not a subjective account of experience. By the same token some seek to overcome subjectivity by turning subjective experience into an object that can be examined by using third person thinking. Categorizing ideas and experiences in this way, “subjective”, “objective,” loses phenomena within the experience and transforms the experienced into a “thing” or an object that loses most of the aspect that made it important and creates a biased account.[xxvii] This tendency is fraught with bias and bigotry, a prime example is seen in my critique of Proudfoot’s arguments in his book on Religious Experience, as I discuss in the Trace of God. [xxviii]

[i]Thomas Idinopulos,.”What is Religion” Cross Currents, Volume 48, no. 3(Fall 1998). Also see online URL: visited 10/28/10

[ii] Paul Pettitt, “When Burial Begins,” British Archaeology, Issue 66 August 2002. See Web versoin URL:, visited 10/14/08. Pettitt is research fellow at Keble college, Oxford.

[iii] Richard Leaky and Roger Lewin. Origins. New York: E.P. Dutton. 1977

[iv] Willfred Cantwell Smith, The Meaning and End of Religion. New York: Macmillan, 1991, Originally published 1962. on line google books page 51, URL: visited 9/28/10

[v] Rudolf Otto, and John W. Harvey.The Idea of the Holy: An Inquiry into the Non-Rational factor in the Idea of the Divine, 1929. Kessinger Pulbisher’s rare prints, (John W. Harvey Trans) 2004 5-8 Online page number URL: visited 10/4/10, Originally published Oxford University Press 1926.

[vi] David Woodruf Smith, Sun Nov 16, 2003; substantive revision Mon Jul 28, 2008 onlnie copty Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy website, URL: viisted 5/20/10.

[vii] John, Macquarrie. The Principles of Christian Theology, revised edition. Great Britain: SCM Press, 1966/1977, 34.

[viii] Ibid, 35

[ix] Ibid, 36, in this paragraph I list three advantages to descriptive method, they are all based upon Macquarrie’s ideas as the sketches them out, the three advantages to this method. I’ve just re-worded them to suit my own speech patterns and thought patterns more.

[x] J.L. Hinman, The Trace of God, Dallas, and Colorado Springs: Grand Viaduct, 2010.

(ok so this one is not published yet)

[xi] Macquarrie, 97

[xii] Ibid, 91

[xiii] Ibid.

[xiv] Ibid

[xv] Ibid, 92

[xvi] Ibid.

[xvii] Steven Shappin and Simon Schaffer, Leviathan and The Air Pump, Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press 1989.

[xviii] Macquarrie, 92.

[xix] Ibid, 93.

[xx] Ibid.

[xxi] Ibid.

[xxii] Ibid

[xxiii] Ibid. Macquarrie makes references to Heidegger’s discussion of primordial thinking, his use of these terms such as “religion and poetry” he sites Was ist Metaphysik, 47-49.

[xxiv] Ibid, 95

[xxv] Ibid 96

[xxvi] Ibid.

[xxvii] Shaun Gallagher and Dan Zahavi, The Phenomenological Mind: An Introduction to Philosophy of Mind and Cognitive Science. New York: Routtledge. 2008, 19.

Shaun Gallagher is Professor and Chair of the Philosophy Department at the University of Central Florida and coeditor of the journal "Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences. Dan Zahavi is Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Center for Subjectivity Research at the University of Copenhagen and the author of "Self-Awareness and Alterity" and "Husserl's Phenomenology".

[xxviii] J.L. Hinman, The Trace of God: (find)


tinythinker said...

Not exactly on topic, but this reminded me of a thought I recently had that I haven't had time to develop because of my work and the fact that I am using my limited fun/free time to do a series on looking at Christianity with new eyes. It seems like this kind of exploration of deeper consciousness and the possible revelations about the divine/ground of being should be taken more seriously because humans are the first group we know of to attain our level of consciousness, just as some species somewhere was the first to develop photosensitive spots. Why should we assume we cannot perceive new things, real things, with this new faculty? Even if, just as those animals with primitive eye spots, we can only detect what it reveals in most crude and difficult to process way?

Kristen said...

It's interesting that this "calculative" thinking is generally thought of in Western culture as "strong," "cutting edge" or even "masculine," while "existential" and "primordial" thinking are considered weaker and are often associated with the feminine.

I wonder whether, if the sciences had been open to women from their inception, we might find existential and primordial thought given more pride of place, and calculative thought never enthroned as it has been? We need all three to be well-rounded human beings. To think of scientific data-gathering and calculative thought as the only "correct" way of obtaining knowledge is to truncate the human experience.

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

Kristien, that's the kind of observation feminists used to come up with under the rubrick of "Postmodern."

The things that is so irritating about it is it's insightful nature and the fact that it's right! At least I think so! :-)

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

Tiny, that's neat that you are doing that. your adjusting the paradigm to absorb more anomalies. Or in old fashioned religious parlance, spiracle growth.

Excellent point about consciousness.

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

I wonder whether, if the sciences had been open to women from their inception, we might find existential and primordial thought given more pride of place, and calculative thought never enthroned as it has been? We need all three to be well-rounded human beings. To think of scientific data-gathering and calculative thought as the only "correct" way of obtaining knowledge is to truncate the human experience.

Kristen there's a book you would love called The Mind Has NO Sex. It talks about midwives in the middelage uages to modern times vs. Aristotelian doctors.

the Doctors up into the early 1800s didn't know beans about anatomy, children or delivering babies and mid wives knew medicine and had a much better rate of patents surviving. Doctors were killing women in child birth becuase they stupidly insisted upon Aristotle being right and refused to listen to midwives.

can't remember the name of the author. May have been Shebenger? I don't know.

Kristen said...

Heh, heh. I don't know what it has to do with postmodernity, except to say that there's more than one way of looking at things.

I think men and women need one another's balancing perspective. Any time a group that's all women, or all men, excludes all input from the opposite sex, imbalances occur. We all have the capacity for all three kinds of thought. None of the three categories of thought is actually "masculine" or "feminine" -- but it seems to me that when men categorized one form of thought as being their own (and therefore superior) to the other two, they fell into a grave imbalance which, had they respected the input of women, they might have avoided.

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

Heh, heh. I don't know what it has to do with postmodernity, except to say that there's more than one way of looking at things.

they linked it up to PM but I think the real connection is postmodernist feminists needed publication so looked harder for such things. Not that they did bad.

I think men and women need one another's balancing perspective. Any time a group that's all women, or all men, excludes all input from the opposite sex, imbalances occur. We all have the capacity for all three kinds of thought. None of the three categories of thought is actually "masculine" or "feminine" -- but it seems to me that when men categorized one form of thought as being their own (and therefore superior) to the other two, they fell into a grave imbalance which, had they respected the input of women, they might have avoided.

agree. well said!