Silverman Center 2009 Phenomenology Conference

Phenomenology did not begin as a religious philosophy, but recently several prominent European phenomenologists have asked whether a coherent phenomenology of human experience must find its fulfillment in religion.

Christian phenomenologists such as Jean-Luc Marion, Michel Henry, and Jean-Louis Chrétien have all pressed an incisive and provocative question to modern secular philosophy: do our lived human experiences of self, other and world finally make sense only when we see them as founded on God’s creative act? By answering this question affirmatively, these thinkers have asserted that a rigorous philosophical account of human experience must also involve a philosophy of God. Human experience, precisely in order to be true to itself, must include practices of religious gratitude and praise. As a corollary, philosophy must include theological analysis.

The Silverman Center’s 2009 Symposium on phenomenology and the theological turn will therefore investigate sympathetically and critically this radical turn to religion in phenomenology. We hope you will join us for what is sure to be a spirited conversation about a matter that is of far more than just theoretical interest.

Jean-Luc Marion, University of Chicago and University of Paris-Sorbonne
“On the Foundation of the Distinction Between Theology and Philosophy”

Richard Kearney, Boston College
“Returning to God After God: Levinas, Derrida, Ricoeur”

Edith Wyschogrod, Rice University
“Confessional Memoirs: The Phenomenology of Telling It All”

Jay Lampert, University of Guelph
“Do the Arguments for Saturated Phenomena Prove That They Are Necessary or That They Are Possible? Time to Decide”


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  1. Well, of course phenomenology has to look at religious experience. But: “fulfillment”, “in order to be true to itself”, such phrases are not the results of phenomenological investigations; they are just persuasive definitions. It´s honest to be a believer and a phenomenologist, it´s not quite as honest to be a believer who claims to believe because phenomenology shows belief to be a necessary part of human experience.
    Besides, saying that “recently” European phenomenologists have taken this religious turn is a bit like saying that recently American music was changed by rock´n´roll. Didn´t Janicaud criticise this trend quite a few years ago?