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Philosophy and its Other:

Phenomenological Reflections on Religious Violence

Lecture by Dr. Michael Staudigl (University of Vienna Institute for Human Sciences, Vienna) organized by the Department of the History of Philosophy

"The impulse of research must proceed not from philosophies but from things [von den Sachen] and from the problems." In this way, Husserl famously presented his basic conviction concerning the idea of a phenomenological philosophy. In this presentation, I will attempt to relate Husserl's conviction to the momentous challenge that one of his major successors, Merleau-Ponty, has written into the register of the "phenomenological movement."

Merleau-Ponty indeed not only holds that the philosopher carries his bodily shadow with himself, a shadow that is, as he puts it, not simply the absence of some future light. Still more radically, the later Merleau-Ponty also contends that we need to include non-philosophy into philosophy in order to give an account of philosophy as such. This move appears of paramount importance to me, yet I propose to pursue the confrontation of philosophy with its other into a strikingly different direction than the one opened by Merleau-Ponty.

Concretely put, I will focus those forms of alterity that violence, religion, and especially "religious violence" pose for a type of philosophy that understands itself as a continuing reflection upon the crisis of reason. Concretely viewed, I will proceed in three steps. In a first part, I will consider the current debate concerning the so-called "return of religion." Frequently, this "return" has been related to religion's violent potential or its status of embodying the other of reason. As I will argue, this reductive approach calls for a phenomenological analysis that is able to give an account of "religious experience" and how it relates to the (re)constitution of selfhood and community (1). In a second step, I will demonstrate how such a genuine phenomenology of religion, which focuses the very "phenomenon of religion" beyond the confines of onto-theology and metaphysics, can be conceptualized. My main argument here will revolve around the idea of an "original givenness" that is constitutive for an original cultural molding of the life-world in religious terms, but appears in other existential figures, too. (2). How, finally, we might be able to approach "religious violence" in the context of this overall framework, will be discussed in the third and concluding section (3).

When & where?

Wednesday, 2 December 2015, 15:15 – 17:00
Faculty of Philosophy, Room Omega University of Groningen

Laatst gewijzigd:24 november 2015 14:52