It’s been some time since I’ve blogged. That’s because I’ve been working hard on two books. This is a brief description of one of them with the tentative title Personalizing Philosophy of Religion: An Enecstatic Treatment, a theme important to this blog:
Philosophy of religion is a discipline beset by problems of nomenclature and history that has vexed philosophers, theologians, and scholars of religion since the 19th century. An original ideal was to achieve a disengaged perspective on the phenomenon of religion that made sense of the world philosophically. Philosophy of religion sorted through matters of morality and metaphysics, epistemology and world religions, which even comparative scholars of religion, in their philosophizing, had difficulties detaching from Christianity. As a result philosophical theology came to manage basic normative themes in theistic traditions that would eventually frame ways in which one would also approach non-theistic traditions philosophically. This problem, culturally speaking, set apart the philosophy of religion of philosophical theology from the form that looked more generally at religion as an important human dimension to be assessed social scientifically or hermeneutically. In both cases philosophizing religion has been haunted by a problematic difficult, if not impossible, to shake: philosophizing about religion, that is, objectifying religion, whether the emphasis is on subjective or objective poles of investigation.
This inheritance of Enlightenment origins has always been in a precarious relationship with rationality in one form or another. The element of the personal equation in particular has been a special issue. It has ridden on the back of impartiality as though a dead weight, to be tolerated or vetoed. When vetoed it has assumed a strong form of realism that sees subjectivity as non-constitutive, as practically incidental to objective knowledge. When the personal equation is tolerated the form transmogrifies into a special discourse that no longer considers personal engagement in terms apropos of the positive sciences. Think Heidegger’s early ontology and the preoccupation with Dasein. More radical strains of philosophy commonly known as “postmodern” have brought together these two general dispositions forming politically charged ideas of engaged reflexivity with a strong undercurrent of normative theorizing. I call this a concern with the self that is object-constitutive, that is, it arbitrates an objectified relationality of concerns: text to self, politics to self, alterity to self, and vice versa. This has given rise to what is properly understood as philosophy of religious studies, a meta-methodological preoccupation with the problems of nomenclature and history surrounding philosophizing religion with which I began this overview.
Postmodern developments in philosophy of religion, which have broached the issue of subjective involvement in object-constitutive terms, now beg the larger question concerning subject-constitutive analysis in religion. Such a focus is “enecstatic”, a term I have coined that tweaks Heidegger’s “ecstasis” to signal a post-Heideggerian ontic preoccupation. It pertains to a disposition that lurks in Poststructuralism that points back to the early Greeks. It connects with Foucault’s “care of the self”, Hadot’s “philosophy as a way of life”, Nehamas’s “art of living” as melded by Derridean concerns. However, this study surfaces this disposition in terms that reflect the explicit preoccupation with what philosopher-theologian Bernard Lonergan calls subject as subject. It reworks his idea of self-appropriation, an outcome of which recognizes genuine objectivity to be the fruit of authentic subjectivity. I translate what he means by “authentic subjectivity” in a context that reflects the current nonfoundationalist climate in philosophy of religion and religious studies. It is in this that the uniqueness of this study consists. I know of no other work that does the same with the notion of the subject or, for that matter, what I am calling philosophy of religious studies.
Just a heads up. I hope it’s available soon!