Theory/Theology

The Self as Source and Destination for Intuitive Interpretations of Religious or Spiritual Experiences



Article abstract/summary:
Religious or spiritual experiences (RSE) are often difficult to fully express even if one might be able to describe particular aspects of them. Yet the influences that such carry in a person’s mode of being can be vast, and they are clearly a fundamental part of the human condition (whether accepted, denied, or dismissed, their occurrence appears universal). How then might these RSE ? and the corresponding grounding implications ? be better explained? This paper seeks to elucidate the problematic via an applied investigation of a self-theoretical framework which is composed of three interlaced “sets”: 1) Self-defining traits, 2) Self-directing traits, and 3) Self-evaluating traits. We will suggest that these elements (with consciousness and bodily presence) form a core self that is a separable facet from those of personal identity and whole person; and this finding will in turn require a brief look at consciousness and a two-tiered mental model. Taking the self-view into a phenomenological hermeneutical examination will illuminate the position at which RSE might reside within an individual’s cognition, and thence to exploring the pre-thought (the functionally pre-aware) foundations involved. Finally, some considerations will be given for how an understanding of the foregoing structure (if it be found valid) might contribute towards the purposive shifting of that self-basis from out of and towards which RSE are situated in a lifeworld.

Keywords/search terms:
experience; interpretation; mental model; phenomenology; religious or spiritual experiences; self-theory; self-transformation


Download the PDF: The Self as Source and Destination for Intuitive Interpretations of Religious or Spiritual Experiences by Andrew Oberg

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in the journal Religions 13(9): 798, August 29, 2022 (DOI: doi.org/10.3390/rel13090798); available here. (Abstract only here). Posted on 30 August 2022 by Andrew Oberg


Time within Eternity: A Metaphysical Perspective Newly Opened by Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka's Ontopoietical Logos of Life



Article abstract/summary:
In effect, why should death, considered as the end of the time of the individual life, also be the vehicle that makes temporal life travel to eternity, that is, to a condition essentially other than itself? Reduced to mere end of temporal life and thus drawn back into immanence, death can at most make us fall into the nothingness of the life that precisely reaches its end with death! However, we cannot any longer pass off as authentic arrival at transcendence that repetition of the identical “eternal return/recurrence” that even Zarathustra backed away from, aghast! Nor it is possible to propose the return to the transcendence of traditional metaphysics, if the “great principles” of metaphysics were abandoned precisely “because of their inadequacy given how their universal/abstract conceptualizing dominates the questions they were meant to answer”! ... Thus it is this very “new assessment of [our contemporary] reason” which advances the metaphysical urge for transcendence no longer as in conflict with that of immanence, but in the unheard of terms of the exigency to find an ontological medium, a common logos of being that puts in communication “the abundance and variety that our present state of human experience reveals” and “the expanding perspectives on our horizons” and that functions as “a meaningful cogent coordination of our sensibilities, valuations, convictions and our faith, all of which are indispensable to our maneuvering upon the chaotic flux of life”. (Tymieniecka)

Keywords/search terms:
death; logos of life; time; transcendence; Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka


Download the PDF: Time within Eternity: A Metaphysical Perspective Newly Opened by Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka's Ontopoietical Logos of Life by Daniela Verducci

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article originally published in the journal Phenomenological Inquiry 33 (2009), 4-22. Posted on 22 May 2021 by Daniela Verducci. Professor Verducci can also be found here on Springer's website.


Enlightening Your Laptop: Machine Selves and a ‘Real’ Buddhist Self?



Article abstract/summary:
Futurists such as Ray Kurzweil and others associated with the idea of ‘The Singularity’ have predicted that as artificial intelligence programs (AI) progress they will inevitably begin to experience and reflect on themselves in the same or in a similar manner to that which we are accustomed to doing in our everyday lives, and thus that these machines will then have their own ‘soul’ or ‘mind’ or ‘self’ just as we are said to have. Buddhist philosophy of course would beg to differ on this point as one of the most central tenets of Buddhism is the no-self or no-soul, yet Buddhism does not deny that we have the kinds of experiences and reflections that we do. Thinking about Buddhism’s stance on this point raises a very interesting question: If there is no self behind the experiences and reflections that we engage in, could AI come to have a mind like we do? The futurists who answer this question in the positive often compare the brain-body relationship to that between software and hardware, stressing a direct analogy. That relationship will be examined in the context of what a machine’s qualia (the ‘what it is like’ aspect of being a machine) might consist in, and it will be argued that in light of such considerations a machine cannot have the metalevels of mind that we have and therefore cannot have qualia in the sense that we do. The argument will then be continued, claiming that without qualia any hope for a true artificial ‘mind’ and/or ‘self’ must be groundless. However, in examining the software/hardware analogy something far more subtle and nuanced can be discovered: the notion of a thing’s reality as functionally existent, and that concept has very interesting consequences for the self from a Buddhist perspective. It may be that in creating machines the way we have been we are becoming capable of learning a great deal more about ourselves, and that learning can both benefit from and add to existing Buddhist insights.

Keywords/search terms:
artificial intelligence (AI); Buddhist no-self; mind; qualia; the self


Download the PDF: Enlightening Your Laptop: Machine Selves and a ‘Real’ Buddhist Self? by Andrew Oberg

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in the Journal of the Korean Association for Buddhist Studies, Special Issue: Encounter of Buddhism and the 4th Industrial Revolution (2017), 504-537. Posted on 22 April 2021 by Andrew Oberg


Enervating the Divine: Seeking new intuitions about God from a time of pandemic



Article abstract/summary:
The COVID-19 pandemic has upended our planet in ways that could not have been foreseen. Yet even as the world has shifted, the “worlds” of our conceptual habitations have not, and this is particularly the case with regards to religious beliefs. It is from within this context that the present study seeks clarity. Beginning at the beginning, the paper sets out from a re-examination of the foundational creation myth of Western societies, and argues that a more careful reading of the actual presentation of that account, along with some situational explanations, results in an understanding of divinity that stresses neither omnipotence nor omniscience. The article then transitions to the importance of the notional in grounding and generating social behaviors, employing phenomenological and psychological research and analytical methods. Intuitions are seen to be central in the personally-based methodology undertaken, and the conceptual-perceptional brace of the notion/event is offered as a theoretical construct. Finally, an attempt at application is made through a return to the earlier explication of a reduced idea of divinity, and subtle gestures at possibly resulting ethical calls are given. Although the virus has taken charge of our lives, and although even God/“God” might not be in absolute control, the “world” is yet ours to (re)make.

Keywords/search terms:
behavior; corona virus/COVID-19; creation myth; intuition; notion/event; religion; weak theology


Download the PDF: Enervating the Divine by Andrew Oberg

Author acknowledgements: This article was written for the "(Ir)Rationality and Religiosity During Pandemics: Phenomenological Criticism" Supplemental Research Webinar hosted by the Department of Philosophy at the University of Vienna, September 16-17, 2020. I am very grateful to the organizers Dr Michael Staudigl, Dr Jason Alvis, and Dr Olga Louchakova-Schwartz, whose flexibility, ingenuity, and efforts were truly remarkable. My appreciation for all participants and members of SOPHERE must be noted too; my wish is only for more collaboration. Recordings of the various talks can be found here.

This is an Author's Accepted Version of an article published in the journal Open Theology 7:1 (2021), 140-149; available here. Posted on 16 February 2021 by Andrew Oberg


Phenomenological Spirituality and its Relationship to Religion



Article abstract/summary:
This paper develops a phenomenological account of spirituality that can help us think more broadly and deeply about religion and its role in our lives. It begins by explaining spirituality as a supra-subjective force that shapes a subject’s intuitive engagement with the world (Section I). Then, it shows that such a spirituality is affective (and affected) in cultural expression (Section II), by way of historically situated institutions or traditions [Stiftungen] (Section III). The last step of the paper will be to connect this account of spirituality to our understanding of religion by articulating four distinct levels of phenomenological analysis that will have emerged in the discussion of spirituality and showing that each of these levels must be accounted for in a distinct way if we want to offer a full-fledged philosophy of religion (Section IV). In doing so, we will see that this account of spirituality potentially helps us see a broader range of things that could count as “religious,” in part by helping us see that religion is a particular mode of expressing the spirituality that operates as the deepest motivating impulse driving our lives.

Keywords/search terms:
expression; Henry, Michel; Husserl, Edmund; Merleau-Ponty, Maurice; phenomenology; philosophy of religion; spirituality


Download the PDF: Phenomenological Spirituality and its Relationship to Religion by Neal DeRoo

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in the International Journal for Philosophy 25:1 (2020), 53-70. Posted on 05 February 2021 by Neal DeRoo


Christianity After Christendom: Rethinking Jan Patočka's Heresy



Article abstract/summary:
Jan Patočka committed several philosophical heresies throughout his professional career as a phenomenological author. Perhaps the most fascinating consists of his lifelong preoccupation and rapprochement with Christianity. The main point of this paper is to present and further develop Patočka’s idea that Christianity continues to bear witness to the best of its spiritual heritage and also manifests itself anew in an age after Christendom.

Keywords/search terms:
Jan Patočka; Christianity; Christendom/Post-Christendom; Post-Europe; Heresy (Rethinking of)


Download the PDF: Christianity After Christendom: Rethinking Jan Patočka's Heresy by Martin Koci

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in The Heythrop Journal (2019), 19 March (Version of Record DOI: 10.1111heyj.13190). Posted on 24 January 2021 by Martin Koci

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