Phenomenology of Religion
I decided to discuss about this topic because of my great interest in religion. Actually, phenomenology is a philosophical concept which deals with the study of the structure of consciousness and subjective experience. It was founded by Edmund Husserl and later propounded by George F. Hegel and Geradus Van Der Leuuw (Hegel, G.F., 2008). It is a very important concept because it emphasizes on the systematic study and reflection of phenomena and consciousness. On the other hand, phenomenology of religion is a philosophical concept mainly dealing with the experiential aspect of religion. Some of its major proponents include Kristen ten Brede.
Phenomenology is a significant approach which can be used to shed more light on the rational and fair study of religion without any interference. Religion is a very important thing that man can not live without. Its spiritual guidance gives a total fulfillment besides acting as a basis of laws governing the society in the contemporary world (George, J., 2005). However, instead of using religion as a sacred tool, many people have resorted to using it as an instrument of war to fight one another. Many people have been maimed, injured and killed because of religious wars being fought to cause unnecessary havoc to innocent souls. All these problems have persisted in our midst due to lack of tolerance, a misfortune blamed on disregard of the concept of phenomenology.
As Immanuel Kant argues, ‘God is the chief source of ethics in the society.’ This means that religion plays a prominent role in the life of man. It should therefore not be overlooked. The idea of phenomenology should be applied in religion to enable individuals to carry out objective studies before coming up with rational judgments on their perceptions and emotional feelings. This implies the fact that people should carry out a thorough evaluation before coming up with a decision regarding the matter at hand. There should be a conscious reflection on each situation before making any presumption concerning any, matter of religious interest (Mircea E., 2007).
In fact, Christensen was right when he asserted that, ‘individuals should withhold any preconceived prejudice when making judgments.’ Instead, they should maintain epoche and ensure that they approach the mater with a bias free mind. After all, Van Der Leuuw advocates for expression, experience and understanding before making any decision of concern. Put in simple terms, it is paramount that people approach religious matters cautiously. Everyone should apply the knowledge of phenomenology of religion to peacefully coexist with others irrespective of their religious faith (Martin H., 2004). Any religious phenomenon should be approached from the orientation of the worshipers.
The idea of history and philosophy of religion should be prioritized when dealing with contentious religious issues. No one should propagate the spirit of religious reductionism because it is a recipe to misunderstanding. Instead, they should be encouraged to be considerate of other religious groupings and regard them as equally important orientations seeking spiritual fulfillment to their respective followers. Husserl was right for insisting that people should be conscious of the plural nature of the society. Everyone is unique and can not belong to a single religious faith. Therefore, they must learn to accept the teachings of these scholars in order to create harmony in the world. Religious intolerance is very dangerous and can have adverse effects on the lives of people. Therefore, it should be the responsibility of individuals to acknowledge their differences, understand and appreciate others without any discrimination whatsoever (Edmund, H., 1970).
In conclusion, I would like to agree with the philosophies of these scholars. Phenomenology is a very significant concept which if taken seriously, can greatly transform the world. Inter-religious wars amongst the Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Confucians, Taoists and African Traditional Religious followers, is not justified. It mainly occurs because of religious reductionism which can be absolutely eliminated if the concept of phenomenology of religion is adhered to.
Edmund, H. (1970). The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology: An
Introduction to Phenomenological Philosophy, translated by David Carr. Evanston:
Northwestern University Press.
George, J. (2005) Interpreting Religion: The Phenomenological Approaches of Pierre Daniël
Chantepie de la Saussaye, W. Brede Kristensen, and Gerardus van der Leeuw.
Washington: Catholic University of America Press.
Hegel, G.F. (2008) Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion: Together with a Work on the Proofs
of the Existence of God, translated by Rev. E. B. Speirs, B. D. and J. Burdon Sanderson. 3
volumes. New York: Humanities Press, Inc.
Martin H. (2004). Phenomenology of the Religious Life, translated by Matthias Fritsch and
Jennifer Anna Gosetti-Ferencei. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Mircea E. (2007). The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion, translated by Willard R.
Trask. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc.