Figuring philosophy of religion: Reflection on art and its significance for Continental philosophy of religion
Boynton, Eric Edward
Doctor of Philosophy
This study maintains that philosophical reflection on religion can avoid consigning the significance of religion to the secret of faith or sacrificing its significance at the threshold of intelligibility. Such reflection involves the unsettling of a traditionally respected heterogeneity between faith and knowledge---an unsettling announced by recent Continental philosophers yet still lacking rigorous exploration. Specifically in the context of the debates describing contemporary Continental philosophy of religion, an argument is needed to clear the space for thinking the interpenetration of faith and knowledge by becoming aware of the hyperbole that plagues these debates beholden to an inflated alterity. The task of this study, then, is to pull back from hyperbolic claims that have rendered the religious amazing in order to clear the space to think through this amazement as it finds expression. The effort to witness this possibility inhering in the Continental reflection on religion finds motivation in the recent reconsiderations of the phenomenon of art. The engagement with the artwork as enigmatic, possessing significance beyond the confines of the philosophical discipline of aesthetics, presents a model for thinking through the alterity of religious themes and phenomena. Pushing the philosophy of art to respond to the recent theological preoccupation with alterity offers a model for consideration of otherness in Continental philosophy of religion. Harnessing the kind of reflection suited to the artwork, I criticize and back away from the more enthusiastic, overstated, and indefensible claims of postmodern philosophy and theology---claims of either extracting the "'pure' and proper possibility" of religion or ones insisting upon a theological surpassing of critical or reductive philosophical thought.
Philosophy of Religion