Special Events and Lectures

Advanced Scholarship

March 24, 2017

This lecture will be available via ZOOM.  Please email courtenay.crouch@gmail.com for zoom access info and exact time.

Javier Carreno, Franciscan University of Steubenville, Austria, lecture at the University of Trnava, Slovakia

The Lion and the Captive: Phenomenological Aesthetics in Jean-Louis Chrétien’s “Does Beauty Say Adieu?”

What would it take for our encounters with beauty to tease us out of a stance of mere disinterestedness, and for our conversations on beauty even as a divine attribute to no longer sound hollow? For Chrétien, both philosophical and theological aesthetics are in need of a phenomenology that addresses beauty not just as another phenomenal quality – in things, in the world, and in God – but as an event that uniquely implicates objects and subjects into a veritable drama.

By pursuing a phenomenological line of thinking that is conversant with the testimonies of poets, theologians, and painters, Chrétien persuasively argues that the self-manifestation of beauty not only fills us with joy but also wounds us, since it is at the point of vulnerability that we break forth into prayer, praise, and thanksgiving. And by delving into this personal response, Chrétien clarifies the relation between God’s glory and beauty, clearly outlining the role that the beauty of the Incarnation plays in redemption.

The major part of my presentation will be devoted to Chrétien’s ambitious proposal to take beauty and its opposite beyond aesthetics and into the drama of human salvation. This will enable us, at a second move, to look more closely at what Chrétien has to say about the inexhaustible character of the vision of the beautiful, and ponder at how this “inexhaustibility” still differs from the inexhaustibility of perception as understood by phenomenology.


March 17, 2017

University of Trnava, Slovakia (click here and here to download the flyer)


April 7, 2017

10-12 pm PDT,  SOPHERE webinar (to attend, email webinars@sophere.org)

 Special lecture by Peter Costello (Providence College, USA)

Givenness and Explication: Phenomenology As Being-Towards the Margins

Key Biblical texts in light of reading of Husserl


 Emerging Scholars

April 21, 2017, 10-12 pm PDT,  SOPHERE webinar

Sam Mickey (University of San Francisco, USA),

Living the Epoché: A Phenomenological Realism of Religious Experience

In contrast to constructivist and reductionist denials of the existence of religious experience, this paper presents a phenomenological realism of religious experience, particularly by elucidating the function of the epoché in the phenomenology of religion. Some interpretations of the epoché preclude any commitments to realism. For instance, Husserl’s epoché is typically understood as a methodological device for “bracketing” any assertions arising from the natural attitude, which would entail holding in suspense any metaphysical claims about the existence or non-existence of religious experience. Drawing on the works of Emmanuel Levinas and the Dutch phenomenologist of religion Gerardus Van der Leeuw, I outline a different interpretation of the epoché, one that suspends the understanding while nonetheless affirming the real existence of religious experience.

Van der Leeuw and Levinas approach phenomenology from different contexts, Christianity and hermeneutics for the former and Judaism and ethical metaphysics for the latter. Following Heidegger’s existential turn in phenomenology, both thinkers seek to live the epoché such that it is not a mere methodological device but a pre-reflective mode of being, a restraint that is fundamental to the openness of human existence to the world. Bracketing is the process whereby the understanding reaches a limit that opens out onto that which is other in its irreducible otherness (Levinasian “alterity”). The reality of the other is given in a pre-reflective encounter while one suspends one’s own understanding of the other. Furthermore, both Van der Leeuw and Levinas argue that such openness to the other is what defines religious experience, which means that religious experience is real, and it is a constitutive feature of human existence. The human is thus “Homo religiosus,” as Van der Leeuw says. This entails a provocative suggestion that the practice of phenomenology involves a religious dimension, and conversely, every religious experience involves an epoché.

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