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Open CFPs :  Religions  special issues 

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Religious Experience and Metaphysics

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Deadline: 30 July 2022

Guest editor: Olga Louchakova-Schwartz (Jesuit School of Theology and  UC Davis) 

In this issue, we seek to address relationships between religious or spiritual experience (RSE) and metaphysics. RSE is associated with interruptions in ordinary language/common sense experience of the everyday (cf. Dahl; Barber; Heidegger). RSE interruptions create specific changes in perception, but it is not clear if and how RSE phenomena as described by i.e. mystics(such as internal perception of light, sound, altered perception of the body (re: spatiality, density, depth, other parameters), internal stillness, motion, presence or disconnect, etc.) impact one’s beliefs and/or attendant metaphysical (pre)suppositions. Do RSE change empirical realism of the natural attitude, religious
attitude, or one’s metaphysics of the self? In the first panel, we invite concrete empirical and textual investigations of relationships between the perceptual and conceptual aspects of RSE across different traditions. The papers can include both first-person and second-person descriptive phenomenological research or an intertwining of different phenomenological analyses.

We also are seeking revisionist metaphysical proposals that include a reference to formal phenomenological analyses of consciousness in RSE. By contrast with the ordinary experience of objects, originary self-giving in RSE can be non-associative, open-ended, undetermined; in other words, excluding mental or “real” (empirically so) objects. Therefore, a descriptive metaphysics of such consciousness needs to be non-object related (cf. Ladyman, French). What is the nature of reality “displayed” by RSE? Besides covering the metaphysics of consciousness, the panel welcomes speculative extensions of such phenomenologically grounded metaphysics into realist contexts, such as e.g., metaphysics of the quantum world or Minkowski space-time.

In the Shadows of Religious Experience: Hostility, Violence, Revenge

Deadline EXTENDED: May 31, 2022


Guest editors: Michael Staudigl (University of Vienna), Olga Louchakova-Schwartz (UC Davis and JST), Jason Alvis (University of Vienna)

Recent advances in the study of religion successfully have demonstrated the positive, community-building potentials of religious experience in terms of its material/performative practices, psychological models of coping with pain/crisis, and embodied habits that help individuals establish more co-creative forms of reason in order to develop more grounded social imaginaries and epistemologies.

Without disregarding or disagreeing with the innumerable potential effects and benefits of having and creating religious experiences, we wish to focus more so on how the irrevocable ambivalence of religious experience simultaneously can lead it to bear its discontents and negative socialities, namely, in the forms of hostility, violence, and revenge.  Although violence is not the necessary product of hostility, it always looms as a threat and is often motivated by various processes of enmification.  And although revenge is not a necessary response to some preceding act of violence, individuals and groups quite often resort to it in order to appease aggrieved individuals and parties.  Of course, this trifecta of hostility, violence, and revenge very often is invoked in political activities irrespective of religious traditions and engagements.  Yet in all too many cases, this trifecta becomes even more pronounced due to the ways and means individuals and groups have, and choose to have, religious experiences and use religious narratives to justify violent responses.   

Can we describe phenomenologically the core motivations for why hostility, violence, or revenge too frequently are preferred over peaceful interactions and phronetic engagements with others?  Does a certain entitlement or perverse freedom arise from a sense of representing divine power, stemming from unconditional claims that are promoted “in the name of” a transcendent principle?  To what degree does the dialectic between purity and compromise play a role in the will to act violently towards others who one deems to embody a “threat of disorder,” a stain of impurity, or are simply passed by indifferently? Could the clear-cut orders of “the sacred” and “the secular” possibly contribute to deepening an age-old dualism or desire for equilibrium through revenge? Further, if the religious experience does not necessarily invite the irrational (or on the contrary, hyper-rational) responses of seeking the harm, injury, or “correction” of others, in what way do forms of religious experience contribute to the (re)production of negative socialities that revolve around imaginations of threat and disorder? What kind of responsibilities might the presence of a non or a-religious community or political play in creating spaces of opposition and conflict?

In order to find constructive answers to such questions, we invite reference to the whole phenomenological movement, including post-phenomenology, hermeneutics, and deconstruction; historical and contemporary research with the engagement of phenomenology, theological phenomenology, experienced-based comparative studies like cultural anthropology of experience, qualitatively based sociology of religion, as well as theological and psychological perspectives that utilize phenomenological research methods. Abstract and Paper proposals on the following topics would be most welcome:

– Critiques of the relationship between “religion” and “secularism” as a social, political, and epistemological separation that is prone to deepen habits of hostility, legitimize violence, and motivate revenge;

– Analyses of the role religious experience (and the discourse about it) might play in academic, social, and political discourse(s) on hostility, violence, or revenge;

– Developments of accounts of religious experience that clearly demonstrate its inherently ambiguous role in how it fundamentally is constitutive of the “human condition”;

– Depictions of the theologico-political undercurrents of late modern social imaginaries that nourish the habitus of “cultures of violence”;

– Descriptions of how the break-down of meaning in a) the maelstrom of globalization, b) the advent of apathy and indifference in modernity spinning out of control, and c) the social construction of murderous consent to neoliberal exploitation and the resulting nihilism of a commodified society committed to the myth of progress all have influenced religious communities and their contemporary self-understanding.

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