Phenomenologists Santepie de la Saussaye W. Brede Kristensen Rudolph Otto Ninian Smart Mircea Eliade E. Said
Phenomenology of Religious Phenomena Classification of Religious Phenomena Interpolate the phenomena into their own lives. Suspend value-judgments and adopt a neutral stance Understand the connection between the various aspects of religion Continue and reflect on the results of their research
Task A phenomenologist visits Radhadesh to write a paper about the position of women in ISKCON What will she do during her two weeks of her visit? What will be her attitude and what challenges will she meet in her research?
Anti-reductionist view Religion is valued for its own essence and is not reduced to a single function ‘A religious phenomenon will only be recognized as such if it is grasped at its own level, that is to say, if it is studied as something religious. To try to grasp the essence of such phenomenon by means of physiology, psychology, sociology, economists, linguists, art or any other study is false; it misses the one unique and irreducible element in it — the element of the sacred’
Eliade’s writings on Religion The Sacred and the Profane (1957) Patterns in Comparative Religion (1949) The Myth of the External Return (1949)
M. Eliade The basis of religion arises from an actual external other There is a distinction between the profane and the sacred
Eliade on the ‘Sacred’ ‘…..the sacred is equivalent to a power and in the last analysis, to reality. The sacred is saturated with being. Sacred power means reality and at the same time enduringness and efficacity… Thus it is easy to understand that religious man deeply desires to be, to participate in reality, to be saturated with power.’
Eliade on Hierophanies Hierophanies form religions and they are the manifestation of a transcendental reality in our lives. ‘Man becomes aware of the sacred because it manifests itself, shows itself, as something wholly different from the profane. To designate the act of manifestation of the sacred, we have proposed the term hierophany. It is a fitting term, because it does not imply anything further; it expresses no more than is implicit in its etymological content, i.e., that something sacred shows itself to us’.
Eliade on ‘Hierophany’ ‘It could be said that the history of religions — from the most primitive to the most highly developed — is constituted by a great number of hierophanies, by manifestations of sacred realities. From the most elementary hierophany — e.g. manifestation of the sacred in some ordinary object, a stone or a tree — to the supreme hierophany (which, for a Christian, is the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ) there is no solution of continuity. In each case we are confronted by the same mysterious act — the manifestation of something of a wholly different order, a reality that does not belong to our world, in objects that are an integral part of our natural "profane" world.
Critique Positive anti-reductionist approach Eliade cannot avoid metaphysical questions The argument of the universality of religious experience is not supported by ethnographic analysis. Symbols take their meaning from a number of factors. The meaning changes when symbols and religions are examined in their own cultural contexts
Critique Some indication for unilinear development: the dialectical development of hierophany seems to move into a more Christian Theological Position Religion cannot be examined outside its cultural context