Richard Kearney's hermeneutics of otherness

Philosophy and Social Criticism 34 (3):247-265 (2008)
Abstract
The article considers a particular case of Richard Kearney's characteristic hermeneutical exploration of `the possible' as an `imaginative' way of casting light upon philosophical issues. This particular case is his recent hermeneutical and phenomenological consideration of `Otherness' in the context of philosophy of religion. This consideration, strongly influenced by philosophers such as Heidegger, Levinas, Ricoeur and Derrida, is developed in two of his recent works Strangers, Gods and Monsters and The God Who May Be . The article examines how he seeks to navigate an interpretation of divine otherness as an ethical appeal which escapes the dilemma of a God either so transcendent as to be anonymous or so immanent as to be a mere projection. It outlines how, rejecting onto-theology in favour of eschatology, Kearney envisages the divine as an ethically enabling possibility. This possibility, he claims, enables us to achieve, beyond our own intrinsic resources, an ethical order of justice and love through which the kingdom of God — the God Who May Be — is accomplished. There is a co-relativity between the divine as enabling possibility and humanity which accomplishes this possibility. It investigates the way in which Kearney seeks to legitimize, within a phenomenological frame of reference, an experiential affirmation of this conception of divine transcendence as eschatological possibility. It argues that this phenomenological consideration needs to be qualified and complemented by certain metaphysical considerations which Kearney disputes. Key Words: eschatology • ethics • God • hermeneutics • metaphysics • Otherness • phenomenology • possibility.
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