On the Function of the Epoche in Phenomenological Interpretations of Religion

PhaenEx 3 (1):56-81 (2008)
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This essay presents an inquiry into the phenomenological epoche , specifically with a view to the function of the epoche in efforts to interpret sacred or religious meaning. Reflecting on contributions from phenomenology, hermeneutics, and deconstruction, with particular attention to the phenomenology of religion developed by Gerardus Van der Leeuw, I argue that the epoche can be defined in terms of hospitable restraint. By holding the presuppositions of one’s unique historical horizon in abeyance (e.g., presuppositions regarding the historical development of religions or the ontological, theological, or scientific reality of religion), such restraint facilitates dialogue and diplomacy through an understanding of the alterity of the sacred and the alterity of others’ experiences of the sacred



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Michael Samuel
Allegheny College

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