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Considering Transcendence

Elements of a Philosophical Theology

Martin J. De Nys

Publication Year: 2009

What does it mean to have a distinctively religious orientation toward reality? Martin J. De Nys offers a philosophy of religion grounded within the phenomenological tradition as a way to understand religious life. Focusing on the key concepts of sacred transcendence, religious discourse, and radical self-transcendence, De Nys contends that a phenomenological view of religion allows considerable diversity in regard to the possibility of religious truth. Phenomenology also helps to account for the dizzying variety of religious expressions and religious lifeways. Ultimately, De Nys reaches a universal and complete method of describing a philosophical approach to religious life. This compelling book plays a valuable role in describing human engagement with religion.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Series: Indiana Series in the Philosophy of Religion


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pp. vii

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pp. xi-x

I began to write this book in connection with a semester study leave from George Mason University in fall 2004. I am grateful to the University for its support of this project. I am also grateful to the many students in undergraduate and graduate courses in philosophy of religion whom I have taught at George Mason. ...

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pp. 1-13

The lives and activities of religiously involved men, women, and children comprise the empirical basis of any study of religion. The data that make the study of religion possible become available insofar as these people gather together into families, clans, and communities; participate in groups; identify with institutions and traditions; ...

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1. Sacred Transcendence

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pp. 14-29

Religion develops, I maintain, as a human response to some manifestation of sacred transcendence, putative or real. That response entails an involvement with sacred transcendence. The presence of that involvement determines human existence at its core, as does its absence as well. ...

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2. Religious Discourse

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pp. 30-46

A condition of the possibility of any consciousness of sacred transcendence and of any transactions between human beings and the sacred is discourse capable of articulating that consciousness and of operating within those transactions. The roles that religious discourse plays require a corresponding complexity in that discourse. ...

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3. Radical Self-Transcendence

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pp. 47-62

Religious discourse has the determinations that it does because those determinations must belong to speech that is to, of, and about the sacred, and that informs and supports the involvements of persons and communities with sacred transcendence. In a similar way, the task or praxis that belongs to religious existence ...

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4. The Truth about Religion

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pp. 63-78

The central claim that I will advance in the discussion of religious truth, stated abstractly, is that legitimate criteria relevant to a consideration of the truth of religious claims are operative and discoverable within religious involvement. The reasoning that I will develop to support this claim will focus on the understandings of religion ...

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5. Religious Truth

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pp. 79-95

When religious devotees celebrate, intercede with, or give thanks and praise to the object of their devotion, or when they hear words spoken about or words supposed to be spoken by that very object, they think that those words address, have to do with, or emanate from a distinctive reality. ...

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6. Pluralism and Religious Truth

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pp. 96-117

If there are conditions whose fulfillment makes affirmations of sacred transcendence rationally legitimate, then it is possible that some affirmative claims about sacred transcendence are true. This possibility extends to many such claims and sets of claims. As noted at the end of the previous chapter, many of those claims are highly diverse ...

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7. Aspects of the Conception of God

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pp. 118-137

Sacred transcendence, religious discourse, and radical self-transcendence, in the complexity of each and in their interrelationships, are in important respects heuristic concepts. They serve as guides for productive inquiry into religious phenomena. An important part of this service is the direction they give for inquiry into variations ...

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8. The Theory of Religion and Religious Inquiry

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pp. 138-150

The essential thesis that I have been presenting and supporting throughout this book is that religion is best understood as an involvement with sacred transcendence, an involvement that in turn takes the form of a discursively mediated praxis of radical self-transcendence. Earlier chapters elaborate on and interrelate these basic concepts, ...


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pp. 151-166


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pp. 167-172


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pp. 173-176

E-ISBN-13: 9780253002631
E-ISBN-10: 025300263X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253352453

Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2009

Series Title: Indiana Series in the Philosophy of Religion