God Without God: A divine limit to the "phenomenon”
The background concern of this paper is the well-rehearsed debate on the ‘theological turn’ (or «veerings») in French Phenomenology that was ignited by Dominique Janicaud some 25 years ago in his vociferous critique of several leading French thinkers. It also responds to subsequent contestations against Janicaud by numerous scholars defending these thinkers radicalising of phenomenology in their attempts to account for what Emanuel Levinas had «stirred up in the phenomenological field» by re-posing the question of the philosophical status of the idea of God. What is pivotal to Janicaud in his exclusionary critique and drawing of phenomenological boundaries is to hold dearly to the method as Edmund Husserl intended. In doing so, only describable phenomena that appear (or are logically subtended to appear) provide the litmus for a bona fide phenomenology. In opening and broadening the method to include experiences of a transcendent, religious nature as the French thinkers do, orthodox Husserlian thinking places these projects into question. The purpose of this paper is to question these post-Husserlian thinkers with a more faithful reading of Husserl. I analyse three key areas to suggest a ‘divine limit’ to phenomena: first, the concept of “the phenomenon” as developed in Husserl’s project; second, the ‘status of the idea of God’ in Husserl’s writings; and third, the relevant philosophical discourse on God that emerges from the Janicaud-led debate through critical commentary on the phenomenology of “the inapparent”. As a consequence, God is argued to be a divine limit to Husserlian phenomenology, but not religious belief itself.
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