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Phenomenology of Religious Experience Lab

Friday, February 1st 2019, 10:00am to 4:00pm
Dinner Board Room, Flora Lamson Hewlett Library, 2400 Ridge Road Berkeley, CA 94709

Society for the Phenomenology of Religious Experience Lab

Prof. Olga Louchakova-Schwartz, M.D., Ph.D. (GTU, PAOI, and JST)
Vincent Pastro, DMin (JST and the Instituto Hispano)

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Join us for the first research Lab organized by the Society for the Phenomenology of Religious Experience. To be useful in the world of today, contemporary theology must capture the “essence” of the divine and human activity in the world in the scientific sense introduced by phenomenology. Scholastic philosophy and systematic theology is no longer an academically privileged supporter of theology in the interpretation of the universe. In its place, this workshop suggests that phenomenological philosophy and method, with its focus on human subjectivity, becomes the unique and transcendent partner, as it were, in the interpretive dialogue.

In the first part of the lab, we will focus on distinctions between phenomenology as philosophy, theological phenomenology, and the phenomenological method which can be applied to the studies of religious experience. We will also review first person and second person approaches in phenomenological research, and time permitting, use some introspective exercises which help to understand religious experience.

In the second half of the lab, we will focus on the question of relationship between phenomenology and theology. Time permitting, we will review the “seasons” of good and bad phenomenology in the history of theology, and the impact of phenomenology on religious leadership in different religious denominations and schools of thought. Methodological thinking phenomenology-style offers understanding that is more satisfactory than the traditional scholastic metaphysics in giving meaning to contemporary human experience; this is especially so with regard to human experience of social justice, understanding of normativity and ethics, and in burning issues such as migration. A phenomenological eco-theological approach is especially important because it captures the essences of a subject’s immediate and holistic perception of the environment.

No prior experience in phenomenological research necessary. The lab is conducted in the format of the graduate seminar, meeting everybody on the grounds of their own available knowledge and experience. The lab will also serve as an introduction to the class on similar topics tentatively planned by PAOI and JST for the Fall 2019.