Membership in the Circle is unrestricted; the only requirement is interest and philosophical qualifications in the study of experience. There are no membership dues, although there are registration fees for the annual conference.
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phenomenology, psychology, philosophy of....
The Center of Phenomenology of Religious Experience is a research organization of scholars interested in advancement of knowledge in phenomenology of religious experiencing. Religious experience is extremely polymorphous and elusive category of human experience. It is not clear what makes experience into religious experience, what are the conditions of possibility for it, whether it can be phenomenologically or scientifically researched, and above all, whether it even exists. These questions were addressed by Henry, Husserl, Levinas, Stein, Schutz, Merleau-Ponty and many other thinkers. However, neither philosophers nor theologians, who researched experience out of inquiry into first person consciousness, succeeded in findings the final and definitive answers.
A critical approach to the contemporary studies of religious experience suggests that it is not a universal category, and that religious experience should be considered in light of phenomenological ontologies of knowledge. Religious experience must be placed within a specific attitude, as a lifeworld of its own within the different cultural lifeworlds. Scientific attitude turns many of pre-predicative, pre-reflective forms of religious intuition anonymous. We see it as a task of the Circle to bring these forms of experience to visibility, as a part of full spectrum of possibilities in human consciousness. As Ales Bello noted, religious experience is “constitutive, not optional” to consciousness. Its givenness has been recently reaffirmed in the work of by Marion, Henry, Hart and Steinbock. In spirit of radical empiricism and descriptive phenomenological psychology, the approach of the Research Circle in Phenomenology of Religious Experience is fully data-driven.
The terra incognita of religious experience is unreachable insofar there is a lack of philosophical methods suited for the study. In contrast to postmodernism challenges to the very notion of experience per se (e.g. Hart and Wall 2005), traditional perspectives suggest that religious experience contains unexamined forms of knowledge. Detaching ourselves from the matters of mere semantics, we are curious to explore the horizons of possibilities that each religious experience can disclose. We welcome phenomenological examinations of all forms of evidence in all horizons of religious experience. Such approach necessarily includes first, second and third person investigations, in people, oral memory and traditional religious texts , in Protestant, Orthodox, Catholic, Islamic, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist and all other diverse religious traditions and forms, as long as researcher’s stance is self-identified and epoché sustained.