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Clarifying the Phenomenology of Gerardus van der Leeuw

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image of Method & Theory in the Study of Religion

The argument of this paper is that Gerardus van der Leeuw’s Religion in Essence and Manifestation has been consistently misread. This is due to three factors: i. the “Prolegomena” was changed to an “Epilegomena”; ii. Hans Penner’s additions to the posthumous second edition, and; iii. John Evan Turner’s Hegelian biased translation into English. These factors have contributed to a “Tyranny of the Same” whereby van der Leeuw has been back-read into either phenomenological history-of-religion or phenomenology-of-religion, two inventions of “phenomenology” that began after van der Leeuw. Dealing with the criticisms of Herbert Spiegelberg, Penner, and Tim Murphy, I will argue that van der Leeuw properly belongs under philosophical phenomenology. Read in such a light, this leads to a radically different understanding of “religion” and “power” in Religion in Essence and Manifestation.

Affiliations: 1: Stirling University E13 Pathfoot Building, Stirling, fk9 4la UK


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