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How new is neo-phenomenology? A comparison of the methodologies of Gerardus van der Leeuw and Jacques Waardenburg

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In this article, an attempt is made to relate the "intuitive" classical phenomenology of Gerardus van der Leeuw and the neo-phenomenology of Jacques Waardenburg. An outline of van der Leeuw's methodology is presented along with a summary of Waardenburg's critique. An account is then given of Waardenburg's alternative approach. When the two methodologies are juxtaposed, two points of convergence emerge. The first relates to the non-empirical nature of meanings; the second relates to the need to reconstitute the believer's world in order to gain understanding of phenomena. Discussion suggests that both methodologies entail the combined use of Erklären ['explanation'] and Verstehen ['understanding'] in explicating meanings. The conclusion is ventured that neo-phenomenology can be plausibly viewed as a modification of van der Leeuw's approach which is distinguished by greater hermeneutical sensitivity.

Affiliations: 1: University of Bristol

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