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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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image of Method & Theory in the Study of Religion

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 fo convergence emerge. The first relates to the nonempirical 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 Verstchen ['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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