October 27, 2005

Integral phenomenology

A method for the “new psychology”, the study of mysticism and the sacred
Dennis Hargiss
According to Eliade, the perceptive scholar may discern “patterns” in diverse religious phenomena, and the recognition of these patterns or “structures” facilitates our understanding of their meaning. While this “search for formal structures with universal values” has recently fallen into disrepute among certain postmodern critical theorists (e.g., Foucault, Derrida), the endeavour has found support among others (such as Habermas and Halbfass) who lean away from the totalizing pretensions of deconstructionism and argue rather that deconstructionists’ concerns may be integrated with meaningful dialogue and intercultural rapprochement into a pragmatic approach to communication and understanding across the traditions.
This present study joins this on-going discussion concerning the efficacy of postulating “patterns” or “structures” as examples of the “pragmatics of communication” in the study of religion. Eliade combined these notions with a more Jungian understanding of structure and envisioned a discipline called “metapsycho–analysis” for the phenomenologist of religion. According to Eliade, “The symbol is not a mere reflection of objective reality. It reveals something more profound and basic. Therefore, religious symbols are capable of revealing a modality of the real or a structure of the world that is not evident on the level of immediate experience.” Here symbols are seen as the conceptual representations of essences within the organizing structure of categories (st 1), and mediate metaphysical realities to the receptive mind of the scholar—the actual realities behind the phenomena the scholar attempts to understand (st 2). Consequently, the apprehension of the symbol is not merely an academic, intellectual endeavor, but rather “the cause of the creation in [the scholar] of a spiritual state analogous with the object it represents (Ionescu).” SRI AUROBINDO CENTRE FOR CONSCIOUSNESS STUDIES Cornelissen, Matthijs (Ed.) (2001) Consciousness and Its Transformation, Pondicherry: SAICE

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