Clarifying the Phenomenology of Gerardus van der Leeuw

In: Method & Theory in the Study of Religion
Jonathan Tuckett Stirling University E13 Pathfoot Building, Stirling, fk9 4la UK

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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.

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