The prospect of recognizing the ultimate is a matter of interpretation. As such, hermeneutics is used as a framework for describing the interactions of self, language, and the other (whether culturally other or ultimately other). Questioning whether religious ultimacy can be recognized across religious boundaries is based on a mistaken assumption that differences between religions are qualitatively different than differences within a religion. Hermeneutically speaking, intra-communal difference and inter-communal difference are of the same kind. If humans can negotiate the former, they can negotiate the latter. Recognizing ultimacy is an intersubjective act of phronēsis, or practical wisdom. As such, it cannot be explained in any detail apart from the concrete particulars of each encounter. Below is an account of recognizing the Ultimate, analyzed into four explanatory ways: its immediate quality (uncanniness), its vehicle (the classic), its cultural-linguistic mechanism (metaphorical appropriation), and its ontological implications (a signifying cosmos). Each way offers a different type of explanation as to how a person can recognize another religion’s ultimate. I begin with the most concrete: spontaneous feeling, and work my way to more speculative implications.
If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.
Aristotle. Ethics. Translated by J. A. K. Thomson. Baltimore: Penguin Classics, 1953.
Freud, Sigmund. „The Uncanny.“ First Published in Imago Bd. V. 1919. Reprinted in Collected Papers V. Translated by Alix Strachey. New York: Basic Books. 1959. Accessed online at http://web.mit.edu/allanmc/www/freud1.pdf. June 27, 2018.
Gadamer, Hans-Georg. „Myth in the Age of Science.“ Hermeneutics, Religion, and Ethics. Translated by Joel Weinsheimer. Yale Studies in Hermeneutics. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. 91-102.
Gadamer, Hans-Georg. „The Nature of Things and the Language of Things.‘ Philosophical Hermeneutics. Edited and Translated by David E. Linge. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1976. 198-212.
Gadamer, Hans-Georg. Truth and Method. Second revised edition. Translated by Joel Weinsheimer and Donald G. Marshall. New York: Continuum Books, 2000.
Harman, Graham. “On the Horror of Phenomenology: Lovecraft and Husserl.” Collapse: Philosophical Research and Development IV. 2008. 333-364.
Hustwit, J. R. Interreligious Hermeneutics and the Pursuit of Truth. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2014.
Hustwit, J. R. “Empty Selves and Multiple Belonging: Gadamer and Nagarjuna on Religious Identity’s Hidden Plurality.” Open Theology 3 (2016). 107-116.
Lovecraft, H. P. “The Call of Cthulhu.” The Best of H. P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre. New York: Del Rey, 1982. 76-99.
Lyotard, Francois. The Differend: Phrases in Dispute. Translated by Georges Van Den Abbeele. Theory and History of Literature, vol. 46. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1988.
Ricoeur, Paul. Interpretation Theory: Discourse and the Surplus of Meaning. Fort Worth, TX: Texas Christian University, 1976.
Ricoeur, Paul. The Rule of Metaphor: Multi-disciplinary Studies in the Creation of Meaning in Language. Translated by Robert Czerny with Kathleen McLaughlin and John Costello, SJ. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1979.
Ricoeur, Paul. Hermeneutics and the Human Sciences. Edited and translated by John B. Thompson. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981.
Tracy, David. The Analogical Imagination: Christian Theology and the Culture of Pluralism. New York: Crossroad Publishing, 1981.
Whitehead, Alfred North. Process and Reality: An Essay in Cosmology. Corrected edition. Edited by David Ray Griffin and Donald W. Sherburne. New York: The Free Press, 1978.
Wildman, Wesley. Religious Philosophy as Multidisciplinary Comparative Inquiry: Envisioning a Future for the Philosophy of Religion. Albany: SUNY Press, 2010.
Open Theology is an international Open Access, peer-reviewed academic journal that welcomes contributions written in English addressing religion in its various forms and aspects: historical, theological, sociological, psychological, and other.