Jan 14, 2010
International Journal for Philosophy of Religion
In this paper I challenge Merold Westphal’s claim that Jean-Luc Marion’s hermeneutical phenomenology is especially useful for theology. I argue that in spite of his explicit allegiance to Husserl’s “principle of all principles,” Marion fails to embody a commitment to phenomenological seeing in his analyses of revelation. In the sections of Being Given where he discusses revelation, Marion allows faith-based claims to bleed into his phenomenological analyses, resulting in what I call his ‘blurred vision’—the pretension that phenomenological seeing can be extended to theological matters. This pretension undermines Marion’s phenomenological aspirations, because it invests his analyses with a theological content that phenomenological intuition cannot account for or clarify. At the same time, this blurring of the line between theology and phenomenology also makes Marion’s work theologically ineffective. For it furnishes the theologian and believer with the false assurance that faith-based commitments can be grounded in phenomenological knowledge—a claim that he simply cannot make good on. In light of these problems, I propose an alternative Heideggerian approach that maintains the boundary between philosophical and theological discourse and thereby safeguards the integrity of both.