Qualia of God: Phenomenological Materiality in Introspection, with a Reference to Advaita Vedanta

Open Theology 3 (1):257-273 (2017)
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Abstract

Applying Michel Henry’s philosophical framework to the phenomenological analysis of religious experience, the author introduces a concept of material introspection and a new theory of the constitution of religious experience in phenomenologically material interiority. As opposed to ordinary mental self-scrutiny, material introspection happens when the usual outgoing attention is reverted onto embodied self-awareness in search of mystical self-knowledge or union with God. Such reversal posits the internal field of consciousness with the self-disclosure of phenomenological materiality. As shown by the example of Vedantic self-inquiry, material introspection is conditioned on the attitude ‘I “see” myself’ and employs reductions which relieve phenomenological materiality from the structuring influence of intentionality; the telos of material introspection is expressed by the inward self-transcendence of intentional consciousness into purified phenomenological materiality. Experience in material introspection is constituted by the self-affection and self-luminosity of phenomenological materiality; experience is recognized as religious due to such essential properties as the capacity of being selffulfilled, and specific qualitative “what it’s like”(s). Drawing on more than 5000 live accounts of internal religious experience, it is shown that introspective attention can have different trajectories, producing, within a temporal extension of material introspection, different spatial modifications of embodied selfawareness and a variety of corresponding religious experiences.

Author's Profile

Olga Louchakova-Schwartz
University Of California At Davis

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