Vision and voice: Phenomenology and theology in the work of Jean-Luc Marion

  • Merold Westphal


The kind of phenomenology that can be useful to theology will be a hermeneutical phenomenology, one that takes us beyond the Cartesian/Husserlian ideal of presuppositionless intuition. It will also be a phenomenology of inverse intentionality, one in which the constituting subject is constituted by the look and the voice of another. In light of these suggestions, the phenomenology of Jean-Luc Marion is defended against three critiques, namely that it compromises the boundary between phenomenology and theology, that the theology it serves is a bad one to boot, and that it has an inadequate account of the subject. At the heart of this defense is Marion’s clear distinction between phenomenology as a description of possible experience, and theology as the claim that a certain kind of experience, namely revelation or epiphany, is not merely actual but veridical. Phenomenology says, If revelation occurs it will be in the form of a saturated phenomenon. Theology says, for example, the burning bush was an epiphany, or Jesus Christ is a revelation. The attentive reader should have no trouble distinguishing Marion’s phenomenological analyses, which should be persuasive to believer and unbeliever alike, from his theological claims. Marion’s account of the subject falls under the heading of inverse intentionality, and there are hints that vision is aufgehoben in the voice. The seer is first of all the one seen, but above all the one addressed, called forth into response-able being.


Hegel Hermeneutics Husserl Intentionality Kierkegaard Marion Phenomenology Ricoeur Theology Transcendence 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentFordham UniversityNew YorkUSA

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