The Finite Province of Religious Meaning: Form of Spontaneity, Experience of Self, Sociality, and Time-Perspective

  • Michael Barber
Part of the Contributions To Phenomenology book series (CTPH, volume 91)


Continuing with the six features of the cognitive style of the province of religion, this chapter describes the prevalent form of spontaneity in religion, in which the transcendent assumes a priority in the system of relevances, compatible with secondary relevances and freeing religious adherents from the fear of not succeeding at them. In the religious sphere, the fundamental anxiety is relaxed but not eliminated, and bodily actions in ritual assume more importance than in the province of theory. One experiences oneself as distanced from the working self, and the transcendent is appresented in one’s unique history, though this raises questions of the problem of evil. Religious adherents typify the transcendent and typify the way the transcendent typifies them in such a way that they can be freed from the anxieties and pathologies of working. The form of sociality appears clearly in rituals that modify the everyday structures of the social world and provide opportunities for the social and individual appresentation. In addition with the religious province intergroup typifications can be challenged and ethical sensitivities to others fostered. This philosophical understanding of sociality differs from the sociological approach of Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann. Temporality in this province is distinctive in “ritual time” when groups reenact past events beyond simply remembering them, and living in the present assume preeminence over the future that is fraught with pragmatic anxiety, according to Kierkegaard. The pathologies and dangers in religion require critique from the province of theory, ethical sensitivities, and resistance to pragmatic mastery.

Four of the six features characterizing the cognitive style of provinces of meaning remain to be discussed with reference to the religious province of meaning: a prevalent style of spontaneity, a specific form of experiencing oneself, a specific form of sociality, and a specific time-perspective.


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Barber
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophySaint Louis UniversitySaint LouisUSA

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