Toward a Proper Phenomenology of "Religious Experience"

Jonathan Tuckett


The purpose of this article is to highlight the difference between two “phenomenological” accounts of what it means to discuss “religious experience.” It aims to move away from “the phenomenology of religion” of Ninian Smart which would categorise religious experience as something “special” through the use of such language as “altered” or “higher states of consciousness.” This sort of “phenomenology” of religious experience is seen as an apologetic for an ecumenical theological agenda. Against this, I propose a philosophical phenomenological account which would deflate the use of “altered states” as something ordinary and mundane. This then changes how we should understand discussions of “religious experience” along lines similar to that of Ann Taves’ approach. 


Ninian Smart; Religious Experience; Altered States of Consciousness; Alfred Schutz; Phenomenology

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