Repository | Book | Chapter


(2019) Violence and meaning, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan.

Reflections on the meanings of religious violence

a phenomenological exploration

Michael Staudigl

pp. 59-90

This chapter sets out to demonstrate that phenomenology offers us a viable framework to productively think through the vexed relation between religion and violence. I hypothesize that this correlation needs to be reconsidered in a threefold perspective (religio triplex) in order to avoid reductionist conceptions of "religious violence" as merely atavistic, irrational, and merely destructive of meaning. I argue for distinguishing between (a) the originary violence implied in the experience of revelation, "absolute affection," transcendence (mysterium tremendum et fascinans), and so on; (b) the violent implications of concrete socio-topologies of the sacred and the profane; and (c) the potentials for actual violence transmitted in the narrative semantics of religious traditions and the systems of knowledge they entail. In order to properly distinguish these three layers and to shed light on their complex interplay and possible dynamics in the context of the so-called "return of religion," I propose an integrated phenomenological perspective. Concretely viewed, I will draw upon Schutz's theory of "multiple realities," Merleau-Ponty's "phenomenology of embodiment," and Ricoeur's insight into the "poietic imperative" of human existence. In conclusion, this trajectory will lead me to conceptualize religion in terms of "making transcendence together"—a conceptualization that explicitly avows an intrinsic correlation of religion and violence but also stresses the perfect contingency of "religious violence."

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-27173-2_4

Full citation:

Staudigl, M. (2019)., Reflections on the meanings of religious violence: a phenomenological exploration, in L. Lauwaert, L. K. Smith & C. Sternad (eds.), Violence and meaning, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 59-90.

This document is unfortunately not available for download at the moment.