This blog is no longer being updated. About this blog.

Archive for December 2010

Noumena, Phenomena, and the Thing-in-Itself

I think that a religious vocabulary is a double-edged sword.

On the one hand, it helps us to conceptualize our awe or wonder inspiring experiences. A religious vocabulary can help us make sense of our experiences and benefit from the wealth of thought and practice that is stored in our religious heritage. These experiences are essentially human, and human beings have been wrestling with them for as long as we’ve been human. That’s Good Religion.

On the other hand, our religious vocabulary comes with a lot of baggage that often prevents us from experiencing wonder or awe without blinding filters and constricting conceptual frameworks. Our religious heritage can give us the illusion that we understand and prevent us from thinking and feeling and wrestling for ourselves. That’s Bad Religion.

For example, naming an experience the Holy Spirit guides us to think and feel about the experience a certain way. This may be help us to relate to our experience, or it may be a traditions-of-their-fathers idea that stultifies us. The phrase “Holy Spirit” may prevent us from getting closer to the thing-in-itself.

As I understand and use the terms, the Holy Spirit is a noumenon, a mental object, which stands in opposition to the phenomenon, the sensations presented by the thing-in-itself.

Comments off