The Phenomenology Booth

A virtual exhibit devoted to the philosophical field of phenomenology

Phenomenology is here to stay. It has changed the face(!) of not just philosophy but theology as well. The “field,” if one can call it that, has produced a plentiful harvest, from the beginnings in Husserl and Heidegger (to name a couple pioneers), to interesting developments with Merleau-Ponty and Levinas, to Catholic appropriation in the likes of Stein and Marcel and John Paul II, and yet further Catholic development in the work of philosophers like Henry and Marion and Falque. The Phenomenology Booth is a virtual exhibit celebrating this bountiful intellectual territory, with offerings that include interviews from scholars working in the field—including the one and only Emmanuel Falque—as well as a selection of Wipf and Stock’s volumes in phenomenology, featured below. (The interviews will be posted to this exhibit one at a time every two weeks from mid-November to mid-December, finishing with the Falque interview.) Finally, now through the end of 2022, all titles featured in the exhibit are 40% off with coupon code “BACKTOTHINGS”. Enjoy all the things as you journey with Husserl (and all the rest) “back to the things themselves.”

40% off all Phenomenology Booth titles below

Use coupon code “BACKTOTHINGS”

*Coupon code only applies to titles featured in the exhibit below*

*Good through 12/31/2022*

Interviews on phenomenology

Emmanuel Falque: Finitude, Body, and Philosophy’s Passage into Theology

Dr. Falque on finitude, flesh, and the relationship of philosophy and theology, all via an engagement with the work of the likes of Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Michel Henry, Jean-Luc Marion, and many more. Read or listen to the interview . . .

Conor Sweeney: Dasein, the Sacraments in Postmodernity, and von Balthasar’s Rehabilitated Metaphysics

Professor Sweeney talks Heidegger, sacramental theology, John Paul II, and Hans Urs von Balthasar. Listen to the interview . . .

Donald Wallenfang: The Twining of Phenomenology and Metaphysics

Dr. Wallenfang discusses Jean-Luc Marion, Emmanuel Levinas, Edith Stein, John Paul II, and the relationship between phenomenology and metaphysics. Listen to the interview . . .

Wipf and Stock’s books in phenomenology

The problem of human knowing has been foundational for the enterprise of philosophy since the time of Descartes. The great philosophers have offered different accounts of the power and limits of human knowing but no generally acceptable system has emerged. Contemporary writers have almost given up on this most intractable issue.   In this book, Brian Cronin suggests using the method of introspective description to identify the characteristics of the act of human understanding and knowing. Introspection—far from being private and unverifiable—can be public, communal, and verifiable. If we can describe our dreams and our feelings, then, we can describe our acts of understanding. Using concrete examples, one can identify the activities involved—namely, questioning, researching, getting an idea, expressing a concept, reflecting on the evidence and inferring a conclusion. Each of these activities can be described clearly and in great detail. If we perform these activities well, we can understand and know both truth and value.

Christ told his disciples shortly before his Passion, “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Matt 24:13). So Paul in his Letter to the Galatians is similarly frank about the effort that obtaining the promise of salvation will require of us: “And let us not be weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Gal 6:9). When, then, Paul in his Letter to the Romans analogizes the path leading to salvation to a race, it is because entrance into the kingdom of heaven demands our endurance. For the obstacles we encounter along the way are prodigious. From frustration with the world’s corruption and injustice, to disgust with its hypocrisy or sadness over its many sorrows and sufferings, there are many reasons we might grow weary and despair in the face of the world. It is this fundamentally agonistic dimension of existence which God’s word addresses, by exhorting us not to quit. Steven DeLay’s Faint Not articulates how the existence lived before God—one of hope, faith, and love—is the life which transfigures temporality in light of eternity, the life, in short, which accordingly perseveres to the end, to that of eternal life.

Finding Grace with God: A Phenomenological Reading of the Annunciation engages in an interweaving of phenomenology, mystical theology, and feminist philosophy to unfold a theopoetic interpretation of the narrative of the Annunciation in the Gospel of Luke. It begins with a discussion of the foundational phenomenologies of Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger and then moves to the more recent work of several French phenomenologists, including Paul Ricoeur, Jean-Louis Chretien, and Michel Henry. The interpretation is then expanded through the philosophies of Luce Irigaray, Jean-Luc Marion, and Jacques Derrida. Finally, the phenomenologies of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Martin Heidegger provide a means to interpret the Annunciation through theopoetics, as a text that is infused with possibility. Mary, filled with grace, is beckoned by the divine into possibility; responding in grace, she in turn beckons the divine into possibility. Transgressing the limits of language, this possibility slips into apophasis—into a moment of Gelassenheit, a mutual “letting-be” or releasement of Mary and the divine into a mystical union of love, a love that becomes manifest through a gift of life.

The philosophy of Maurice Merleau-Ponty was developing into a radical ontology when he died prematurely in 1961. Merleau-Ponty identified this nascent ontology as a philosophy of incarnation that carries us beyond entrenched dualisms in philosophical thinking about perception, the body, animality, nature, and God. What does this ontology have to do with the Catholic language of incarnation, sacrament, and logos on which it draws? In this book, Orion Edgar argues that Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy is dependent upon a logic of incarnation that finds its roots and fulfillment in theology, and that Merleau-Ponty drew from the Catholic faith of his youth. Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy suggests a new kind of natural theology, one that grounds an account of God as ipsum esse subsistens in the questions produced by a phenomenological account of the world. This philosophical ontology also offers to Christian theology a route away from dualistic compromises and back to its own deepest insight.

(Coming soon)

In By Way of Obstacles, Emmanuel Falque revisits the major themes of his work—finitude, the body, and the call for philosophers and theologians to “cross the Rubicon” by entering into dialogue—in light of objections that have been offered. In so doing, he offers a pathway through a work that will offer valuable insights both to newcomers to his thought and to those who are already familiar with it. For it is only after one has carved out one’s pathway that one may see more clearly where one has been and where one might be going. Here readers will discover the profound relation between Falque’s emphasis on the human experience of the world and his desire for philosophy and Christian theology to enter into conversation. For only by speaking within the human horizon of finitude can Christianity be credible for human beings, and it is because Christian theology teaches that God entered into our finitude that it can also teach us something of what it is to be human. Contemporary phenomenology, Falque warns, over-privileges an encounter with the infinite that cannot be originary. Calling us back to finitude, he calls us to a deeper understanding of our humanity.

Theology as Repetition revisits and argues for a revival of John Macquarrie’s philosophical theology. Macquarrie was a key twentieth-century theological voice and was considered a foremost interpreter and translator of Martin Heidegger’s philosophy. He then somehow fell from view. Macquarrie developed a new style of theology, grounded in a dialectical phenomenology that is a relevant voice in responding to recent trends in theology. The development of the book is partly chronological and partly thematic, and avoids attempting to be either deductive or inductive in argument, but rather reflects Macquarrie’s phenomenologically styled new theology.

Taking its cue from Mark Nation’s regret that John Howard Yoder refrained from a fuller engagement with the Western philosophical tradition, this book is an effort to explore the possibilities inherent in that conversation. It develops a dialogue between Yoder and the French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas. The placement of Yoder’s work alongside of Levinas’ conception of otherness cashes out the embedded hope in Nation’s remarks by demonstrating the continuing relevancy of Yoder’s thought for current Christian sociopolitical discourse.

Folk is an analog foundation in a digital world. Phenomenology is a big word about a small, impossible task: trying to imagine the real. This book describes this task in relation to its foundation. Most of all, Folk Phenomenology is a defense of the integrity and sufficiency of art—thinking, feeling, living, dying. In short, being in love.

We live in an age of global capitalism and terror. In a climate of consumption and fear the unknown Other is regarded as a threat to our safety, a client to assist, or a competitor to be overcome in the struggle for scarce resources. And yet, the Christian Scriptures explicitly summon us to welcome strangers, to care for the widow and the orphan, and to build relationships with those distant from us. But how, in this world of hostility and commodification, do we practice hospitality? In The Gift of the Other, Andrew Shepherd engages deeply with the influential thought of French thinkers Emmanuel Levinas and Jacques Derrida, and argues that a true vision of hospitality is ultimately found not in postmodern philosophies but in the Christian narrative. The book offers a compelling Trinitarian account of the God of hospitality—a God of communion who “makes room” for otherness, who overcomes the hostility of the world though Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, and who through the work of the Spirit is forming a new community: the Church—a people of welcome.

In this book, Conor Sweeney explores the “postmodern” critique of presence in the context of sacramental theology, engaging the thought of Louis-Marie Chauvet and Lieven Boeve. Chauvet is an influential postmodern theologian whose critique of the perceived onto-theological constitution of presence in traditional sacramental theology has made big waves, while Boeve is part of a more recent generation of theologians who even more wholeheartedly embrace postmodern consequences for theology. Sweeney considers the extent to which postmodernism a la Heidegger upsets the hermeneutics of sacramentality, asking whether this requires us to renounce the search for a presence that by definition transcends us. Against both the fetishization of presence and absence, Sweeney argues that metaphysics has a properly sacramental basis, and that it is only through this reality that the dialectic of presence and absence can be transcended. The case is made for the full but restless signification of the mother’s smile as the paradigm for genuine sacramental presence.

The works of Emmanuel Levinas, a survivor of the Nazi horror, are striking in the constancy of their thought and the strength of their appeal. We are not condemned to evil and hatred; rather, we are called to be-for-each-other. For You Alone explores the relational and religious quality of Levinas’ work. Our lives are always twofold rather than “one and the same.” A relational life is dependent on encounters that are revelatory. Revelation means that life is no mere sameness but is tied to the revelation of the other, to you. Here is transcendence par excellence. Here is what the name of God signifies, the relational and ethical bond that takes us outside ourselves toward the other in our midst. What could be more natural, more human, or more divine than to speak of the relational quality of life? An answerable life means that we are asked after, called, required. “Here I am under your gaze,” Levinas writes, “obliged to you, your servant. In the name of God.”

In Dialectical Anatomy of the Eucharist, Donald Wallenfang conducts a sustained analysis of the Eucharist through the aperture of phenomenology, yet concludes the study with poetic and metaphysical twists. Engaging the work of Jean-Luc Marion, Paul Ricoeur, and Emmanuel Levinas, Wallenfang proposes pioneering ideas for contemporary sacramental theology that have vast implications for interfaith and interreligious dialogue. By tapping into the various currents within the Judeo-Christian tradition—Jewish, Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant—a radical argument is developed that leverages the tension among them all. Several new frontiers are explored: dialectical theology, a fourth phenomenological reduction, the phenomenology of human personhood, the poetics of the Eucharist, and a reinterpretation of the concept of gift as conversation. On the whole, Wallenfang advances recent debates surrounding the relationship between phenomenology and theology by claiming an uncanny way out of emerging dead ends in philosophical theology: return to the fray.

Emmanuel Levinas (1906-1995) is perhaps one of the best-kept philosophical secrets of recent times. By locating ethics as first philosophy, based on the call of the other, Levinas has revolutionized the Western philosophical tradition. In effect, the perennial priority of the self is displaced by the uncanny urgency of the other. Emmanuel: Levinas and Variations on God with Us gives the reader an introduction to the life and work of this humble philosophical genius. Levinas is brought into lively conversation with Jean-Luc Marion. Levinas’s phenomenology of proclamation is set in confrontation with Marion’s phenomenology of manifestation throughout the book. Erotic love is met with a love filled with responsibilities for the other. Mount Carmel and Mount Zion face one another in a topography of the infinite. Given the fragmented postmodern milieux of the world today, perhaps the philosophical intuitions of Emmanuel Levinas were prepared “for such a time as this” (Esth 4:14).

Edith Stein (1891-1942), a Jewish Carmelite mystical philosopher, offers great promise to resume asking the question of the human being. In Human and Divine Being, Donald Wallenfang offers a comprehensive summary of the theological anthropology of this heroic martyr to truth. Beginning with the theme of human vocation, Wallenfang leads the reader through a labyrinth of philosophical and theological vignettes: spiritual being, the human soul, material being, empathy, the logic of the cross, and the meaning of suffering. The question of the human being is asked in light of divine being by harnessing the fertile tension between the methods of phenomenology and metaphysics. Stein spurs us on to a rendezvous with the stream of “perennial philosophy” that has watered the landscape of thought since conscious time began. In the end, the meaning of human being is thrown into sharp relief against the darkness of all that is not authentically human.

What is phenomenology? That is precisely the question this book seeks to answer. In an age of information overload, complex topics must be simplified to make them accessible to a wider audience. Phenomenology: A Basic Introduction in the Light of Jesus Christ not only presents the basic building blocks of phenomenology, it also gives body to voice by putting abstract ideas in contact with the Word made flesh, Jesus of Nazareth. In five manageable chapters, Donald Wallenfang introduces major themes such as the natural attitude, givenness, interpretation, paradox, and ethics. Each subject is considered in how it applies to daily life and relates to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Several biblical scenes are tapped to harvest their sweet nectars of meaning through phenomenology. At its limit, philosophy gives way to the revelatory rationality of theology as expressed by Jesus the phenomenologist.

A Theologian’s Guide to Heidegger provides a uniquely theological introduction to the philosophy of Martin Heidegger, by focusing on not just the relationship between Heidegger and theology, or even the nature of the discourse that must occur between theological concerns and Heidegger’s philosophical errands, but by precisely exploring how theology can use Heidegger’s philosophy as a means of outlining the scope and task of postmodern theology. To do this, especially with the postmodern theologian in mind, this book considers the general relationship between Heidegger and theology, how Heidegger can be read theologically, while justifying why Heidegger must be read this way and defining the role that Heidegger must take in postmodern theology. This includes a careful consideration of Heidegger’s early theological roots from Freiburg to Marburg by examining the content of Heidegger’s lesser-known theologically-minded seminars, lectures, and talks.

In light of Martin Heidegger’s contextualized influence upon them, John Macquarrie, Rudolf Bultmann, Paul Tillich, and Karl Rahner engage in theologies that, in their respective tasks and scopes, venture into existential theology, following Heideggerian pathmarks toward the primordiality of being on the way to unconcealment, or “aletheia.” By way of each pathmark, each existential theologian assumes a specific theological stance that utilizes a decidedly existential lens. While the former certainly grounds them fundamentally in a kind of theology, the latter, by way of Heideggerian influences, allows them to venture beyond any traditional theological framework with the use of philosophical suppositions and propositions. In an effort at explaining the relationship between humanity’s “being” and God’s “Being,” each existential theologian examines what it means to be human, not strictly in terms of theology, but as it is tied inextricably to an understanding of the philosophy of existence: the concept of what being is.

What is the significance of the body? What might phenomenology contribute to a theological account of the body? And what is gained by prolonging the overlooked dialogue between St. John Paul II and Emmanuel Levinas? Nigel Zimmermann answers these questions through the agreements and the tensions between two of the most important thinkers of the twentieth century. John Paul II, the Polish pope, philosopher, and theologian, and Emmanuel Levinas, the French-Jewish philosopher of Lithuanian heritage, were provocative thinkers who courageously faced and challenged the assumptions of their age. Both held the human person in high regard and did their thinking with constant reference to God and to theological language. We are called, Zimmermann argues, to face the other. In this moment God refuses a banal marginalization and our call to responsibility for the other person is issued in their disarming vulnerability. In the body, philosophy, theology, and ethics converge to call us to glory, even in the paradox of lowly suffering.


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