J. Aaron Simmons
Website

Martin Shuster
Website

Sai Bhatawadekar
Website

William Edelglass
Website

Amer Latif
Website

A Cross-Cultural Inquiry into Religious Understanding:
the Theory and Practice of Kataphatic and Apophatic Discourse


Principal Investigators

J. Aaron Simmons
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Furman University

Martin Shuster
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
and Chair
Avila University


Team Members

Sai Bhatawadekar
Assistant Professor in Indo-Pacific Languages and Literatures
University of Hawaii at Manoa

William Edelglass
Professor of Philosophy
Marlboro College

Amer Latif
Professor of Religious Studies
Marlboro College

 

This project brings together five scholars to think about the distinctiveness of religious understanding, especially as it reveals a persistent tension between negative (apophatic) and positive (kataphatic) discourses about God or divinity. Importantly, this distinctiveness runs across specific religious traditions and through various historical periods. As such, the investigators approach religious understanding from a decidedly cross-cultural perspective. Sensitive to both their interconnections and internal differences, they seek to bring Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity into productive conversation in the attempt to think through the way that apophatic discourse whether dialectically, deconstructively, or materially — is bound up with kataphatic discourse and engagement. The thesis is that the distinctiveness of religious understanding depends on this tension between apophatic and kataphatic discourses, and that important lessons about religious understanding become available through exploring how differing traditions, amidst and in response to differing contexts and time periods, navigate this tension.