A Call for Positive Metaphysical Agnosticism: Creating a Synergistic Relationship between the Individual and the Community in the Religious Studies Classroom


The religious studies classroom has become an increasingly dynamic "place" over the last several decades, and this trend will continue with rapidly developing technology and the proliferation of online college studies and globalization. It is no longer uncommon for a class studying religion to be composed of students from all around the world and a diversity of religious beliefs and practices and comportment to religious phenomena. Positive metaphysical agnosticism (PMA) is a way to ameliorate conflict and create a synergistic relationship in the classroom of religious studies. PMA is a synthesis and extension of Tillich's self-world polarity of Individuation and Participation, Husserl's phenomenological reduction, and Eliade's phenomenology of religion. For Tillich, the first ontological element that constitutes the basic self-world polarity is "individuation and participation." The individual participating in the academic study of religion in the "world" of the classroom can perform an epoche analogous to Husserl's phenomenological reduction and "bracket" their own religious beliefs and practices, suspending judgement regarding the metaphysical claims and implications of other religions. Eliade's phenomenology of religion promotes the study of religious phenomena on its own terms, giving the student a positive and open comportment to the religious beliefs and practices in the suspension of metaphysical judgement. This approach is positive to religious phenomena while being agnostic regarding the metaphysical claims and implications of religious phenomena, and is a catalyst to a synergistic relation of the individual student to the religious studies classroom.

Author Information
Christopher Myers, American Public University, United States

Paper Information
Conference: ACERP2014
Stream: Ethics; Religion; Philosophy

This paper is part of the ACERP2014 Conference Proceedings (View)
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