Tuesday, February 08, 2005

It is Official!

I am now a PhD Candidate or ABD, which means I have 5 years to put up or shut up.

Topic? Try A Phenomenological Theology of the Trinity: A Study in John Henry Newman and Edmund Husserl

It actually is really about Newman's Grammar of Assent Chapter 5 where he breaks down the Trinity, but I am going to show, God willing, that Newman is closet phenomenologist, a la Edmund Husserl.

Newman works I'll be reading: Grammar of Assent, Oxford Sermons, Plain and Parochial Sermons, Idea of a University and a bunch of correspondence. However, it is going to be mainly the Grammar which is a book I have read many, many, many times, and I still barely only know what's going on.

Husserl was a German Philosopher 1850s-1939 and founder of the philosophical school of phenomenology. He is your classic German philosopher who you read a paragraph of and shake your head, rub your eyes and re-read the paragraph. Eventually, you decide that you have as much of shot of understanding him in his native German as you do in English.

Husserl and Newman's lives overlap, but clearly had no knowledge of each other. However, their ideas resonates quite nicely on certain topics. I have quite a bit of work done on the dissertation already, so I'm good to go. For the Husserl part, the focus will be primarily on one of his later works, Formal and Transcendental Logic. Husserl is a tale of two cities so to speak. Conventional wisdom is that his writing shifted from the realism of Logical Investigations (1901) to the later stuff in the late very idealist writings of the 20s and 30s,such as FTL and his Cartesian Meditations.

BTW, no doubt Husserl is brilliant, but what he does in his Cartesian Meditations is do Descartes over and show how Descartes failed and how he could have succeded. It is good stuff and I think it succeeds. They only thing for me is that central to Descrates what that God exists and that he does not deceive, while Husserl does not quite have that or really need that.

BTW, St Edith Stein worked with Husserl for many years, she apparently was less fond of his later stuff, but was and is an expert on Husserl. Imagine that, a saint expert on Husserlial phenomenology. Maybe she can finally put some of this Heidegger nonesense to rest. I guess she would be the patron saint of phenomenologists. Also JPII is also something of a phenomenologist as are a bunch of early 20th century Catholic German thinkers. Husserl was the one contemporary philosopher who overcame the Cartesian predicament and re-established the philosophical relevance of the real world. For this reason, Catholics and Christians were very comfortable with phenomenology becuase it is a great philosophical context for Christianity.

So what ties Hussert and Newman together? British Empiricism: Locke, Hume, J.S. Mill.

What is a "phenomenological theology of the Trinity"? Well, first, very little if anything has been written about Newman's Trinitarian theology. Next his devotional material like sermons that deal with the Trinity is nothing short of mucho voluminous and so it would be one heck of a lifetime project to get your head around his theology of God and of the Trinity. I'm going to try show a way to begin to look at how Newman approaches the Trinity theologically and we'll see how it works.

I had heard that someone at the Gregorian in Rome has done a dissertation comparing both men, but alas, it is in Italian. Oh well, I don't read Italian and besides, I have enough stuff to read as it is.


Blogger Talmida said...

Hey, congratulations, Ono! that's wonderful!

10:38 PM  
Blogger Steve Bogner said...

Yes, congratulations! Obviously, a good bit of work lies ahead, but it all starts with the first step, right?

8:29 AM  

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