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Schleiermacher on the Outpourings of the Inner Fire: Experiential Expressivism and Religious Pluralism

Jacqueline Marina
Religious Studies
Vol. 40, No. 2 (Jun., 2004), pp. 125-143
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20008517
Page Count: 19
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Schleiermacher on the Outpourings of the Inner Fire: Experiential Expressivism and Religious Pluralism
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Abstract

Both in the "Speeches" and in "The Christian Faith" Schleiermacher offers a comprehensive theory of the nature of religion, grounding it in experience. In the "Speeches" Schleiermacher grounds religion in an original unity of consciousness that precedes the subject-object dichotomy; in "The Christian Faith" the feeling of absolute dependence is grounded in the immediate self-consciousness. I argue that Schleiermacher's theory offers a generally coherent account of how it is possible that differing religious traditions are all based on the same experience of the Absolute. I show how Schleiermacher's programme can respond successfully to three related contemporary objections to religious pluralism: (1) different religions make competing truth-claims about the nature of reality and they cannot all be right; (2) differing traditions cannot all be based on a similar religious experience because all experience is interpreted; and (3) the pluralist needs to have criteria in place distinguishing real and illusory religious experience, but such criteria are elusive.

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