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A theological enquiry into the processes of painting, with reference to the phenomenology of Jean-Luc Marion

Baker, Jenifer (2018) A theological enquiry into the processes of painting, with reference to the phenomenology of Jean-Luc Marion. Doctoral thesis, York St John University.

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Abstract

Starting points for this thesis were personal observations about how paintings may be responses to unplanned experiences, how they may take on a life of their own, and how meanings may emerge rather than be imposed. Questions arose about possible links with Christian concepts of revelation, and these were investigated with particular reference to the French Catholic philosopher and theologian Jean-Luc Marion. His concepts of saturated phenomena and their ‘excess’ of pure givenness were found to resonate with the actual experiences of painters but also to be critiqued by them. The core chapters discuss examples of paintings drawn from the three worlds of nature, ‘culture’, and persons, using an essentially threefold format: 1) presentation of selected paintings together with artists’ autobiographical material; 2) phenomenological analysis; and 3) theological interpretation. Underlying this approach is Marion’s approach to revelation by way of saturated phenomena, for whilst phenomenology alone cannot determine if actual revelation has taken place, it can investigate conditions for the possibility of revelation.

Original features include the following:

• Development of a ten-part typology of painting trajectories, reflecting diverse interactions between givenness and intentionality.
• Identification of ‘nature’ as a saturated phenomenon from the evidence of painting processes; this is new evidence supporting an existing critique of Marion.
• Discernment of saturated phenomena as ‘nested’, that is manifesting at different scales from the cosmic to the microscopic.
• Application of the ‘visual-verbal chronotope’ to the complexities of painterly hermeneutics, with respect to biblical images.
• Use of collaborative painting processes to enter the worlds of primary school children.
• Identification of painting processes as saturated phenomena in their own right.
• Realisation that Marion’s ‘givenness through saturated phenomena’ approach is complementary to the ‘imagination’ approach to revelation pursued by several British and North American theologians. It is suggested that the two approaches need each other.

It is concluded that, phenomenologically, painters’ imaginative responses to givenness are common to both secular and theistic interpretations of revelation, and that through this commonality painting processes can contribute to addressing tensions between natural and revealed theology contribute to addressing tensions between natural and revealed theology.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Status: Unpublished
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BV Practical Theology
School/Department: School of Humanities, Religion & Philosophy
URI: http://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/3250

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