Bridging the gap between social and existential-mystical interpretations of Schleiermacher's ‘feeling’

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The article engages with two contemporary understandings of Schleiermacher's notion of feeling which are in important aspects in conflict: a social understanding (Kevin W. Hector and Christine Helmer) and an existential-mystical understanding (Thandeka). Using the phenomenological category of ‘existential feelings’ drawn from the work of Matthew Ratcliffe, I argue that they can be brought into a coherent overall account that recognizes different aspects of feeling in Schleiermacher's work. I also suggest that such an interpretation of Schleiermacher's concept of religious feeling offers a different and better understanding of the role of feelings in religious experience and belief than the contemporary ‘perception-model’ of religious experience.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)377-401
Number of pages24
JournalReligious Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Religious experience
  • Phenomenology
  • Schleiermacher
  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Epistemology of religion
  • Religion
  • religious studies

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