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Art and Religion as Invitation. An Exploration Based on John Dewey’s Theory of Experience and Imagination

   | 10 août 2020
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In the Footsteps of the Divine Artist. On the Religious and Spiritual Dimension in Art. Editors: Wessel Stoker and Frank G. Bosman
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In this essay, the relation between art and religion is explored using the concepts experience and imagination as understood by the American philosopher John Dewey. In Dewey’s view, experience involves both the experiencer and the experienced: it is a phenomenon of the in-between. When we are really touched by what we meet in interacting with our physical and social surroundings, experience acquires an aesthetic quality that opens us to the value and the potential of what we perceive. We can see the factual in light of the possible, thus enriching it with new layers of meaning. We experience this as resonance between us and the world. It is the work of the imagination. Due to their imaginative capacity, humans can aspire to a ‘good life’. This aspiration is discussed in terms of invitation and response. Can we experience ourselves as being invited to respond to this unruly world with attachment and care? Here art and religion come into play. Art is understood as the domain of the possible: it explores the world behind or beyond what we usually accept as fact. An aesthetic experience acquires religious quality when it evokes in us an ideal that guides our sense of self and world, stimulating us to realize our ideals in daily actions. If inspired by imagination, art and religion may evoke intense experiences of resonance and invite us to new ways of connecting and transformative action. This is explored with the help of a hermeneutical circle, a ‘cycle of imagination’.

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Sujets de la revue:
Theology and Religion, General Topics and Biblical Reception