Original Research

On the epistemology of postmodern spirituality

Dudley A. Schreiber
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 33, No 1 | a398 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v33i1.398 | © 2012 Dudley A. Schreiber | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 May 2010 | Published: 17 February 2012

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At first glance, the postmodern spiritual ‘scene’ appears ‘sociologically messy, experiential, multifaceted, ecological, provisional and collective’ (Petrolle 2007) and of uncertain epistemic provenance. Here, I ask: can Roland Benedikter’s (2005) conception of postmodern dialectic and spiritual turn, help us understand postmodern spirituality and can it assist in a construction of a postmodern epistemology of spirituality? The current argument constitutes a meta-theoretical exploration of:

• Deconstruction and neo-essentialism as representing the significant dialectic in philosophical postmodernism. Deconstruction is presented as an apophatic moment in Western thought about ‘knowing’ and ‘being’ whilst postmodern neo-essentialism, though contextualised by antirealism and ambiguity, palpably suggests itself.
• Postmodern trends which derive from the dialectic.
• How these epistemic trends influence methodology in the study of spirituality.
• How a trans-traditional (anthropological) spirituality might incorporate insights about transformation from a complex of epistemologies in which, theories of ‘self’ abound.

In the conclusion an attempt is made to describe how postmodern spirituality expresses itself in society.



Deconstructionism; Post Structuralism; Reconstructivism; Proto-ontology; Meontology; Deontology; Integralism; Realism; Anti-Realism; Evolution; Neo-essentialism; Meta-consciousness; Imagination; Inspiration; Developmental theory


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