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

About the author(s)

Dudley A. Schreiber, University of South Africa, South Africa


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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