The inward light : messianic immanence and radical nonviolence in Henry and Laruelle

Saunders, Michael (2020) The inward light : messianic immanence and radical nonviolence in Henry and Laruelle. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


Our task in this study is twofold: (1) to bring together a Christocentric Quaker theology and spirituality, the radical theo-phenomenology of Michel Henry, and François Laruelle's non-philosophy; and (2) to bring to expression the bond between immanence and pacifism. Quaker theology has only very rarely been brought into conversation with continental philosophy of religion in general and the "Theological turn" in French phenomenology in particular. However, we will attempt here to demonstrate that there is much to be gained from this conversation. Quaker theology and spirituality, we will suggest, like Henry's theo-phenomenology of Life and Laruelle's understanding of messianity, is concerned with immanence, and with a simple fidelity to this immanence. In providing a Quaker reading of Henry and Laruelle, we will work to discern and develop a theo-phenomenological and non-philosophical grammar through which to express this bond between immanence and pacifism. For it is immanence, whether as Arch-Christic (Henry) or messianic (Laruelle), that suggests a pattern of holiness, or a way of radical nonviolence, that is not given in the World, not revealed in the ek-stasis of the World, and thus subsumed by transcendence, or determined by a circularity of violence and counter-violence. Instead, there is a Word of Life that is heard only in the heart, in the immediacy of an immanent revelation, of an inner union, or a transcendental anchorage in immanence, that comes before the World. There is the radical immanence of the World that comes before the transcendence of the World. We will compare Henry's understanding of the Word of Life to the Quaker principle of the "Inward Light." Finally, for both Laruelle and Henry, a praxis of radical nonviolence, wether as resumed messianity or merciful action, entails under-going, or surrendering to, a unilateral determination by this radical immanence. In this determination by immanence, the living ones act as witness-subjects (Henry) or Christ-subjects (Laruelle). To bear winess to the Word is to assume an ultimatum of peace or grace through the radical humility and passivity (or receptivity) of a simple saintliness. It is to become an instrument of peace. We will describe this a belonging-to-Life, or a standing still in the Light.

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