Something Worth Considering...
“The phenomenologist lives in the paradox of having to look upon the obvious as questionable.”
— Edmund Husserl, The Crisis of the European Sciences
About My Work
The idea that social and political forces influence our individual experiences of the world has come to be taken for granted in many contemporary discussions, such as those concerning racism and sexism. But what are these basic forces that shape how we experience the world, how do they work in our experience, and can we do anything to shape the forces that are shaping us? Building on the work of Dooyeweerd and Reformational Philosophy as well as on the phenomenological tradition of Husserl, Merleau-Ponty and others, my research shows that the primary forces shaping our experience of the world are not simply social or political, but are spiritual: our experience is constituted within contexts that are already laden with a sense that is not simply given to the world by people, but which acts as a kind of orienting impulse shaping both the world and how we experience it. This spiritual dimension of experience has been largely forgotten in both secular and religious circles: the former thinks empirical observation is all there ‘really’ is, while the latter tends to treat spirituality as an immaterial and otherworldly dimension almost entirely separate from empirical reality. My work tries to account instead for how spirituality is constantly at work in constituting our experience and the implications that has for how we live our lives. In general, I am interested in thinking about which spiritual forces (like consumerism) are dominant in our contemporary society, how they impact our lives and institutions (from politics to pop culture to the church), and how addressing these spiritual roots is necessary for tackling our most vexing social and political issues (like climate change, sexism, and racism). My conviction is that it is only in getting to the (spiritual) root of these questions that we can truly understand the world we are living in, and philosophy therefore has a crucial (and often overlooked) role to play in contemporary life. Philosophy, done well, emerges as perhaps the most practical of all the academic disciplines.
Neal DeRoo, PhD
Professor of Philosophy
BA (Calvin College), MA (Institute for Christian Studies), PhD (Boston College)
Neal DeRoo has served in many roles at the intersection of philosophy and religion, most recently as the Canada Research Chair in Phenomenology and Philosophy of Religion at The King's University. He was the Director of the Andreas Center for Reformed Scholarship and Service from 2014-2016, the founding editor of in All things, and has served on numerous boards and advisory committees, including the Christian Scholar's Review, the Society for the Phenomenology of Religious Experience, the Society for Existential and Phenomenological Theory and Culture, and the Canadian Journal for Scholarship and the Christian Faith. He has published two authored books, 5 edited books (with 1 more on the way), and numerous articles and book chapters on phenomenology, the philosophy of religion, politics, and more. He speaks and lectures worldwide to academic, popular and professional audiences, including doing professional development work with Christian day school teachers. His current work develops the phenomenological notion of spirituality, which functions as a foundational element of how we experience things and influences everything from how we intuit the world to questions of racialization and genderization to how we worship God.
Philosophies of Liturgy: Explorations of Embodied Religious Practice, eds. J. Aaron Simmons, Bruce Ellis Benson, Neal DeRoo (New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2023).
Philosophical Perspectives on Existential Gratitude: Analytic, Continental and Religious, eds. Joshua Lee Harris, Kirk Lougheed, Neal DeRoo (New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2023).
The Political Logic of Experience: Expression in Phenomenology (New York: Fordham University Press, 2022).
Editor of Religions special issue on "Phenomenology, Spirituality and Religion," (volume 12:8, 2021). Available online.
"The Everyday Power of Liturgy: On the Significance of the Transcendental for a Phenomenology of Liturgy" in Religions journal (volume 12:8, 2021). Available online.
"Phenomenological Spirituality and its Relationship to Religion" in Forum Philosophicum journal (volume 25:1, Spring 2020). Available online.