International Journal for Philosophy of Religion

, Volume 71, Issue 1, pp 21-37

First online:

D. Z. Phillips’ contemplations on religion and literature

  • Mikel BurleyAffiliated withDepartment of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Leeds Email author 

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This paper critically discusses D. Z. Phillips’ use of literary works as a resource for philosophical reflection on religion. Beginning by noting Phillips’ suggestion, made in relation to Waiting for Godot, that the possibilities of meaning that we see in a literary work can reveal something of our own religious sensibility, I then proceed to show what we learn about Phillips from his readings of certain works by Larkin, Tennyson, and Wharton. Through exploring alternative possible readings, I argue that, although Phillips’ discussions are of considerable philosophical interest, they undermine his claim to be deploying a purely contemplative hermeneutical method.


D. Z. Phillips Religion Literature Contemplative philosophy