Back Transdisciplinarity and the Unity of Knowledge: Beyond the Science and Religion Dialogue

Skip Navigation Links
Deena Lin
Providing Meaning to the Human Experience in Spite of Epistemic Distance


In this paper, I will present a philosophical anthropology that rests on some notions that provide meaning to the self-reflective human agent, and yet, I am not seeking to reify or universalize any one of them. The nodes of meaning I present result from the fact that I am located, and have been conditioned by my education, culture, upbringing, religious beliefs, and place in history. I continue to maintain, however, that within our globalizing society it is important to bridge the differences between human beings. This is my attempt to provide some meaning to human agency in the hope that it may allow for points of convergence to arise between individuals as they speak of what it means to be human. It should be noted, however, that my attempt at addressing human subjectivity is not an effort to promote a universal claim about human nature as such, for I am in agreement with the postmodern stance on epistemic distance, and the limitations placed upon individuals as social agents who are embedded, yet not limited by language.

The philosophical anthropology I will present in this paper promotes a notion of agency that is inspired by Judith Butler’s magnum opus: Gender Trouble.1This humble attempt to provide meaning to human agency in the midst of the linguistic confusions Butler enlightens us to in her work. Though Butler’s interest is not anthropological in nature, in this paper I will use her philosophy as a springboard to facilitate rethinking the way the agency is constructed. I will begin by presenting a brief synopsis of Butler’s theory of performativity, secondly I will present the limits of this philosophy in terms of providing meaning to agency, and I will conclude by presenting some ways of gaining meaning that I am advocating present an opaque picture of the self, that remains in flux via the myriad of ways in which the self gathers meaning throughout one’s life experiences.


1 Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity, First Edition Routledge Classics (New York: Routledge, 2006).


Deena Lin is currently working on her PhD in Philosophy of Religion and Theology at Claremont Graduate University.  She is originally from the San Francisco Bay area.  She obtained a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy with a minor in Business Administration at the University of San Francisco in May of 2000.  For the next two years, Deena focused her work in marketing and business development, and having been dissatisfied with corporate life, she decided to move to China to teach English in the Winter of 2002.  There she discovered that she had a passion for teaching.  She returned from Beijing the following Fall and a year later was working on her master’s degree in religious studies at Claremont.   

After obtaining her master’s degree, she continued on at Claremont Graduate University.  Her academic interests are in philosophical theology, poststructuralist thought, mystical theology and comparative religion.  For her dissertation, she will be working on utilizing mystical language as a means for interfaith dialogue.


1616 Walnut Street, Suite 1112, Philadelphia, PA 19103 USA  |  Voice: + 1 484.592.0304 Fax: +1 484.592.0313   |   Email  |  Privacy Policy