Rupp in Perspective: An Examination of Two Topics in beyond "Existentialism and Zen"

Philosophy East and West 55 (2):153 - 178 (2005)
George Rupp's Beyond Existentialism and Zen, in its typological-structural analysis and model of religious pluralism, proffers an alternative to the dominant Kantian models (e.g., by John Hicks and Sarvepalli Radhakrish- nan). The question for Rupp is not which religion is true and how to decide that issue-answered in the Kantian approach in terms of an unknowable Ding an sich that all religions, albeit imperfectly, try to approximate or conceptualize (i.e., God or the Transcendent)-but rather how do religions represent, at least in principle, a structural possibility for salvation or human flourishing, however different and incompatible their distinct prima facie truth claims might be. Although the potential for a radically relativistic model is implicit in Rupp's approach, it is argued here that his Hegelian assumptions lead him to accept relativism only in a provisional ("critical") way; for Rupp, under ideal epistemic conditions (e.g., the Peircian "end of inquiry"), one final conceptualization of ultimate reality will emerge as absolute truth. In the final part of this essay a version of the relativistic model implicit in Rupp's approach is defended against both the Kantian model of Hicks et al. and Rupp's Hegelian-Peircian model, which, it is argued, is incompatible certainly with the spirit of his own typological-structural analysis, if not with the letter. In challenging what Rupp calls the truth of Zen, it is further argued that not only is more than one salvific structural possibility available to us through the different world religions but also that realizing these possibilities is principally a human responsibility, and that the cosmos is quite indifferent to and compatible with several possibilities, from the most destructive to the most conducive to human well-being and flourishing
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E. Gordon Rupp (1952). Principalities and Powers. New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press.

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