SUMMARYIt lies in the biblical line of thought that cultic sacrifices to God are made superfluous by human love of God and the neighbor. But is it possible to completely get rid of any sort of sacrifice in interhuman love relationships? With reference to texts by Kierkegaard and Levinas, this article discusses the paradigms of love as self-sacrifice, love as self-giving, and the double bind between the two. Part I clarifies that their affirmation of self-sacrificial love is to be read (...) against the backdrop of their critique of selfish sacrificial love that has not the power to renounce itself, even if the relation will be the other's ruin. Part II explains why proclaiming one's love as self-sacrifice means misunderstanding oneself, the other, and the relation between self and other. The result is that unselfish love cannot adequately be captured in terms of sacrifice at all, since it turns its logic ‘A sacrifices B to C for the sake of D’ upside down. In contrast, the logic of gift leads into surplus despite loss. Yet, in Part III it turns out that we cannot ‘sacrifice’ the notion of sacrifice in the name of love. Not only is there a hidden gift in sacrifice , but also a sacrifice in the gift of love . This has interesting implications for the debate on gender, including a self-critical impetus reminding the feminist movement of the fact that it is wrong to conceive of women as purely passive victims of male manipulation. The highly ambiguous role that the ‘self’ is playing in its self-sacrifice is worth being reconsidered. (shrink)
This article explores various scenes of shame, raising the questions of what shame discloses about the self and how this self-disclosure takes place. Thereby, the common idea that shame discloses the self’s debasement will be challenged. The dramatic dialectics of showing and hiding display a much more ambiguous, dynamic self-image as result of an interactive evaluation of oneself by oneself and others. Seeing oneself seen contributes to the sense of who one becomes. From being absorbed in what one does, one (...) might suddenly become self-aware, shift viewpoints and feel pressed to put on masks. In putting on a mask, one relates to oneself in distancing oneself from oneself. In being at once a moral agent and a performing actor with an audience and norms in mind, one embodies and transcends the social roles one takes. In addition to the feeling of shame, in which the self finds itself passively reflected, the self’s active reflections on its shame are to be taken into account. As examples from Milan Kundera, Shakespeare’s King Lear, a line from Kingsley Amis, a speech by Vaclav Havel and Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments indicate, self-(re)presentation in the public and the private sphere is a complex hermeneutical process with surprising twists. (shrink)
This paper develops the thesis that personal identity is neither to be taken in terms of an unchanging self-sufficient ‘substance’ nor in terms of selfhood ‘without substance,’ i.e. as fluctuating processes of pure relationality and subject-less activity. Instead, identity is taken as self-transformation that is bound to particular embodied individuals and surpasses them as individuated entities. The paper is structured in three parts. Part I describes the experiential givenness of conflicts that support our sense of self-transformation. While the first part (...) develops an inter-subjective topography of emotional movements, the second part pays attention to their temporal dimension. We work with conflicts and get transformed by them also in the way we remember them. Part II focuses on the process of self-understanding that accompanies conflicts and their metamorphosis in memory. Part III compares and discusses different models of a ‘relational ontology’ of the person, which question the idea that we are defined only by how we define ourselves—just as they question the idea that one’s identity is independent of how one relates to one’s having changed. (shrink)
ZUSAMMENFASSUNGDas Thema des vorliegenden Artikels ist das Gewissen als Instanz der Selbsterschließung. Der Artikel wird durch drei Fragen strukturiert: Erstens, wer oder was ist die erschließende Instanz? Zweitens, wie geht die Erschließung vor sich? Und drittens, was wird über das Selbstsein erschlossen? Diese Fragen werden am Beispiel der Beiträge von Martin Luther, Søren Kierkegaard und Martin Heidegger untersucht. Deren Texte stehen in einem Rezeptionszusammenhang und haben Implikationen, die theologisch und anthropologisch relevant sind. Um den Manifestationen des Gewissens in der menschlichen (...) Erfahrung auf die Spur zu kommen, wird den drei genannten Leitfragen entsprechend bei allen drei Autoren erstens der Ursprung der im Gewissen vorgehenden Selbsterschließung, zweitens die Art und Weise der Selbsterschließung und drittens der erschlossene Inhalt eruiert. Dies geschieht in drei Schritten: Zunächst in textnahen Einzeldarstellungen , dann im kritischen Vergleich und schließlich in der Diskussion kontroverser Punkte . Zur Diskussion gestellt wird 1. der methodische Zugang zu Fragen der Selbsterschließung, 2. die Bestimmung und Bewertung der durch das Gewissen erschlossenen ›Schuld‹ und 3. das Verständnis der Freiheit oder Unfreiheit des Menschen.SUMMARYThe article focuses on conscience as an instance of self-disclosure. The article is structured by three questions: First, who or what is performing the disclosure? Second, in what ways is the self-disclosure enacted? And third, what is disclosed about selfhood? These questions are examined with respect to the contributions by Martin Luther, Søren Kierkegaard, and Martin Heidegger. Their works stand in a line of reception and have implications that are theologically and anthropologically relevant. In order to find out how conscience manifests itself in human experience, the texts will be analyzed with regard to the origin and/or subject of disclosing, the mode of disclosure, and the disclosed content. The investigation proceeds in the following steps: Part I is dedicated to the differing descriptions of conscience and introduces the texts of the individual authors. Part II offers a brief comparison of their approaches. Part III is an attempt to formulate and discuss the controversial points. The issues to be discussed are, first, the methodological approach to questions of self-disclosure; second, the definition and evaluation of the ›guilt‹ disclosed by conscience; and, third, the understanding of human freedom or unfreedom. (shrink)
The article draws from a personal clinical experience of two suicides, not far removed from each other in time. The first patient was a 33-year-old intellectual suffering from depression with narcissistic traits but no psychotic elements, while the second patient was a 21-year-old student with a manifest psychotic episode behind him and with characteristics of post-psychotic depression at the time of suicide. The two suicides had very different impacts on the therapist: the first left open some “space” for reflection, communication, (...) and working-through, while the second closed such a “space,” leaving only a tiny door to the existential roots of human beings and suffering. The therapist was able to find some “shelter” by talking to supervisors, colleagues, and friends in the first case; in the second, the only possible “shelter” was glimpsed in the philosophy of groundlessness (Ungrund) of the Russian existentialist Nicolai Berdyaev. The personal experiences of the therapist, along with some theoretical interpretations of the after-effects of both suicides, are presented using a psychodynamic and existential–phenomenological understanding of the therapeutic relationship with a psychotic and a non-psychotic patient. The main dilemmas exposed by a patient’s suicide, especially if the patient suffers from psychosis, are difficult to deal with in the usual clinical settings and call for resources beyond it. The authors propose that these can be found in philosophical and theological insights. (shrink)
This article investigates difficulties in defining the concept of God by focusing on the question of what it means to understand God as a ‘person.’ This question is explored with respect to the work of Søren Kierkegaard, in dialogue with Franz Rosenzweig, Martin Buber, and Emmanuel Levinas. Thereby, the following three questions regarding divine ‘personhood’ come into view: First, how can God be a partner of dialogue if he at the same time remains unknown and unthinkable, a limit-concept of understanding? (...) Second, if God is love in person and at the same time a spiritual reality ‘between’ human agents, in what ways are his personal and trans-personal traits related to each other? Third, what exactly is revealed through God’s ‘name’? By way of an inconclusive conclusion, divine personhood is discussed in regard to prayer, where the problems of predication that arise in third-personal speech about God are linked with the second-personal encounter with God. (shrink)
This article explores imagination as a means of ethical re-orientation in the aftermath of atrocity. The discussion of the problem of evil is based on Hannah Arendt’s critique of Kant and her notion of ‘rootless’ rather than ‘radical’ evil. On this basis, the orienting potential of visual images is investigated with regard to images of violence in the media on the one hand, and, on the other, with regard to Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam. Then the role of verbal and mental (...) images of humanity or inhumanity is discussed with reference to the Holocaust survivor Jorge Semprun’s testimony in his book Literature or Life. Finally, the biblical motif of the human being created in the image of an invisible God, the imago Dei, comes into view as an exemplary image of humanity that appears in a framework of interpretation where the invisible is mediated with the help of verbal, visual and/or mental images. (shrink)
How can we, in our times, understand the biblical concept that human beings have been created in the image of an invisible God? This is a perennial but increasingly pressing question that lies at the heart of theological anthropology. Humanity in God's Image: An Interdisciplinary Exploration clarifies the meaning of this concept, traces different Jewish and Christian interpretations of 'humanity in God's image', and re-considers the significance of the imago Dei in a post-Holocaust context.
This chapter examines Soren Kierkegaard's writings about and related to phenomenology. It evaluates whether Kierkegaard's account of religious life can be considered a phenomenology of religion, and reviews arguments for and against interpreting Kierkegaard as a phenomenologist. The chapter also explores the relation between Kierkegaard and phenomenology by examining the influence of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit in Kierkegaard, and by comparing Edmund Husserl's and Martin Heidegger's forms of phenomenology to that of Kierkegaard.
This article explores the ethical implications of the dialectics between the human being’s visibility and invisibility by means of a phenomenological approach: In what ways can ›human dignity‹ be experienced, and to what extent does it, as a normative notion, transcend its possible givenness to experience? While there is a consensus that the requirement of respect is implied in this notion, it is controversial how this requirement is realized and fulfilled. Kierkegaard’s ethics of loving vision and Sartre’s description of the (...) objectifying gaze inform a discussion of the feeling of shame: can it protect the dignity of the other person? The following three levels of argumentation will be taken into account: An exchange of glances denoting reciprocal recognition can, on the level of factuality, count as the condition for the subjective constitution of human dignity insofar as it can be experienced in actual contexts of interaction. In a legal context, the constitutional principle of all people’s invisible, inviolable dignity, which is the source of their rights and deserves protection regardless of people’s characteristics and behavior, must be defended against the idea that human dignity is nothing but a contingent, self-posited norm or gradual attribute. The theological dimension of human dignity is considered in regard to its non-empirical ground and destination and to the question of whether human dignity persists post mortem. (shrink)