Two names often grouped together in the study of religion are Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768–1884) and Rudolf Otto (1869–1937). Central to their understanding of religion is the idea that religious experience, characterized in terms of feeling, lies at the heart of all genuine religion. In his book On Religion, Schleiermacher speaks of religion as a “sense and taste for the Infinite.” In The Christian Faith, Schleiermacher grounds religion in the immediate self-consciousness and the “feeling of absolute dependence.” Influenced by Schleiermacher, Otto (...) also grounds religion in an original experience of what he calls “the numinous,” which can only be grasped through states of feeling. This article discusses the views of Otto and Schleiermacher on religion as feeling. It examines how both men conceived of feeling, the reasons they believed religion had to be understood in its terms, and the common threads linking their perspectives. It also considers Schleiermacher's interpretation of religious feeling as transcendental experience. (shrink)
This paper explores Kant's concept of the highest good and the postulate of the existence of God arising from it. Kant has two concepts of the highest good standing in tension with one another, an immanent and a transcendent one. I provide a systematic exposition of the constituents of both variants and show how Kant’s arguments are prone to confusion through a conflation of both concepts. I argue that once these confusions are sorted out Kant’s claim regarding the need to (...) postulate God’s existence from a moral point of view makes much more sense. (shrink)
This paper explores the charge by Bruce Aune and Allen Wood that a gap exists in Kant's derivation of the Categorical Imperative. I show that properly understood, no such gap exists, and that the deduction of the Categorical Imperative is successful as it stands.
Against those who dismiss Kant's project in the "Religion" because it provides a Pelagian understanding of salvation, this paper offers an analysis of the deep structure of Kant's views on divine justice and grace showing them not to conflict with an authentically Christian understanding of these concepts. The first part of the paper argues that Kant's analysis of these concepts helps us to understand the necessary conditions of the Christian understanding of grace: unfolding them uncovers intrinsic relations holding between God's (...) justice and grace. Parts two and three provide an analysis of two concepts of grace used by Kant. Getting clear on their differences is the key to understanding why Kant's account is not Pelagian. (shrink)
This paper provides analysis of Kant's Categorical Imperative and its relevance to religion. I discuss what the concept of a categorical imperative implies about self-transcendence, and what this understanding of self-transcendence indicates about the self's relation to God and others.
Both in the Speeches and in The Christian Faith Schleiermacher offers a comprehensive theory of the nature of religion, grounding it in experience. In the Speeches Schleiermacher grounds religion in an original unity of consciousness that precedes the subject–object dichotomy; in The Christian Faith the feeling of absolute dependence is grounded in the immediate self-consciousness. I argue that Schleiermacher's theory offers a generally coherent account of how it is possible that differing religious traditions are all based on the same experience (...) of the Absolute. I show how Schleiermacher's programme can respond successfully to three related contemporary objections to religious pluralism: (1) different religions make competing truth-claims about the nature of reality and they cannot all be right; (2) differing traditions cannot all be based on a similar religious experience because all experience is interpreted; and (3) the pluralist needs to have criteria in place distinguishing real and illusory religious experience, but such criteria are elusive. (Published Online April 21 2004). (shrink)
In my chapter "Christology and Anthropology in Friedrich Schleiermacher,” I discuss Schleiermacher's understanding of both the person and work of Christ. Schleiermacher's dialogue with the orthodox Christological tradition preceding him, as well as his understanding of the work of Christ, is founded on a critical analysis of the fundamental person-forming experience of being in relation to Christ and the community founded by him. I provide an analysis of Schleiermacher's discussion of the difficulties surrounding the use of the word "nature" in (...) relation to Jesus' humanity and divinity, and then move to discuss how Schleiermacher understands both the humanity and divinity of Jesus, as well as how the two stand in relation to one another. In the original divine decree Jesus Christ is ordained as the person through which the whole human race is to be completed and perfected, and the essence of perfect human nature just is to express divine. This is the essence of Schleiermacher's solution to the Christological problem, that is, of how the divine and the human can converge in one person. I then move to discuss Schleiermacher's understanding of the work of Christ as involving two interrelated moments. The first is the awakening of the God-consciousness. The second involves the self-expression of this God-consciousness in the form of Christian love in the community of believers. As such, the principle work of Christ is the founding of the kingdom of God. (shrink)
This paper explores three important criticisms of Kant's ethics by Friedrich Schleiermacher, all having to do with Kant's alleged failure to account for the value of the individual. These are: (1) Kant's formalism precludes him from specifying ends for the will, and without such ends, the moral perfection of the individual, and the genuine appreciation of the other in his or her individuality cannot become my end; (2) Kant cannot provide an adequate metaphysical grounding of the value of the individuals (...) comprising a community; (3) Kant cannot give an account of why members of a community should value the individual qua individual in relation to the community. In this paper I discuss these criticisms and their validity in detail. I show that understood properly, Kant has the resources to answer Schleiermacher's first criticism, and I show how Schleiermacher's own system sought to avoid the second and third problems. (shrink)
In this paper I argue against two prevailing views of Kant’s Religion. Against commentators such as Michalson and Quinn, who have argued that Kant’s project in Religion is riddled with inconsistencies and circularities, I show that a proper understanding of Kant’s views on grace reveals these do not exist. And contra commentators that attribute to Kant at best a minimalist conception of grace, I show that Kant’s view of it is remarkably robust. I argue that Kant works with three different (...) conceptions of grace. These are: a) grace and the God within, b) grace and the transformation of the fundamental orientation, and c) grace that can be laid hold of; the first and the last play a significant role in his philosophy of religion. (shrink)
This article explores the early Schleiermacher's attempts to deal with difficult philosophical problems arising from Kant's ethics, specifically Kant's notion of transcendental freedom. How do we connect a transcendentally free act with the nature of the subject? Insofar as the act is transcendentally free, it cannot be understood in terms of causes, and this means that it cannot be connected with the previous state of the individual before he or she engaged in the act. I work through Schleiermacher's grappling with (...) this problem by taking a thorough look at some of Schleiermacher's early essays and reviews. My main focus will be Schleiermacher's early essay On Freedom, written between 1790-92. I will, however, also be taking a look at Schleiermacher's notes on Kant's second Critique (1789), the third of his Dialogues on Freedom(1789), and his critical review of Kant's Anthropology from a PragmaticPointof View (1799). (shrink)
Two things are often said about Aristotle's treatment of time in the Physics. First, that Aristotle's considered view of time is intrinsically tied to a language of temporal passage heavily dependent on the A-series. As such Aristotle's understanding of time is plagued with the perplexities that the A-series generates. Second, that the series of puzzles that Aristotle treats in IV.10, leading to the conclusion that time is non-existent, are left unanswered by Aristotle. Instead after presenting the puzzles having to do (...) with whether time is, Aristotle cannot move fast enough to his treatment of what time is, leaving the puzzles unresolved. This paper looks at these two issues together. The thesis is that the puzzles about the existence of time discussed by Aristotle at IV.10 are generated by a particularly naive version of the A-theory. Further, although Aristotle's answer to what time is incorporates elements of an A-theory of time, it manages to avoid just those particular puzzles discussed in IV.10 leading to the conclusion of time's non-existence. (shrink)
One of the principle aims of the B version of Kant’s transcendental deduction is to show how it is possible that the same “I think” can accompany all of my representations, which is a transcendental condition of the possibility of judgment. Contra interpreters such as A. Brook, I show that this “I think” is an a priori (reflected) self-consciousness; contra P. Keller, I show that this a priori self-consciousness is first and foremost a consciousness of one’s personal identity from a (...) first person point of view. (shrink)
This paper explores two themes—Schleiermacher’s realism and his perspectivalism—and their significance for a theory of religion. I show that Schleiermacher's theory offers an account of human subjectivity and epistemological modesty that at the same time allows us to affirm the reality of the Absolute.
This paper explores the reception of Kant's understanding of consciousness by both Romantics and Idealists from 1785 to 1799, and traces its impact on the theory of religion. I first look at Kant's understanding of consciousness as developed in the first Critique, and then looks at how figures such as Fichte, Jacobi, Hölderlin, Novalis, and Schleiermacher received this theory of consciousness and its implications for their understanding of religion.
This paper provides an analysis of Rudolph Otto's understanding of the structures of human consciousness making possible the appropriation of revelation. Already in his dissertation on Luther's understanding of the Holy Spirit, Otto was preoccupied with how the " outer " of revelation could be united to these inner structures. Later, in his groundbreaking Idea of the Holy, Otto would explore the category of the numinous, an element of religious experience tied to the irrational element of the holy. This paper (...) first provides a brief account of Otto's account of the holy, especially its numinous, irrational elements. Second, the paper analyzes Otto's understanding of the structures of consciousness grounding the experience of the numinous and allowing the irrational element to be " schematized " by the rational element. Otto's exposition of these structures is heavily influenced by his reception of Kant's analysis of the two stems of human cognition, namely understanding and sensibility, and their possible relation to a common root, which Otto identified with what the mystics called the ground of the soul. Yet it is in Otto's reception of Kant's Critique of Judgment that all of these ideas find their completion, and it is here where we must look to understand the relation between the religious a priori and Otto's category of the numinous. Kant's aesthetic idea is a singular representation given in intuition; it is infinitely saturated and as such intimates the ideas of God, the soul, and the world as a whole. I show how Otto appropriates Kant's aesthetic idea and its relation to ideas of reason in order to make sense of how an empirically given revelation, for instance, an experience of the numinous, can connect with the inner structures of consciousness and thereby have the singular import that it does. (shrink)
This chapter traces how theism was developed by leading 19th and 20th century figures (Schleiermacher, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Rahner, and Tillich) responding to Kant’s Copernican revolution in philosophy. Part one deals with the ontological nature of subjectivity itself and what it reveals about the conditions of the possibility of a subject’s relation to the Absolute. Part two explores the role of subjectivity and interiority in the individual’s relation to God, and part three takes a look at the theme of the (...) “unhappy consciousness,” how its development led to important attacks on theism, and the resources available to theology in countering these attacks. (shrink)
This essay analyzes the category of “the holy” as developed by Rudolf Otto, examining his division of the holy into rational and non-rational elements. While rational elements of the holy are closely tied to ethics, another aspect of the holy can only be apprehended through sui generis feelings irreducible to other mental states. But how do non-rational elements relate to rational, ethical categories? I trace the distinction between rational and non-rational elements in Otto’s analysis to Kant’s two faculty psychology: the (...) holy is apprehended in one way through feeling, in another way through thought, but a single ultimate reality is experienced. (shrink)
In this essay I will show that the incoherence many commentators have found in Kant’s Religion is due to Augustinian assumptions about human evil that they are implicitly reading into the text. Eliminate the assumptions, and the inconsistencies evaporate: both theses, those of universality and moral responsibility, can be held together without contradiction. The Augustinian view must be replaced with what John Hick has dubbed an “Irenaean” account of human evil, which portrays the human being and his or her task (...) in developmental terms. This developmental model is put forward by Kant in both the Lectures in the Philosophy of Religion and in his Conjectural Beginnings of Human History. In this essay I discuss both the Augustinian and Iranaean accounts of human evil, and argue for the advantages of the developmental (Iranaean) account in making philosophical sense of Kant’s texts. I show that Kant indeed held such a view in both the Lectures and in the Conjectural Beginnings, and that he never abandoned the developmental model in Religion. Reading Kant’s Religion through an “Iranaean” lens reframes the locus of the debate, illumines multiple elements of the text that previously remained obscure, and demonstrates why Kant had good reason to claim that we all begin in a condition of radical evil but must nevertheless assume responsibility for this. (shrink)
Kant’s aim in the Refutation of Idealism is to show that the temporal determination of inner experience presupposes outer experience. Commentators have rightly noted the extraordinarily compressed character of Kant's argument, and numerous gaps in the argument have been pointed out. In this paper I focus on two of these gaps and provide a reconstruction of Kant's argument that closes them.
This paper takes stock of Leibnizian influences on Schleiermacher's thought through an examination and comparison of the views of Leibniz, Kant, and Schleiermacher on predication. I analyze each thinker's foundational ontological and epistemological commitments and their implications for their understanding of predication. More specifically, I explore whether Schleiermacher's adoption of Leibiniz' theory of the complete concept and the theory of prediction it entails conflicts with his adoption of Kant's two-source theory of knowledge. I conclude that it does, and that it (...) is this clash between elements borrowed from two very different systematic thinkers that makes Schleiermacher's Dialektik the cipher that it is. (shrink)
Nineteenth century Christian thought about self and relationality was stamped by the reception of Kant’s groundbreaking revision to the Cartesian cogito. For René Descartes (1596-1650), the self is a thinking thing (res cogitans), a simple substance retaining its unity and identity over time. For Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), on the other hand, consciousness is not a substance but an ongoing activity having a double constitution, or two moments: first, the original activity of consciousness, what Kant would call original apperception, and second, (...) the reflected self, the “I think” as object of reflection. Both are essential to the possibility of an awareness of a unified experience. Such an awareness is achieved only insofar as the self is capable of reflecting on its activity of thinking. As such, the possibility of self-consciousness, or the capacity to reflect on one’s own acts of thought is essential to the constitution of the self. This new model of the mind became the starting point to the thought of central 19th century figures such as Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834), J. G. Fichte (1762-1814), Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) and Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855). This chapter will explore their reception of Kant’s model of self-consciousness, the controversies surrounding its development and exposition, and the advantages of this model for theological reflection. The idea of mind as essentially capable of reflection provided an account of how the self can stand in an ontologically immediate relation to God constitutive of the self, while at the same time allowing that the self’s consciousness of itself is distinct from this original moment, so that a limited or false consciousness of self is possible. As such the task of the self is to recognize (that is, to realize in and through self-consciousness) who it most truly is, both in relation to God, and in relation to self and other. (shrink)
This article explores the later Schleiermacher’s metaphysics of substance and what it entails concerning the question of transcendental freedom. I show that in espousing a metaphysics of substance, Schleiermacher also abandoned an understanding of nature as a mere mechanism, a view implying what I call a “state-state view of causation” (“SSV” for short). Adoption of the view of the self as substance was motivated by the primacy of practical and religious concerns in Schleiermacher’s later work: in Christian Faith, an analysis (...) of self-consciousness from a first person point of view grounds this understanding of the self. In fact, in Christian Faith, ontology, and thereby theology, is only possible through such a first person analysis. The development of Schleiermacher’s views over time, and the reasons accompanying this development, can be fully understood only the in the context of his engagement with the work of Spinoza, Leibniz, and Kant. In what follows I trace this development through an analysis of the philosophical problems and influences shaping Schleiermacher’s mature view, and shed light on his understanding of self-consciousness and its relation to God. My own account should also serve to correct some recent misunderstandings that have made their way into the secondary literature. (shrink)
In this paper I explore how Kant’s development of the idea of the disposition in the Religion copes with problems implied by Kant’s idea of transcendental freedom. Since transcendental freedom implies the power of absolutely beginning a state, and therefore of absolutely beginning a series of the consequences of that state, a transcendentally free act is divorced from the preceding state of an agent, and would thus seem to be divorced from the agent’s character as well. The paper is divided (...) into two parts. First I analyze Kant’s understanding of the disposition and discuss the ways in which it allows us to understand a person’s transcendentally free actions in terms of that person’s character. I then discuss Kant’s resources for understanding the Socratic injunction to care for the soul in light of his concept of the disposition. (shrink)
Debate about the nature of time has been dominated by discussion of two issues: the reality of absolute time and the reality of A-series. We argue that Aristotle adopts a form of the A-theory entailing a denial of the reality of absolute time. Furthermore, Aristotle's denial of absolute time is linked to a denial of the reality of pure temporal becoming, namely, the idea that the now moves through a fixed continuum along which events are arranged in chronological order. We (...) show that the puzzles discussed by Aristotle in IV:10 of the Physics are generated by this view of time and that Aristotle's own theory of time, according to which changes are used to measure one another, avoids these problems. (shrink)
This is the first chapter of my book Transformation of the Self in the Thought of Friedrich Schleiermacher. It is a look as some of Schleiermacher's early attempts to critique Kant's ethics, in particular with respect to the idea of transcendental freedom and the problem of act attribution.
The work of German theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher has played a key role in the development of Protestant thought. Jacqueline Maria highlights the relation of Schleiermacher's ideas on the moral transformation of the self to other thinkers and current debates in the philosophy of religion.
Known as the 'Father of modern theology' Friedrich Schleiermacher is without a doubt one of the most important theologians in the history of Christianity. Not only relevant to theology, he also made significant contributions in areas of philosophy such as hermeneutics, ethics, philosophy of religion, and the study of Plato, and he was ahead of his time in espousing a kind of pro to-feminism. Divided into three parts, this Companion deals first with elements of Schleiermacher's philosophy, such as metaphysics, epistemology (...) of religious knowledge, ethics, hermeneutics, and contributions to Plato scholarship. Second it discusses theological topics such as sin, redemption and Christology, and the final section is devoted to Schleiermacher's understanding of culture. This is the first book in English introducing readers to all the important aspects of Schleiermacher's thought in a systematic way, containing essays by some of the best scholars in Germany and in the English speaking world. (shrink)
This paper combines both an exegetical and philosophical approach to the treatment of miracles in the Markan gospel. Using key insights developed by biblical scholars bearing on the problem of Mark’s treatment of miracles as a basis, I conclude that for the author of Mark, miracles are effects, and as such, signs and symbols of what occurs in the moral and spiritual order. I argue that Mark connects miracles with faith in Jesus, a faith qualified through a grasp of the (...) proper exercise of human power in the kingdom of God. The last section of the paper explores the ontological conditions for the possibility of miracles as they are portrayed in this gospel; there I argue that the best candidate for a theory that squares with Mark’s understanding of miracle is a different one from that found in the contemporary philosophical literature on miracles. (shrink)