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)
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)
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.
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 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)
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)
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 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)
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.
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.
In this paper I argue that an in-depth investigation into Kant’s categorical imperative reveals profound and surprising insights into the nature of persons and what specifically about them equips them for religious life. I examine the CI both in the context of the relation to God and to others and in so doing assess the implications of Kantian moral theory on theology’s understanding of the first and second great commandments. The first part of the paper explores what Kantian moral requirements (...) reveal about the structure of human rationality and its implications, in particular with regard to self-transcendence. The second part of the paper connects this understanding of self-transcendence with the Christian notion of agape and investigates what it reveals about the first and second great commandments. (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)
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)
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)
This is a fairly detailed philosophical and theological attempt to defend Kant's position that faith must be interpreted through pure practical reason if it is to remain a free and moral one. One of its primary aims is to demonstrate the intrinsic connections existing between Kant's critical ethics and his philosophy of religion. The main texts analyzed are the Foundations, the second Critique, and the Religion. ;The first and second chapters of the dissertation are intended to show that if an (...) individual is to possess a good will, she must first of all rationally understand in what it is that goodness consists, and second, she must do the good because she understands it to be such. I discuss the connections between Kant's understanding of a categorical imperative and autonomy, and use the conclusions to demonstrate the impossibility of a theological foundation for ethics. ;The third chapter shows that since only a categorical imperative can provide a universally valid concept of the good, such an imperative is a precondition of our ability to transcend our subjective desires and to value that which is objectively good. The unconditioned moral law, confronting us absolutely and without regard to subjective incentives, grounds the possibility of self-transcendence and of a real communication between all rational wills. ;Chapters four and five contain a critical account of Kant's understanding of the highest good and the conditions requisite for its attainment. Kant's rational understanding of the Christian faith is discussed as the result of a moral existential posture already adopted: it is a faith descriptive of the journey towards holiness, through which the propensity to value merely subjective inclinations over the objective good is eradicated, thereby making transcendence of the self possible. The historical revelation given in the person of Jesus Christ is interpreted in terms of the self-transcendence made possible by the universal moral law witnessing to God's care for all his sons and daughters. This unconditioned law is understood as the call to grace witnessing to God's grace, through which the positive revelation given in the person of Christ must be understood. (shrink)