In this article, I discuss the prospects of Christianity in the modern world from a philosophical perspective . In order to do so, I analyse in the second section Gianni Vattimo’s and Charles Taylor’s views of the problems of modernity. They interpret modern civilisation as being threatened by the violence of instrumental reason , and by the impasse of subjectivism . In the third section, I query Vattimo’s answers to the question of how to overcome the problems of modernity. From (...) a philosophical perspective Vattimo focuses on the idea of weak thinking and the historicity of the subject in order to counter the violence of objectifying reason. From a religious point of view, he refers to the idea of a completely secularised Christianity, with the notion of love as its essential characteristic. But these answers do not put an end to the violence of instrumental reason, since they are based upon the identification of this violence with objectification and do not take into account the possibility of a violence of subjectivist reason. Moreover, the commandment of love as the essence of Christianity is of no help to confine secularisation and subjectification, and the violence they produce. The categorical status of this commandment is at odds with Vattimo’s view of the hypothetical, historical and subjectivist character of humankind. Therefore, every appeal to this commandment is but an arbitrary choice, and can by no means put an end to the violence of the finite, historical subject. As a conclusion , I discuss an alternative answer to question whether Christianity can contribute to the solution of the problems of modern civilisation. I present the Christian view of God’s transcendence as a way of stressing the substantiality of the true and the good, without thereby falling back into a metaphysics of objectivity and violence. (shrink)
The relationship between religion and contingency is investigated historically and systematically. Its historical part comprises analyses of important philosophers’ interpretation of this relationship, viz. that of Leibniz, Kant, Lessing, Jaspers, and Heidegger. Its systematic part analyses how this relationship should be currently interpreted.
SUMMARYIn most answers to the question whether sacrifice is justified, the ‘sake’ for which a sacrifice is demanded plays a crucial role. Furthermore, this sake is essential in order to be able to distinguish sacrifice from plain suicide or murder. I start with examining two strong philosophical justifications of sacrifice. According to Hegel in his Philosophy of Right, the notion of sacrifice is vital for the preservation of the ethical health of nations insofar as it makes the individuals aware of (...) the fact that they are nothing without the state. Levinas introduces the notion of sacrifice in connection with his idea of hostageship: my hostageship means that I am elected by the other to sacrifice myself for the sake of the good. The analysis of these two positions shows that the notions of asymmetry and dispossession are essential to every form of sacrifice. The fact that these notions also belong to the essence of religion explains why sacrifice plays such a predominant role in religious contexts. However, explaining the mechanism of sacrifice is not identical with its justification. I focus on three justificational grounds: the ethical priority of the sake of sacrifice; the necessity of a hope for a ‘return’ for my sacrifice, while simultaneously maintaining its asymmetrical and dispossessive nature; and, finally, the need for a reasonable discussion on the legitimacy of the sake of sacrifice, presupposing that nobody can rightfully claim to incarnate this sake but can only represent it. (shrink)
Against the dominant trends of the scientification and naturalization of philosophy and the concurrent reduction of traditions of practical wisdom to private opinions, this article pleads for a revaluation of philosophy’s original relation with wisdom. It does so by shedding a philosophical light on several related aspects of wisdom through three different lenses. The first one, taken from Aristotle, explores the relation between theoretical and practical wisdom, leading to the conclusion that practical wisdom has to confront general moral principles with (...) particular situations. The second lens, taken from Kant, argues that wisdom offers existential orientation, which requires the combination of an external and an internal moral principle. Yet, the external principle cannot be determined univocally because it is not empirically given. This lack of univocity raises the question of the fate of wisdom in our times, marked by a plurality of existential points of orientation. With the help of a third lens, stemming from Ricoeur, it will be argued that universal moral rules should be amendable to enrichment by ‘potential universals’ embedded in foreign cultures, thus creating a situation of reflexive equilibrium between theoretical and practical wisdom. (shrink)
ABSTRACTThe starting point is that there is a structural, although not necessary link between religion and two important expressions of religious evil, religious intolerance and violence. The origin of this link lies in the radicalism that is inherent in all religions. Although this radicalism often has very positive effects, it also can lead to evil. Because religious evil is fueled by eschatological antagonism and the enormous utopian energies that are characteristic of religion, it is often qualified as symbolic. ‘Symbolic’ refers (...) to the fundamental disproportion between the excess of the divine as a groundless ground and the finite capacity of every religion to receive it. Symbolic violence arises when a religious community yields to the temptation of becoming possessive, forcing the inexhaustible divine mystery to adapt to the limited capacities of this community to grasp this mystery. This leads to the exclusion of internal or external dissenters. The final section examines how the ill-fated bond between religion and evil can be broken. It will be examined if and how a redefinition of tolerance, in particular a disconnection between religious truth and the claim to exclusivism and a commitment to interconfessional hospitality, can contribute to avoiding that religion becomes evil. (shrink)
ZusammenfassungDieser Aufsatz erörtert einige philosophische Fragen in Bezug auf Bayers Vergegenwärtigung Luthers. Die Einbeziehung der Philosophie bietet der Theologie sowohl Chancen als auch Risiken. Einerseits kann die Philosophie zwischen einem religiösen oder theologischen Vokabular und der gegenwärtigen säkularen Gesellschaft vermitteln; andererseits riskiert die Theologie auf diese Weise eine Beeinflussung durch die innerweltlichen Kategorien der Philosophie. Diese zweite Position scheint die Bayers zu sein, da er die Beziehung von Philosophie und Theologie als Dissonanz interpretiert. Um zu untersuchen, ob und auf welche (...) Weise die Philosophie als Vermittlerin zwischen der Religion und der säkularen Gesellschaft fungieren kann, konzentriere ich mich auf ein gemeinsames Merkmal von Philosophie und Theologie, darauf, dass sie alle Arten überlieferter Weisheit in Frage stellen, um wahre, theologisch oder philosophisch bewährte Weisheit zu bieten.Zunächst analysiere ich Bayers Konzeption der Theologie als persönliche, traditionsgebundene Weisheit. Er entwickelt diesen Gedanken im Kontrast mit Kants kritischer Beurteilung der Weisheit in seiner Kritik der praktischen Vernunft, derzufolge die Wissenschaft die einzige enge Pforte ist, die zur Weisheit führt. Nach Bayer ist der Eintrittspreis viel zu hoch, insofern er ein Reduktion der Theologie auf Wissenschaft erfordert. Im Gegensatz dazu versteht er theologische Weisheit als Metakritik, die in der Mitte zwischen Dogmatismus und Skeptizismus steht.In meinen Bemerkungen zu Bayers Position beginne ich mit der Definition der Weisheit als einer Form von Wissen, die Menschen hilft, die wahre Bestimmung ihres Lebens zu finden. In unserer postmodernen Situation wird jedoch die Plausibilität des Wahrheitsanspruches in Frage gestellt, der in dieser Definition beinhaltet ist. Alle unsere Vokabulare über die Bestimmungen unseres Lebens, ob religiös, theologisch oder philosophisch, werden als radikal kontingent und äquivok wahrgenommen. In der Konsequenz ist Weisheit zur Privatmeinung einer Person oder einer Gruppe Gleichgesinnter geworden. Obwohl ich mit Bayers Kritik der Privatisierung der Weisheit übereinstimme, scheint mir seine Argumentation zugunsten einer theologischen Weisheit, die auf Grund von Gottes persönlicher Anrede über jeden Ideologieverdacht erhaben ist, höchst problematisch zu sein. Obwohl die Religion ein enormes kritisches Potential in Bezug auf die Ideologien unserer Zeit hat, überzeugt das säkulare Zeitgenossen kaum, weil sie die Religion selbst als eine Form der Ideologie betrachten. Deshalb schlage ich mithilfe von Kants Essay Was heißt: Sich im Denken orientieren? einen anderen Zugang zur notwendigen Kritik der religiösen Weisheit vor, die sich im Unterschied zum Begriff der Wissenschaft am Begriff der Vernunft orientiert. Dies führt zu einer weniger dissonanten Beziehung zwischen Philosophie und Theologie als bei Bayer.SummaryThe focus of this article is to raise some philosophical questions concerning Bayer's aim of making topical the theology of Luther. The involvement of philosophy offers both opportunities and risks for theology. On the one hand, philosophy can mediate between a religious or theological vocabulary and contemporary secular society; on the other, however, theology runs the risk of being affected by the inner-worldly categories of philosophy. The latter position seems to be the one of Bayer since he defines the relation between philosophy and theology as a discordant one. In order to examine if and how philosophy can serve as a mediator between religion and secular society, I concentrate on a common characteristic of theology and philosophy, viz. that they query all kinds of traditional wisdom in order to offer true, theologically or philosophically corroborated wisdom.First, I analyse Bayer's idea of theology as personal, traditional wisdom. He develops it through a confrontation with Kant's critical assessment of wisdom in his Critique of Practical Reason, according to which science is the only narrow entrance gate that leads to wisdom. According to Bayer, the entrance fee is far too high, since is implies an imoverishing reduction of theology to science. Instead, he understands theological wisdom as meta-criticism, standing in the middle between dogmatism and scepticism.In my comment on Bayer's position, I start from the definition of wisdom as a kind of knowledge, helping humans to find the true destiny of their lives. However, in our post-modern times, the plausibility of the truth-claim implied in this definition is being challenged. All our vocabularies about the destinies of our lives, be they religious, theological, or philosophical, are perceived as radically contingent and equivocal. Consequently, wisdom has become a private opinion of a person or a group of like-minded people. Although I agree with Bayer's critique of the privatisation of wisdom, his argument in favour of a theological wisdom which claims to be above any suspicion of being ideological in character because of God's personal address, seems highly problematic to me. Although religion has an enormous critical potential with regard to the ideologies of our times, it does not convince contemporary, secularised people, because they perceive religion itself as a form of ideology. Therefore, I propose, with the help of Kant's, What Does it Mean to Orientate Oneself in Thinking, another approach of the necessary critique of religious wisdom, which is based on the concept of reason, as distinct from science. This leads to a less discordant view of the relationship between philosophy and theology than Bayer's. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to shed some light on the distinction between justified and unjustified religious diversity, a problem that Dirk-Martin Grube only hinted at in his article ‘Justified Religious Difference.’ This article’s focus is not so much on the epistemological question of justifying religious difference, but on how to deal with it in the societal sphere. This implies that religions and religious diversity will be approached from a practical perspective, that is, as ways of life. I start (...) by examining the opportunities and problems of religious diversity, opposing a universalist and a particularist view on this issue. Religious difference is an opportunity, because it is intertwined with creativity and innovation, but it is also a problem, because it confronts us with incompatible judgments, irreconcilable values, and contrary principles. Notwithstanding the legitimate objections that can be raised against the particularist position, the above observations seriously undermine Grube’s idea that the distinction between justified and unjustified religious difference can be made unambiguously, because of the heterogeneous character of the idea of justification itself. In order to deal with this issue, I propose a re-examination of the idea of tolerance, defined as a virtue: I disapprove of your manner of living, but I respect in it your liberty to live as you please and I recognize your right to manifest it publicly. But this virtue makes only sense against the background of the intolerable, which is the translation of the idea of unjustified religious difference into the language of the public debate. This idea serves as an always fragile limit to tolerance. (shrink)