An Invitation

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An Invitation Powered By Docstoc
					0.     An Invitation

The other day - it was the 90th birthday of the famous physicist and
philosopher Carl Friederich von Weizsäcker (*1912) - Weizsäcker’s
University friend Edward Teller, one of the most famous scientists in
America, said that he and Weizsäcker had tried to formulate a
modern version of the ten commandments. One of those rules of
Weizsäcker’s was:
       ‘Don’t believe anything you understood if you can’t put it into
       words everybody understands.’ (...)
I chose a similar rule when I try to make the following introduction to
the relation between philosophy and theology. It is quite a
challenge. The german philosopher Martin Heidegger (...) put it this
       You know a philosopher when you read his introduction to
       philosophy. (...)
This is certainly true; however, such an expectation tempts
philosophers to use a too difficult terminology. To avoid this you
have to remember a wise old saying by Plutarch (*about 45 a.c.,
died before 127):
       ‘The greatest wisdom is not to appear like a philosopher when
       you think and to appear playful when you strive for serious
       goals’. (...)
You need such composure anyway because you can’t teach
philosophy. Philosophy happens when you think that you could
nearly have invented an idea yourself. There is only something like
leading somebody to philosophize. Everybody has to do it herself or
himself. Anybody familiar with this subject says that you can only be
tempted or seduced to philosophy. The adventure of thinking for

yourself is as exciting as falling in love with someone. If that
happened due to my lectures and if this had the consequences I
hope for then my efforts would be rewarded.

1.   How to become involved with philosophy

It has already happened - because we are already involved with
philosophy just in this moment. For it is typical of philosophy to ask
this question. Why this is so is obvious because of the term
‘philosophy’: ‘Philosophy’ literally means ‘to love wisdom’. A lover is
somebody who is looking for something that she or he does not yet
have. Plato calls the god Eros the patron of philosophy and thus
philosophy something erotic: an urge and desire that puts people on
various, sometimes strange paths because they are fascinated by
something or somebody, spellbound, so that they risk something
and dare to do things others find stupid. ‘Fascinate’ originates from
the Latin term ‘fasces’ - which is the same in English - it is
something that binds ot chains me. No obstacle is too difficult to
overcome to find what a lover is looking for. As a consequence
philosophy is not about being clever or gaining special knowledge. It
is rather the opposite: Whoever looks for wisdom does it because
she or he is lacking wisdom. Philosophy is not knowledge but
knowing there is knowledge I don’t have. For this reason philosophy
reaches for everything that can be known. It is a knowledge of lack
of knowledge that desires to know everything that can be known.
This is why its subject is everything that is as long as it is - being.
Being can turn somebody in various ways into a philosopher, for
example this way:

1.1   To Be Amazed

I do something, go somewhere, see something, listen; feel or read
something and whatever I sense - I am amazed. I stop doing
whatever I am doing. Something of that being I first experienced - a
thing or a thought - surprises me. I did not expect to encounter
something special in that place or in that situation, I am surprised
that something - e.g. a train of thought or a story - took a certain
turn: I am amazed. Amazed I acknowledge that something I thought
I knew about something or something I expected is not all there is to
know or to expect. What I knew about this being is not wrong. But
there is more to know. I link this to whatever I have learned first -
and at the same time I have to ask whether I already know
everything I could know about that certain being. Or is there more
hidden knowledge, much more and different from that I know, that I
could find, if only I continued searching and asking? Once philsophy
has been initiated by some kind of amazement, there is no choice
for that person but to ask the essential questions: Where does
everything come from? Where does everything go?

This is asking the whole truth about everything being and eventually
beyond existing things, which is asking for the whole truth about this
reality itself. This is the case because of the nature of questioning: I
can only inquire about something if I know a few things about this
object. If I knew nothing I could not ask anything: There would not
be anything I could relate to and ask questions; I would not know
there is anything to question or inquire. Although I ask questions
because I know there is something I don’t know, I have to know of

the existance of this object itself to start enquiring. If it is true that I
need to know something of something which means that I have
understood something of this object, then this is also true: I can’t
understand just like that, but to recognize always means to
recognize something as this very same thing and nothing else, to
recognize it just the way it is. However, this is only possible when I
am beyond this object while recognizing it. In other words: To
recognize something as a limit I nearly have to go beyond it.
Otherwise I would not know that there is anything beyond my limits
and strictly speaking I would not know anything because you can
only know something as a certain object - and to classify something
you need to be able to negate this as something else: this is of this
kind and no other. The jewish philosopher Baruch de Spinoza (17th
century) said the nature of recognition was to classify or identify
something by negation (...). To recognize something as that very
something, that specific object that is nothing else       I have to know
that thing that is something other than that thing I already know.

This has other consequences: If the presupposition for questioning
is knowledge - if only some - in other words: having recognized
something; and recognition implies transcending the recognized
object - where are the limits of this transcendence, this anticipation?
Or is there no end to it? There must be limits: If there are none, if
the inquiring-knowing anticipation went beyond the questioned-
known something and beyond that other that we are looking for and
beyond the other something of the other something, and so on, then
there would be a limitless regression, an infinite regress as
philosophers say. In such a regression all questions and recognition
dissolves. Questioning-recognizing we would glide from the

questioned-known being/object towards the infninite (regress). In
this process the desired object is being destroyed.

If   knowledge of something is possible at all, then questioning-
knowing anticipation must not lead to regression but end
somewhere. But where? It cannot be limited by something specific,
which is something defined by negation, because it is something
limited and finite. There is only one solution: Anticipation must be
limited by something infinite, something without end. Our quest for
recognition of the whole truth of some being and even for the whole
truth about reality is supported by anticipating something infinite, i.e.
something that is defined in a way that nothing transcends it.

Have we proven the existance of something infinite by analysing the
logic of quest and recognition, starting with amazement? No: We
have only shown how to get quite naturally from the basic act of
amazement to the ultimate limits of human, finite reason. Thinking
of the infinite is its ultimate, greatest possibility(/chance). And you
have to think of the infinite if you want to be reasonable when you
reflect upon amazement, questioning and recognition. However, the
existance of the infinite is not proven. It might exist. On the other
hand it is quite possible that our human reason has a structure that
it works in the way I described but without a reality that is the object
of that recognition. In this case the recognition of certain objects
and even questions were illusions. The german philosopher
Friedrich Nietzsche (19th century) thought this to be true, a
philosopher who has greatly influenced present philosophy. In one
of his books he writes:

        ‘...the truths are illusions of which you forget that they are
        illusions, metaphers that are worn and useless, coins without
        image that are only metal, no coins any more’(...).
Nietzsche is saying that our mind is so manipulated by illusions that
there is no chance to recognize this very fact. Because of its
structure it cannot discover truth and reality. Does that mean that
we are deceived phoneys when we philosophize? Deceived as long
as we do not recognize the deception of reason and in addition
phoneys if we - although enlightened by Nietzsche - still keep
philosophying? (questioning-recognizing philosophically thinking)

Nietzsche’s thoughts are tricky: He does not have to prove them. It
is quite enough to say that reason may be deceived - and reason
cannot avoid reflecting this possibility. For many people today this is
the ultimate thesis of philsophy - and thus the end of philosophy.
And they are not unhappy about this. It is easier in many ways to
live and talk if you don’t have to wonder what is ultimately true and

1.2     Doubt

However, there is another way how to get from the encounter with
reality/being to philosophy: I do something, go someplace, see,
listen, feel or read something, and something I sense stopps me. I
pause and discontinue doing whatever I am doing. There is
something about that thing/being - whether an object or a thought -
that seems to be strange, somehow suspicious. Time and again I

find out that I am wrong or what others have told me is wrong. Is it
not as likely that many things I believe to be true and real are not?

I am not telling you my own thoughts but those of Rene Descartes
(...), one of the founders of modern philosophy. He introduces this
concept in his so called Meditations on First Philosophy. And if there
is reason to doubt everything, is it not possible that God made me
that way and wanted me to be like that so that I am deceived about
the existance of heaven, earth, objects and even about the
existance of my own hands and feet? When do you stop doubting?
Is there any limit? To answer these questions Descartes made an
experiment: Suppose there is no loving God - Descartes believed in
a loving God - but a deceitful evil spirit reigning this world, trying to
deceive me in every possible way. What is the result? Descartes:
      ‘Well, if he deceives me, then you can’t doubt that I am. He
      may deceive me as much as he can, he can never accomplish
      that I am not as long as I think that I am. Consequently I
      realize - after reflecting upon this for some time - that the
      following sentence is true: ‘I am, I exist’ is necessarily true a
      often as I say that or think it.’ (...)
Radical doubts and the method of doubt have their limits - according
to their own logic: It is the doubting person itself and its existance.

The original version of this train of thought is from St. Augustin (...):
‘When I am wrong or deceived, then I am.’ (...) This means: I can be
wrong or deceived in everything. However, I cannot be wrong that it
is me who is wrong or deceived. St. Augustin found a basis in the
subject itself when searching for God, but Descartes tried to find a
reliable/unshakable      basis    for   recognition   because   traditional

foundations of common beliefs - i.e. Christian beliefs - had
disappeared (why that had happened and how this had come about
will be discussed later on;...). One more question remains: What is
the result of this train of thought? At least it is this: during its critical
reflection the mind realizes that it is its own basis for reflection.
Nietzsche-fans will of course doubt this result because their method
is doubting reason/the mind itself - and very often they are

1.3   Talking

Surprisingly the thesis of Augustin and Descartes is supported by
contemporary philosophers of Analytic Philosophy. This is done -
not only, but mainly - by working with the thoughts of the Austrian
philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. You can call it yet another way of
drawing somebody into philosophy. Wittgenstein observed: There
are two kinds of using the expression ‘I’ (or my), the first I would like
to call ‘use of object’ and the second ‘use of subject’. There are
examples for the first one. ‘My arm ist broken’, ‘I have grown ten
centimetres’, ‘I have got a bump on my forehead’, ‘The wind is
blowing my hair about’ (perhaps only my hairs, not Yours).

And now I would like to tell you some examples for the second kind
of ‘I/my’: ‘I see So-and-so.’ ‘I hear So-and -so.’ ‘I am trying to lift my
arm.’ ‘I think it’s going to rain.’ ‘I’ve got toothache.’ (L.W.) On the
surface both kinds of sentences seem to be the same, both have
the same structure - and yet they are fundamentally different
because of how we know whether they are true. Let’s try a few

sentences. Don’t mind weird sentences of analytical philosophers:
this is typical of them. They think that by analysing an extreme case
you can see the ordinary structure much better. Let’s have a look at
some examples:

- Someone enters a room and startles because he looks into a
mirror and sees his forehead bleeding. He touches his forehead,
cries ‘Oh God, I am bleeding’ - but there is nothing. At that moment
he realizes that the bleeding person is his identical twin brother who
is wearing the very same cloth, standing where his brother couldn’t
see him. If I want to know whether the sentence ‘I am bleeding’ is
true, I need to know the identity of that person. In this case the
sentence is true if the brother who entered the room had felt blood
on his forehead when he touched it: he would have identified
himself as the bleeding person. This is the ‘I’ as an object,
according to certain philosophical criteria.

- Now I would like to tell you the other example: It is the sentence
‘I’ve got toothache’. The structure is the same as ‘I am bleeding’.
However, we know in a very different way whether it is true. I cannot
be mistaken about the person when I am saying ‘I have got
toothache’ - it can only be me. It is not possible that I know about
someone else’s toothache and think it is me. Sentences using ‘I’ as
subject are immune to misidentification. Wittgenstein said: You can
point out the difference between those categories (KM) this way: In
the first case it is necessary that a certain person is identified and
you can be mistaken - or rather: the chance of error is anticipated.
This means in the second case there is no misidentification.

You can carry out a crosscheck on it: When I am saying ‘I am
bleeding’ and someone asks me ‘How do you know?’ I could say:
Because I touched my forehead and my hand was bloody’ or just:
‘Look at me.’ However, when I am saying ‘I have got toothache’ and
someone asks ‘How do you know?’ I wouldn’t tell him why but I
would be angry and tell him not to ask such a stupid question -
because there is absolutely no mistake possible. Anybody who
honestly says she feels pain cannot be corrected by anybody else.
Immunity against misidentification applies also to certain corrigible
sentences such as ‘I see a yellow bird outside’. Even if it were a
yellow piece of paper or if I was hallucinating - the sentence ‘I see a
yellow bird’ would be true and others could not argue with this
person. This is also true for all sentences which start with ‘It seems
to me that ...’ - only that they can be corrected, unlike ‘I have got
toothache’. In the first case we can correct the sentence and
reformulate it: ‘I believed I saw a yellow bird’ or ‘It seemed to me like
a yellow bird’. However, all these sentences are examples for the
use of I as a subject because in these cases I cannot be wrong that
I am the person who sees a certain object etc.. This reflection of
Wittgenstein and its development by other philosophers is a
challenge we cannot rise to right now. Let’s summarize:

We started with amazement that raises questions concerning being,
then we discovered limits to the method of doubting, and eventually
we found an absolute certain basis when observing everyday
language: In the first case it was the thought of the infinite that
cannot be transcended because of its definition; in the second case
we discovered the sentence ‘I think I am’ that cannot be doubted
and is immune to deception, even if everything else is deception. In

the third case we discovered certain cases of immunity against
misidentification of a subject. We discovered them because we
looked closely at the use of everyday language. You can discover
great variations of usage. In the sentences mentioned above the
subject is the fist person singular which means that I cannot be
mistaken that I am talking about myself when I say ‘I’. Is it true that
there is some reliable knowledge - however little - that is enough to
prove that reason can discover truth?

Fanatic Nietzsche-fans will even now apply their method of doubt.
However, having the analysis and consequences of the use of ‘I’ as
a subject and object in mind, I would like to reply with a quote by
Wittgenstein: ‘It is too great to be a mistake:’ (...) This remark is
more than a stopgap. It is made with regard to everyday life, our
experience and our quest and recognition of truth. Wittgenstein
thinks that because generally speaking we manage life we
understand the world around us, form our environment and have
strategies, theories and make predictions - so it is very unlikely
there is no real knowledge and truth. But if there is truth, then we
can and must ask for it. We have to find out everything that is true
and stretch the limits of human reason.

Philosophers from the old Aristotle three hundred years before
Christ to Wittgenstein in the 20th century realize that an
establishment of truth is no proof with an objective result. It is not
even the first sign of such a process. There is no such thing as an
unproven proof, so that every attempt to prove something leads to
the infinite regression we discussed earlier on. How then do we get
to the beginning of truth? Aristotle replied:

     ‘The fact that there is something the way it is and that this
     thing can be recognized presupposes the principle that
     something cannot be/exist and not be/exist at the same time.
     And this is the most fundamental of all principles.’ (...)
It cannot be proven because regression would happen; but it does
not need proof anyway - and whoever wants proof for something
that is obvious shows his or her lack of knowledge. But why does
this principle need no proof? It is really simple: Because that person
that negates the principle - the one who says that something can be
and not be at the same time - is practising this very principle: He is
talking, he is doing something, which is the opposite of not talking,
and without his arguments he could not argue. This means that his
argument exists because of the principle he is arguing against:
There is no talking and silence at the same time. Consequently
there is - according to Aristotle - an indirect proof for the
indestructable validity of this principle as the foundation of all
insight. And this proof is not presented by the advocate of this
theory, but by the action of the opponent. By doing this the whole
problem is put into practice as Wittgenstein does.

Thus it is no surprise that Wittgenstein expressed Aristotle’s theory
very simply:
     ‘Recognition is the ultimate foundation of knowlegde.’ (...)
In other words: Every kind od knowledge that is accessible for us
roots in an act of trust; we believe that it is generally possible to
learn something about this world and ourselves, no matter how
exactly that happens. Of course you can disagree once more to
doubt like Nietzsche and agree with the perfect deception of the
mind; however, then you have to answer Aristotle’s question what

the mind is able to do or wants to be if there is nothing but

There is another consequence of this reflection: If it is true that
knowledge is ultimately based on recognition or trust which means
that the presupposition of knowledge is to believe: Still, there is a
difference between knowledge and belief, but obviously no
insurmountable gap. If that was the case, belief could not be the
presupposition of knowledge. If that is true, then you have to find
out everything that is included in this concept of belief. Does ‘faith’
belong to this concept? This is a very difficult question. It may sound
improbable, maybe even crazy if you think of the function of belief
for knowledge. Does it make sense to think about this? First of all
we have to find out whether there is a connection between faith and
reason, theology and philosophy. Then we can seriously ask for the
consequences of this reflection. This reflection about reason and
faith is something everyone should do who is involved with faith and

2. Reason and faith - enemies or allies?

Christians generally believe that God reveals himself through
human language in the Bible and thus we are told essential beliefs
about God, this world and life in this world. This includes four
philosophical assumptions:
a) Humans experience a reliable reality.
b) This reality can be recognized
c) and described.
d) God’s revelations are true and for this reason they can be
understood by humans.

Even the basis of Christian theology implies philosophical terms like
reality, reason, communication and truth. Both Judaism and Islam
have similar assumptions. However, it is typically Christian to test
the validity of these assumptions with philosophical methods, i.e.
criteria of universal reason. This is done because we believe that
religion and philosophy can be reconciled and need to be
reconciled. Many people are surprised when they learn that there
was a time - the end of the first third of the 19th century - when the
Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith became
interested in philosophy. The climax of this interest were the
encyclicas ‘Aeterni patris’ (published 1879) and ‘Fides et ratio’
(published 1998) because the papal committee was convinced that
Christian beliefs are the truth about humanity and thus human
reason was defined as a quest and desire for truth, i.e. essentially

Whenever it happens that people mistrust reason, the committee of
faith supports reason and its ability to recognize truth. This has
happened a few times during the last one hundred and fifty years
because of Nietzsche and postmodern theories. Finally this is an
answer to the first question of this chapter.

2.1   First attempt to find an answer with Thomas Aquinas

In spite of the interest of the Vatican in philosophy there were great
tensions between reason and faith, theology and philosophy over
the centuries and they still exist. These tensions occur quite
frequently because they existed even before Christianity. Their
origin is the development of a distinction between theology and
philosophy in European thinking. Theology was first - theology being
poetic stories about gods; Homer for example mit his great poems
"Odyssea" and "Illias" - if he was a real person - is a theologian
according to this definition, even Hesiod, a farmer of the seventh
century a.d. who composed a story of the creation of the gods which
still exists. A few generations later his ribald story was criticised,
escpecially because of the way the senior gods complaint about
theft, betrayal, and adultery to their servants. In these texts there is
even the vague idea that there can be only one deity if it is essential
for a god to be the greatest - there can’t be two of them or even
more than that. Some of these early philosophers - Presocratic
Philosophers - wanted to be the ‘better’ theologians (and in some
ways this is true for Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.

At the birth of Christianity this process was repeated, only the other
way round and in a more complicated way. Those who preached
about the God of Jesus Christ and beliefed that he – Jesus – was
the image of that God who had a very special relationship with the
Jewish people believed they were ‘better’ philosophers. This is
complicated for two reasons: First of all they hesitated to call
themselves theologians and did so only after some time had passed
because they did not want to be associated with the old ‘pagan’
storytellers. Then their ambition to be ‘better’ philosophers had two

1. Some thought the gospel to be such supreme wisdom that it
surpassed every known philosophy and thus was not even called

2. Others thought philosophical wisdom was a prelude and
preparation of Christianity. Even in the New Testament you can
recognize these two different attitudes towards faith and reason.
Then it took one thousand years of development in theology and
philosophy to be reconciled. However, not all theologians accepted
this result so that theology still needs to be improved. The same is
true for philosophy; some philosophers are aware of their
philosophical limitations and the necessity to go beyond those limits
although this is questioning their own foundations.

Whoever looks at the relationship between faith and knowledge,
philosophy and theology, enters dangerous territory. To explain my
thesis: The two main schools of thought about the relationship
between faith and reason are to be found in the New Testament:

First there is the Paulinic option as I would like to call it. Especially
the First Epistle to the Corinthians (1 Cor 1,17-2,9) shows some
conflicts with people familiar with Greek philosophy. Paul says that
he avoids words of wisdom when preaching the gospel because he
does not want to distract from his challenging message. He makes
no compromise, neither for the Greeks who are looking for words of
wisdom nor for the Jews who expect miracles.

These differences are more distinctly expressed in the Acts of the
Apostles (Act 17,16-34). We are told very clearly how Paul who had
very successfully founded many new parishes failed in Athens, the
city of philosphers, for philosophical reasons. He preached the
gospel and argued with Epicurean and Stoic philosophers. Some
were disinterested, others fascinated and they wanted to know more
about his theory. Paul, clever as he was, took the chance to tell
them his theology. When walking on the Areopag, the main place in
Athens, he had discoverd an altar dedicated ‘To The Unknown God’
(in Greek: agnosto theo). When defending his position he refered to
this Unknown God to link his new theory to their knowledge and
thus convince them. He even quoted one of their own poets. Finally
of course he ended with Jesus the Christ and his resurrection. Then
he experienced something every tiresome insurance agent knows
about: ‘You can tell us that another time’ (Act 17,32). The message
of the resurrection was not reconcilable with philosophical theology,
he told them, labelled ‘The Unknown God’. So he had to leave them.
Why then bother with philosophy and the world’s logic? A student of
Paul’s who wrote the letter to the Collossians concluded:

     ‘Be careful, don’t accept any philosophy of false doctrine
     which is merely based on human knowledge and which relies
     on human strength but not on Christ’ (Col 2,8).

However, in the New Testament there is not only Paul but also
John. John chose another way and uses Heraklit’s concept of the
Logos, coins it with special theological meaning and uses it as a
synonym for Jesus Christ.
     ‘In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God,
     and the Logos was God...And the Logos was made flesh...’
     (Joh 1,1-2,14).
If you link this verse to another in which Jesus calls himself the truth
(Joh 14,6), then you get a solid basis for a reconciliation between
reason and faith. These two schools of thought - Paul and John -
can be found throughout the following centuries. Let me tell you a
few famous theologians of both schools: A representative of John’s
school of thought is Justin. Later on he was called ‘philosopher and
martyr’. He was the first who tried as early as 150 to reconcile
theology and philosophy. He used the concept of the logos and
regards every non-Christian truth as ‘Logos spermatikos’, as a seed
for the truth which was only completely revealed in Christ. Another
representative is Clemens of Alexandria. Like Justin he used the
concept of the Logos. Philosphy was a present of the Logos and the
Logos himself a teacher who taught Christianity to the heathens.
Origenes (+ 253/54) was the first to create a systematic Christian
theology which included philsophical concepts (in his work titled
Peri archon).

At the same time other theologians - Paul’s school of thought -
refused to work with secular philosophy. The first representative of
Paul’s school of thought was Tertullian (ca. 160-220) who was the
first remarkable Latin theologian. He argued against philosophy in a
very nasty way. He did not mind decrying opponents: In his book
‘Apologeticum’ he called Socrates an inconsequent atheist and child
molester, he spread rumours about the love-life of Diogenes,
Speusipp and Demokrit; he called Phytagoras and Zenon craving
for power, Anaxagoras he called unreliable and Aristotle a careerist
and bootlicker. Christians of course were just the opposite: they
showed true faith, pure chastity, sincere humility, and altruistic love
of the enemy. The result of this philosophical-historical satire:
      'What do philosophers and Christians have in common, the
      Greek student and the one from Heaven, the careerist and the
      faithful, the one who talks and the one who works, the creator
      and the destroyer, the friend and the enemy of heresy, the
      distorter of truth and the one who restores and interprets it, or
      the thief of truth and its guardian?' (Apologeticum 46,18).
The answer to the question is quite obvious: Nothing and nothing
and nothing at all. In spite of this fact Tertullian and like-minded
theologians used the philsophical method of argumentation, such as
giving reasons for the moral differences between philosophers and
Christians. Augustin decided for John’s school of thought and
because he was a great theologian his thinking was accepted in
Roman theology. In his belief his theology was the perfection of
philosophy, strictly speaking the perfection of Platonism. Augustin
was quite certain that if the great Platonists returned they would
admit that Christianity was the ideal they did not dare to preach and
they would convert to Christianity after changing their philosophical

terms and doctrines just a little. This would happen when they saw
the full churches and the empty temples and people who
appreciated spirituality. In spite of this harmonic vision the
relationship between philosophy and theology was not settled.
Augustin’s theory influenced Christian theology more than any other
theologian’s throughout medieval and even modern times -
nevertheless,     Tertullian’s   nasty    satire    prevented     further

In the first half of the 11th century classical education and
philosophy were despized/criminalized in the Benedictine monastery
of St. Emmeran which was of great importance in Europe. Othloh, a
young teacher of (Latin) grammar, suddenly prohibited his students
to read the classics because of a nightmare in which he saw God
punishing him for reading the classics. Soon after that he became a
monk. Othloh thus initiated a powerful anti-philosophical movement:
Peter Damiani was similar. He became Cardinal, composed
lampoons, and initiated pastoral reform bills. His basic principle with
regard to philosophy was this:
      ‘We are no students of philosophers and orators, but of
In this way he tried to present philosophical thinking as self-
important and vain. This motto - ‘piscatorie, non aristotelice’ - is still
very much alive (it is popular to avoid work by degrading it). Paul’s
and Tertullian’s prejudices against philosophy proved to be resistant
against the hardest attempts of reconciliation.

Thomas Aquinas’ (...) version is often regarded the best one. Let me
remind you that it is not going cheap but a rather brilliant creation.

With regard to his time it is the work of a genius. After many
centuries Aristotle’s work was rediscovered in Europe and Thomas
Aquinas got to know a complex philosophy that was independent
from Christianity but included theologian thinking. At the same time
he is not the only one fascinated by Aristotle: the same is true for
Islamic and Jewish scholars so that all of them share an urgent
interest in philosophical theology. Thomas presents two reasons
why Christian theology was necessary, in addition to Greek
philosophy: Revelation presents many reasonable truths in a much
simpler way than philosophy. Apart from that there are truths which
are only accessible through revelation, such as incarnation and the
mystery of trinity.

At first glance his thesis seems to be harmonic and elegant but
unfortunately there are unforeseen consequences. For Thomas
Christian beliefs are beyond human reason. It is dangerous to
implant basic Christian beliefs into a theological-philosophical
system without explaining them to the human mind. The essentials
become additional information to philosophical cognition. This kind
of theological- philosophical system is called ‘Extrinsecism’.
Revelation is added to natural, philosophical human knowledge.
Anyone who tries to understand these beliefs or is looking for
reasons has to accept supernatural miracles and prophecies. This
kind of thinking can result in an attitude that demands total
obedience of humans to beliefs told by established authorities.
Although Thomas had a different attitude towards tradition and
authority a credulous obedience became prevalent in the mid 19th
century and lasted to the middle of the 20th century. Nowadays
some people would like to reintroduce this kind of thinking, even at

the expense of isolating fundamental Christian beliefs from the
human mind. If the human mind is able to conceive the idea of a
divine being, why then is it not used to find out whether there is a
god? The correct answer to this question is fateful for humanity.

Naturally the question arises whether there is a more convincing
theology than Thomas’s. There is, it is Justin’s theology. Thomas
had split his system into two parts: A philosophical theology and
Christian doctrines which are not explicable to the human mind.
Justin thought the other way round: Especially the fundamental
Christian beliefs were very reasonable and explainable doctrines.
They revealed the ‘Logos’. There are two effects to his theology:
Because philosophy is the basis for all his theology the human mind
can understand Christian beliefs and so they become the ‘true
philosophy’. This process of recognition starts because the
philosophical Logos knows/becomes itself through the incarnate
Logos. In other words: Justin creates a dialectical relationship
betweeen philosophy and theology. They serve each other and this
way they develop perfectly. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)
continued these thoughts quite radically in his own way.

2.2   The Second Attempt To Find An Answer
      With Anselm Of Canterbury

Radical in this case means that on the one hand it was obvious for
Anselm that sin had seriously damaged human reason and it
therefore needed faith to regain its original ability (this is the
theological radicalization). On the other hand it was as obvious to

him that faith healed/redeemed the mind and lead to independance
so that it could conceive in a autoinomous way a theology that
included trinity. This theology explains the necessity of the salvation
of humankind by a figure like Jesus Christ for philosophical reasons
(this is the philosophical radicalization). If human reason accepts
the message of Christian belief it becomes perfect - according to
Anselm. Of course we cannot rise to contemporary challenges by
digging up a theological concept made in the 11th century.
However, the general idea seems to be useful for todays problems -
for two reasons:

- First of all Anselm focuses on the biblical message of a redeeming
rather than a stifling belief. In modern times freedom became a part
of the concept of being human. This is essentially, but not only
based on Jewish-Christian beliefs. Nowadays some people doubt
this basic human freedom. As a result it is already the duty of
Christian theologians to defend human freedom. They will only
succeed if they make the effort to reconcile the belief in the
liberating God of Israel and Jesus Christ and the hope this belief
inspires to a concept of humans that is dominated by reason.

- Anselms theory is relevant for another reason too. And for this
reason Anselm’s theory of the relation between reason and faith is
relevant for the present situation/people in modern times. In the last
century in Europe the limitations of human reason to be reasonable
became obvious in World War II and acting against reason resulted
in   catastrophe.   This   phenomenon      is   called   ‘Dialectics   of
Enlightenment’ (the title of a work by the german philosopher
Theodor W. Adorno). In other words: The use of reason liberates

humans from many natural, social, political and intellectual
restrictions and dependencies. However, reason can be abused if
only used for a certain purpose, e.g. if somebody only thinks of the
usefulness of others for herself or himself and of increasing her/his
own profit or pleasure     - then the purpose of enlightenment is
perverted and restricts those people in other ways. I can easily think
of a few examples:

Ecological problems caused by refined technical products that are
products of the human mind. Another ambivalent technical field is
medicine. The survival rate of premature babies, sick and injured
people increased rapidly during the last decades - in a way nobody
had imagined before. At the same time the advances in medicine
confront us with difficult questions we cannot answer, such as ‘Who
is allowed to switch medical devices in the intensive care unit off
when somebody is doomed to die - and when exactly is the time to
do that? Another problem is that saving babies with defects with the
help of medical technology will change the human population in a
way that even more babies with defects will be born - and what are
we to do about that?

Thus the mind can only be truly reasonable when it is self-critical.
However, even a sensitive mind is confronted with a disturbing
Christian thesis which briefly says that the rationality of the mind is
essentially damaged and distorted by sin - as theologians put it. The
term ‘sin’ originates from ‘separate’ - which is being away from
something, the sinner being someone who is content with being a-
part of the whole thing. Once the mind is damaged it cannot see the
damage itself because that damage causes the mind to take a part

for the whole thing. That is why reason needs to be restored.
According to Christianity this happens by believing in the human
being Jesus of Nazareth who is believed to be the image of the
incomprehensible/unseen God because of his actions, his life, and
his death. In the gospel according to John Jesus is called (in Greek)
Logos in this specific sense in the very first sentence - he is
described with a term that does not only mean ‘word’ as common
translations suggest but also ‘reason’. No self-critical mind can
exclude this Christian interpretation of Jesus. Certain experiences
everybody has support this thesis - for example the experience that
the mind can be abused to call something unreasonable
reasonable. Another case is that sometimes truth, the natural goal
of reason, is too simple to be accepted by people.
     ‘‘I like lying when I have time to.’; the truth is ordinary, isn’t it?’
Arno Schmidt wrote, one of most interesting german poets of the
20th century. Such experiences challenge a radical mind to examine
this Christian thesis carefully. At the end of this process this mind
possibly has to draw the conclusion to accept the Christian thesis -
possibly I said because the act of faith is necessary and cannot be
argued or proved, even if reasons for its credibility can be given. So
it seems that such a theology fits the high standards of a rational
mind. This mind then needs to fulfil those standards itself. Of course
there is no serious philosopher who can substitute God for his
arguments. This reminds us of the philosophical postulat of the so-
called Methodical Atheism. It's o.k. completely, if limited at the
dimension of methodology. But nontheless I put the question: Is it
possible that philosophers lost their awareness for their inherent
dependance on theology, i.e. a presupposition they can’t produce

that includes the possible existance of God because of the effects of
the restrictions of methodical atheism? The german philosopher
Josef Pieper, one of my precedessors at Münster suspected this
might be the case and I think he was right.

2.3   Some Systematic Conclusions

If Anselm’s thesis of reason and faith we have just discussed is
correct then the dependance of reason on faith must be presented
in its systematic dimension i.e. the intrinsic logic independant of
any already existing concepts. This is possible by conducting a
close epistemologic examination. Plato has already dicussed this
problem. It is - briefly - about the difference between knowing,
thinking and believing (at first in a purely secular sense). Plato has
never found an sufficient answer - and there is none today. Still -
there is an important hint for our discussion. It is a familiar thought
because we have mentioned it already. We realized that faith is the
presupposition for every kind of knowledge because ordinary
knowledge can only be defined as true convictions. Even
unshakable/absolutely certain knowledge - like ‘I have got
toothache’ - roots in an act of recognition. It is the same procedure
as making an act of faith/the decision to trust something the basis
for a train of thought. If this assumption is correct then there are
crucial consequences for knowledge as such and for the way
theologians see themselves and their public institutional position.
Because of the position theology can claim as a result of our
discussion it can be regarded as a subject of academic nature as
any other subject at University. The presumption for theologians is a
God who determines and sustains this reality. No scholar or

scientist can call this assumption wrong or impossible. And none of
them bases their subject on the non-existance of such a
determining reality. Every science or humanity develops on the
assumption of a reality that sustains it. The foundation of every
science or humanity is looking at a certain aspect of reality or a
specific way of looking at reality. This very specific way of dealing
with reality is a contrast to a general principle that determines
reality. However, the results of humanities and science - although
they apply to very specific areas of reality - challenge theologians to
examine their own assumptions of and reflections on reality - the
reality that determines and sustains everything including those
aspects of reality on which science and humanities are based.

Philosophy is a discipline that deals with being as being i.e. reality in
every respect. Therefore philosophers have to check whether the
assumption of theologians of a reality that determines everything
else is relevant for its own assumtpions and whether there are any
consequences for their own methods, discourses and results. To be
relevant for philosophers theologians have to meet certain
standards of rationality. This means that theologians can’t only
testify that this all determining and sustaining reality exists, but they
have to account for their thesis that this reality determines and
sustains everything and that it is not irrational to assume this. These
qualities - all sustaining and determining - can be summarized with
the term "absolute". Any serious theology relies on this term, has to
account for its rationality and implement it into its system. If that
does not happen theology becomes just one more theory among
many that are on offer in today’s society. Then theology were
irrelevant to anybody with a rational view on this world at a time

when rationality itself is in a crisis. But there is a question that arises
for theologians: Why is the idea of an absolute being relevant? Is
this an idea that can be accounted for and is it relevant for a
philsophical mind/in a philosophical system? To summarize the
answer I can tell you that this idea and its consequences is of great
interest for philosophers and it will be relevant throughout this
lecture. Another aspect of this idea is the fact that theology claims
this assumption to be true i.e. it is not only an idea that an all
determining and sustaining reality exists but it truly exists. This
raises the questions of philosophy of religion and of philosophical
theology which are the topics of our next lectures.

                                         [Translated by Julia Schmenk]


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