Archive for the ‘Book Notes taken’ Category
A Critique of Science (continued). 22. August, 2013
I’ve been reading Polanyi on religion and science this morning and that is giving me more thoughts about the piece I just wrote yesterday about the MD’s setting up that health outpost in the jungle under a shaman. The question becomes how could the shaman have understood things that the medical doctor only learned in medical school?
I think it has to do with his living in and understanding his world as densely populated by spirits, to use Dr. Herndon’s description of their cultural thought world. Thinking in terms of spirits is a way of thinking in terms of faith and thus thinking in terms of God, because “God is spirit and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24)
It is problematic when faith is replaced by one way of understanding, because, as a base, a genuine faith is open to many paths on the way to understanding. As St. Anselm said, “I believe in order to understand.” If we substitute one way of understanding for faith then a reductionism becomes involved that disregards the totality of the picture that a faith cognizant of the whole can provide. Faith, an open faith, that is, should not be marginalized for the sake of one way of understanding. It is rather foolish for some scientists of today to argue for the non-existence of God, as if science could replace faith. And it is as foolish for representatives of a faith to reduce their faith to one way of understanding.
Polanyi argues that the reductionism of science is problematic for human beings.
Modern science and scientific philosophy cannot analyze the human person without reducing it to a machine. This flows from assuming that all mental processes are to be explained in terms of neurology, which in their turn must be represented as a chart of physical and chemical processes. The damage wrought by the modern scientific outlook is actually even more extensive. It tends toward replacing everywhere the personal I-Thou by the impersonal I-It.
To continue quoting Polanyi:
We can go farther. Evidently any attempt to identify the particulars of an entity would involve a shift of attention from the entity to the particulars. We would have to relax the intention given to the whole for the sake of the discovering its particulars which we had noticed until now only by being aware of them as part of the whole. So that once we have succeeded in fully identifying these particulars, and are in fact attending to them now directly in themselves, we clearly shall not be relying any more on our awareness of them as particulars of the whole and therefore will inevitably have lost sight of the whole altogether.
The emphasis on ecology in science is now trying to correct this historical defect. Polanyi continues:
This fact is abundantly borne out by half a century of Gestalt psychology. We may put it as follows. It is not possible to be aware of a particular in terms of its contribution to a whole and at the same time to focus our attention on it in itself. Or again, since it is not possible to be aware of anything at the same time subsidiarily and focally, we necessarily tend to lose sight of an entity by attending focally to its particulars.
That “entity” Polanyi is referring to is a person or spirit that even understands nature in an I-Thou relationship, let alone in relation to human beings. On the other hand, science has the tendency to make even human beings into objects in an I-It relationship.
The long citation from Polanyi above explains what Dr. Herndon described as “the narrow lens of science looking through a tunnel, becoming limited by what the scientist chooses to see.” Suddenly, the story about looking for a lost ring, that could have been lost anywhere, only under the street lamp of science, is the metaphor that came to my mind.
Dr. Herndon claimed that the missionary and the government officials destroyed the “shell of spirit” in marginalizing the shaman and the tribal world of knowledge, their treasury of wisdom, making the tribe completely dependent upon them.  (Teilhard de Chardin would speak of the particular self-generated envelope of thought as their “noosphere.”) Evidently tribal members think not in terms of concepts, or with an experimental scientific method, but through experiencing and thinking in terms of spirits, which is their path to understanding.
In his world of thought, the shaman claimed that an evil spirit was in a forest, because that was his way of thinking and understanding in terms of spirits. He did not know the scientific particulars, in terms of rodents in the forest spreading a microbial disease, but he was grappling with the fact that tribal members who went into that forest died and he could not cure them, thus an evil spirit was at work.
In conclusion, science is of course a very important and crucial pathway to understanding and impacting our lives and environment, but it is not the only pathway, and it still has to make way for faith, for an open faith, not one that distorts it or tries to replace it, but a faith that checks our totalitarian attitude about its being the only way to reliable knowledge. Did our false, dominating spirit of monotheism somehow get into scientists? Christ showed us the way and it’s a humble, suffering helpfulness, even in epistemology.
 Compare St. Anselm with Descartes: “I think, therefore I am.” This philosophical conviction is certainly a reductionism of living, acting, and experience to thought. These can all be thought but not be reduced to thought, for example, a relationship is more than the analysis of it.
 Michael Polanyi, “The Scientific Revolution,” in Hugh C. White, ed., Christians in a Technological Era, (New York: Seabury Press, 1964), p. 28.
Ibid., Page 30.
 From notes that I took at Dr. Christopher Herndon’s power point presentation. See my previous blog.
How is Luther’s Theology Related to Hegel’s Philosophy?
notes taken by Peter Krey
Notes from reviewing Ulrich Asendorf’s Luther and Hegel: Untersuchung zur Grundlegung einer Neuen Systematischen Theologie, (An Investigation for the Foundation of a New Systematic Theology), (Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag, GMBH, 1982), an 11 page Bibliograpgy, 529 pages in all.
I studied sections of this book when I was working on the question: „Does the Immanent Trinity Precede the Economic Trinity in Hegel?” It became a 200 page unfinished manuscript. When I was writing it I was really exploring Hegel and books about the Holy Trinity in order to understand the question. I was in an open ended, exploratory mode of thinking, which precludes the possibility of finishing a work.
Now I realize that the economic Trinity refers to God as relating to creation, redemption, and sanctification of humankind on earth, while the immanent Trinity is the blessed Triune Godhead in God’s self; the Aseity of God, in philosophical terms.
According to the paradoxical principle, which Hegel as a Lutheran held, that the finite is capable of containing infinity (finitum capax infiniti) and thus in concert with it, for Hegel the economic Trinity does precede and hold the immanent Trinity. Then again, however, for Hegel, the matter goes through a reversal, because of his arguing for logical precedence over chronological precedence; or as in Jesus saying, “Before Abraham was, I am,” that is, the precedence of God’s Son’s divine nature coming before his human nature.
Thus the question has to be understood in its double paradox, namely that first, the economic Trinity precedes the immanent Trinity and then secondly, that logical and ontological states precede chronological time. But from this vantage point it is now possible to read Hegel and determine what his position is on the question. In this way my work on Hegel could once again proceed and not try to cover the whole waterfront or to say the same thing in German: um nicht ins Uferlose zu vergehen.
Here are some notes taken while rereading Asendorf’s Luther and Hegel: (N.B.: All the following translations from the German are mine.)
Asendorf, page 151: “Luther’s teaching concerning the Trinity concentrates on the coming of God to us, thus on the economic Trinity. With this salvation-economic conception of the Trinity, Luther joins himself above all with Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Athanasius, in once again placing a different accent on this teaching from that of Augustine, for whom the salvation-economic interest clearly begins to disappear.”
Asendorf, page 152: Luther discloses (erschliesst) the immanent Trinity from the economic Trinity: “In view of early Scholasticism [with its emphasis on the immanent Trinity] [Luther] continues his tendency of placing a strong emphasis on the economic Trinity in [an ever greater] opposition to Scholasticism, thus liberating the teaching of the Trinity from its isolation. From the revealed Trinity he discloses the immanent Trinity. Again Luther sustains his thinking through salvation history, when he understands the teaching of the Trinity essentially from an economic salvation perspective, or better yet, he opens up access to the teaching of the Trinity from this vantage-point, and this fact is precisely the strongest proof for his historically mediated thinking. It seems therefore justified that such a conceptualization of the teaching of the Trinity can be recognized as a prefiguration of Hegelian thinking. With the prior significance of history and with it, the economic Trinity, the secret of the inner workings of the Trinity (opera trinitatis ad intra]; whose explication is impossible without speculative help, opens up.”
Asendorf cites R. Jansen in a footnote: “If Luther can use the same Bible verse (John 15:26) to give both economic Trinitarian and immanent Trinitarian interpretations even at the same time, then it is an index for the way the immanent Trinitarian statements for him are only the necessary, preliminary theological statements for economic Trinitarian sentences. The opera trinitatis ad extra and the opera trinitatis ad intra allow themselves to be distinguished but not separated.”
Page 158: “In Hegel’s thinking both the logical process of the self-realization of the Spirit, as well as the history of the whole, point to theological relationships, which were thought out beforehand by Luther and are philosophically rethought by Hegel.”
Hegel and Luther, of course, work from different presuppositions, [with philosophy using reason and theology using faith], but Hegel was and remained a good Lutheran.
N.B. For Luther’s theology and Hegel’s philosophy, the operative word again has to be mutatis mutandis, i.e. the necessary changes having been made.
Page 159: “Luther’s teaching of justification and Hegel’s Philosophy of the Spirit can be seen as different delineations of the same phenomenon.” Luther said that the Spirit makes the lover and the beloved one.
Page 160: Luther at the end of the Bondage of the Will writes of the light of nature, the light of grace, and the light of glory:
In note 32, page 160, Asendorf explains: “In a threefold light, each higher step explains what was insoluble at a lower one.“ In German: „In dreifachen Licht erklärt die jeweils höhere Stufe das, was der niederen verschlossen war.“
Thus Luther writes that what cannot be understood in the light of nature can be resolved in the light of grace and what cannot be understood in the light of grace can be resolved in the light of glory.
Asendorf, page 160, quotes Luther this way: “In the simple world of morality there is no explanation why the good have to suffer, this however becomes resolved in the light of grace. In the light of grace it cannot be understood why someone who can do nothing but sin, becomes punished by the righteousness of God. But what cannot be solved by the light of grace will be, in the light of glory. Each lower step becomes resolved in the higher one. (aufgehoben) All three are caught up in the unity of their teleological movement. Only from the vantage-point of the telos, can the whole process become understood.”
Page 162: N.B. Is Hegel’s philosophy based on Luther’s theology? According to Asendorf, different from Hegel, there is a double reflection [of realized eschatology and still outstanding eschatology for theology]. Although history before and history after the crucifixion are there for both theology and philosophy; but only history itself can be the court of judgment [for Hegel’s philosophy] while the last judgment when history comes to an end (can be taken into account for theology as well). Instead of simple reflection involving [only] the realized eschatology of Hegel, Luther’s double reflection [upon realized eschatology and the eschatology that still stands out] takes place theologically. “What Luther in his explication of justification thought out beforehand in [that double reflection], becomes for Hegel a new starting point for philosophy.” (162)
“In a strict sense Hegel’s philosophy is the historical thought of the reality transformed by Christ. It is both a philosophy from revelation and of revelation.”
“Luther’s teaching or theology about the sacrament of communion is the classical locus of Hegel’s concrete spirit thinking.”
Page 163: The Trinity, Christology, the theology of the sacrament, and the theology of the Trinity, all form a direct line toward the concrete spirit of the economic teaching of the Trinity. The Spirit is mediated historically, oriented toward the Incarnation and Passion. Luther comes close to Monophysitism (one incarnate nature of Christ) and Theopaschitism, i.e., that God the Father also suffered on the cross) by holding to the concrete spirit and saying “God is dead” and by calling Christ, the God-martyr.
Page 163: “In a double way Hegel remains in Luther’s footsteps, when he not only articulates the concrete spirit in a new way, but makes the death of God the cornerstone of his thinking.” Luther first encountered the abstract spirit in Zwingli and the latter [not Luther’s concrete spirit] became victorious in the Enlightenment. Zwingli’s is the opposite figure encountered in Luther’s understanding of the concrete spirit. In Hegel there is a new awakening of anti-spiritualistic thought.
Page 172-173: Kant loses sight of history in his philosophy. “In that Kant established his concept of [human and natural] science on Newton’s physics, in a compulsory way the realm of history had to be precluded.” N.B.: Perhaps Kant replaced religion with rational morality.
Page 193: Here Asendorf finds just the right words for a thought: “This interpretation does not only change the original meaning, but succeeds to make it mean the exact opposite.”
“Bultmann’s demythologization style is a kind of an existentialist interpretation carried out under the banner of morality.” Bultmann follows Kant’s deletion of history from philosophy and thus the Incarnation, Ascension, etc. all become meaningless. God does not come up in the naturalism of science. [And Kant’s metaphysics are very much oriented around the physics of the natural sciences.]
Page 193 bottom: N.B. Do an economic study in the spirit of Luther. Perhaps the new orientation of evolutionary economics in Eric D. Beinhocker’s The Origin of Wealth and Gar Alperovitz and Lew Daly’s Unjust Deserts could be helpful in this endeavor.
Page 194: In Kant and those who follow in his footsteps, giving any objectivity to theology becomes impossible. “Theology cannot accept the way Kant excludes it from claiming to have objects. [With Kant’s objectivization Verbot] Theology loses itself at the same time as it loses its object.”
Page 196: “For Kant contradiction does not lie at the heart of reality.” In German; „Hier gehört der Widerspruch prinzipiell nicht zum Wesen der Wirklichkeit.”
N.B: I believe Michael Polanyi describes a contradiction in the middle of reality or one close to it in his book, Science, Faith and Society. Polanyi is speaking about the experience of scientists in a Marxist-Leninist ideology that “denies the intrinsic creative powers of thought.”
And “Since this power regards itself as the embodiment of historic destiny and as a dispenser of history’s promises to humankind, it can acknowledge no superior claims to truth, justice or morality. Alternatively, materialistic (or romantic) philosophies, denying any universal claims to standards of truth, justice or morality, may deprive citizens of any grounds for appealing to these standards and thus endow the government with absolute power. The two practices are in fact fused in their joint justification of force as superior to mind.
“But we must add here an additional process which makes violence the embodiment of the values it overrides. Those in our day who brought into power governments exempt from standards of humanity were themselves prompted by an intense passion for the ideals which they so contemptuously brushed aside. They had rejected the overt professions of these ideals as philosophically unsound, hypocritical and specious, but they had covertly injected the same ideals into the new despotisms which they set up. Thus these ideals became immanent in the violence that ruthlessly rejected them. By virtue of the moral inversion (as I have later called it), the very immoralism of this power became a token of its moral purity. In view of its internal structure it could honestly reject any accusations of immorality in the very breath of proclaiming its own immorality.”
N.B.: Perhaps it would be more accurate to say “force as superior to mind” is a contradiction in the midst of a social reality. But Polanyi’s description of modern despotisms reminded me of what Martin Luther faced in an unreformed church headed by corrupt popes. Instead of honest debate for the sake of truth, he was labeled a heretic, and what an irony, that one of the statements listed as heretical, was that burning heretics at the stake was wrong, and should not be allowed for the church! In burning a person at the stake, the Christian ideals of love and righteousness “became immanent in the violence that ruthlessly rejected them.” To forbid coercive power to the church, but allow it as a lesser of evils to the civil government, still plants a contradiction into reality, but one that needs to be overcome by ever decreasing the coercion of governments as well, when the evil and violence they block internally and externally also decreases. Note that Kant’s categorical imperative constituted immorality as a rational contradiction.
On pages 196, 358, and 389 Asendorf mentions the Latin formula, finitum capax infiniti: the finite is capable of containing the inifinite. Kant held that finitum non capax infiniti, i.e. that it was not. Zwingli and Calvin provide science with a foundation for the empty finite. God is repressed or expelled from the world. (Gott Verdrängung) (“Verdrängung” is a psychological word meaning driven into the unconscious where God cannot be remembered nor accessed).
Page 198: Nominalism splits reason and revelation.
Page 200 top: “Kant’s religion of morality leaves the human being alone, unredeemed or feeling no need of redemption. In a transfigured light, over the complete horizontalism of his thinking, hovers the utopian cloud of a kingdom of God; of course, as the perfected kingdom of humanism. The cross of Christ has become superfluous. And in the schizophrenia of our time, theologians have remained Kantian.”
Page 182: Theology can be inside Philosophy, much like the infinite inside the finite. “The unity of [Hegel’s] form consists of the unending togetherness and mutual indwelling of theology and philosophy.”
N.B. A verse in the spirit of Luther
The One greater than the all in all
Now lies in a crib so small.
Page 262: From the German Christmas Song by Martin Luther:
Der aller Welt Kreis nie beschloss,
der liegt in Marien Schoss.
The One too great for the universe to wrap
is now sweetly lying in Mary’s lap.
N.B. Again in his Bondage of the Will, Luther’s thinking is dialectical and tends to ascend toward higher levels of resolution. Thus his thinking etches out nuances that monological thinkers often fail to grasp. For example, in his different relational fora, Luther does not reject free will on the horizontal level, i.e., coram hominibus (before others), but only before God, coram Deo. In a similar way Luther does not reject reason, the way some think he does, monolithically, charging him with fidéism. Reason remains the queen of its earthly house. Only when caught up in human pride, when it goes out of bounds, interferes with a person’s faith, and tries to set itself over God, does Luther reject it. Luther’s levels of understanding ascending from the light of nature through the light of grace and into the light of glory in his Bondage of the Will, remind me of Hegel’s thinking ascending from a philosophy of substance to one of the subject, which he finally brings to the concept in the philosophy of the spirit.
I will translate the following long citation from U. Asendorf:
Page 408: Die allgemeine theologische Bedeutung von Hegels Logik
Diese ergibt sich aus der Auseinandersetztung mit dem Denken der Aufklärung. Der Verstand als das Trennende, am Widerspruch scheiternde Denken, zerstört die Religion. Aufgabe des Denkens, nicht nur des theologischen, ist es, den Bereich der einander entgegengesetzten Reflexionsvorstellungen und ihre Abstraktheit zu überwinden. Der Gegensatz zwischen Betrachtetem und Betrachtendem muss aufgehoben werden. Die logische Bestimmungen sind daher doppelt, insofern sie dem Seiendem wie dem Denken zuzuschreiben sind.
Das Denken muss zur Höhe der Idee hinaufgehoben werden, in welcher Subjektivität und Objektivität gleich sind. Hier geht es um den ersten Zusammenhang der Idee mit dem Ganzen.
Hegels Logik formuliert dann den Aufbau der logischen Welt in einem dreifachen Aufstieg von der Seins- über die Wesens- zur Begriffslogik.
Page 409: Wenn sich Hegels Logik ferner um eine neue Erschliessung des Ganzen bemüht, so ist das Leben die Idee, so dass dieses teils Leben, teils Erkennen, teils Wissenschaft ist. Dieser Bezug der Idee auf das Ganze impliziert einen hohen theologischen Anspruch, nämlich das Wissen des Absoluten, welches darin begründet ist, dass Gott Geist ist und im Geist und in der Wahrheit erkannt werden will. Deswegen gilt beides, dass Gott das Ganze ist und dass er absoluter Begriff ist. Es ist darum nicht zufällig, wenn Hegels Begriffslogik offenbarungstheologisch begründet ist. Wenn aber die Begriffslogik als offenbarungstheologisch begründete, wenngleich unzulängliche Kommunikationstheorie verstanden werden kann, so gilt das nicht zuletzt trinitätslogisch in den doppelten Bezugssystem der immanenten und der ökonomischen Trinität. Es liegt also in den Konsequenz des Hegelschen Denkens, wenn die entwicklung der logischen Kategorien die Entwicklung der metaphysischen Bestimmungen Gottes ist, wie ferner die Vernunft erst im Licht des geoffenbarten Absoluten zu sich selbst finden kann, weil Hegels Ansatz ein rein immanentisches Vernunfstverständnis ausschliesst. Auch darin hat er die äussersten Kantischen Grenzmarkierungen hinter sich gelassen. Aus allem Gesagten folgt, dass der Geist erst mit begriffslogischen Kategorien voll erfasst werden kann.
Aus den Gesagten folgt aber auch, dass die oft zu hörende Kritik, Hegel verstosse in einer gradezu klassischen Weise gegen Luthers Verbot der Spekulation, nicht zutrifft. Luthers Kritik nämlich richtet sich dagegen, mit Hilfe der Spekulation an der Offenbarung vorbei zu Gott gelangen zu wollen and damit die Vernunft an die Stelle der göttlichen Offenbarung zu setzen, wodurch diese gegenstandslos würde. Hegels Denken wird von diesem Vorwurf nicht getroffen, weil er von der in Christus geschehenen Versöhnung her philosophisch denkt.
To translate the notes from page 408 and 409 in English:
8.5 The General Theological Significance of Hegel’s Logic
This ensues from the confrontation of his thought with the Enlightenment. The kind of reason that brings separation and fails in face of a contradiction destroys religion. It is the task of thinking, and not only of the theological kind, to overcome abstraction and the realm of representations of reflection that oppose each other. The opposition between the observer and observed has to be overcome (aufgehoben). The logical determinations are therefore doubled, insofar as they are attributed to being and thinking.
Thinking has to be lifted up to the level of the idea, to the point where subjectivity and objectivity become the same. Crucial here is the first relationship of the idea with the whole.
Hegel’s logic, therefore formulates the ascension of the logical world in a threefold rising level [of logic] from being- through essence- to concept logic. [N.B. like the progression from substance to subject to concept or spirit]
Page 409: Because Hegel’s logic further concerns itself with an opening up of the whole, thus life is idea, such that the latter is partly life, partly perception, and partly science [again science as understood as both natural and human.] This relation of the idea to the whole implies a high level claim on theology, namely, the knowing of the absolute, which is therein grounded in that God is spirit and wants to be known in Spirit and in truth. That is why it is both valid that God is the whole and that God is the absolute Concept. Therefore it is not by chance that Hegel’s concept-logic is grounded theologically in revelation. If however the logic of the concept is grounded in revelation theologically, even if an inadequate communication theory could be understood by it, then it is valid not last of all for the logic of the Trinity in the double relational system of the immanent and economic Trinity. Therefore abiding in the consequences of the thinking of Hegel, it is the case that the development of his logical categories is [at the same time] the development of the metaphysical determinations of God, and further, reason can only find its way back to itself in the light of the Absolute, because Hegel’s thinking precludes an understanding of reason as purely immanent. Even here it shows that he left the outermost markings of the Kantian limitations behind him. From all that has been said, it follows that only with concept logical categories can the Spirit become fully grasped.
But from what was said it also follows that the often heard criticism is misplaced, namely, that Hegel violated Luther’s prohibition against speculation in a diametrically classical way. That is because Luther’s criticism is directed against that kind of thinking, which by the help of speculation wants to reach God through by-passing revelation and by wanting to place reason alongside God’s revelation, thus taking away the latter’s object. This reproach fails to touch Hegel’s thinking, because his philosophy has its starting point and is based on the atonement that happened through Christ.
Now paraphrasing Asendorf further in English:
Page 410: Hegel knows well that he is following the philosophical tradition and cannot proceed by faith. But his philosophy provides a place for Christian revelation, because his thinking starts from it. Hegel’s thinking demonstrates its theological and revelatory source in three ways.
1. The language form of his thinking that brings reconciliation to opposites
2. Because of his mutual and reciprocal relation of the Spirit and History his logic also contains the movement of history
3. And finally the concrete nature of his thinking demonstrates its theological and revelatory source.
Very early already Hegel criticized the false infinity of Kant, because he wanted to strengthen his commitment to finitum capax infiniti: the finite could grasp the infinite. To separate both completely, Hegel held to be Manichaean.
Page 410: Hegel’s concrete spirit is spirit moving through history.
His reference to a doubly wrong world reminds me of a place in Luther’s Commentary on Psalm 117: “Grace appears outwardly as if it were pure wrath, so deeply does it lie hidden under two thick [covers]…which is probably why St. Peter says, ‘the word alone shines upon us as in a dark place’ (2 Peter 1:19). Yes, certainly in a dark place!”
Page 411: After considering the separation of the finite from the infinite, Asendorf states: “The option for the absolute finite and [abstract] spiritualism are factually identical. A similar negative judgment can only also be made for a pure theological horizontalism. The latter in the truest sense of the word by dint of its logical incapacity, does not know what it is talking about….In this sense the concept in its theological significance has to be disclosed and considered anew, insofar as it is the process, in which the infinite and the finite are connected.”
Page 411 (bottom): Dialectic
“By the fundamental schema of his “Encyclopedia,” three steps need to be differentiated, namely, the abstractly understood, the dialectical-negative reasonable, and the speculative positive reasonable (Vernünftige). The first two belong to Enlightenment thinking. The third reaches the fullness of the concept. Only in this way does the idea realize itself fully in the concept.”
Page 412: “Therefore, the Spirit is not a state of being but a movement. Luther’s Deus semper actuosus [God’s always living, acting, and working] reaches all the way into Hegel’s logic. Because of that, logic can be the philosophical organum [instrument] for grasping the things of God, the way faith is, for the theological.”
Page 435: “Luther’s tract, “The Freedom of a Christian” is the secret center of the philosophy of the Spirit, which is as such at one and the same time the philosophy of history.”
Page 435: Hegel held fast to Lutheranism his whole life, like the Latin speech he gave as the rector of the University of Berlin on the third anniversary of the Augsburg Confession, 25th of June, 1830. “The unending pain embodied in Israel, stands opposite the unending positivism in Christ. The birth of Christ is the dialectically understood turning point in the history of the Spirit.”
Page 435-436: “Hegel wanted to lift up the representation of faith, love, and hope to the reality of a self-conscious rationality (Vernünftigkeit), namely, in a worldly kingdom of a community of free people. In its mere subjectivity, it is a kingdom of arbitrary choice and barbarism, which is not mediated by and does not stand opposite to an other-worldly kingdom. Thus Hegel speaks of the difficult conflict between the different [sides] of this idea, in which the kingdoms are rooted, the spiritual [kingdom] of a heavenly existence and the [kingdom of] a common, earthly reality. When heaven descends and settles down on the earth and the worldly ‘gets built upward’ out of its abstract being-for-itself to the rationality of justice (Recht) and law, then the old opposition is weakened to insignificance. The presence has stripped itself of its barbarism and the truth has stripped itself of its other-worldliness. With that, the atonement has become objective, so that the state has unfolded as the image of the reality of reason. Religion and science (understood as both natural and human science) become complementary manifestations of truth.”
N.B. Luther relegates reason and law to the state and faith and the Gospel to the church. Hegel seems to be thinking this position through in all its implications. Only if Hegel then substituted the state for the church would he have gone wrong. But if he saw a kind of partnership of the church and state via such different ways of operating, then he would still be thinking in the spirit of Luther.
Luther could see those in the vocation of the state as saviors. Like a Norwegian theologian, who disagreed with me, when I said that Luther’s theology was used there for the aggrandizement of the state at the expense of genuine faith and the church. He said that Luther’s theology had changed the whole paradigm of the church and state, because they became the two wings of a new butterfly.
Page 436: “The concept is the subject as well as the object of the idea.”
“The double movement of estrangement and return are understood together as the concept of the Spirit.”
Page 437: A criticism of Hegel is that for him an unknown future does not exist. It is a problem that for the sake of philosophy Hegel excludes faith. [N.B. But that is legitimate when reasoning under the auspices of philosophy and the state.]
Page 440: But he places the Christ event in the middle of his philosophy.
Page 438, footnote: Hegel no longer wished to allow the paradoxical and oppositions to diverge infinitely, (like Kant and Kierkegaard did) but sought their reconciliation through his thought. “Thus Hegel concerns himself with melting the absolute and the concrete, the universal and the particular, [together] into the concept.”
Page 445: “The reasonable is reality and what is real is reasonable.” or “The rational is reality and what is real is rational.” Another permutation: “The real is rational and the rational real.” (Vernünftig, “Vernunft” means reason.) (N.B. When my father said, “Sei doch vernünftig!” he meant “Behave! Be reasonable!”
N.B. The philosophy of being holds the whole world in stasis. It as if it were based upon the Ptolemaic Universe, where the earth stood still and the sun, moon, and stars rose and set around it. Movement was peripheral, while the still-standing earth allowed for a static logic. But now we understand that the planet earth revolves around the sun, the sun is moving inside the galaxy of the Milky Way, which is swirling around a black hole, while all the galaxies are diverging in an expanding universe. Now a logic of becoming, one that has movement at its center, thinks in terms of grasping a moving target. Hegel’s is a logic of becoming, of life, of development.
Page 456: “In the absolute Spirit, freedom and history interpret each other.”
As on page 484, here Hegel presents the Trinity in his language:
Page 476: “God is Spirit, – i.e. that, which we call the Three-in-One God; – God is Spirit – the absolute activity actus purus i.e., Subjectivity – eternal personality – unending – differentiating himself from himself – [thus] begetting – but this differentiation is in the eternal concept, i.e. held in generality as absolute subjectivity, – so it is placed in his unending differentiation, not for the sake of darkness – i.e. Being-for-itself – non-transparency, impenetrability and coming to end – but at the same time as his differentiation remaining in an immediate oneness, and in his differentiation in himself – so with that, the whole divine Concept – Son – and God, this absolute unity as in his-self, in his difference, identical with himself, as eternal love.” N.B.: Hegel seems to be contemplating the Holy Trinity through the Holy Spirit, where we usually do through the Son or the Father.
Page 483: “Love is, namely, the gazing at oneself in the other.” N.B. Elsewhere Hegel would says, the differentiating of oneself from the other.
Page 484: Here Hegel presents the Trinity in his language.
Page 484, footnote 57: J. Splett writes, “[Hegel’s] logic as a whole is the presentation of the speculative truth, which Christian dogmatics calls the immanent Trinity, like his whole system is the economic Trinity.”
N.B. Wow! That is quite a claim!
Page 485: “The Spirit is to be grasped as Being himself, For-himself, and In-and-for-himself.” („Geist ist damit nach seinem Ansich-, seinem Fürsich- und seinem An-und-für-sich-sein zu begreifen.“)
N.B. Hegel challenges Kant’s phenomenal limitation of the noumenal. For Hegel knowledge of a limit means that ne already knows something beyond the limit. Thus Kant’s things and things- in-themselves do not relate with Hegel’s movement of thought and life expressed in being-itself, being-for-itself, and being–in-and-for-itself.
Page 495: “Love is to be understood in its endless pain and its healing of it.”
Page 495: “The concept of the absolute oneness of the divine and human nature – is the reality of God.”
N.B. Perhaps this is the contradiction in the midst of reality.
N.B. Reading Asendorf’s considerations for a new systematic theology helped by Hegel’s philosophy, I realize that perhaps when I ascribe growth to the theory of opposites, it may be more a philosophical insight than a theological one. That way I introduce the mediation of reasoning. It resembles the way I’ve begun to speak about God in another dimension rather than in heaven. A philosophical and intellectual mediation seems to replace faith as much as when Asendorf argues that justification by faith has no place in Hegel’s philosophy (page 514) where it is quite central in Luther’s theology.
Thus the presuppositions as well as the different associations or contexts of meaning have to be taken into consideration in theology on the one hand and in philosophy on the other. That is why when taking a philosophical word and using it theologically, it first has to undergo a bath, like baptism. (Page 511) Otherwise the distortion and mistakes produced by a mixing of categories could occur, i.e., a categorical error.
Page 514: “The statement, in its association of meanings, “contradictio est regula veri” [contradiction is the basis of truth] could not have been understood in classical Greek philosophy and logic.”
Page 515: The ancients would not have understood negation as an essential in dialectical thought, the double negative as affirmative, the doubly wrong world or the atonement of opposites as a task of logic.
Page 515: A principled shake-up of metaphysics cannot be addressed merely by Nygren’s presuppositional analysis. („Eine prinzipielle Perhorreszierung der Metaphysic hindert also die Theologie genauso wie die Philosophie daran, ihere logischen Klärungsfunktion gerecht zu werden.“)
To translate: “A principled shake-up of metaphysics hinders theology as well as philosophy from carrying out their logical clarifying function adequately.”
Page 516: “In the sense of modern philosophical anthropology, the world-openness of people is brought into a three-fold expression, namely, in the schema: God/human, human/nature (creation), and Spirit/history.”
N.B. Hegel may have been citing Luther in saying that the Holy Spirit was involved in justification. (I seem to have read that in Luther’s Genesis Commentary. While Hegel does not speak of faith, he does champion the concrete spirit.
Page 517: Asendorf claims, “Hegel did not sacrifice faith for philosophical speculation.”
Page 517: Hegel said, “A half of philosophy leads away from God…, true philosophy, however, leads toward God.” Perhaps the text for Hegel’s philosophy comes from 2 Corinthians 3:17: “The Lord is Spirit and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
N.B. I wonder why philosophy cannot consider the future, nor faith? Why is it in principle that eschatology is closed to philosophy?
Page 518: Hegel’s philosophy looks backward not forward. Think of the owl of Minerva! Hegel concentrates on realized eschatology, but not the eschatology that still stands out.
N.B. Asendorf has quite a wonderful last paragraph: “The remaining difference only makes [more] clear the deep relationship of Luther and Hegel, which has its source in a common philosophy of love, in the joyful exchange, the recognizing oneself in the other. Crucial is the vis unitiva, ex amante et amato unum quid constituenz, [the uniting power that makes the lover and the beloved one], which comes out of Luther’s Epistle to the Romans Lectures, as well as from his great meditation on Galatians 2:20 in his later lectures on the Epistles to the Galatians, where it receives its classical formulation. Out of love, as Hegel discovered it in the Gospel of John, the whole philosophy of Spirit develops in ever new onslaughts. In a similar and comparable way for Luther the “love of Christ” is taken in the sense of the double genitive [i.e. of our loving Christ and Christ’s loving us], which finds its form in justification, the center of the circle that encloses all.”
 In Luther’s Bondage of the Will, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Fleming H. Revell, 1957), page 316-317 or see Luther’s Works, Vol. 33, page 291 or the Weimar Edition, Vol. 18, ca. page 787.
 Eric D. Beinhocker, The Origin of Wealth: the Radical Remaking of Economics and What It Means for Business and Society, (Boston, Massachusetts: Harvard Business School Press, 2006, 2007). And Gar Alperovitz and Lew Daly, Unjust Deserts, (New York: The New Press, 2008).
 Michael Polanyi, Science, Faith and Society: a Searching Examination of Meaning and Nature of Scientific Inquiry, (University of Chicago Press, 1946), page 17.
 Ibid., pages 17-18.
 In Luther’s Bondage of the Will, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Fleming H. Revell, 1957), page 316-317 or see Luther’s Works, Vol. 33, page 291 or the Weimar Edition, Vol. 18, ca. page 787.
 Mostly I have been using the term “concept” where Asendorf uses the term “idea.”
 Philip and Peter Krey, editors, Luther’s Spirituality, (New York: Paulist Press, 2007), page 142. Check out Luther’s dumbfounding, divine, diabolical dialectic in this place.
 In a private conversation in Washington, D.C. with either Inge or Per Lønning at the Luther Jubilee, November 6-12, 1983.
 Asendorf is citing H. Schmitz, Hegel als Denker der Individualität, (MPF XX, Meisenheim/Glan, 1957).
Notes from Artur Weiser, The Psalms: A Commentary, Old Testament Library, (Philadelphia: Westminister Press, 1962).
Verse 5: Commit your ways to the Lord, trust and hope in God, who will do everything well.
German: Befiehl dem Herrn deine Wege, und hoffe auf ihn; er wird’s wohl machen.
Note the famous hymn by Paul Gerhardt:
“Befiehl du deine Wege“
was translated by John Wesley and can be found in the old red Service Book and Hymnal, #579
“Put thou thy trust in God.”
Psalm 37 strings proverbs together and is written as an acrostic using the consecutive letters of the Hebrew alphabet to begin every other verse. Citations from Weiser’s commentary follow:
We must not lose our temper [and become furious] with the wicked, but keep trusting in God (page 315).
True confidence consists in leaving the things which are not under [our] control, confidently and patiently to God, who has all things in hand; [we] on the other hand, have only to take care that we faithfully fulfill the task which is allotted to us and do so in the place that is assigned to us (page 317).
The godly, who let everything be irradiated by [their] delight in God, can, as their hearts are filled with that joy, look forward to the fulfillment of the deepest desires of their hearts (page 317).
The Old Testament is aware of the fact (cf. Isaiah 7:4; 30:15) that to be still and wait for God is not something that falls into [our] lap, but is the reward for the victory which we have gained in the struggle of our soul against our own assertive human self; it is aware that this keeping of silence and waiting for God consists in the bearing and enduring of that tension into which [one] is continually thrown whenever [one] would like to see what, in fact, cannot be seen and yet must be believed (page 318).
The blessing of God inspires the godly to acts of generosity and helpfulness, expressed in joyful giving (page 320).
A life lived with God is full of hope and strength; without God it is doomed to destruction (page 323).
(Note that the language has been updated: “we” for “man,” “one” for “he,” and “their” for “his”.)
1. For maturity is the integrity in and through inter-relationships, which makes it possible for each individual member of a group to be him or herself in togetherness and in togetherness each to be him or herself. (Paul Lehman)
2. While in psychoanalysis, maturity is self realization through self acceptance, Christian maturity is self acceptance through self-giving. (Paul Lehman)
3. Self mastery: the battle we fight with ourselves is the toughest battle we will ever fight and it is the sweetest victory we will ever win. (My father often said this.)
4. The tone of a classroom: There are two kinds of order. We do not want the conscious order that ends in respectability, but the unconscious order that looks like chaos on the top, but is the hustle and bustle of real learning. (Sylvia Ashton Warner)
5. We do not want uniformity but unity. A false habit of mind sets off the individual against the group. True unity differentiates, it does not confound. (to paraphrase Teilhard de Chardin)
6. There is no system given whereby we must be saved.
(I’ve gotten this by interpolating law into system and Galatians 3:21: “For if a law had been given that could make alive, then righteousness would indeed come through the law.” In other words, the law is no longer the way of salvation, but our Lord Jesus Christ is.)
7. We need the freedom to make a choice as well as the freedom of the context to make it in. Baptism and holy communion supply this freedom of Christ’s truth for us, as well as the truth of his freedom.
(That insight came to me after reading the existentialist philosopher, Nicholai Berdyaev. See his book, Dostoevsky, (Cleveland and New York: Meridian Books or The World Publishing Company, 1968), page 68ff. This work of Beryaev was first published by the YMCA Press in 1934.)
8. Hatred locks us into the past; love opens the future.
(This insight came to me reading Berdyaev’s The Origin of Russian Communism, translated from the Russian by R. M. French, (London: Geoffrey Bles, Ltd., 1955 and first published in 1937), page 184. Berdyaev writes: “Hatred always turns to the past and always depends upon the past. A man who is gripped by the emotion of hatred cannot be concerned with the future, with a new life; only love turns a man towards the future, frees him from the heavy shackles of the past and is a means of creating a new and better life.”)
Some of my sayings:
On dying: When you come to the end of a sentence, there is a period. Suddenly you wonder what it is that your whole life said. (12/07/1970)
We have to bear with each other until we are born.
The congregation is the womb of Christ.
How can we bring the children up, if we can’t bring something up?
You can plan all day long and things can still go wrong.
Groping and muddling through: is that the best we can do? (7/27/2011)
Balancing ignorance with knowledge results in mediocrity. (1/28/2013)
Three funny sayings that Peter Moogan, my brother-in-law told me:
“If you haven’t grown up by the time you’re fifty, you don’t have to.”
“Peter Rabbit has a psychotic break when he realized he had pulled himself out of a hat.”
“I’ve gone to find myself. If I should return before I get back, keep me here.”
Jürgen Moltmann: the speech of nature is directed to people, from “Sein Name ist Gerechtigkeit” (His Name is Righteousness)
Several weeks ago I finished reading Moltmann’s, Sein Name ist Gerechtigkeit (His Name is Righteousness). I hope it gets translated into English soon. I translated a whole lot just taking notes, but I’m pretty sure the Gütersloher Verlagshaus (publishing house) has its own translator.
I’ve been struggling to write a book about performative declarations and God’s continuous creativity via language. John Searle underscores facts to such an extent in his work, The Construction of Social Reality, that he even emphasizes their existence as “brute facts” in the external reality of his naturalism.
I just read a reflection by Ronald E. Burmeister, “On the Atoll,” in (The Lutheran: January, 2009; page 3) that underscored Moltmann’s contention that nature is not just replete with facts but with signs that amount to speech directed to us. Climbing up an atoll in a gale, a 300 foot high column of rock in the Arctic region, Burmeister felt a spiritual stirring. Struggling up to the summit represented all of life’s struggles. The sentinel-like rock stood for God’s everpresence, the undulating green tundra for God’s grace, the waters for baptism, the perspective from the summit, God’s promise to be with us always.
Compare my song “Route 128” with that. Nature’s “resounding sound makes the Word abound, so naturally.” The physicality of nature matches the contour of the physical sound of words, and then their speech is heard. Also read my poem “Mount Chocorua.” It speaks of climbing into maturity.
Then look at Psalm 19:
The heavens are telling the glory of God
and the firmament proclaims God’s handiwork.
Day by day pours out speech
and night to night whispers knowledge.
There is no language nor are there words,
in which their voice is not heard (verses 1-3).
I found this note I penned after reading the section on Psalm 19 in Artur Weiser’s commentary on The Psalms (Philadelphia: Westminister Press, 1962): “The creation speaks and was also created by what God has spoken. It utters words and was uttered into existence by words.”
I wrote those words a long time ago, but now Moltmann has revived my attention to it and I see how it fits in with my performative declarations book.
Here are my comments and some notes that I took out of Moltmann’s book:
The speech of nature is directed to people (page 175). We divide and conquer nature [via science and torture it for its secrets]. But it is in its composition, it is in its organization as the Book of Nature, by means of our participatory grasp of it in the highest culture and spirit of humans, that it speaks to us. [This requires] our companionship and connection with nature. We want to know nature and become one with it, connect with it and participate in it. [The scientific enterprise began with the pre-Socratics.] The point, however, is not to understand nature via natural explanations, but through awe and amazement. [I remember reading about Max Weber, Matthew Arnold, and so many others, who grieved having lost the enchantment which science had taken away from them.] The act of nature toward us is like speech, which is meaningful to us.
As persons we need a relationship with nature, which is like the relationship of our body and soul. “Every environment is filled with meaningful symbols…every meaningful symbol of a subject is at one and the same time a meaningful symbol of the personal/ bodily form (Gestalt) of the subject.”
“Dis-covery or Ent-deckung in German has the same meaning as “revelation” (page 176). [I have often struggled with the distinction between discovery versus invention; for example, was logic discovered or invented by Aristotle?] Moltmann writes, “[for discovery] its object is presupposed, while in an invention, it is produced.”
The genetic code presents us with a universe of signs for interpretation or meaning. “In the human understanding of nature, it becomes conscious of itself.”
[We need a] theological hermeneutic of nature (page 178). Nature is a book whose signs we can learn to read. Like the Holy Book, nature is just as intelligible as the spirit is rational. This metaphor [the Book of Nature], understands the language of nature and calls the “signatures” of nature legible writing. Theologically speaking, all creatures are creations of divine words: God spoke, “Let there be light and there was light.”
As I began reading page 179, I wrote: “Genetic codes could be considered biological performatives, producing the organism that they are expressing, but their language, their speech acts are those of God, the Divine Logos.” To continue my thoughts, then Searle’s brute facts, in so far that they are biological organisms, are also language dependent.
Moltmann continues on page 179 with all the historical, theological concepts of the Book of Nature. Nicholas of Cusa felt that sensual perception was appropriate for nature: “Things are for the book of the senses. In them the wishes of Godly reason are described in sensual pictures.”
He quotes the abbot, Anthony, the third century monk, “My book is created nature, one always at my disposal should I want to read about God’s works.”
Basel the Great thought that our reason was created so perfectly by God that we, “through the beauty of creatures, as if they were letters and words, could read the wisdom and providence of God.”
Augustine called the book of nature, the book of the universe. So alongside scripture, we have the book of nature, universe, and more seldom, the book of creation.
Maximus the Confessor held, “The scriptures and nature were the two garments of Christ, which lit up in his transfiguration, his humanity [for] nature and his divinity[for] scripture.”
The Celtic, John Scotus Eriugena, considered the two books, theophanies, one read by means of letters, the other by forms.
Averroës [influenced by Aristotle] separated faith and reason; he stood against the inner harmony of faith and reason brought to expression by the two books, the Holy Scriptures and the Book of Nature. [The Holy Book for Averroës would, of course, have been the Qur’an.]
The Book of Nature was always read in the light of scriptures. Through natural understanding of God one became wise but not saved; through understanding revelation one became saved, but sadly, not wise. The direct understanding of revelation founded another communion with God from the indirect understanding of nature, because every understanding founds a community (Gemeinschaft). We can also reverse [this perspective] and read the scriptures in the light of the book of nature. [I have always given an historical account of the progress of science. Back then in the time when the creation story was written, the elements were earth, wind, water, and fire. Now our table of elements has 112 from Helium all the way to Lawrencium.]
Every culture is a universe of signs (page 180) and for its survival dependent on their hermeneutic of interpretation. The stars that we see could have existed in the past and could be long gone and deep in the background there is still the Big Bang. We see the presence of the past. In the building of matter and living forms a memory of nature has accrued, which can be called wise, because connections hostile to life have been thwarted and life-friendly connections were furthered and advanced. There is a history of nature and there are new ways of scientific thinking. Culture and nature inform each other because the cultural code is part of the natural code. The way scientific technical methods have dominated nature has made this historical memory illegible (page 181).
Ultimately modern science belongs to the culture of humanity. Science is culturally conditioned to the highest measure, even to Jewish and Christian religion, as any comparative study with Asian [scientific enterprises] easily demonstrates.
[Now this helps me counter John Searle’s emphasis on facts, even brute facts!] We can read the book of nature, only if we do not register it as a world of facts, but as a world of meaning (page 182). There is the speech of nature or nature speaks, where everything is full of signs and everything is full of meaning. [Note: that’s where Max Weber and Matthew Arnold’s enchantment went!] The hermeneutic of nature is thus the art to be able to interpret the natural world of signs, the signiture of things.
Moltmann quotes Jakob Böhme: “and there is no thing in nature, created or born, which does not reveal its inner form (Gestalt) outwardly, because the internal always works to reveal itself…therefore in the signature is the greatest understanding (Verstand), in which the human being not only knows him [or her]self, but in it can also know the nature of all nature…everything has a mouth for revelation. That is the language of nature.” (We’re still on page 181.)
Moltmann counters Plato’s “everything is an expression of its nature” with “[for] Christians, everything is an expression of its Godly Word.”
A. “The internal dimension of things gives signs for something in them or lying over them.” Natural configurations are read by physiognomy, like the face reveals the particularity of the soul (page 182). In this way the face of nature can also be read.
B. Every natural sign has a directional character, which shows the connections and relationships of things with each other. They point to the relative whole, of which they are a part. The cross-sectional are pointed in networks of relationships, whether bottom-up or top-down in their relative wholeness, and are nested in each other (sind ineinander verschränkt).
C. Not yet last of all, the signs of nature are related to the human beholders and actors, and then the signs become signals, which say what the natural environment means for people. Nature is [actively] giving signals and not only receiving them. It is a sender and not only a receiver from people. That presupposes a stepped-down subjectivity or sentience of nature, its forms, and worlds of life.
[Nature, creation] is not finished yet, but [presents] fragments of what is to come. [We have] anticipated, open signs of the future. As St. Paul states in 1 Corinthians 13: “for we know only in part, we prophesy only in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will come to an end” (verses 9-10). and “Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known” (verse 12). Moltmann continues that the relation of the fragment to the perfect corresponds to that of the knowledge, prophesy relationship. We know reality and prophesy the future. It is important to realize that, the perfect does not develop out of the fragmentary, but comes to it. Nature is a world of forms and the relationships of nature are not only an exchange of energies, but also an exchange of information. The art of taking up information, interpreting, and working it through, is Hermeneutics. Primal matter of the universe, it is said, is information and reality [and both] are the same. (Here we turn to page 183) Reality is efficacious [as information]. Nature is forma informata and informans. We live in a world of mutual information and participation. We also discover the world of performative anticipations. Reality is formed out of the possible. The creative part of reality as realization is efficacious (Wirklichkeit als Wirksamkeit). “Life is the impressed form that livingly develops” (Moltmann is quoting Goethe).
Moltmann compares the language of signs in nature to reading symptoms for the diagnosis of a disease. We have to register the sign, then interpret it, and then name the disease. Nature can be interpreted that way too.
The theological interpretation of signs went from the kosmos to history, because history becomes the quintessential concept in Europe since the French Revolution. If the stars were no longer signs, then the signs of the times had to be interpreted. The signs of the times were interpreted as the signature of history.
Grace precedes nature (page 184), but now grace precedes history and the interpretation of the signs of the times now became a function of the theologia naturalis (natural theology). But the signs of history were ambiguous; there are the signs of progress and those of catastrophe, signs of the end. “When will that all happen and what will be the sign, when it will all come to an end?” (Mark 13:4)
The coming presence of Christ in Holy Communion is the center of the Christian teaching of signs. In Holy Communion the signs of the presence of Christ are still in culture and nature.
The empirical, sensual, concept of nature no longer relates to the word “essence” from which it was derived (page 185). In science we observe, weigh, measure, etc., but we do not reflect about its nature. The change in the concept of nature came about because of the theological concept of creation. Creation is finite, in time, and contingent, because it is creation and not the Creator. Nature is therefore a necessary expression of God’s nature, but is contingent and depends on observation, not deduction.
These notes are my translation and come from Jürgen Moltmann’s, Sein Name ist Gerechtigkeit (His Name is Righteousness), (Gütersloh, München: Gütersloher Verlagshaus, 2008). Moltmann overflows with mature wisdom in the chapters of his book and it needs to be translated and studied in the English. peterkrey