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Abstract

Although the ‘mystical’ character of Ernst Troeltsch’s theological programme is controversial, the fact that ‘mysticism’ played an eminent role in his analysis of modern Christianity can hardly be denied. This article first spells out the different aspects of Troeltsch’s concept of mysticism (Mystik) against the background of contemporary theological and religious developments. On the one hand, the highly critical discourse on mysticism of the dominant Ritschl School is highlighted and on the other hand, the proliferation of all sorts of ‘mystical’ religiosity in Germany around 1900 is discussed. Secondly, it is shown that Troeltsch distanced himself to a large extent from the critics of mysticism. In fact, he takes the concept of mysticism to denote a typical, modern, individualistic form of piety and theology. Thirdly, attention is given to the fact that Troeltsch adopts the mystical terminology to describe his own position and uses it to develop his ecclesiology. Fourthly, Troeltsch’s view of the relationship between (individualist) mysticism and ethics is discussed. In his view, mysticism does not imply quietism, but an active engagement in church and worldly matters. All in all, this contribution underscores the importance of Christian mysticism for Troeltsch’s personal belief and piety as well as for his ‘mystical’ conceptualization of religion.

In: Interdisciplinary Journal for Religion and Transformation in Contemporary Society

Abstract

This article focuses on some psychological aspects of Henri Bremond’s work, notably the development of a psychologie de la foi, the research into the sentiment réligieux and his reflections on the relation between what is traditionally called fides qua and fides quae. It is argued that in the center of the writings of Bremond, who is working in the context of the modernist movement and the rediscovery of the Catholic spiritual and mystical traditions in the modern era, one can detect a deep concern about the relation between religious (spiritual) experience and the official church teachings and institutions, and more specifically the relation between reflective thought and conscious reasoning on the one hand and ‘implicit’ spontaneous understanding and reasoning on the other hand. Also, in his writings one finds a fundamental discussion on the relation between mysticism and asceticism, and mysticism and poetry. Through the collection of material (mystics and their writings) and the elaboration of fundamental thematics, Bremond has become an important and also influential author. This article addresses this issue in particular in a short inquiry into the influence of Bremond on the work of Michel de Certeau.

In: Interdisciplinary Journal for Religion and Transformation in Contemporary Society

Abstract

The emergence of a scholarly and popular interest in religious experience, spirituality and mysticism around 1900 plays a crucial role in the further transformations in religion in the twentieth century and in contemporary Western and non-Western societies. This volume contains philosophical reflections on the emergence of these new constellations, discourses and practices. The ‘rediscovery’ of the various spiritual and mystical sources and traditions, and the turn towards the individual’s religious experiences, can be situated against the background of a growing critique of global scientific positivism and the rise of secular (atheistic, Marxist) philosophies. The turn to spirituality and mysticism is associated with political projects of anti-imperialist emancipation in for example, India, the Islamic countries, Russia and Latin-America. Through philosophical inquiries into key authors such as Bergson, Blondel, James, Heidegger, Bremond, Weil, Solov’ëv, Rodó, Iqbal and Vivekenanda, this volume presents a comprehensive perspective on the fundamental issues and discussions that inspired the turn to spirituality in a modern era of secular reason.

In: Interdisciplinary Journal for Religion and Transformation in Contemporary Society

Abstract

In the second half of the 19th century positivism became the official state doctrine of many countries in southern America. Around 1900, however, the authoritarian positivistic regimes were increasingly criticized due to their cultural imitation on the Anglo-Saxon world and the atheistic ideology. In this context, José Enrique Rodó, a poet and philosopher of Uruguay, called for a critical and creative re-adoption of the “Latin” roots of southern America, specifically Greek culture and early Christianity. In his essay “Ariel” (1900), Rodó sparked a spiritual revolt that especially affected the youth of the whole continent. In contrast to Nietzsche but on the basis of secular reason, Rodó defended a religion of love, which inspired important philosophies in the 20th century, from José Vasconcelos and Antonio Caso to the theologies and philosophies of liberation. Thus, “Latin America” as a self-designation of the South American peoples was essentially inaugurated through the spiritual revolt initiated by José Enrique Rodó.

In: Interdisciplinary Journal for Religion and Transformation in Contemporary Society
Author: Stephan Popp

Abstract

The philosopher Muhammad Iqbal is officially seen as the inventor of the idea of Pakistan and is considered to be the national poet of the country. Indeed, he is one of the most important Islamic modernists, a source of inspiration for enlightened Islam today, and one of the great philosophers of life in the first half of the 20th century. This article explains the main concepts of philosophy: “self”, “love”, “intuition”, his philosophy of time, his concept of Islam, and his critique of the West. It then traces the influences on his thought from Islamic thinkers, from the Western philosophers Fichte, Kant, Nietzsche, and Bergson, and the Influence of the Indian society he was living in. Iqbal claimed that all his ideas derived from his thorough reading of the Quran. However, the questions that shaped his answers were very much in the form of the European philosophy of the time, and in that of the discourses of his society too.

In: Interdisciplinary Journal for Religion and Transformation in Contemporary Society
Author: Inigo Bocken

Abstract

Mysticism as Act. Philosophy and Spirituality in Maurice Blondel

Mysticism plays a crucial role at the background of Maurice Blondel’s ‘philosophy of action’ (1893). In the years after his main work, his interest for mysticism increases. The discussion about the role of mysticism is even the battlefield of his debate with Jacques Maritain (1882–1973), who criticizes Blondel of allowing in his philosophy a direct contact with the Divine. Maritain does not accuse Blondel of ‘modernism’, but is very close to it. In order to explain his understanding of mysticism, the article outlines the intensive cooperation between Blondel and Henri Bremond (1865–1933). Blondel was of main influence for Bremond’s text on poetry and prayer in which mysticism plays an important role. At the end of the article the role of this discussion on mysticism and philosophy for Blondel’s social philosophy has been elaborated.

In: Interdisciplinary Journal for Religion and Transformation in Contemporary Society

Abstract

In the years after the First World War many authors returned to the Apostle Paul to rethink the meaning of history in a time of crisis. In this period the problem of time represents a crucial topic of Heidegger’s philosophy as well, through which he reconsiders the meaning of the Being of the whole metaphysical tradition. Heidegger already develops his reconsideration of temporality in his early Freiburg lectures on the phenomenology of religious life through the interpretation of Paul’s epistles. The article focuses on the analysis of the category of temporality in these lectures, where the philosopher investigates the experience of conversion and the expectation of the parusia in the proto-Christian communities, within which the radically historical dimension of existence clearly emerges. This contribution aims to show that such phenomenological analysis of early Christian temporality emphasizes the disquieting nature of the evangelical message, which unsettles any fixed identity and transforms personal, communitarian history and social, opening it to the future.

In: Interdisciplinary Journal for Religion and Transformation in Contemporary Society
Author: Marc De Kesel

Abstract

What precisely is at stake in Simone Weil’s shift to Christianity? Is it only the story of a modern agnostic intellectual discovering and reinventing an old religious tradition? What if, under the surface of that move, modernity itself is as much at stake? What if Weil’s mystical thought conceals a profound reflection on the modern subject? It is true, in line with almost the entire pre-modern and modern mystical tradition, her thought is a full-blown attack against the Cartesian ego and its pretention to be the solid and free basis of our modern relation to reality. But what if the most interesting aspect of Weil’s thought is that she fails in that attack, and that, despite all her efforts to destroy that subject, that very subject resists even in the very heart of both the mystical truth she describes and in her theoretical thought about that truth. What if Weil’s move to Christianity does not say so much about Christianity, nor about the Christian side of modernity, but about the abysmal base of modernity’s subject?

In: Interdisciplinary Journal for Religion and Transformation in Contemporary Society
Author: Karl Baier

Abstract

This article deals with Narendranath Datta (1863–1902) more known under his monastic name Swami Vivekananda. Vivekananda was a representative of the Bengal renaissance, a movement that is famous for its contribution to the modernization of India. Vivekananda became one of the architects of neo-Hinduism and a pioneer of modern yoga. His ideas also contributed to the rising Hindu nationalism. The article outlines his biography and religious socialization. A closer look will be given to his concept of religion and the way he relates it with India`s national identity. A second major part of the article examines Vivekananda’s understanding of religious experience that is crucial for his yoga philosophy and his philosophy of religion in general.

In: Interdisciplinary Journal for Religion and Transformation in Contemporary Society

Abstract

Why Does Bergson Understand Religion From the Perspective of Mysticism?

In his book Bergson makes first of all the distinction between closed societies, with a static religion, and open societies with the dynamic religion. In fact those dynamic religions are the world religions, and they are understood from the perspective of mysticism. Bergson does not accept the opposition between a mystical and a technical worldview. To the contrary, they are related to each other, especially in Christianity, by the virtue of charity. Charity, and therefore technics, is the practical dimension of mysticism. From the perspective of the mystical experience, an intuition of unity with the totality, Bergson tries to rethink the proof of the existence of God, the immortality of man and the theodicy. Modern man, as a technical man represents a special phase in the history of the evolution of nature and its divine ‘elan vital’. It is a phenomenon in which nature shows a new dimension of itself. Because the technical dimension enlarges man’s capacity of transcendence of the sense of given reality, it creates new possibilities for mystical experience. Modern man needs this mysticism because only mysticism can be the soul within the body of the technical world created by man.

In: Interdisciplinary Journal for Religion and Transformation in Contemporary Society