The humanism of secularization

  1. Lemma
  2. Ο ανθρωπισμός της εκκοσμίκευσης
  3. English
  4. Koutalis, Vangelis
  5. Orthodox theological tradition and practice > Eschatology - Concepts of knowledge and modes of reasoning > Orthodox gnosiology - Concepts of knowledge and modes of reasoning > Materialism/Idealism - Orthodox Anthropology - Ecology and the environment - Modes of interaction > Integration - Scientific theories and disciplines > Classical physics - Orthodox theological tradition and practice > Premodern _modern_ postmodern - Scientific theories and disciplines > Biology:evolution
  6. 26-02-2016
  7. Begzos, Marios [Author]. The humanism of secularization
  8. Ο ανθρωπισμός της εκκοσμίκευσης : Θεός, άνθρωπος και κόσμος στον Καρλ Φρήντριχ Βαϊτσαίκερ - Athens: Grigoris Publications, 2012.
  9. Weizsäcker, Carl Friedrich - modernity - pre-modernity - Darwinism - Galilean science - astronomy - technology - anthropology - secularization - eschatology
    1. <p>Begzos, M. P. [Μπέγζος, Μ. Π.] (2012).<em> Ο ανθρωπισμός της εκκοσμίκευσης: Θεός, άνθρωπος και κόσμος στον Καρλ Φρήντριχ Βαϊτσαίκερ</em>. Athens: Grigoris Publications.</p>
    1. Acknowledging the depth of the crisis of modern civilization, as well as its irreversibility, Begzos, in this book, sets out from the question of the transition from the modern to the postmodern way of life. He defines this transition as the vital crossroad of our times. Technology and ideology, these two major forces that distinctly marked modernity, can no longer be regarded as guarantors of the prosperity of humanity. By contrast, anthropology, the theory of the human being, rises in the horizon. For Begzos, anthropology is dependent to ontology and directly related to theology, both historically and conceptually. The religious-philosophical writings of Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker (1912-2007) provides here the scaffolding for an in-depth discussion of the problems raised by the current state of the relationship between anthropology and theology, and that between theology and ontology.

      In the first part of the book the conception of God by Weizsäcker is examined. Under the influence both of Werner Heisenberg, a physicist who contributed much to the theory of the quantum mechanics, and of Martin Heidegger, a philosopher who delved into the metaphysics of Being and Time. Weizsäcker, in his own work, assigns ontological primacy to time and acknowledges the significance of historicity for a proper conception of time: the characteristic quality of time is its non-reversibility. Some of the implications of these background assumptions are the reluctance to dwell on the past, the emphasis on the openness of future, and the maintenance of a critical distance from traditional metaphysics. As for the relationship between religion and ontology, such a conception of time puts eschatology, defined as the ontology of the future, into the forefront. For Weizsäcker the principal flaw of modern theological thought is precisely the attenuation of this eschatological potential. Theology is a science, indeed. It also transcends the boundaries of a clearly demarcated scientific discipline though, since it presupposes a personal first-hand experience and entails a way of life. Religious experience should be reformed through the active awareness of the openness of time.

      The question of God cannot be properly articulated in philosophical terms neither in the framework of cosmological theism nor in that of the epistemological atheism. An ontological shift from cosmology to eschatology is required. What must be sought after is the meaning of eschata, the ‘last times’, not the ascertainment of the first causes. Faith should be regarded as confidence, as an existential stance of anticipation, the validity of which can be tested in history, as the expectation that the promise given by God will be fulfilled. God should be regarded not as a substance, but as a personalized strength and power (Macht), conceived in terms of possibility. As a consequence, love should be regarded as the very essence of Christianism, in which knowledge and instinct are combined. The scientific and technological world that was produced in modern times was the result of a disjunction between knowledge and love. The enlightenment, being coextensive with rationalism, humanism, intellectualism and individualism, has shaped the modern world, by begetting the natural science, the natural right, and the natural religion. Mobilizing knowledge as a means to challenge authority, it was a liberating movement, comparable to Israel’s exit from Egyptian bondage, and it still remains necessary. Besides, it is also deficient, since it disregards the passion of love and is excessively attached to reason. Civilized humanity cannot survive without enlightenment. Its further progress, however, is unrealizable through relying solely on the enlightenment. The attempts to salvage the enlightenment can succeed only if they tend to the completion of this liberating movement, which is to say, only if they bring anthropology forward, in the same prominent which is presently monopolized by technology and political ideology.

      The second part of Begzos’ book is dedicated to the anthropology of Weizsäcker. By proposing a historical anthropology, Weizsäcker points out the mutual relevance of the biological anthropology, the psychological anthropology, and the anthropology pertaining to the political ideology, while highlighting the limitations posed by these anthropologies to certain one-sided philosophical approaches such as rationalism, individualism, dualism, psychologism, and materialism. Reason and passion, life and death, nature and soul, consciousness and the unconscious, spirit and matter, all these conceptual pairs are critically reviewed in order to prepare the ground for a more comprehensive knowledge of the human being that would not isolate some facets of human life from the other. The theological anthropology can complement and enrich the three above mentioned anthropologies, by grounding the human being on a spiritual reality. Integrating the notion of repentance, the practice of spiritual meditation and the morality of self-control (asceticism) into his philosophical synthesis, Weizsäcker develops a philosophy of religion in which humanism is retained, individualism is rejected, because the human being does not exist, but co-exists, and asceticism becomes once again available as an option for postmodern humanity striving after a more comprehensive anthropology, a more complete awareness of its being and becoming.

      The cosmology of Weizsäcker is the topic of the third part of the book. In modernity the human being is considered as an individual, and the world as an infinite. In the 17th century, the autonomy of the modern human being went hand in hand with the astronomy of the boundless universe, as epitomized in the case of Galileo. In the 20th century, however, there is a shift from the individual to the person, the society and the unconscious, whereas, through the General Theory of Relativity and the development of non-Euclidean geometries, the infinity of the universe is in its own turn relativized. Weizsäcker is opposed to Galileo’s dualism between theology and cosmology, but he also criticizes the apologetic theology for being led astray in dualistic traps and in dictating the ‘correct’ answers to the cosmological questions. Instead, theology should transform dualism into a dialectics between the infinite and the finite or rather beyond the infinite and the finite. The same dualism between science and religion, Christianism and Enlightenment, is also exemplified in the case of Darwin, under the form of a dilemma between biblical creation and biological evolution. Once again, Weizsäcker adopts a dialectical view: he acknowledges the potential of the biological theory of evolution, without overlooking its vulnerable points, such as the capitalist origins of Darwinism and the ideological passion that motivated its dissemination. The dualism between biology and theology should be transformed into a dialectics between evolutionism and eschatology. Apologetic philosophy must abandon the Aristotelian teleology and the biological vitalism, two of the weapons that it has used repeatedly against the theory of evolution. What is important today is to focus on three assumptions that could bring evolutionism and eschatology closer to one another: the ontological priority of historical time, the ontological referentiality of the human individual, and the ontological preference for dialectical unity.

      Finally, on the level of the social and political reality, the dualism between Christianism and secularization should be transformed into a dialectics between eschatology and chiliasm. Both Marxism and liberalism retain Christian elements within them, and they represent different expressions of a chiliasm that has been secularized. What they lack is eschatology. For Weizsäcker, secularization is a Christian heresy. It must be seen not as an anti-Christian phenomenon but as a post-Christian one. The awareness of this fact opens up the possibility of collaboration between religious and non-religious persons so as to find common ways to go beyond the contradictions of our times. Both the totalitarianism of the religionized premodernity and the individualism of the secularized modernity must be transcended.