Eschatology and otherness: The intersection of two incompatible horizons (theological essay)

  1. Lemma
  2. Ἐσχατολογία καί ἑτερότητα: Ἡ διασταύρωση δύο ἀσύμβατων ὁριζόντων (Θεολογικό δοκίμιο)
  3. English
  4. Koutalis, Vangelis
  5. Co-existence - Orthodox Anthropology - Orthodox theological tradition and practice > Eschatology - Orthodox theological tradition and practice > Premodern _modern_ postmodern - Concepts of knowledge and modes of reasoning > Philosophy of science/epistemology
  6. 21-5-2017
  7. Ventis, Haralambos [Author]. Eschatology and otherness: The intersection of two incompatible horizons (theological essay)
  8. Ἐσχατολογία καί ἑτερότητα: Ἡ διασταύρωση δύο ἀσύμβατων ὁριζόντων (Θεολογικό δοκίμιο) - Athens: Grigoris Publications, 2005.
  9. Rorty, Richard - nominalism - eschatology - Messianism - falsifiability - Metaphysics - Otherness - human personhood - Incarnation - The Paraclete's descent
    1. <p>Ventis, H. [Βέντης, Χ.] (2005). <em>Ἐσχατολογία καί ἑτερότητα: Ἡ διασταύρωση δύο ἀσύμβατων ὁριζόντων (Θεολογικό δοκίμιο)</em>. Athens: Grigoris Publications.</p>
    1. The central question addressed in this essay is the relevance of Orthodox theology to current philosophical and epistemological debates, in the light of the escalating aversion evinced by postmodern thought towards eschatology, the latter being usually taken to be coextensive with metaphysics. Richard Rorty’s pragmatist humanism is considered here as an exemplary instance of this general tendency to eschew erecting metaphysical systems and grand narratives. Postmodern nominalism rejects, from the outset, the possibility that an Archimedean point, lying outside language, transcending the causal network which binds every living organism together with its environment, and allowing thus an objective, privileged inspection of the world and the history, could ever be found. By assigning ontological primacy to the particular, which in its temporal texture is identified with the singular and the unrepeatable, it puts the accent on otherness as the most effective bulwark against the arbitrariness of any eschatological deontology. Even in the case of the positive sciences, their precedence over other ways of knowing is attributed to the fact that the scientific propositions are always falsifiable, potentially under revision, rather than to a visible cumulative progress. Postmodern philosophical literature is permeated by an anti-foundationalist spirit. Could theological discourse become compatible with the requirements of falsifiability and critical self-negation which are characteristic of the current spiritual condition?    

      Eschatology and ontology are, according to the author, the two principal arteries of Christianism, as can be ascertained by the liturgical experience of the Church. As a matter of fact, twentieth-century theology has reinstated the eschatological perspective at the heart of Christian consciousness, despite certain attempts, such as that of Rudolf Bultmann, to reinterpret the Christian eschatology in metaphorical terms, as a subjective lived experience of a personal encounter with God. The author, however, argues that the Christian eschatology should be disengaged both from historical determinism, since the advent of the final events cannot be forced by any programmatic activism, and from social conformism or passive isolationism, since salvation is always linked to the responsibility and care for the neighbor. Eschatology is not to be confused with Messianism. Through the Eucharist, an eschatological dimension penetrates into history, but this dimension is not transformed itself into history.

      Christian eschatology intersects ontology in the emergence of personhood and its otherness: in Orthodox tradition, the person is singular and unrepeatable, but only within the community, within the Church, in its relating to others, can be recognized as an end in itself. The Christian revelation contains within itself a peculiar ‘anti-foundationalism’, in so far as its character is not objective but invocatory. As illustrated in the Incarnation of the Divine Word in the Person of Christ and in the Paraclete’s descent, truth is not imposed from above under the form of an idea. By contrast, it is ontologically dependent on the voluntary congregation of the believers. The piety of the Orthodox people is not theoretical but empirical and concrete. Theology, steering away from dogmatism and retaining the universality of the eschatological vision of the coming Kingdom of God, instead of uncritically defending cultural tradition or the social-political status quo, fosters a critical disposition, goes against what is presented as self-evident, tends to relativize given habits and ideologies, in an analogous way as the conceptions and laws of modern physics refute common beliefs and expectations.