Transcendental theology

Transcendental theology is a term invented by Immanuel Kant to describe a method of discerning theological concepts.[1] Kant divided transcendental theology into "ontotheology" and "cosmotheology", both of which he also invented, "in order to distinguish between two competing types of 'transcendental theology'".[2]

Kant defined the relationship between ontotheology and cosmostheology as follows:

"Transcendental theology aims either at inferring the existence of a Supreme Being from a general experience, without any closer reference to the world to which this experience belongs, and in this case it is called cosmotheology; or it endeavours to cognize the existence of such a being, through mere conceptions, without the aid of experience, and is then termed ontotheology."[1]

The problem of transcendental theology as developed by Kant is that human reason is not capable of proving God's existence. Kant solves this problem by appealing to moral symbolism. Thus, Kant describes God as a moral trinity: holy lawgiver, good governor, and just judge.[3]

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b Kant, Immanuel, Critique of Pure Reason, Section VII: Critique of all Theology based upon Speculative Principles of Reason.
  2. ^ Thomson, Iain Donald (2005). Heidegger on Ontotheology. Technology and the Politics of Education. Cambridge University Press. p. 7. ISBN 0521851157.
  3. ^ For details, see Stephen Palmquist, "Kant's Perspectival Foundation for Critical Theology", Part Two of Kant's Critical Religion (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000).
Avatar

An avatar (Sanskrit: अवतार, IAST: avatāra), a concept in Hinduism that means "descent", refers to the material appearance or incarnation of a deity on earth. The relative verb to "alight, to make one's appearance" is sometimes used to refer to any guru or revered human being.The word avatar does not appear in the Vedic literature, but appears in verb forms in post-Vedic literature, and as a noun particularly in the Puranic literature after the 6th century CE. Despite that, the concept of an avatar is compatible with the content of the Vedic literature like the Upanishads as it is symbolic imagery of the Saguna Brahman concept in the philosophy of Hinduism. The Rigveda describes Indra as endowed with a mysterious power of assuming any form at will. The Bhagavad Gita expounds the doctrine of Avatara but with terms other than avatar.Theologically, the term is most often associated with the Hindu god Vishnu, though the idea has been applied to other deities. Varying lists of avatars of Vishnu appear in Hindu scriptures, including the ten Dashavatara of the Garuda Purana and the twenty-two avatars in the Bhagavata Purana, though the latter adds that the incarnations of Vishnu are innumerable. The avatars of Vishnu are important in Vaishnavism theology. In the goddess-based Shaktism tradition of Hinduism, avatars of the Devi in different appearances such as Tripura Sundari, Durga and Kali are commonly found. While avatars of other deities such as Ganesha and Shiva are also mentioned in medieval Hindu texts, this is minor and occasional. The incarnation doctrine is one of the important differences between Vaishnavism and Shaivism traditions of Hinduism.Incarnation concepts similar to avatar are also found in Buddhism, Christianity, and other religions. The scriptures of Sikhism include the names of numerous Hindu gods and goddesses, but it rejected the doctrine of savior incarnation and endorsed the view of Hindu Bhakti movement saints such as Namdev that formless eternal god is within the human heart and man is his own savior.

Cosmotheology

The term cosmotheology, along with the term "ontotheology", was invented by Immanuel Kant "in order to distinguish between two competing types of "transcendental theology".Kant defined the relationship between ontotheology and cosmostheology as follows:

"Transcendental theology aims either at inferring the existence of a Supreme Being from a general experience, without any closer reference to the world to which this experience belongs, and in this case it is called cosmotheology; or it endeavours to cognize the existence of such a being, through mere conceptions, without the aid of experience, and is then termed ontotheology."

Critique of Pure Reason

The Critique of Pure Reason (Kritik der reinen Vernunft) is a 1781 book by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant, in which the author seeks to determine the limits and scope of metaphysics. A heavily-revised second edition was published in 1787. Also referred to as Kant's "First Critique", it was followed by the Critique of Practical Reason (1788) and the Critique of Judgment (1790). In the preface to the first edition, Kant explains that by a "critique of pure reason" he means not "a critique of books and systems, but of the faculty of reason in general, in respect of all knowledge after which it may strive independently of all experience" and that he aims to reach a decision about "the possibility or impossibility of metaphysics". The First Critique is often viewed as culminating several centuries of early-modern philosophy, and inaugurating modern philosophy.

Kant builds on the work of empiricist philosophers such as John Locke and David Hume, as well as rationalists such as Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and Christian Wolff. He expounds new ideas on the nature of space and time, and tries to provide solutions to Hume's scepticism regarding human knowledge of the relation of cause and effect, and René Descartes' scepticism regarding knowledge of the external world. This is argued through the transcendental idealism of objects (as appearance) and their form of appearance. Kant regards the former "as mere representations and not as things in themselves", and the latter as "only sensible forms of our intuition, but not determinations given for themselves or conditions of objects as things in themselves". This grants the possibility of a priori knowledge, since objects as appearance "must conform to our cognition . . . which is to establish something about objects before they are given to us". Knowledge independent of experience Kant calls "a priori" knowledge, while knowledge obtained through experience is termed "a posteriori". According to Kant, a proposition is a priori if it is necessary and universal. A proposition is necessary if it could not possibly be false, and so cannot be denied without contradiction. A proposition is universal if it is true in all cases, and so does not admit of any exceptions. Knowledge gained a posteriori through the senses, Kant argues, never imparts absolute necessity and universality, because it is always possible that we might encounter an exception.Kant claims to have discovered another attribute of propositions: the distinction between "analytic" and "synthetic" judgments. According to Kant, a proposition is analytic if the content of the predicate-concept of the proposition is already contained within the subject-concept of that proposition. For example, Kant considers the proposition "All bodies are extended" analytic, since the predicate-concept ('extended') is already contained within—or "thought in"—the subject-concept of the sentence ('body'). The distinctive character of analytic judgements was therefore that they can be known to be true simply by an analysis of the concepts contained in them; they are true by definition. In synthetic propositions, on the other hand, the predicate-concept is not already contained within the subject-concept. For example, Kant considers the proposition "All bodies are heavy" synthetic, since the concept 'body' does not already contain within it the concept 'weight'. Synthetic judgments therefore add something to a concept, whereas analytic judgments only explain what is already contained in the concept.

Prior to Kant, it was thought that all a priori knowledge must be analytic. Kant, however, argues that our knowledge of mathematics, of the first principles of natural science, and of metaphysics, is both a priori and synthetic. The peculiar nature of this knowledge, Kant argues, cries out for explanation. The central problem of the Critique is therefore to answer the question: "How are synthetic a priori judgements possible?" It is a "matter of life and death" to metaphysics and to human reason, Kant argues, that the grounds of this kind of knowledge be explained.Though it received little attention when it was first published, the Critique later attracted attacks from both empiricist and rationalist critics, and became a source of controversy. It has exerted an enduring influence on Western philosophy, and helped to bring about the development of German idealism.

Existence of God

The existence of God is a subject of debate in the philosophy of religion and popular culture.A wide variety of arguments for and against the existence of God can be categorized as metaphysical, logical, empirical, or subjective. In philosophical terms, the question of the existence of God involves the disciplines of epistemology (the nature and scope of knowledge) and ontology (study of the nature of being, existence, or reality) and the theory of value (since some definitions of God include "perfection").

The Western tradition of philosophical discussion of the existence of God began with Plato and Aristotle, who made arguments that would now be categorized as cosmological. Other arguments for the existence of God have been proposed by St. Anselm, who formulated the first ontological argument; Ibn Rushd (Averroes) and Thomas Aquinas, who presented their own versions of the cosmological argument (the kalam argument and the first way, respectively); René Descartes, who said that the existence of a benevolent God is logically necessary for the evidence of the senses to be meaningful. John Calvin argued for a sensus divinitatis, which gives each human a knowledge of God's existence.

Philosophers who have provided arguments against the existence of God include Immanuel Kant, David Hume, Friedrich Nietzsche and Bertrand Russell. In modern culture, the question of God's existence has been discussed by scientists such as Stephen Hawking, Francis Collins, Lawrence M. Krauss, Richard Dawkins, Carl Sagan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, John Lennox and Sam Harris, as well as philosophers including Richard Swinburne, Alvin Plantinga, William Lane Craig, Rebecca Goldstein, A. C. Grayling, Daniel Dennett, Edward Feser and David Bentley Hart.

Scientists follow the scientific method, within which theories must be verifiable by physical experiment. The majority of prominent conceptions of God explicitly or effectively posit a being which is not testable either by proof or disproof. On these bases, the question regarding the existence of God, one for which evidence cannot be tested, may lie outside the purview of modern science by definition. The Catholic Church maintains that knowledge of the existence of God is the "natural light of human reason". Fideists maintain that belief in the existence of God may not be amenable to demonstration or refutation, but rests on faith alone.

Atheists view arguments for the existence of God as insufficient, mistaken or weighing less in comparison to arguments against whereas some religions, such as Buddhism, are not concerned with the existence of gods at all and yet other religions, such as Jainism, reject the possibility of a creator deity.

Immanuel Kant

Immanuel Kant (; German: [ʔɪˈmaːnu̯eːl ˈkant, -nu̯ɛl -]; 22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804) was a German philosopher who is a central figure in modern philosophy. In his doctrine of transcendental idealism, he argued that space, time and causation are mere sensibilities; "things-in-themselves" exist, but their nature is unknowable. In his view, the mind shapes and structures experience, with all human experience sharing certain structural features. He drew a parallel to the Copernican revolution in his proposition that worldly objects can be intuited a priori ("beforehand"), and that intuition is therefore independent from objective reality. Kant believed that reason is the source of morality, and that aesthetics arise from a faculty of disinterested judgment. Kant's views continue to have a major influence on contemporary philosophy, especially the fields of epistemology, ethics, political theory, and post-modern aesthetics.

In one of Kant's major works, the Critique of Pure Reason (1781), he attempted to explain the relationship between reason and human experience and to move beyond the failures of traditional philosophy and metaphysics. Kant wanted to put an end to an era of futile and speculative theories of human experience, while resisting the skepticism of thinkers such as David Hume. Kant regarded himself as showing the way past the impasse between rationalists and empiricists which philosophy had led to, and is widely held to have synthesized both traditions in his thought.Kant was an exponent of the idea that perpetual peace could be secured through universal democracy and international cooperation. He believed that this would be the eventual outcome of universal history, although it is not rationally planned. The nature of Kant's religious ideas continues to be the subject of philosophical dispute, with viewpoints ranging from the impression that he was an initial advocate of atheism who at some point developed an ontological argument for God, to more critical treatments epitomized by Nietzsche, who claimed that Kant had "theologian blood" and was merely a sophisticated apologist for traditional Christian faith.Kant published other important works on ethics, religion, law, aesthetics, astronomy, and history. These include the Universal Natural History (1755), the Critique of Practical Reason (1788), the Metaphysics of Morals (1797), and the Critique of Judgment (1790), which looks at aesthetics and teleology.

Johann Baptist Metz

Johann Baptist Metz (born 5 August 1928) is a German Catholic theologian. He is Ordinary Professor of Fundamental Theology, Emeritus, at Westphalian Wilhelms University in Münster, Germany.

Natural theology

Natural theology, once also termed physico-theology, is a type of theology that provides arguments for the existence of God based on reason and ordinary experience of nature.

This distinguishes it from revealed theology, which is based on scripture and/or religious experiences, and from transcendental theology, which is based on a priori reasoning. It is thus a type of philosophy, with the aim of explaining the nature of the gods, or of one supreme God. For monotheistic religions, this principally involves arguments about the attributes or non-attributes of God, and especially the existence of God, using arguments that do not involve recourse to supernatural revelation.

Marcus Terentius Varro (116 BC – 27 BC) established a distinction between political theology (the social functions of religion), natural theology and mythical theology. His terminology became part of the Stoic tradition and then Christianity through Augustine of Hippo and Thomas Aquinas.

Ontotheology

Ontotheology means the ontology of God and/or the theology of being. While the term was first used by Immanuel Kant, it has only come into broader philosophical parlance with the significance it took for Martin Heidegger's later thought. While, for Heidegger, the term is used to critique the whole tradition of 'Western metaphysics', much recent scholarship has sought to question whether 'ontotheology' developed at a certain point in the metaphysical tradition, with many seeking to equate the development of 'ontotheological' thinking with the development of modernity, and Duns Scotus often being cited as the first 'ontotheologian'.

Outline of Christian theology

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Christian theology:

Christian theology is the study of Christian belief and practice. Such study concentrates primarily upon the texts of the Old Testament and the New Testament as well as on Christian tradition. Christian theologians use biblical exegesis, rational analysis and argument. Theology might be undertaken to help the theologian better understand Christian tenets; to make comparisons between Christianity and other traditions; to defend Christianity against objections and criticism; to facilitate reforms in the Christian church and to assist in the propagation of Christianity.

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