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On Religion: Speeches to its Cultured Despisers - schleiermacher

Uploaded by Brent R Goodin on May 09, 2004

Friedrich Schleiermacher, a Protestant theologian, philosopher, and educator, who wrote On Religion: Speeches to its Cultured Despisers (1799), ventured into Christian dogmatics in a non-conventional yet avant-garde manner. His new approach to critically analyzing religion signaled the beginning of the era of Protestant Liberal Theology whilst simultaneously placing his book among the “classic” substantive works that speaks to “religion and Christian faith” (Schleiermacher vii).

Schleiermacher, sometimes called the “father of modern theology,” believes shreds of faith are present in knowing (doctrine) and doing (ethical action), but it is most fully encapsulated by a kind of “feeling” or intuition, the “feeling (consciousness) of absolute dependence.”

Faith belongs to two levels: the foremost, which is the “immediate” self-consciousness and the second, which is the “sensible” self-consciousness (Schleiermacher 36). The latter refers to the self in relation to the world. The ‘world’ consists of nature and society. Therefore, the two levels are inexorably linked.

He proposed to the “cultural despisers” of religion that when they rejected traditional dogmas, they were not in essence rejecting the faith upon which it was founded. They despise dogma and its application in the societal realm which parallels to one’s distaste for the shell and not the peanut within; they are fixed upon its trappings. The same principle pertains to defenders of religion since they do not defend religion either; it is a mere buttress for morals and social institutions. To truly ascertain religion, one must close his/her eyes to false appearances and associations ingrained by history and society, and delve into the self-interior of one’s pious soul.

Every human being is or has the potential to be to be a devout soul. The difficulty arises in the process of self-dissection or introspection. When one exhumes the “feeling” for the unity underlying the interconnectedness of all finite things, one experiences faith. [Schleiermacher uses faith, piety, and religion interchangeably.] Religion is the contemplation of the pious; it is about having life and knowing it a certain way.

Religion, at its core, is not “the intellect” (i.e. objective knowledge) or “the will” (subjective knowledge). Objective knowledge refers to reason and one’s perception of the world whereas subjective knowledge is that which pours forth from experience and personal idiosyncrasy. As an infant the boundary between subject and object melts away; the synthesis...

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Uploaded by:   Brent R Goodin

Date:   05/09/2004

Category:   Religion

Length:   4 pages (958 words)

Views:   2063

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