2020-21

Modernity

Time & Location

2020-21

Description

In academic year 2020-21, we’re hosting a nine-part virtual lecture series on the subject of modernity, made possible by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation. Some modern thinkers—reflecting upon the Holocaust, instrumentalized reason, and modern transformations of religious faith—have argued that modernity should be understood as “crisis.” In view of its critical significance, these thinkers have interpreted modernity as gift, others as tragedy, and still others as both. What does this mean, both in itself, and for the human spirit? How might these ideas illuminate how we think about the power and limits of reason in driving scientific & technological advancement, as well as political community? Other thinkers, moreover, have observed that after the “death of God” and “death of metaphysics” in collective consciousness, we still have art. Should we then reorient ourselves around beauty—rather than religion or speculative philosophy—in hopes of entering into the highest possibilities of knowledge and experience (cf. Whitehead)? Or, as Weil says, is this experience of beauty inseparable from the holy? 


In this lecture series, we will explore these questions through a study of the structure and meaning of being, reason, and communion, as interpreted in modern (largely continental) philosophy and theology. Of central interest will be the possibility of a relational metaphysics (*). If human being is substance in relation, how are we to think about areas of common life such as law and ethics?


The nine lectures will address some but not all of the texts below; the list is provided as suggestion for further reading.


Being – Fall Quarter

“In the impotent failure of our broken attempts to draw near to God and in the desolation of our being cast back upon the finite by the ‘poverty’ of non-subsistent being, we experience the bright darkness of God’s intimacy.” –Ferdinand Ulrich


  • *Clarke – Person and Being (Marquette University Press, 1993)

  • Przywara – Analogia Entis: Metaphysics- Original Structure and Universal Rhythm (Eerdmans, 2014, first edition (German) 1932)

  • Rosenzweig – The Star of Redemption (University of Notre Dame Press, 1985, first edition (German) 1921)

  • Stein – Finite and Eternal Being: An Attempt at an Ascent to the Meaning of Being (ICS Publications, 2002, first edition (German) 1950, posthumous)

  • *Tillich – Systematic Theology I, Being and God (University of Chicago Press, 1951)

  • Ulrich – Homo Abyssus: The Drama of the Question of Being (Humanum Academic Press, 2018, first edition (German) 1961)

  • *Whitehead – Process and Reality [Gifford Lectures 1927-28] (Free Press, 1979)

  • *Wilhelmsen – The Metaphysics of Love (Routledge, 2015)


Reason – Winter Quarter

“The depth of reason is the expression of something that is not reason but which precedes reason and is manifest through it . . . It could be called the ‘substance’ which appears in the rational structure, or ‘being-itself’ which is manifest in the logos of being, or the ‘ground’ which is creative in every rational creation, or the ‘abyss’ which cannot be exhausted by any creation or by any totality of them, or the ‘infinite potentiality of being and meaning’ which pours into the rational structures of mind and reality, actualizing and transforming them.” –Paul Tillich


  • Lonergan – Insight (University of Toronto Press, 1992)

  • Maritain – Degrees of Knowledge (Geoffrey Bles, 1937, first edition (French) 1932)

  • Nasr – Knowledge and the Sacred [Gifford Lectures 1981] (SUNY Press, 1989)

  • Rahner – Spirit in the World (Bloomsbury Academic, 1994, first edition (German) 1939)

  • Schindler – The Catholicity of Reason (Eerdmans, 2013)

  • Tillich – Systematic Theology I, Reason and Revelation (University of Chicago Press, 1951)


Communion – Spring Quarter

“Trust is not of our own making; it is given. Our life is so constituted that it cannot be lived except as one person lays him or herself open to another person and puts him or herself into that person’s hands either by showing or claiming trust . . . Herein lies the unarticulated and one might say anonymous demand that we take care of the life which trust has placed in our hands.” –Knud Ejler Løgstrup


“My own journey to political theology has been through the impact of concern for the global environment. Since childhood I have been interested in politics and especially in international affairs. Later, Reinhold Niebuhr constituted my first taste of serious Christian theology, and he has been a hero for me ever since. Yet until 1969 my theology developed rather independently of my political concerns. Only my realisation in that year that the whole human race was on a collision course with disaster shook me out of this dualism and forced me to rethink my theology in light of this most inclusive question of human destiny.” –John B. Cobb


  • Arendt – The Human Condition (University of Chicago Press, 1958)

  • Bloch – Natural Law and Human Dignity (MIT Press, 1986, first edition (German) 1961)

  • Bloch – The Principle of Hope, Volume I (MIT Press, 1995, first edition (German) 1938)

  • Buber – I and Thou (Scribner’s, 1970, trans. Kaufmann; first edition (German) 1923)

  • Caputo – The Weakness of God: A Theology of the Event (Indiana University Press, 2006)

  • Cobb – Process Theology as Political Theology (Westminster Press, 1982)

  • Fuller – The Morality of Law (Yale University Press, 1965)

  • Habermas & Ratzinger – Dialectics of Secularization (Ignatius Press, 2007)

  • Küng – On Being a Christian (Doubleday, 1976)

  • Levinas – Of God Who Comes to Mind (Stanford University Press, 1998, first edition (French) 1982)

  • Levinas – Totality and Infinity (Duquesne University Press, 1969, first edition (French) 1961)

  • Løgstrup – The Ethical Demand (University of Notre Dame Press, 1997, first edition (Danish) 1956)

  • Marion – Prolegomena to Charity (Fordham University Press, 2002, first edition (French) 1993)

  • Mounier – Personalism (University of Notre Dame Press, 1989, first edition (French) 1949)

  • Ratzinger – Caritas in veritate (2009)

  • Ratzinger – Deus caritas est (2005)

  • Simon – The Tradition of Natural Law: A Philosopher’s Reflections (Fordham University Press, 1965, 1992)

  • Tillich – Love, Power and Justice: Ontological Analysis & Ethical Applications (Oxford University Press, 1960)

  • Tillich – Systematic Theology III (University of Chicago Press, 1963)

  • Troeltsch – “The Ideas of Natural Law and Humanity in World Politics,” in Gierke, Natural Law and the Theory of Society 1500-1800, trans. E. Barker (Cambridge University Press, 1950)

  • Voegelin – The Nature of Law and Related Legal Writings, Collected Works of Eric Voegelin, Volume 27 (Louisiana State University Press, 1991)

  • Walsh – Politics of the Person as the Politics of Being (University of Notre Dame Press, 2016)

  • Weil – The Need for Roots (Routledge, 1952, first edition (French) 1949)

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