Das Paulusbild in der neueren deutschen Forschung
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Thursday, 27 September 2007
You may send this item to up to five recipients. The name field is required. Furthermore, this Holy is a category a priori, and as such beyond empirical criticism. Otto's Kantianism is muddled. It is, however, a complex category, consisting not just of the nonrational numinous but also of rational symbolic and ethical elements that "schematize" the numinous and result in relatively persistent but culturally variable religious forms.
Within the framework provided by these basic convictions in philosophy and psychology, Otto worked extensively in the history of religions. After his journey of to he learned Sanskrit and translated several religious texts into German. Both works ascribe the distinctiveness and superiority of Christianity to a dynamism that derives from its Jewish roots.
Otto's last major work, Reich Gottes und Menschensohn , is genealogical rather than comparative in intent and bridges what in the two major comparative studies is a divide between the Christian and the Indo-Iranian or, as that cultural region was called, Aryan. It examines the alleged Iranian roots of Christianity, although it still attributes the highest Christian insights to its Jewish ancestry.
Otto's work in the history of religions was not all descriptive. Influenced in particular by biology, he made modest attempts to identify processes at work in religious history, such as his account of parallels and convergences; that is, of similarities that derive not from common ancestry but from adaptation to similar environmental circumstances. But Otto did not expect comparative study to reveal the universal conceptual or symbolic content of religion, a point he made as early as his critique of Wilhelm Wundt Indeed, the structure of Otto's thought, oriented to a universal feeling beyond thought and expression, relegates symbols and ideas to a culturally determined rational schematization and so is fundamentally incompatible with later attempts by scholars such as C.
Jung and Mircea Eliade to identify universal elements of religious or mythic thought. In old age Otto declined an invitation to participate in the first Eranos conference. Otto's ethics, left incomplete, has received relatively little attention, but like his work on religion it builds upon a descriptive psychology of moral feelings, such as the feelings of guilt and responsibility.
Schweitzer and Paul
One might also note that Otto's thinking was never isolated from the world but always explicitly engaged with it, especially with the church and state. In the church, Otto strove to improve worship and ministry by encouraging liberal theology and incorporating moments of numinous experience into the liturgy. He was also convinced that his insights into religion could further the interests of the German state, which came into existence during his infancy, but his assessment of those interests changed over time.
In the Nazi period he claimed that the study of religions revealed the struggle of the German soul at its most profound and that dialogue between Protestants and Catholics was necessary to unify the German nation. When it appeared in late dated , Otto's account of the Holy created an immediate sensation, and it was quickly translated into English , Swedish , Spanish , Italian , Japanese , Dutch , and French The impact was especially pronounced in the English-speaking world, perhaps because of affinities between Otto's thought and English Romanticism e.
Otto's word numinous , his phrase mysterium tremendum et fascinans occasionally cited as fascinosum , which means something different in Latin , and even the title of his book, "The Idea of the Holy," still enjoy a certain currency among English-speaking writers and artists, even apart from the details of Otto's thought.
Although himself a theologian, Otto's impact upon Protestant theology was muted, because his attempt to found religion on human experience went counter to the tenets of neoorthodoxy. Paul Tillich, however, made significant use of Otto's ideas, and recently some theologians interested in interreligious dialogue e. Otto's most significant impact was on the comparative study of religions, especially that form often known as phenomenology. Students and successors utilized Otto's analysis in far-reaching accounts that saw religion as the expression of an experience sui generis.
Indeed, Otto's analysis became part of a standard rationale for founding independent academic units to study religion. With time, however, scholars have become suspicious that Otto's ideas improperly universalize structures that best fit Christianity. In addition, the widespread turn to culture and language that began in the s tended to reject Otto's account of an experience that was autonomous, primary, and universal, and either to speak of experiences as shaped by particular cultural and symbolic environments or to ignore them altogether.
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Furthermore, a significant number of scholars have rejected Otto's insistence upon introspection and his prerequisite that in order to study the source of religion scholars possess a sensus numinis as a violation of scientific method. Among North American scholars, historical interest in Otto has been eclipsed by interest in William James. The concurrence of neuropsychology, cognitive science, and the study of religion that took place in the s returned in significant respects to themes that interested Otto, but in a way that reveals the difficulties of using Otto's thought today: For example, neuropsychologists such as Eugene d'Aquili and Andrew Newberg have studied religious experiences that are reminiscent of Otto's numinous experience, but unlike Otto they postulate a unitary mind-brain, and so seek to discover the basis for religious experiences in the structure and functioning of the physical brain.
Some theologians have seen in such work a foundation and validation for human religiosity — a fulfillment of Otto's ultimate theological aim, if by a somewhat different route. Cognitive scientists such as Pascal Boyer, Scott Atran, and Stewart Guthrie have had relatively little interest in religious experiences, even if they have on occasion mimicked Otto's phrases, perhaps unconsciously. Nevertheless, in significant respects their fundamental questions resemble Otto's.
In a manner reminiscent of Kantianism they want both to identify the a priori, universal structures that shape intuitive, prerational cognition folk physics, biology, and psychology and to relate to those structures the cognitive processes that make religion possible. But they focus on mental representations rather than feelings and intuitions, and they embrace rather than reject evolutionary explanation. Like Otto they do postulate a plurality of distinct mental domains, but they define them in terms of content inanimate object, living thing, animal, human rather than varieties of rationality theoretical, practical, aesthetic , and unlike Otto they do not consider religious cognition to constitute an independent, universal domain.
Although they see religion as beyond adequate rational formulation, they attribute this to the symbolic rather than literal quality of religious representation and, unlike Otto, see it as a mark against the literal veracity of religious claims. Finally, they expect to test their claims not through introspection but through vigorous, cross-cultural experimentation. So long as presumptions such as these dominate, Otto's account of religious experience will remain data for the history of religious thought, but it will not be a live theoretical option within the study of religions.
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