A Philosophical Anthropology of the Cross
The Cruciform Self
Publication Year: 2013
What does the cross, both as a historical event and a symbol of religious discourse, tell us about human beings? Brian Gregor draws together a hermeneutics of the self—through Heidegger, Gadamer, Ricoeur, and Taylor—and a theology of the cross—through Luther, Kierkegaard, Bonhoeffer, and Jüngel. He offers a bold and original view of what philosophical anthropology might look like if it took the cross seriously instead of breaking it down into competing philosophical concepts.
Published by: Indiana University Press
Cover, Title Page, Copyright
Many people deserve acknowledgment for their help and support in bringing this book to print. I would like to thank Merold Westphal for his interest in my work and for welcoming this book into his series; Kevin Hart for his comments and suggestions on the manuscript; Dee Mortensen, Marvin Keenan, and Sarah Jacobi at Indiana University Press...
List of Abbreviations
1. Philosophy, the Cross, and Human Being
Justifying religious faith through thinking consciousness: this is arguably the highest aspiration of the philosophy of religion. Whether this aspiration is itself justifiable, however, is another question. Can religious faith be grasped and grounded, so that its content is justified by the necessity of the philosophical concept? Does religious faith have its telos in philosophical...
2. The Hermeneutics of the Self
In Book XI of his Confessions, Augustine records his perplexity over the nature of time. What is it? We talk about it all the time in our everyday conversations, as if we know what it is. “What then is time? Provided that no one asks me, I know. If I want to explain it to an inquirer, I do not know.”1 Something similar is true about the self: in late modern Western culture, we talk about...
3. Faith, Substance, and the Cross
In the previous chapter we discussed Charles Taylor’s claim that human beings are self-interpreting animals. As we saw, self-interpretation is a matter of strong evaluation, a second-order evaluation of oneself. Are my desires, goals, and commitments good? Am I living the way I should? Is it good that I “am”? We evaluate ourselves, in this strong sense, within a horizon of significance— i.e., a set of...
4. The Incurved Self
The purpose of this chapter is to work out two related claims regarding how to think about the fallen self, i.e., the self in sin. First, following on the relational ontology we sketched in the previous chapter, we need to think about sin relationally rather than in terms of substance and accidents. Second, in order to understand sin, we need recourse to figurative discourse. Taking Ricoeur as...
5. The Anthropological Question
Who am I? This is the question of the human being seeking self-understanding. It is also a question the incurved self cannot ultimately answer, because it seeks to answer this question itself through reflection on its own possibilities and acts. In order for the self to be put into the truth about itself, it must be addressed by a word from outside of itself. This external word constitutes the self...
6. The Concreteness and Continuity of Faith
In chapter 5 we saw how the self is constituted through the address of an external word, which gives the self its point of unity (Einheitspunkt). But if the self is constituted in the event of being addressed, how does the self have continuity from moment to moment? Does this event have any concrete extension in the life of the self, or does this account lead in the direction...
7. The Capable Human Being as a Penultimate Good
In chapter 6 we saw that the cruciform self is not a punctual self. In this chapter I demonstrate the sense in which the cruciform self is a capable self, since capability is one of the central themes of philosophical anthropology. On Ricoeur’s definition, capability is a power or potentiality that the self is able to exercise— most basically, “the power to cause something to...
8. The Call to Responsibility
As a result of the preceding chapter, we can see how the category of the penultimate allows us to affirm human capability yet also discern the limits of human capability and avoid a synergistic confusion of divine and human agency. The ultimate word is pronounced from beyond the self and its immanent possibilities and capacities, but within the horizon of the penultimate...
9. Reflexivity, Intentionality, and Self-Understanding
In chapter 7 we saw how the category of the penultimate allows for a critical affirmation of human capability. This chapter employs a similar strategy regarding self-reflexivity and self-understanding, showing that the for-itself has a proper penultimate status in the life of faith and that the cruciform self is a self-interpreting animal. It is necessary to make this argument given our...
10. Religion within the Limits of the Penultimate?
We have seen how the cruciform self fits and conflicts with a number of themes of philosophical anthropology, such that we can understand the sense in which the cruciform self is also a homo capax, a responsible self, and a self-reflexive, self-interpreting animal. In this final chapter we will see whether we should think of the cruciform self as a...