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Masters in
Systematic and Philosophical Theology


Tutor: Dr. Johannes Hoff
Module Aims
Schleiermacher is, beyond doubt, the most influential theologian of modernity,
and his influence reaches far beyond the scope of protestant traditions:
'He was the one in whom the great struggle of Christianity with the strivings and
achievements of the German spirit in 1750-1830 (...) took place (...). None of his
contemporaries with the possible exception of Hegel took up that struggle so
comprehensively or with such concern (...). But Schleiermacher is not dead for us
and his theological work has not been transcended (...). We study Paul and the
reformers, but we see with the eyes of Schleiermacher and think along the same lines
as he did.'1

However, Schleiermacher's far reaching influence did not save him from
becoming both the most criticized and the most ignored milestone of modern
theology. Schleiermacher unwillingly became the founder of a modern
theological movement, the tradition of 'liberal theology', and as a result the
target of the influential neo-orthodox countermovements of the 20th century.
Representatives of this movement are Emil Brunner and Karl Barth, and in
more recent times George Lindbeck and the Ressourcement theologians of the
Anglo-American language area. Eventually Schleiermacher's suspiciously
'modalistic' interpretation of the doctrine of the trinity became the trademark of
the shipwreck of 'liberal theology', and his name the catchphrase for a failed
theological project.
However, it is just as questionable to read Schleiermacher as a typical
representative of modern 'liberal theology' as it is to read Thomas Aquinas as a
typical representative of neo-scholasticism. Furthermore it is most often
arguable to accuse Schleiermacher for deficiencies in his theology of the trinity,
given that he shares these deficiencies with the majority of modern
interpretations of this doctrine wherever they try to avoid running into the trap
of a tritheistic mythologisation of Christian doctrine such as Jurgen Moltmann's
Against this background we may pose the question Karl Barth asked in the
above quote nearly one century ago: Why do we still tend to 'see with the eyes
of Schleiermacher and think along the same lines as he did' as soon as we
attempt to cultivate a style of theological thinking which does not ignore the
challenges of modernity?

Karl Barth, The theology of Schleiermacher. Lectures at Gbttingen, winter semester of 1923/24. Ed.
by Dietrich Ritschl; transl. by Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids, Mich, 1982), xiii.

This module will provide you with a guide to a revised reading of
Schleiermacher, starting with an introduction into the philosophical
foundations of his theology and their remaining significance in terms of
contemporary philosophy of mind. In addition to this, it will shed some light on
what we may call the 'family likenesses' of Schleiermacher's and Kierkegaard's
philosophy, which are due to the shared philosophical background of their
thinking. Finally this module will help you to read Kierkegaard as a
philosopher whose approach to Christianity is arguably able to overcome the
deficiencies of Schleiermacher's theology without losing his path breaking
criticism of scientific and theological reason, and without resorting to a Barthian
'leap of faith' with regard to the challenge of modern secularism.
The main parts of this module will focus on Schleiermacher. Kierkegaard will
only feature in the two last units. On completion of this module, students
should be able to:
• read theological and philosophical primary sources in their historical
• read Schleiermacher against the background of modern philosophy (see
the section A module on Philosophy and Theology).
• critically review the reading of Schleiermacher as a 'liberal theologian of
• distinguish between the rational language of scientific or philosophical
speculation ('dialectic') and the narrative language of faith ('herm-
• discuss Schleiermacher's and Kierkegaard's approach to the problem of
subjectivity against the background of the current philosophical 'mind-
body' debate
• discuss the problems of Schleiermacher's theology in the light of later
developments subsequent to Kierkegaard

Module Structure, Resources and Proceeding

The module is subdivided into seven units:

1. Basic Problems and Outline of Schleiermacher's Theology
2. Hermeneutics and Dialectics: The Philosophical Foundations of
Schleiermacher's Theology

3. Language, Subjectivity, and Philosophy of Mind: The Actuality of
4. The Christian Faith: Self-consciousness, Sin and Grace in
Schleiermacher's theological Opus Magnum
5. Schleiermacher's Disciples and his Critics
6. Self-consciousness, Sin and Faith in Kierkegaard's Sickness unto
7. The Paradox of Faith and the Transgression of Philosophical
Reason in Kierkegaard

Each section includes one or two source texts. In the case of Schleiermacher
these texts should be read together with the respectively indicated chapters of
the following companion, which is provided with this module:

Jacqueline Marina: The Cambridge companion to Friedrich Schleiermacher,
Cambridge Companions to Religion, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge
University Press 2005

In the case of Kierkegaard the pertinent chapters should be read together with a
special selection of essays which is provided with this module in pdf-format. I
also recommend that you read the following companion in order to familiarize
yourself with the broader background of Kierkegaard's philosophy:

Alastair Hannay; Gordon Daniel Marino (Ed.), The Cambridge
companion to Kierkegaard (Cambridge 1998)

The source texts on Schleiermacher (unit 1-5) do not aim to give a
comprehensive overview on Schleiermacher's theology. Rather they are aligned
to provide you with the guidelines of a philosophically grounded re-evaluation
of his theological texts. For this reason they are to be read in close connection
with the theologically more content-related essays of the companion. In
accordance with this approach the module texts will draw attention to the
following three problem areas:

1. the basic principles and rules of Schleiermacher's thinking, which
are rooted in his reflection on the problem of self-consciousness
(i.e. his discussion of the problem of subjectivity), his dialectic (i.e.
his discussion of the principles of knowledge) and hermeneutic
(i.e. his discussion of the problem of religious language)
2. the kinship between Schleiermacher's and Kierkegaard's
discussion of the problem of the self-consciousness

3. the differences between Schleiermacher and Kierkegaard which
may allow you to read Kierkegaard as the starting point of a more
sophisticated response to the challenges Schleiermacher tried to
cope with at the beginning of the 19th century.
A crucial element in the study of this module will be to develop a critical
understanding of these guiding questions. Similarly the questions at the end of
the units are designed to guide your thoughts with regard to more specific
topics of consideration. In some cases they are not related to my own
introductory text, but to the above Schleiermacher companion or the
accompanying essay selection about Kierkegaard's. Where applicable, this will
be indicated by an asterisk (*).
Naturally these introductory texts will not substitute the reading of further
secondary literature, which should not be restricted to the readings suggested
at the end of the respective units. Since the introductory texts of the units are
only designed to provide a hermeneutical guide to the reading of primary
sources, they will not include any further significant biographical information.
For this reason I strongly recommend that you familiarise yourself with the
biographies of Schleiermacher and Kierkegaard before reading the respective
module units. To perform this task you may read at least the following articles
about Schleiermacher and Kierkegaard in Routledge Reference Ressources online,
which are accessible online via ATHENS
Art. Schleiermacher, in:
• Encyclopaedia of Christian Theology
• Fifty Key Christian Thinkers
Art. Kierkegaard, in:
• The Encyclopaedia of Protestantism
• Fifty Key Christian Thinkers
• Encyclopaedia of Christian Theology
The same rule will be valid with respect to philosophical, theological or
linguistic technical terms in the relevant texts, like 'schematisation',
'signifier/signified' or 'semantics/syntactics/paradigmatics'. Very useful
dictionaries may found via ATHENS under the following links:

• Routledge Dictionaries:

• Oxford Dictionaries: SEARCH.html?subject=s2
• Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy:
• The British Academy Portal (philosophy):
• The British Academy Portal (theology):
• The Catholic Encyclopaedia

Further introductory literatures which will be in general of great value include:

Ebeling, G.; Funk, R. W.: Schleiermacher as contemporary, Journal for
Theology and the Church, New York, NY: Herder and Herder 1970.
Clare Carlisle, Kierkegaard. A guide for the perplexed (London, 2006)
Clements, K. W.: Friedrich Schleiermacher, Pioneer of modern theology,
London: Collins 1987 (includes a selection of primary texts).
Crouter, R.: Friedrich Schleiermacher. Between Enlightenment and romanticism,
Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press 2005.
Gardiner, P.: Kierkegaard. A very short introduction, Very short
introductions, Oxford: Oxford University Press 2002.
Gerrish, B. A.: A prince of the church. Schleiermacher and the beginnings of
modern theology, The Rockwell lectures, Philadelphia: Fortress Press
Gouwens, D. J.: Kierkegaard as religious thinker, Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press 1996.
Tice, T. N.: Schleiermacher, Abingdon pillars of theology, Nashville, TN:
Abingdon Press 2006.
Thandeka, The embodied self. Friedrich Schleiermacher's solution to Kant's
problem of the empirical self (Albany, 1995)
Julia Watkin, Kierkegaard (London, 1997)

Eventually it may be helpful to provide you with a general rule concerning
the reading of classical or continental philosophical texts. Philosophical texts
which are understandable after the first reading are strictly speaking not worth
to read. The experience of not "being able to make head or tail" of a text is part
and parcel of the philosophical practice of thinking. Some authors are able to
hide this confusing feature of philosophical texts so that you may read them
without realising that you did not 'get it'. However, philosophical texts that
spare the reader unreservedly from narcissistic injuries will never contain more
than worn out thinking stances. If you do not know how to cope with this

problem you may recall a directive Schleiermacher gave with regard to Plato
(though Plato was very good at hiding his injuries): 'Even within a single text
the particular can only be understood from out of the whole, and a cursory
reading to get an overview of the whole must therefore precede the more
precise explication.' 1


Assessment for this module is on the basis of one 5000 word essay. The essay
should relate to particular units within the module and focus on the reading of
primary texts. At the same time it should demonstrate the application of a
broad range of knowledge and material gained throughout the study of the
respective units. There are suggested essay questions at the end of each unit.
However, you are not restricted to these questions but you must contact the
tutor of this module before you begin writing either on a preset question or on
your own title.
According to the new quality assurance regulations tutors are no longer
allowed to receive draft essays prior to the formal submission. This should not
prevent you from communication with your tutor by writing, by email, or
orally via Cloudemeeting/Skype or landline. Please contact your tutor by email
if you want an oral appointment. A good working relationship will facilitate
your understanding and enjoyment of the module.


Dr. Johannes Hoff
TRIS, University of Wales
Lampeter, Ceredigion
SA48 7ED, UK
Phone: 0044 (0)1570 424954
Fax: 0044 (0)1570 424987

Friedrich Schleiermacher, Uber die Philosophie Platons. Hrsg. und eingel. von Peter M. Steiner;
mit Beitragen von Andreas Arndt und Jorg Jantzen (Hamburgl996, 27.

1768 Schleiermacher born in Breslau in Lower Silesia at 21 November to family
steeped in Moravian pietism
1780 Lessing publishes The Education of the Human Race
1781 Kant publishes The Critique of Pure Reason
1782 Herder publishes The Spirit of Hebrew Poetry
1783-5 Schleiermacher attends Moravian boarding schools
1785 Kant publishes Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals
1787-90 Schleiermacher attends University of Halle
1789 Storming of the Bastille
1790 Schleiermacher passes theological examinations in Berlin
1790-3 Schleiermacher works as house tutor in Schlobitten in East Prussia
1793 King Louis XVI of France is executed; Kant publishes Religion Within the Limits
of Reason Alone
1793-6 Schleiermacher serves as pastor in Landsberg
1794 Death of Schleiermacher's father, J. G. A. Schleiermacher, a Prussian army
1796-02 Schleiermacher among Romantic circle in Berlin with the brothers A. W. and
Friedrich Schlegel, Dorothea Veit, Henriette Herz
1797 Wachenroder publishes Confessions from the Heart of an Art-loving Friar;
Schelling publishes Ideas for a Philosophy of Nature; Fichte publishes The Science
of Knowledge; Friedrich Wilhelm III accedes to throne of Prussia;
Schleiermacher becomes reformed chaplain at the Charite hospital in Berlin
1798-00 Publication of the Athenaeum, vols. I-III, literary organ of the Berlin Romantics
1798 Schelling publishes On the World Soul
1799 Schleiermacher publishes first edition of On Religion: Speeches to its Cultured
1800 Friedrich Schlegel publishes Lucinde; Novalis (Friedrich von Hardenberg)
publishes Hymns to the Night; Schleiermacher publishes Soliloquies and
Confidential Letters Concerning Friedrich Schlegel's Lucinde
1803-6 Schleiermacher assumes post as university preacher at Halle
1804-28 Schleiermacher publishes German translation of Plato
1806 University of Halle overrun by Napoleon's troops; Schleiermacher publishes
2nd edition of On Religion and The Celebration of Christmas: A Conversation
1809 Founding of the University of Berlin by Wilhelm von Humboldt with
Schleiermacher as secretary to the founding commission
1809-34 Schleiermacher at the University of Berlin as professor of theology, member of
philosophical and historical sections of the Berlin Academy of Sciences
1810-34 Schleiermacher is preacher at the Holy Trinity Church in Berlin
1813 Birth of Kierkegaard in Copenhagen
1814 Death of Fichte at University of Berlin
1815 Congress of Vienna settles the Napoleonic wars
1818-32 Hegel at the University of Berlin
1821 Schleiermacher publishes 3rd edition of On Religion with 'Explanations'
attached to each speech
1821-2 Schleiermacher publishes 1st edition of his systematic theology, The Christian
Faith [Glaubenslehre]
1830-1 Schleiermacher publishes 2nd edition of The Christian Faith
1832 Deaths of Goethe and Hegel
1834 Death of Schleiermacher, 6 February
Basic Problems and Outline of
Schleiermacher's Theology
Concomitant reading: Marina, Introduction, ch. 6-8, ch. 16

The chain of Schleiermacher's admirers has never been broken. His
Glaubenslehre (The Christian Faith) has been compared with Aquinas' Summa
Theologia already fife years after his death (1834) by the catholic theologian
Johann Evangelist Kuhn; 1 and even Karl Barth admired Schleiermacher's
theological opus magnum all his life. However, the chain of his critics has never
been broken either. One of the most early and most decisive links of this chain
was Friedrich Hegel. Hegel had already attacked his later Berlin fellow in his
early Belief and Knowledge (1802) and then, more explicitly, in his preface to
Hindrich's Die Religion im inneren Verhaltnisse zur Wissenschaft (1822) by
accusing him of being a 'subjectivist' thinker. In the wake Karl Barth and
Wilhelm Dilthey's account of Schleiermacher's hermeneutics, this critique was
finally reinforced by Hans Georg Gadamer in his famous 1960 volume Wahrheit
und Methode and varied by George Lindbeck in his 1984 book The Nature of

See , William Madges, "Faith, Knowledge and Feeling. Towards an Understanding of Kuhn's
Appraisal of Schleiermacher." In: The Heythrop Journal 37 (1996), pp.47-60.

Doctrine which had a significant impact on the Anglo-Saxon 'post-liberal'
It was Gadamer's disciple Heinz Kimmerle who broke this interpretative
tradition at least regarding Schleiermacher's philosophical reception. Kimmerle
convincingly demonstrated that Schleiermacher's philosophy is much closer to
the 'linguistic turn' of Gadamer's and Heidegger's hermeneutics than expected,
thereby affirming his relevance for ongoing discussions on French post-
structuralism which were at this time particulary advanced by Jacques Derrida.
Gerhard Ebeling (together with Kimmerle, and Hans-Joachim Birkner co-editor
of the Kritische Gesamtausgabe) supported this rereading from a theological point
of view based on his interpretation of the word of God as Sprachgeschehen (event
of language). Finally the German Philosopher Manfred Frank demonstrated in
the late 70s how the basic insights of French post-structuralism opened the way
to a fresh interpretation of Schleiermacher, which goes significantly beyond the
scope of the 'linguistic turn' of Heidegger, Gadamer and Wittgenstein. 1
The following chapter will provide you with a first outline of
Schleiermacher's thinking, starting with Gerhard Ebeling's interpretation of
Schleiermacher's concept of religious language respectively and of his
theological doctrine of the divine attributes (The Christian Faith §§ 50-56).
According to Ebeling, Schleiermacher's thinking is marked by the tentative
attempt to reconstruct the anthropological and grammatical foundations of
poetic expressions of Christian piety in a manner which is compatible with the
prosaic language of scientific rationality, and which provides at once a platform
for a critical reconsideration of the basic 'grammatical' rules of Christian
orthodoxy (which are, according to Schleiermacher, the subject matter of
As Ebeling points out, this task could only by performed by resisting a
double temptation: the rationalist temptation of subsuming the poetical
language of Christian orthodoxy into the theoretical language of modern
philosophical or scientific rationality (thereby undermining the integrity of
Christian orthodoxy); and the 'fideistic' or subjectivist temptation of fusing the
reflexive language of theological dogmatics with the language of the pulpit
(thereby undermining the scientific character of theological dogmatics).
Consequently we have to distinguish between three modes of language use or
'language games', which are respectively governed by different 'grammars':
poetics, dogmatics and (natural) philosophy (Schleiermacher does not use the
technical term 'language game' but his considerations on the problem of
'grammar' justify this anachronistic terminology).++

See Manfred Frank, Das individuelle Allgemeine. Textstrukturierung und -interpretation nach
Schleiermacher (Frankfurt/M., 1977).

According to this approach to the grammar of faith, the poetical language of
piety is to be guarded by the scientific rationality of theological dogmatics, based
on the principles of hermeneutics and philosophical dialectic; and the grammar
of Christian piety is to be protected against the assaults of scientific or
philosophical rationality by carefully distinguishing between Christian doctrine
and the speculative language of metaphysics (in the modern sense of this
word), 'natural theology' or para-scientific language games (like creationism).
However, the necessity to distinguish between the heterogeneous
'grammars' of piety, dogmatic, philosophy does not justify a strict separations
between their territories. The poetical language of the biblical tradition (piety) is
neither separable from the hermeneutics of this language in terms of Christian
doctrine (dogmatics), nor from the detached abstractions of philosophical
dialectic (philosophy). The hermeneutical reflection of pre-reflexive expressions
of piety, which is never neutral with regard to its language use, has to be
accompanied by the philosophical reflection on the principles of religious
language in general. For, though this philosophical reflection may not be neutral
either, it is designed to facilitate the translation between different religious or
cultural traditions, and this is essential if we are to justify the universal validity
of Christian faith.
This subtle distinction between different levels of abstraction led
Schleiermacher to remarkable formal differentiations, like the distinction
between the doctrinal reflection on divine attributes (which is based on the
theological hermeneutics of the history of salvation) and philosophical rules or
reservations in terms of the understanding of these attributes (which are based
on dialectics and expressed in attributes like 'unity', 'simplicity', 'infinity',
'immutability'; see Ebeling 156f.). Up to a certain point, these formal
distinctions are comparable with the Cappadocian distinction between the
apophatic use of natural theology (philosophy) and the dogmatic reflection on
biblical doctrines (see the Theology and Philosophy module) and subsequent
grammatical distinctions in terms of the divine attributes in Aquinas. 1 Thus
they shed some like on the deep affinity of Schleiermacher's thinking to the
tradition of Christian orthodoxy.
Similarly, Schleiermacher's analysis of grammar of faith is anything but
unnameable to 'post-liberal', Wittgensteinian approaches to religious language.
It only resists the inclination of this 20th century tradition to over-accentuate the
significance of grammatical rules. The idea of rule guided language games is
not sufficient to explain the creative potential of our real language use. There is
always space for the unpredictable power of intuitions and divinations, and this
is the reason why borderlines between different rule guided language games

See David B. Burrell, Aquinas. God and action (Scranton - London, 2008).

are essentially fluent. It is never possible do draw draw sharp distinction
between heterogeneous language games, be it in the sense of non-realist
readings of Wittgenstein; be it in the sense of Barth's delimitation of revelation
from natural reason; and precisely this marks the point where considerations on
the problems of subjectivity and religious feeling become important to
The significance of these considerations is to be assessed in the light
Schleiermacher's age, which was for the first time faced with the phenomenon
of reflexive modernisation and the accompanying philosophical revolution of
Immanuel Kant (see the Theology and Philosophy module). Briefly speaking, this
revolution enforced the experience of detachment from traditional habits and
narratives, and this is why it had an impact on the survival conditions of
religious traditions which has retrospectively turned out to be much more
serious than the impact of the scientific revolutions of the 17th century.
One of the most characteristic features of this revolution is connected with,
what sociologists call, the processes of 'social fragmentation' and 'functional
differentiation'. This social phenomenon is reflected by the threefold
architecture of Kant's critical transformation of early modern learning: his
distinction between a Critique of Pure Reason (scientific theories), a Critique of
Practical Reason (law and morals), and a Critique of Judgement (aesthetics and
For the first time in history, we discover in this 'critical' distinction a radical
disconnection between different 'language games'. The grammar of a scientific
language is different from the grammar of a jurisprudence or ethics, and it may
be even argued that they have nothing in common. However, this does not
prevent me from participating simultaneously in both of these language games.
There is something which mediates between these different worlds, and this is
the reason why considerations on the Cartesian T remain significant in Kant
and his Early Romantic successors - despite the scorching early romantic
criticism of Descartes foundationalism. In the case of Kant the Cartesian T is
not significant because of some ontological primacy (its reality turns out to be
rather precarious). It is of irreducible significance only because of its
characteristic function as an empty variable which is suitable to cross the
borderlines between theoretical and practical reason. It is, as it were, irreducible
because of its functions as a shifter between heterogenous 'language games'.
We may compare Kant's functional considerations on this empty variable
with the psychological phenomenon of modern and especially post-modern
'patchwork identities'. I may play the rule of a white male priest in the British
high church who is married with a Bubbhist wife, and the role of the devoted
son of a Jewish father, and at the same time I may collaborate with agnostic
friends in an NGO, and adopt the virtual identity of a single parent black

lesbian in 'Second life'. The only link which ineluctably recurs in this different
'language games' is the Cartesian T . However heterogeneous or even schizoid I
may act in these different worlds, it's always me who is involved in their
heterogeneous grammar. Similarly, I may become an atheist tomorrow and an
Islamic jihadist the day after tomorrow, and this may cause significant changes
in my self-perception, but at least one thing will always remain the same: It will
be always me who 'plays' these 'games'. Precisely this is what sociologist call
social fragmentation: the experience that I may adopt different 'identities', not
only in the long run of biographical changes, but even at the synchronic level of
my everyday communication.
One of the most farreaching consequences of this modern 'patchwork' reality
is that it destabilizes our attachment to traditional narratives and habits, or to
use a sociological expression, it is accompanied by the shift from a 'traditional'
to 'post-traditional' attitude. My biography may appear as relatively stable
(thought this is less and less the case in late modern societies). I may, for
example, remain attached to the Roman Catholic tradition for all my life. But
this attachment will no longer appear as self-evident. Even if I keep the bonds
of my inherited roots, I will perceive this is as the outcome of a decision which I
have made in the light of alternative possibilities as soon as I have become a
grown up inhabitant of the 'global village'. Even in the case of a deep rooted
conservatism, our fidelity to our roots is mediated by a sense of 'subjective
freedom' in the nominalist sense of this word (which includes always a certain
connotation of arbitrariness). Everything may change, though this will never
bereave me of a certain sense of continuity: It will always be me who suffers or
creates these changes. I am, as it were, 'always and never the same' -
everything may change but I will never lose the intuition that I am who I am.
This characteristic feature of modern everyday experience may encourage
the subjectivist attitudes of modern existentialism or the popular conviction that
identity-establishing symbolic habits and narratives (like religious traditions)
are reducible to a matter of private experience or subjective self-fashioning.
However, Schleiermacher would not have agreed with this response to
challenge of modernisation. His philosophical hermeneutics of religious feeling
is rather essentially connected with the attachment to communities, like the
community of characteristic culture or nation, and especially the community of
the church. The trajectory of our live may have become unpredictable, but it is
never completely detachable from our communitarian roots.
Given that Schleiermacher's hermeneutics leaves not the slightest doubt that
'identity ascriptions' are never stable, this anti-subjectivist attitude may appear
as surprising. I am always and never the same; and this means, according to
Schleiermacher, my unique identity will never fit in the framework of semantic
stable attributions - e.g. 'He is a committed evangelical, and thus is expected to

do be against abortion and homosexuality', or similar fundamentalist identity
ascriptions. Communities shape our identity, but this does not mean that the
outcome of this process is definable in terms of a finite set of attributes. The
attachment to a community can never provide me with a stable response to the
question 'Who I am?'; and if it pretended to provide me with a univocal
response this would be a true sign of distorted, idolatrous and immature habits.
If, according to Schleiermacher, the community of the church provides access to
a stabilizing ground of my being in the world, this is not because it offers me an
ideological or moral set of identity-establishing attributes. Quite the opposite, it
provides access to an identity-stabilising ground because it is communion
relating to piety (Christian Faith §3), which means it is based on the veneration of
a mystery which evades the grasp of finite predications.
The following essay of Gerhard Ebeling on Schleiermacher's doctrine of the
divine attributes is to be read against this background; and this means it is to be
read against the backdrop of a decided apophatic approach to the existence of
God. Since it is impossible to provide a univocal response to the question 'Who
I am' it is all the more impossible to define the identity of the mystery of
orthodox piety.
We may compare this approach to the doctrine of divine attributes with the
apophaticism of Thomas Aquinas (see unit four of the Theology and Philosophy
module). Similar to Aquinas, Schleiermacher's doctrine of good is strictly
apophatic. God is not a 'big thing'. His essence transcends the finite knowledge
of his creatures. For this reason Schleiermacher's doctrine of the divine
attributes is, like in Aquinas, not isolable from considerations about divine
'causation'. It is not possible to speak about God without considering the divine
causality which 'moves' my soul and provides it with an intuition of cause of
the universe. Every positive attribution to God is based on, what medieval
theologians called, the 'way of causality' (via causalitatis).
However, other than in Aquinas Schleiermacher's concept of divine 'motion'
seems to be exclusively focused on a special kind of causation and motion;
namely a kind of motion which is revealed to us via, what he calls, the 'feeling
of absolute dependence'. We "arrive at ideas of divine attributes only by
combining the content of our self-consciousness with the absolute divine
causality that corresponds to our feeling of absolute dependence" (Christian
Faith §167,2). This new focus of Schleiermacher's apophaticism may, again,
encourage a subjectivist reading: The pre-modern, cosmological concept of
'motion' becomes, as it were, substituted by a kind of subjective 'e-motion'. But
Schleiermacher's use of this concept is neither subjectivist in terms of its
ineffable content, nor in terms of the characteristic mode of being which reveals
this content.

In terms of content, the feeling of absolute dependence is tantamount with,
what Schleiermacher calls in his earlier speeches On Religion, 'the intuition of
the universe'; and in terms of its mode of being it is to be considered as neither
objective nor subjective. Consequently, Schleiermacher's concepts of subjectivity
and feeling are neither reducible to a private matter, nor to the characteristic
feature of a specific 'language game'. Rather these concepts are be located on
the same level as the Kantian T ; namely on the level of a shifter which mediates
between different language games, including the scientific language games
which allow us to objectify our intuition of the world.
To summarize, Schleiermacher's concept of feeling is derivative of a
deconstructed (i.e. non-foundationalist) mode of Cartesianism, which uses the
Cartesian T as a hermeneutical shifter - namely as the indicator of a universal
'cause' which gathers everything together in the contemplation of an
inexpressible unity. Consequently his considerations on the 'feeling of absolute
dependence' are concerned with an intuition of the universum in the literal sense
of this word (which means 'turned in to one'): with the intuition of something
which transcends the heterogeneity of the world, including the heterogeneity
between subject and objects, and including the heterogeneity between different
language games.
Seen from this point of view, Schleiermacher's theological hermeneutics is
not that far from the analogical universe of Aquinas as it may have appeared in
the time of Wilhelm Dilthey or Karl Barth; at least not if we interpret Aquinas'
concept of analogy in accordance with his most recent interpreters as a mode of
analogy of attribution and not (as Schleiermacher and Ebeling did, see ibid. 144)
as a kind of analogy of proportionality in the sense Immanuel Kant (see unite
four in the Theology and Philosophy module). To be sure, there are significant
differences between Aquinas and Schleiermacher, but these differences are to be
interpreted against the background of the epochal difference which separates
the 13th from the early 19th century.
Following Kant, Schleiermacher took seriously the modern experience of
social and functional fragmentation; the experience that modern individuals are
inhibiting at the same time 'different worlds'. Yet, he did not affirm this
experience as an unquestionable fact. Rather he noticed that it includes a
disquieting challenge to the human strive for unity and wisdom, which has
been expressed by oracle of Delphi trough the infamous aphorism: Know
yourself (yvcoQi aeauxov).
We may inhabit simultaneously different worlds. And we may accept the
reality of 'patchwork personalities' which do not fit in the semantic framework
of unified identity ascriptions. But this does not undermine the truth of the
oracle that we are always in quest for the unity of ourselves - even if we
concede that no response to this quest will ever be satisfactory. At precisely this

point Schleiermacher relates the call of the oracle with the question of God in
developing a hermeneutics of the human strive to express something essentially
The ambiguity of this response to the challenge of modernity may be
summarized as follows: On the one side Schleiermacher leaves no doubt that
religion is not to be reduced to a matter of subjective experience or 'emotion' (it
is concerned with 'motion' of the universe as a whole); on the other hand he
leaves no doubt that, after the break of modernity, only the subjective 'first
person perspective' can give access to this universalist attitude (there is not
access to the 'motion' of the universe as a whole without paying attention to the
'emotions' of human subjects). We are, so to say, forced to navigate between the
Skylla of subjective emotions and the Charybdis of the fragmented diversity of
heterogeneous 'motions' in reductionist natural-scientific, sociologist or
psychologist sense of this word.
This ambiguity explains why Schleiermacher's basic concepts are so easy to
be misread. Concepts like Affekt (affect), Gemutsbewegung (movement of
disposition) or Gefiihl (feeling / attunement) have nothing in common with the
concepts of 'subjective emotion' we may discover in the writings of religious
thinkers of the late 19th or early 20th century, like William James or Carl Gustav
Jung. Rather they are to be located at the interface between the 'subjective' and
the 'objective'. They are at once designed to transcend this distinction, and to
provide us with a hermeneutical pre-understanding of a mysterious unity
which precedes this distinction (in the Kantian sense of a transcendental
condition of the possibility of human reason and culture).


Primary Literature
Ebeling, Gerhard, Schleiermachers Doctrine of the Divine Attributes. In: Ebeling, G.;
Funk, R. W. (Ed.), Schleiermacher as contemporary, Journal for Theology
and the Church, New York, N.Y: Herder and Herder 1970,125-162.
Schleiermacher, F.: The Christian Faith. English translation of the second German
edition, edited by H. R. Mackintosh and J. S. Stewart, Edinburgh: T. & T.
Clark 1928, especially §§ 50-56; §§79-85, and §§165-169; see also The
Christian Faith in outline, for an overview on the architecture and the
skeleton of paragraphs of this book in:
Schleiermacher, Friedrich, Brief outline of theology as afield of study. By Terrence
N. Tice. Translation of the 1811 and 1830 editions, with essays and notes,
Schleiermacher studies and translations, Lewiston, N.Y., USA: E. Mellen
Press 1990
Schleiermacher, F.: On The Glaubenslehre: Two Letters to Dr. Lucke. Transl. by
James O. Duke and Francis Fiorenza. American Academy of Religion
Texts and Translations Series, vol. 3, Chico, C.A.: Scholars Press, 1981.

General Introductions
Clements, K. W.: Friedrich Schleiermacher, Pioneer of modern theology, London:
Collins 1987, 7-65.
Gerrish, B. A.: A prince of the church. Schleiermacher and the beginnings of modern
theology, The Rockwell lectures, Philadelphia: Fortress Press 1984
Marina, Jacqueline, Transformation of the Self in the thought of Schleiermacher,
Oxford: Oxford Scholarship Online 2008 (electronically available via
Niebuhr, Richard Reinhold, Schleiermacher on Christ and religion, Library of
philosophy and theology, New York: Charles Scribner's 1965,1964
Sykes, Stephen Whitefield, Friedrich Schleiermacher, Makers of contemporary
theology, Woking: Lutterworth Press 1971
Brent W. Sockness, Brent W., "The Forgotten Moralist: Friedrich Schleiermacher and
the Science of the Spirit'. In: Havard Theological Review 96 (2003)
Lamm, Julia A., "The Early Philosophical Roots of Schleiermacher's Notion ofGefuhl,
1788-1794'. In: Havard Theological Review 87.1 (1994), 67-105

Schleiermacher and Christian Doctrine
Schussler-Fiorenza, F.: Schleiermacher and the Construction of a Contemporary
Roman Catholic Foundational Theology, in: The Harvard Theological Review
89/2 (1996), 175-194 (includes a critique of Lindbeck's critique of
B. Gerrish: The Nature of Doctrine: Religion and Theology in a Postliberal Age by
George A. Lindbeck. In: The Journal of Religion 68 (1988), 87-92
Lindbeck, George A., The Nature of Doctrine. Religion and Theology in a Postliberal
Age The Westminster Press 1984

Tice, Terrence N.; Richardson, Ruth; Lawler, Edwina G. (Ed.), Understanding
Schleiermacher. Schleiermacher studies and translations, Schleiermacher
studies and translations, Lewiston, N.Y: Edwin Mellen Press 1998, ch. IV. 1.
Williams, Robert R., Schleiermacher the theologian. The construction of the doctrine of
God, Philadelphia: Fortress Press 1978


1. What is, according to S., the difference between philosophy, dogmatics, and
the language of preaching and poetry?
2. According to George Lindbeck, theology is to be based on 'cultural
linguistics', i.e. a Wittgensteinian analysis of religious language which
focuses on its essential connection with religious forms of religious life, as
opposed to the 'subjectivism' of liberal theology. Is this dichotomy
applicable to Schleiermacher?
3. What is the point of S. criticism of early modern theology, and to what
extent does this criticism apply to premodern orthodoxy? (cf. the relevant
units in the Theology and Philosophy module)

Hermeneutics and Dialectics:
The Philosophical Foundations of
Schleiermacher7 s Theology
Concomitant reading: Marina, ch. 1-5

In the last 30 years it has become increasingly clear that Schleiermacher's
Dialectic is to be considered as his philosophical foundational work, though the
theological significance of this new perspective on Schleiermacher is still
underrated. The centrality of this work would have been obvious from the
beginning, had Schleiermacher not died in February 1834, just when he was
preparing an edited version of his Dialectic. He was only able to complete his
'Introduction' in 1833. Given these editorial circumstances, all we know about
the rest of this work is based on student notes and the handwritten manuscripts
of his lectures. Moreover, though these manuscripts have meanwhile attracted
the requisite attention, it is still a nearly unmanageable undertaking do provide
a consistent philosophical interpretation of their content.
Theses unfortunate editorial circumstances with regard to Schleiermacher's
most fundamental philosophical writing shed some light on the problematic
effective history of his complete work. For a long time, Schleiermacher was
primarily known for his pioneering contributions to the art of interpretation (i.e.
hermeneutics) and especially the hermeneutics of religious traditions (i.e.
religious studies). It is out of question that Schleiermacher is to be ranked as the
founder of these modern disciplines. However, in order to get access to the
according parts of his work, it is indispensable to read them against the
background of his dialectics. Only this saves us from confusing his
contributions to the hermeneutics of written texts as an immature form of
interpretative subjectivism, which is focused on the empathic decryption to the
'inner space' of authors or poets; or his contributions to the comparative study
of religions as the outcome of a of philosophy of feeling, which focuses on the
'inner space' of pious subjects. Schleiermacher's hermeneutics was not
concerned with the grammar-school question: 'What was the intention the
author wanted to convey by this text?'; nor was his philosophy of religion
focused on some kind of experiential expressionism.
The similarity of these misreadings draws the attention to the respective
relationships between Schleiermacher's philosophy and hermeneutics, and his

philosophy and theology. Both of these relations are to be assessed in the light
of his dialectic, given that this discipline is basically concerned with the
interconnection between different scientific and philosophical disciplines,
respectively different fields of language use.
Comparable with Ferdinand de Saussure's 'general linguistics' or the
platonic holism of Nicholas of Cusa, these dialectical considerations are based
on a sophisticated form of semantic holism; namely the insight that every
semantic unit is to be determined by its interrelation to the complex whole. To
use a more traditional expression, every particular concept is to be defined
trough its interrelation to the totality of differing concepts - in accordance with
Spinoza's principle that 'every determination is a negation' (omnis determinatio
est negatio). Schleiermacher leaves no doubt that the investigation of this holistic
interrelationship is to be located on the most fundamental level of philosophical
research, namely on the level of, what the philosophical tradition called, 'first
philosophy' or 'metaphysics'. However, as distinct from early modern
metaphysics (like Descartes and Leibniz), Schleiermacher's Dialectic does not
elaborate the foundationalist architecture of a rationalistic system of distinctive
disciplines and concepts. To the contrary, it is designed from the outset to
demonstrate, that such an undertaking is necessarily bound to fail.
Given that every conceptual representation of the whole is part of the system
of concepts it is designed to represent, Schleiermacher's Dialectics demonstrates
that our understanding of the whole is always incomplete. In trying to
conceptualize the unifying (holistic) horizon which allows us to relate differing
concepts to each other, we are introducing, deliberately or undeliberately, a
new difference into the presupposed system of conceptual distinctions, which
in turn changes the meaning of the whole. Consequently reflexive attempts to
conceive the whole provide us with an idea of this whole only at cost of an
intervention into this whole, and this is tantamount with the insight that every
representation of its holistic features is by definition insufficient.
Against this backdrop, Schleiermacher's Dialectic undermines any attempt to
provide us with a foundationalist outline of a conceptual totality, or to provide
us with a univocal systematic delimitation of grammatically heterogeneous
fields of scientific research like theoretical and practical reason, theology and
philosophy, etc.
The remaining significance of this sceptical approach to the problem of
preliminary distinctions may be illustrated retrospectively by the example of
the post-liberal tradition in the wake of Karl Barth, which is almost always
derivative to the tacit presupposition that it is possible to draw a clear
demarcation line between 'theology and philosophy', 'faith and reason', or
'nature and revelation'. Dichotomies like these are, according to
Schleiermacher's dialectic, at best approximately justifiable. They can never be

strict, for, if we wanted to protect the 'inner space' of Christian faith against the
invasion of secular philosophical language games, we would have to base this
delimitation on some kind of rationalist foundationalism. Consequently, the
problematic point of theological attempts to draw a strict demarcation line
between faith and reason is not that they finally require a voluntaristic 'leap of
faith' in order to bridge the gap they have introduced at the beginning (the
infamous 'salto mortale' of Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi's 'Unphilosophie', which
made already Schleiermacher wonder). The neo-orthodox approach to the
problem of faith and reason is problematic not merely because of his irrational
outcome, but rather because of his rationalist starting point: the conviction that
there is a gap which needs to be bridged - as if it were possible to draw a clear
cut borderline between different disciplines or language games without
presupposing a rationalist concept of the totality of scientific concepts.
This skeptical attitude with regard to systematic preliminary decisions
converges with the contemporary discussions on, what the deconstructivist
architect Peter Eisenman called, the Western 'metaphysics of space'. 1 Given that
conceptual basic distinctions like the anthropological or architectural distinction
between an (privileged) 'inner space' and an (extrinsic) 'outer space', are
involuntarily part of the whole they are aiming to demarcate, they can never be
fundamental or strict.
As simple as this argument may appear, it suffices to deconstruct - as
Schleiermacher's Dialectic demonstrates - the allegedly 'clear and distinct' basic
demarcations of classical modern philosophy. It undermines dualist
preliminary distinctions like the semantic oppositions between 'subject' and
'object', 'receptivity' and 'spontaneity', the 'organic' (sensual) and the 'formal'
(intellectual), 'nature' and 'spirit', 'willing' and 'knowing', or 'practice' and
'theory'; and nothing prevents us from expanding this skeptical argument to
the foundationalist demarcations of later times, like the neo-orthodox
distinction between 'secular' and 'Christian language games'. Similar to
modern quantum physics, we are in all this cases forced to accept a certain
indeterminacy with regard to the borderlines between divergent eras of
The dialectical necessity to deal with blurred and indeterminate borderlines
leads us to the second focus of this unit. The art of distinguishing
indeterminate, imprecise and vague concepts is governed by the same rules and
skills like the art of reading signs or interpreting words or texts. This is why,
according to Schleiermacher, hermeneutics is to be considered as a fundamental

This was an crucial point in Jacques Derridas debate with Peter Eisenman which dissolved
in the architectural design of the 'Pare de la Vilette' in Paris. See Jacques Derrida; Peter
Eisenman, Choral works. Jacques Derrida and Peter Eisenman. Ed. by Jeffrey Kipnis and Thomas
Leeser (New York, 1997).

discipline as well. Hermeneutics is not an exclusive feature of 'soft sciences' like
the humanities; it is of fundamental significance for scientific reason as such.
But what is the difference between dialectics and hermeneutics, given that they
are both to be considered as fundamental disciplines?
As might be expected, it is not possible to draw a sharp demarcation line
between these disciplines. Both are dealing with a lack of determination.
However, it is possible to draw at least a gradual distinction between their
different perspectives on the problem of indeterminacy.
Dialectics may be defined as 'the art of conversation in pure thinking'. 1 But
the expression 'pure' is not to be confused with the synonym expression in
Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. It refers to a theoretical practice or attitude, namely
the art of leading a philosophical conversation without being constrained by the
practical pressure of acting, confessional commitments or aesthetic preferences.
Like in Kant's first critique or in Aristotle's prima philosophia, Dialectic is
concerned with the presuppositions and methods of all sciences and human
activities. But in so far as it is tantamount to a theoretical attitude, and not a kind
of foundationalist theory, it is simultaneously committed to an ethics of
conversation, or - as we may put it in the wake of late modern philosophers like
Derrida - and ethos of hospitality toward conflicting philosophical opinions.
As distinct from this universalizing perspective of different opinions,
hermeneutics is focused on the particular. However, this does not prevent the
universalizing practice of dialectics from beeing always embedded in particular
historical or cultural traditions. It is not possible to develop a 'neutral' first
philosophy, or to uncover invariable 'a priori' rules of human rationality like in
Kant. Instead of referring on something 'neutral' or 'unshakable', the expression
'pure' simply indicates a conversational attitude, something which may be
exercised (or even 'purified' through the light of revelation), though it will
never be perfectly actualised. It is not possible to attain a universal language of
'pure reason'. The only thing which can be attained is the insight that the lack of
'pure reason' is necessary.
The last point distinguishes the universalizing perspective of
Schleiermacher's dialectic from the post-modern narrative turn of philosophers
or theologians like Alasdair Maclntyre, Stanley Hauerwas or John Milbank. As
indicated above, dialectics is always embedded in the hermeneutics of
particular narratives; but it is least possible to have a universal valid insight to
the aporetic character of human reason. We know that we have no access to the
foundations of human language, and this 'learned ignorance' is not the outcome
of the hermeneutics of contingent narratives; rather it is to be located on the

See: Friedrich Schleiermacher, Dialektik. Hrsg. u. eingel. v. Manfred Frank (Frankfurt a. Main,
2001), Vol II, p. 5ff.

level of a priory insights in the sense of Immanuel Kant. Kant's transcendental
philosophical approach to the foundations of human reason is not to be
dismissed tout court; though it provides us strictly speaking with nothing but a
negative a priory. Comparable with the tradition of apophatic theology we know
that we do not know the foundations of human reason; but at least this
knowledge is demonstrable in accordance with the universal principles of
human reason.
On the other hand, Schleiermacher leaves no doubt that this universal
knowledge is not to be confused with some kind of absolute knowledge. Other
than in Hegel, Dialectics in the sense of Schleiermacher is based on imprecise
expressions which are never definitely determinably; they always require the
exercise of interpretational skills. The borderline between dialectics and
hermeneutic is as fluent as the borderline between hermeneutics and dialectics,
and this is also valid with regard to latter developments - including the
'linguistic turn' of modern analytic philosophy.
On the one hand, Schleiermacher already anticipated the flaws of Gottlob
Frege's attempt to develop an analytical semantic which abstracts from the
contingent conditions of our language use. According to Schleiermacher, even
formal logical abstractions, like the tautology 'a is a', presuppose some kind of
abstractive hermeneutics in order to isolate their professed univocal meaning.
Representatives of the Fregean strand of modern analytic philosophy neglect
this necessity, and thus they overstretch the range of philosophical dialectics. On
the other hand, Schleiermacher anticipated that the ordinary language
approach of analytical philosophy is unsatisfying as well. Wittgensteinian
attempts to explain the meaning of 'language games' by analysing their
contingent everyday rules ('grammar'), fail to provide us with an appropriate
understanding of the possibility of innovation and individual style; they fail, for
example, to provide us with an understanding of our capacity of synthesising
expressions never used before, or our capacity of understanding metaphors
never heard before. Representatives of this analytic strand of modern
philosophy underestimate the universal capacity of human subjects to
transcend finite borderlines - they underestimate the range of philosophical
This is the background of Schleiermacher's decidedly Platonic considerations
on hermeneutics as an interpretative and dialectics as a conversational art. The
interpretation of texts is not reducible to the application of rules; it rather
requires the creative invention of new viewpoints and perspectives, based on
the universal gift of 'divination' which is never to be learned by simply
applying contingent 'grammatical rules', though it presupposes interpretative
exercises. For similar reasons Schleiermacher dialectics as not reducible to a
formal logical theory; it is indissoluble from the exercise of hermeneutical skills.

Dialectics presupposes hermeneutics and contrariwise: my individual attempts
to interpret the unmistakable stylistic features of other persons, foreign
languages or alien cultural and religious traditions presupposes a universal
'truth', the dialectical idea of something ('x') I can share with other persons
despite the differences which separate me from them.
Since I have to encounter other persons with an attitude of benevolence in
order to understand the characteristic style of their approach to the 'truth', the
inseparability of dialectis and hermeneutics finally includes the inseparability
of the dialectical quest for the universal truth from ethical considerations about
matters of subjective responsibility. The art of hermeneutics requires an ethos of
hospitality with regard to the unique and distinctive, which resists the grasp of
conceptual determinations. Strictly speaking individuals have nothing in
common but this: they are always ineffably different in terms of character and
style, and this requires us to acknowledge that they are resistant against
scientific attempts to reduce their existence to the special cases of generic
principles. Their 'being there' calls upon to our liability towards the deviating
and alien in appealing at once to our theoretical and our ethical capacity of
'being understanding'.
In his eponymous 1977 monograph on Schleiermacher's hermeneutics,
Manfred Frank summarised this coincidence of heterogeneous aspects in our
individual use of language by the shortcut Das individuelle Allgemeine (The
Individual General). Our collective use of language connects the quest for a
general truth with the practical relationship of concrete individuals which claim
the right to be listened to against the collective. Schleiermacher's Hermeneutics is
consequently not only indissoluble entangled with his Dialectics (the quest for
the truth) but also with his Ethics (the quest for the good). His 'first philosophy'
is to be conceived as a scientific 'art of knowledge' which transcends the
difference between theory and praxis to the same extent as it transcends the
difference between the individual and the general.
Considered against this background, it may appear as surprising that this (at
least compared with the classical hermeneutics of Dilthey) doubtlessly superior
approach to the art of interpretation could have been fallen into oblivion.
However, the explication for this second conundrum of Schleiermacher's
unfortunate effective history is again rather simple. The fate of Schleiermacher's
Hermeneutics is not only deeply connected with the unfortunate fate of his
Dialectics; it is affected by editorial issues as well.
Like in the case of his Dialectic, there exists no work on hermeneutics
approved by Schleiermacher himself. His most relevant work on this topic,
Hermeneutics and Criticism, containing texts from 1819 onwards, was only
published posthumously and significantly not in the philosophical but in the
theological division of Schleiermacher's complete works. Up to a certain point,

this editorial decision was justified, since many parts of Schleiermacher's
Hermeneutics are concerned with the interpretation of the New Testament.
However, it deals at the same time with the problem of language in general,
and this is not surprising, given that Schleiermacher always insisted that the
principles of interpreting secular and religious texts are basically the same.
Thus it is evident that his hermeneutics plays a crucial part in his philosophy as
a whole. It is not reducible to manuals of textual criticism and the praxis of
interpretation. Rather we have to read it in the light of his dialectics, and the
new views on history, culture and the philosophy of language which emerged
in the 18th and early 19th century following Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-78),
Johann Georg Hamann (1730-88), Johann Gottfried Herder (1744-1803), and
Schleiermacher's friend August Wilhelm Schlegel (1867-1845). Manfred Frank's
1977 monograph was the first book which elaborated a reading of
Schleiermacher based on a comprehensive account of this historical and
philosophical background of Schleiermacher's hermeneutics, starting from a
new, selected edition of Schleiermacher's Hermeneutics which included nothing
but the philosophically relevant passages of the original text.
Because of all this difficulties, the following unit will focus not on primary
but on basic secondary literature, and particularly on Manfred Frank's text
Metaphysical foundations: a look at Schleiermacher's Dialectic, which is included in
your companion (Marina, 15ff.). This philosophical text also contains
theological remarkable observations concerning the weak points of
Schleiermacher's philosophy, which are connected with the philosophical
monism of Leibniz, Spinoza and the early Schelling, and at least to some extent
responsible for Schleiermacher's trinitarian 'modalism' (see unit four). Thus,
Frank's text may also be read as a significant contribution to the systematic
theological discussion on Schleiermacher- despite the fact that questions of
Christian doctrine are not of interest for agnostic philosophers like Frank.
Admittedly, Frank's text is quite challenging to read. Thus it will be
indispensable first to read the two introductory texts provided in this unit.
Besides this I strongly recommend you to make yourself familiar with the two
most relevant primary texts accessible in English translation, the smart Dialectics
of 1811 and the small book Hermeneutics and Criticism which is translated and
edited by Andrew Bowie in accordance with the criteria of selection of Manfred
Frank's 1977 edition of Hermeneutik und Kritik. Finally it is recommendable to
read some general literature about the philosophical foundations of German
Idealism and early Romanticism in order to acquire a deeper understanding of
the historical and philosophical background of Schleiermacher's philosophy.

Primary Literature
Schleiermacher, Friedrich, Hermeneutics and criticism and other writings.
Translated and edited by Andrew Bowie, Cambridge texts in the history of
philosophy, Cambridge, U.K: Cambridge University Press 1998
Schleiermacher, Friedrich, Hermeneutics. The handwritten manuscripts. Ed. by
Heinz Kimmerle ; translated by James Duke and Jack Forstman, Texts and
translations series (American Academy of Religion), Missoula, Mont:
Published by Scholars Press for the American Academy of Religion 1977
Schleiermacher, Friedrich, Dialectic, or, The art of doing philosophy. A study edition
of the 1811 notes. Translated, with introduction and notes, by Terrence N.
Tice, Texts and translations series (American Academy of Religion),
Atlanta, Ga: Scholars Press 1996
Schleiermacher, Friedrich, Lectures on philosophical ethics. Edited by Robert B.
Louden, translated by Louise Adey Huish, Cambridge texts in the history
of philosophy, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2002

Secondary Literature
German Idealism and Early Romanticism
Bowie, Andrew, From romanticism to critical theory. The philosophy of German
literary theory, London: Routledge 1997
Bowie, Andrew, Aesthetics and subjectivity from Kant to Nietzsche, Manchester
England: Manchester University Press 1990
Frank, Manfred, The philosophical foundations of early German romanticism.
Translated by Elizabeth Millaan-Zaibert, Intersections (Albany, N.Y.),
Albany, NY: State University of New York Press 2004
Beiser, Frederick C , German idealism. The struggle against subjectivism, 1781-1801,
Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press 2002
Beiser, Frederick C , The romantic imperative. The concept of early German
romanticism, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press 2003
Lacoue-Labarthe, Philippe; Nancy, Jean Luc, The literary absolute. The theory of
literature in German romanticism. Translated with an introduction and
additional notes by Philip Barnard and Cheryl Lester, Intersections
(Albany, N.Y.), Albany: State University of New York Press 1988
Patsch, Hermann; Dierkes, Hans; Tice, Terrence N.; Virmond, Wolfgang (Ed.),
Schleiermacher, romanticism, and the critical arts. A festschrift in honor of
Hermann Patsch, Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press 2008

On Hermeneutics
Frank, Manfred, The subject and the text. Essays on literary theory and philosophy.
Edited, with an introduction by Andrew Bowie; translated by Helen
Atkins, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1997

Grondin, Jean, Introduction to philosophical hermeneutics. Forweord by Hans-
Georg Gadamer ; transl. by Joel Weinsheimer, Yale studies in
hermeneutics, New Haven: Yale University Press 1994 (useful
introduction into the history and theory of hermeneutics including
Gadamer, Hans Georg, Truth and method, London: Sheed & Ward 1975 (part 2
includes an influential but very problematic reading of Schleiermacher)
Rajan, Tilottama, The supplement of reading. Figures of understanding in romantic
theory and practice, Ithaca: Cornell University Press 1990 (relates
Schleiermacher to contemporary discussions)
Ricoeur, Paul, 'Schleiermacher's Hermeneutics'. In: The Monist 60 (1977), 181-197

On Schleiermacher's Dialectic
Bowie, Andrew, 'Schleiermacher and Post-Metaphysical Thinking'. In: Critical
Horizons 5.1 (2004), 165-236
Klemm, David E., The Desire to Know God in Schleiermacher's Dialektik. In:
Summerell, O. F. (Ed.), Otherness of God, Charlottesville: Univ Pr of
Virginia 1998, 92-110.
Thandeka, 'Dialectic: The Discovery of the Self that Kant has Lost'. In: Havard
Theological Review 85 (1992)
Thiel, John E., God and world in Schleiermacher's Dialektik and Glaubenslehre.
Criticism and the methodology of dogmatics, Basler und Berner Studien zur
historischen und systematischen Theologie, Bern: P. Lang 1981, 9-30, 71-80
Williams, Robert R., 'Schleiermacher, Hegel, and the Problem of Concrete
Universality'. In: JAAR (1988), 473-496


1. Why is, according to Schleiermacher, a 'pure reason' (in the Kantian sense
of the Word) impossible?
2. Why did hermeneutics become important in Schleiermacher's
overcoming of the foundationalist epistemology of the 18th century?
3. What are the limits on the discourse about God placed by dialectic, and
how does this affect the relation of philosophy and theology?
4. To what extent does Schleiermacher's philosophy depend on a
correspondence theory of truth?*
5. What is the rule of the ethical in Schleiermacher's hermeneutics and

Language, Subjectivity, and Philosophy
of Mind: The Actuality of
Concomitant reading: Marina, ch. 1-5;

As we have learned in the last unit, the basic problem of Schleiermacher's
Dialectics and Hermeneutics is related to the philosophical conundrum of
identity and difference. This conundrum may be considered as the most
fundamental problem of philosophical learning since Parmenides and
Heraclitus, and Plato's late dialogues Theaitetos, Parmenides and Sophistes.
In Schleiermacher the problem of identity and difference is particularly
related to the duality of the 'organic'
(sensual) and the 'formal' (intellectual),
respectively the capacity of human
subjects to 'synthesize' differring sense
impressions (the organic) in terms of their
intellectually universalisable identity (the
formal). The impact of this duality may be
considered on different levels of
abstraction, reaching from dialectical
considerations on the interrelation
(identity) between different scientific
perspectives on the world (like natural
sciences, ethics, etc.), via hermeneutical
considerations regarding the identity
between different subjective perspectives
on our everyday experience, down to the
most elementary conundrum of our being in the world, the question 'Who am
I?' Every toddler is haunted by this question as soon as it discovers its mirror
image. In terms of the philosophical problem of identity and difference, the
focus of this question may be varied depending on whether we consider it (a)
from a more immediate, spatio-temporal or (b) a temporally mediated,
biographical point of view:

a) What is the identity of myself in the difference between my immediate,
self-consciousness (I) and my corporeal existence ('me') as a particular
entity besides other entities in the world? We may call this the subject-
object-problem' or the phenomenon of self-consciousness.
b) What it the identity of myself in the difference of variegating self-
ascriptions? We may call this the problem of personal identity.

The following unit focuses on this elementary, anthropological level of
Schleiermacher's approach to the problem of identity and difference. It provides
you with a basic understanding of how the question of the unity (identity) of
God is to be located on this most elementary level of the human experience of
indeterminacy and non-identity (difference), and how this question is related to
Schleiermacher's fundamental theological considerations on religious feeling.
Furthermore it will help you to read Schleiermacher's sophisticated approach to
problems of human self-awareness and self-knowledge in the light of his
immediate philosophical predecessors, and assess the significance of this
approach in the light contemporary philosophical debates on the philosophy of

The problem of subjective self-consciousness

Schleiermacher's approach to the classical modern subject-object problem (a),
and the related problem of personal identity (b), is to be read in the light of a
broader philosophical movement which leads from Immanuel Kant via Johann
Gottlob Fichte (1762-1814) to the philosophy of Early Romanticism. Of
particular importance is Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling's (1775-1854)
criticism of Hegel's logic of self-reflection.
Schleiermacher shared with Schelling and his early Romantic comrades-in-
arms the philosophical conviction that the phenomenon of self-consciousness is
at the same time aporetic and fundamental. As soon as a human being starts to
ask the question 'Who I am?' she will never find an unquestionable answer.
However, the enigma of subjective self-consciousness is not only of existential
significance; it is at once indicative for a philosophically fundamental aporia
since it recalls an on-principle-limitation of human reason.
On that account, Early Romantic philosophers criticized modern attempts to
reduce the problem of human subjectivity to a theoretical or speculative
problem. They resisted Descartes' early modern, foundationalist approach to
this issue, which focused on substantial entities (res extensa and res cogitans,
resp. body and soul), and they resisted Hegel's metaphysical logic of reflection,
which focused on the dialectic between subject and object, departing from the

mediating speculative principle of an 'autonomous negation'. 1 Instead of
focusing on metaphysical principles, they rather argued that the seemingly
banal everyday conundrum of the human self is of fundamental significance,
i.e. something which is as little substitutable by theoretical explanations as a
piece of art is substitutable by the elucidations of its interpreters. It will never be
possibly simply to 'explain' exhaustively what subjectivity is. You have to be
acquainted with the original phenomenon yourselves if you want to
understand what philosophers try to illuminate when they speak about this
Why am I me, and not you? Is there any property that is essential for my
being in the world? What makes me sure that I am always the same person,
despite the observation that my self-images and self-ascriptions are continually
changing? Childhood questions 2 like these did not only characterize the early
Romantic criticism of Descartes and Hegel; they also marked the starting point
of Kierkegaard's 'existentialist' considerations about the despairingly attempts
of human individuals to be themselves. We will learn to know Kierkegaard's
inventive response to these questions in unit six. However, since the basic
problem of the following unit marks the systematic point of contact between
Schleiermacher and Kierkegaard, it provides also an extensive introduction to
this unit.
Schleiermacher's contributions to the discussion on 'the self are less
'existentialistic' than Kierkegaard's (or Heidegger's), though he was deeply
aware that the problem of the philosophical T is essentially connected with our
'beeing in the world'. It is no accident that Martin Heidegger inherited this
infamous expression from Schleiermacher. Moreover, it is important to notice
that Schleiermacher's reformulation of the problem of the philosophical T is
essentially related to two further pivotal topics of this module: (I) the problem
of dialectic and hermeneutics (unit two) and (II) the phenomenon of religious
feeling, which will mark the starting point of the following, fourth unit about
Schleiermacher's The Christian faith.

The significance of the phenomenon of self-consciousness with regard to
Schleiermacher's hermeneutics

(I) Schleiermacher was, as far as we know, the first to draw conclusions from
the aporiai of human self-awareness to the philosophy of language and

For a concise explication and critical discussion of the concept of 'autonomous negation' see
Dieter Henrich, Between Kant and Hegel. Lectures on German idealism. Edited by David S.
Pacini (Cambridge, Mass, 2003), 316-332.
Frank has delivered a children lecture on this topic at the Tiibinger Kinder-Uni' in 2003, see:
Manfred Frank, Warum bin ich Ich? Eine Fragefiir Kinder und Erwachsene (Frankfurt/M, 2007).

philosophical hermeneutics. Like in the case of the indeterminacy principle of
his Dialectics, the impossibility to provide an unshakable response to the
question 'Who am I?' led him to consider the 'divinatory' practices of
hermeneutics as a matter of fundamental scientific and anthropological
Other than in Descartes' or the philosophical naturalism of the 20th century,
we have no access to an unequivocal principle of human identity which may be
objectified as a material or immaterial substance (like the unextended soul of
Descartes or the extended brain of neuro-philosophers). Schleiermacher shares
Descartes conviction that the phenomenon of self-consciousness is of
primordial significance. I am a thinking I (ego cogito), but this does not justify
the conclusion that I am a substance sui generis. Subjectivity is not a 'thing'
besides other things in the world. All I know about my subjective perspective
on the world is that this perspective is not reducible to the totality of empirical
things. Things are objectifiable only to the extent as they are an object for me;
consequently they represent precisely what I am not (considered as the subject
for whom they appear to be objectifiable). The subject is neither reducible to a
physical thing (res extensa), nor is it another kind of thing (res cogitans). Rather it
indicates an irreducible limitation of our attempts to reify the world.
This is the reason why the relation between my subjective self-experience
and objectifying self-ascriptions is aporetic. Objectifying self-ascriptions like 'I
am a German Roman-Catholic with the qualities a, b, c ...' are never exhaustive.
They are never sufficient to fix my unmistakable uniqueness, and this lack is,
again, not only a matter of fact but a matter of principle. If I had the
opportunity to accumulate an infinite set of predicates about my objective
identity, this set would still lack at least one essential feature of myself: namely
that I am not reducible to an object with determinable attributes, as long as I am
at once a subject. For this reason I am always forced to oscillate between
subjective and objective perspectives on my finite existence; and this means, in
terms of hermeneutics, that I am always forced to counterbalance the extrinsic
attributes other persons assign to me (third and second perspective) with my very
own first person perspective on the world. I am, as it were, inescapable entangled
in the triangle of interpreting the stories other people are telling me (second) or
about me (third person perspective) in the light of my I-perspective on these
matters. Thus I will never find a definitive response to the question 'Who am I?'
Because of this dialogical dimension of human self-consciousness, we are
always forced to trust in the hermeneutics of symbols, narratives and bodily
manifestations of our being in the world. Only the hermeneutics of symbols
allows us to mediate between immediate self-expressions, which are
grammatically focused either on the first or on the second person perspective
(like poetic expressions, prayers, confessions, etc.), and objectifying

propositions, which are grammatically based on the third person perspective
(like psychological or biological descriptions of a person). Only the
hermeneutics of symbols can prevent us from reducing first or second person
expressions to third person propositions. The quest for identity assurance can
never be definitively stabilized. It can only be balanced based on signs and
symbols which are apt to be shared with individuals who know what it is like
to be an T from their own experience. Symbols are not objective - they do not
provide us with descriptions of things. But they are not subjective either. They
are suitable to be shared as a matter of 'inter-subjective' concern.
However, not everything can be shared. Other than in the linguistic turn of
the philosophy of the 20th century, which was focused on Husserl's and Peirce's
concept of 'intersubjectivity' (e.g. in Habermas) or driven by Wittgenstein's
suspicion against any kind of 'private language', Schleiermacher insisted that
there is something unique which characterizes the 'signature' of every human
being, and that this 'something' is not reducible to the 'grammar' of bodily
symbolic or communicative interaction. Like in the case of a piece of art, we
may illuminate or even imitate the unmistakable features of an individual, but
these features will never be detachable from the 'original', the characteristic
style of thinking, acting and being of a real existing unique being.
Schleiermacher even argues, that there must be a mode of immediate
consciousness with regard to this uniqueness of myself; some sort of self-
knowledge which is not communicable through intersubjective expressions and
consequently not reducible to the public available usage rules or 'grammar' of
'language games' - lest I would not be able to distinguish myself from other
I have access to some mode of knowledge with regard to myself which is not
accessible to other people, though Schleiermacher insists at once that this unique
dimension of human self-consciousness is of universal significance. It is not only
key for my relation to myself, but also key for our intersubjective
understanding of the unity of the world of the whole.
At first glance this coincidence between different kinds of unity (identity)
may appear as confused. In the case of my characteristic uniqueness we are
dealing the problem of in-dividuality in the literal sense of this word; the un-
dividedness of myself as s single individual. In case of matters of intersubjective
or uni-versal significance we are dealing, to the contrary, with what unites
different individuals in abstract, generic sense of this word.
However, Schleiermacher's thesis is precisely that our individuality reveals
something universal, namely something which paradoxically transcends the
difference between the general and the individual. Seen from this point of view,
we may say that individuality is something 'in-dividual' in the sense of
something which assures the temporal identity (unity) of a person which is

nevertheless distinct from other individuals. However, individuality reveals at
once that I have at least one thing in common with all individuals - namely that
we are all different. I am identical with every other individual in that we have
all unique features which are not reducible to the features of someone else.
Consequently, the phenomenon of individuality is of prototypical significance.
It provides us with a preliminary understanding of how the phenomenon of
difference (to be distinct from others) is ultimately related to the problem of
unity (to have something in common with others). Furthermore the
phenomenon of individuality explains why the relation between identity and
difference is essentially aporetic or paradox, which means, not explicable in
terms of objectifying true or false propositions.
Our respective uniqueness is never definable. At the most it may be indicated
by paradoxical expressions, symbols, or images. If someone is crucified by the
question 'Who am I?' we may send him to a neurologist, psychologist or a
philosopher. But in the case of doubt it may be better to send him to a poet, a
prophet, an artist or even a caricaturist, since they are better skilled in the task
of catching the unique. They are skilled in using symbolic expression for the
indefinable, and this is what is ultimately required when we face the
conundrum of human identity.
Now it is important to read Schleiermacher's approach to the problem of
subjective identity against the background of the Kantian tradition of modern
philosophy. As already Kant had argued, it is not possible to discover
differences between temporarily variegating self-ascriptions or heterogeneous
perspectives on the world without presupposing at least a formal unity which
bridges the gap between these differences. The concept of 'difference'
necessarily presupposes a prior understanding of some sort of identity, whatever
this identity may be. To use the expression of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, it
presupposes a something = x (A 250). However, according to Schleiermacher this
identity is simultaneously unique and universal, for it facilitates at the same time
the temporal unity of myself as an individual and the intersubjective unity
which connects me with other subjects as an individual representative of the
human species. Like the monotheist concept of God (Deu 6:4), the Kantian 'x' it
is simultaneously unique and generic.
Following Manfred Frank's eponymous book, we may summarize this
feature of myself again by the shortcut 'individual general'. The unity of myself
is an individual general, and because of this paradox the Kantian 'x' evades
every attempt of identity assurance which is based on generalisable scientific or
philosophical concepts. All we can achieve, when we are asking for unity of
ourselves, are symbolic makeshifts for something essentially inexpressible.

The significance of the aporia of self-consciousness to Schleiermacher's
hermeneutics of religious symbols and narratives

(II) This leads us to Schleiermacher's second original contribution to the
philosophical discussion on the problem of the self, his considerations on
religious feeling. In order to understand Schleiermacher's approach to this
issue, we have to keep in mind that the conundrum of human identity is aporetic
in principle and scientific fundamental.
Because of principle reasons, which will be outlined later, the conundrum of
the human self is never to be solved in the long run of social progress, as it was
claimed by 'left wing Hegelians' of the late 19th and the early 20th century like
Karl Marx, who interpreted the human subject-object split as a sign of social
self-estrangement which will be overcome in the communist society. Similarly
the conundrum of the human self is never to be solved in the long run of
scientific progress, as it is still claimed by 'naturalist' analytic philosophers who
aspire to reduce first person perspective expressions or essentially subjective
phenomena (like qualia) to propositions about objectifiable entities or natural
data and facts. Following the scientific maxim of parsimony ('Occam's Razor')
such a 'reduction' (i.e. substitution of one class of phenomena by another
without any alteration in its truth-value) would be a real scientific progress.
However, the human subject-object split resists exaggerated promises of
scientific or social progress for the same reasons why it resists esoteric promises
to overcome this split in favor of an intuitionist 'holism'. The phenomenon of
'being myself is neither reducible to an objectifiable matter of fact nor to a
detached realm of subjectivist private intuitions. Our bodily experience is
indissolubly entangled with the non-objectifiable individuality of a subjective
perspective on the world, and our subjective intuitions are indissolubly
entangled with our objectifiable 'being there' as an embodied self.
This irreducible relational character of human self-consciousness is not least
of crucial significance with regard to subjectivist misreadings of
Schleiermacher's concept of 'religious feeling'. Other than in Wilhelm James or
Rudolf Otto, religious feelings are not a matter of interest for their own sake, or
something which is only relevant for 'religious musical' people; they are of
interest because they are indicative of a matter of universal significance in the
Kantian sense of this word: They illuminate the subjective and intersubjective
'conditions of the possibility' of human rationality.
Up to a certain point, we may follow u p the line of psychological or
phenomenological considerations in order to understand the experiential
foundations of Schleiermacher's concept of feeling. Let us take for example
Rudolf Otto's analysis of the 'feeling for the divine' (sensus numinis). According
to Otto, our existential request to overcome the characteristic indeterminacy of

human self-consciousness supports the religious conviction that our beeing
there is depending on a ground which essentially transcends the limits of human
thinking and acting - a ground which is not only gradually but qualitatively
different from what I am able to do or to think. For this reason our sensitivity
for the transcendent is only communicable by symbolic makeshifts. As Otto has
put it in his essay on the sensus numinis in Schleiermacher, I am not only able to
give a quantifiable, theoretical description of a clearing in the forest or the ruins
of a cathedral (e.g. by calculating its length and breadth) or to have a practical
eye on its condition (e.g. by considering how it could be used or restored); I am
also able to sit at a tree stump or in a corner of the ruin, thereby quietly
contemplating its mystery. There is a sense of the numinous dimension of
things which reveals something incomparable and unique; a sense of
'something' which resists theoretically or practically reductionist attitudes with
regard to the bodily manifestations of our being in the world (including the
spatial extensions of our embodied self into ruins, clearings, or buildings, in so
far as they manifest something about our 'dwelling' 1 in the world). This is the
reason why our embodied self is not only of theoretical or practical, but also of
symbolic significance. Every body has a symbolic dimension (and inversely,
every concept or intuition has a bodily dimension which relates it to our
dwelling in the world).
However, and this marks the point where Schleiermacher moves beyond the
margins of psychological or subjectivist approaches to the sensus numinis, my
sensitivity for the numinous ground of my being in the world is neither a
private matter nor reducible to a characteristic feature of people with religious
or poetic dispositions. The religious 'intuition of the universe' does not only
transcend the difference between theory and practice. It is at the same time of
transcendental significance, i.e. a condition of the possibility of theory and
practice. For it represents the only mode of knowledge which provides us
access to the unifying 'something = x' of Kant's first critique, which is at once a
presupposition of theoretical reason, practical reason and aesthetical judgments.
Up to a certain point, we may rightly argue that ruins and clearings, or
cathedrals and hymns on God or the beauty of his creation are 'only of
aesthetical' or 'subjective' significance. They represent an area of concern which
is distinct from the areas of scientific investigation or practical consideration.
However, as Schleiermacher's dialectics demonstrates (see unit two), this

See: Heidegger, Martin, Building Dwelling Thinking. In: Poetry, Language, Thought. Transl. by
A. Hofstadter, New York: Harper Colophon Books 1971, 143-161
( and Heidegger, Martin, 'Art
and Space'. Transl. by C. H. Seibert. In: Man and World 6 (1973), 3-8
( For a more scientific
approach to this phenomenon see the below essay of Groen.

distinction can never be strict. Only a foundationalist metaphysical outline of
the totality of bodily and spiritual entities could provide us with a clear and
distinct delimitation of areas of theoretical, practical and aesthetical concerns.
As soon as we accept that the rationalist project to elaborate of totalizing
foundationalist metaphysics has failed, we have to accept that the borderlines
between different areas of cultural activity are blurred, and that our attempts to
delineate these borderlines have to rely on symbolic representations for a
missing whole. As already Plato has argued, our delimitation of differences is
always related to an idea of the whole. But our expressions for this whole are
never more than symbolic makeshifts for something we do not know. Our use
of these makeshifts may vary in accordance with culturally contingent
narratives and habits. But our reliance on these makeshifts is due to an aporia
that necessarily crops up in every human being as soon as it tries to interpret its
world, however scientific this interpretation may be. Consequently the aporia of
human self-consciousness is of universal significance; it does not accidentally
but necessarily accompany our intersubjective approach to the world.
At this point we may ask some critical counter questions with regard to
Schleiermacher's concept of religious feeling. Even if we concede that his
rigorous scientific approach to the human self is immune to the suspicion of
subjectivism: Does it not at least support a cultural relativist attitude with
regard to different religious and cultural traditions?
Given that religious symbols and habits are responding to a problem which
necessarily crops up in every human being as soon as it tries to interpret its
world, we are indeed well advised to take seriously the contingent material
(vowels and consonants, gestures, sounds, images, bodies, spaces, etc) which
expresses the human experience of something inexpressible. Only the
mediatory force of contingent symbols allows us to bridge the gap between our
subjective intuitions and our objective self-observations. Symbol practices are
not reducible to something arbitrary, since they express something which
mediates in between 'subjective' arbitrariness and 'objective' necessity.
However, nothing prevents us from considering them as culturally
contingent. From the cave paintings of Lascaux, via the poetic language of the
Koran, to the Japanese tea ceremony, the Roman Catholic liturgy and the
symbolism of Bach's St. Matthew Passion: In all these cases we are dealing with
culturally relative symbol practices. We may consider Schleiermacher's
analyses of religious 'feelings' as suitable to draw attention to the World
Cultural Heritage and to convince at least the 'cultured' despisers of religion
that they are exemplary for an essential and scientific irreducible feature of our
being in the world. But this does not force us to privilege any religious or
cultural tradition against others It not even forces us to privilege religious
traditions against the agnostic symbolism of modern art and poetry. Is the

plurality of individual expressions of the inexpressible not an inerrant sign that
these cultural relative manifestations of the 'individual general' are all of equal
In order to answer this question, we have to recall the problem religious
symbols are, according to Schleiermacher, destined to deal with.
Schleiermacher's 'feeling of absolute dependence' is to be considered as a mode
of immediate self-consciousness which is at the same time of individual and
universal significance. Given this paradoxical, 'individual general' focus of
symbolic expressions we have, first of all, to avoid an interpretative extremism.
If we try to reduce, for example, the symbolical expressions of religious feelings
to a matter of abstract philosophical or pseudo-scientific speculations (as it is
the case in Richard Swinburne's 'natural theology', American Creationism, or
evolutionary biological theories about the significance of cultural symbolisms),
we are privileging their objectifiable, general features at the cost of their
individual significance. If, on the other hand, we consider symbolic expression
of religious feelings as a matter of subjective convenience (as it is the case in
post-modern esotericism), we are privileging heir individual (or subjective)
features at the cost their universal significance. In both cases we fail to keep the
balance between the individual and the general.
This observation provides us with a hermeneutical criterion to distinguish
between more or less suitable attitudes with regard to religious symbols. The
grammar of religious 'language games' is designed to keep the balance between
subjectivism and rationalism, and this allows us not only to identify 'dead ends'
of the history of religion (esotericism, creationism, etc.). According to
Schleiermacher, it allows as also to assess serious religious or cultural traditions
in terms of their respective symbolic convenience with regard to their
anthropological destination.
Precisely this is the point where the Christian narrative of the incarnation
becomes important in Schleiermacher (see unit four and Schleiermacher's
introduction into The Christian Faith). According to Schleiermacher, the
symbolism of the incarnation is not to be leveled with other symbolic
expressions of the inexpressible, since it includes the only symbolic expression
of a redemptory experience which allows definitely the overcoming of the
indeterminateness and arbitrariness of our 'being in the world' without evading
the experience of historical contingency in favor of abstract philosophical or
pseudo-scientific speculations. Only the symbolic language of a tradition which
intrinsically connects the use of contingent symbols with the unity of the absolute
(in the philosophical sense of this word) can close the gap between the
individual (i.e. contingent) and general (i.e. universal) features of our being in
the world. To believe in Christ is, according to this hermeneutics of the
Christian symbolism, tantamount with the attachment to an historic experience

which is at once of historically contingent and universal. On the one hand Jesus
of Nazareth was a historically contingent person like any other human person -
a carpenter who was born in a little village in Galilee and crucified together
with other criminals. On the other hand he was a person of universal
significance, since he provided his disciples with an immediate expression of
the feeling of absolute dependence, which was rooted in a unique experience of
unity with the divine.
Seen from this dialectical point of view, the Christological doctrine of the
unity between God and men in Jesus Christ (hypostatical union) provides us with
an account of a mystery which transcends the level of culturally relative
expressions of the inexpressible. Designed as a doctrinal interpretation rule, it
locates the significance of Jesus of Nazareth neither in his teachings (theory) nor
in his deeds (practice), nor in his prophetic use of symbols, but in his contingent
fate as such. The contingency of Christ's fate is not reducible to mode of
expression for a philosophical mystery; it is the historical actualization of what
philosophical considerations on the absolute or the feeling of absolute
dependence try to approximate. Consequently the fate of Jesus of Nazareth is
not to be considered as a symbolism besides others, but as the proto-type of
what every symbolic expression of the 'feeling of absolute dependence' tries to
express: namely the paradoxical unity of a contingent individual biography on
the one hand with the universal significance of the absolute on the other. - It is
not accident, that the modern idea of the 'dignity of man', which considers the
embodied self of every human person as a matter of absolute value, is
derivative to the Christian concept of 'being an image of God' and not of the
more naturalist doctrines of salvation of the eastern religions of wisdom
(Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, etc.). Moreover, it is highly questionable
whether agnostic traditions are able to preserve the symbolic legacy which
provided the motivational resources to establish this indisputable achievement
of human culture. 1
According to Schleiermacher, the prototype of the idea of an individual
general, which governs and motivates the modern appreciation of the
embodied self of every human person as a reality of unconditioned dignity, is
to be traced back to a characteristic feature of the subjectivity of Jesus of
Nazareth: Without being distracted trough the concupiscent attachment to
finite entities, Jesus was in all its words and deeds unreservedly governed by
the mysterious presence of the divine, which empowered him to interpret his
contingent fate as an irreducible gift of grace. He received his life without

This was the point of contention of Josef Ratzinger's infamous Munich debate with the
German agnostic philosopher Jiirgen Habermas. See Ratzinger, Joseph; Habermas, Jiirgen,
The dialectic of secularization. On reason and religion, San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press 2006.

reason, and this destined him to become the religious symbol par excellence;
namely a symbol which is immune against any kind of cultural relativism, not
despite the modern achievements of respect and tolerance with regard to foreign
cultures and tradition, but just because we are called to respect every culturally
distinct, embodied self as an image of God.
We will come back to this christocentric focus of Schleiermacher's theological
hermeneutics in the next unit. With regard to the actual unit it may suffice to
summarize Schleiermacher's hermeneutical approach to the uniqueness of
Christianity in terms of its philosophical significance: Like in Descartes,
Schleiermacher aims to establish his considerations on the finite dialectic of
subject and object on an unshakable ground which allows us to transcend the
experience of existential doubt or indeterminacy. But other than in Descartes,
this ground is not demonstrable in terms of rational evidences. It is only
available via the symbolic rationality of religious symbols and the human gift to
trust in the evidence of 'things not seen' (Hebr. 11:1).

Philosophical foundations of Schleiermacher's hermeneutics of the self:
A. The phenomena of self- and external awareness

The present unit focuses on the philosophical foundations of
Schleiermacher's concept of religious feeling which are coincident with his
philosophy of self-consciousness. As we will learn to know in the subsequent text
of Manfred Frank, the contemporary resurgence of the post-Kantian discussion
on this topic has two foci: The phenomenon of immediate self-awareness (A) and
the aporiai of self-knowledge (B), which becomes manifest in our use of so called
'indexicals' (T, 'You', 'here', 'now', etc.). Following, I will use the expression
self-consciousness as a generic expression for both aspects of the self, self-
awareness and self-knowledge, but you should not rely on this terminological
distinction when you are going to read the relevant primary or secondary
sources, since the philosophical language use with regard to these issues is
anything but homogeneous.
(A) The problem of immediate self-awareness especially affects modern
discussions about physicalism, namely the philosophical conviction that
everything we know about the world can be reduced to a description of
physical entities, including the subject (or 'brain') which gives this description.
An important representative of this philosophical tradition was Thomas Nagel,
who published a pathbreaking essay on physicalism already in 1965. In 1970,
however, Nagel published another essay which, though it did not simply refute
the worldview of physicalism, demonstrated the existence of phenomena which
escape the descriptive realism of physicalism. This essay is notably titled What

is it Like to Be a Bat? Already this title indicates where the limits of physicalist
descriptions of the world are to be located.
Though it is possible to make many critical objections against Nagel's
argumentation, the crucial point of this classical text remains significant: I may
imagine how it would be, if I would be able of perceiving things via an echo-
sounder or if I could experience the world like a bat. But even in this case I
would only imagine what it would be like for me (a human person) to be a bat.
There is no possibility of experiencing what it really is to be a bat - as there is no
possibility for another person to experience what it is like to be 'me'. The
experience of being myself is not describable as a property or reducible to a
predicate which is transferable to other beings without further ado. Rather it is
something idiosyncratic; something which intransferably belongs to me (as
opposed to you and, still more, as opposed to every other being in the world).
Now it is important to notice that the 'what-it-is-likeness' (A) of a sensitive
being is not necessarily idiosyncratic. Considered in a broader sense, this art
term refers to a characteristic feature of states which I may share with other
beings, like pain and love. Self-awareness is not to be confused with self-
knowledge (B), since it is not necessarily connected with the knowledge of
myself as the individual owner of a certain state. Animals can have pain as well,
but most of them would not consider themselves as an T which has this feeling
'here and now' (as distinct from feelings T may have 'tomorrow', etc.).
Be this as it may, Nagel's 'what-it-is-likeness' demonstrates that there is a
kind of (self-)awareness which is not reducible to descriptive propositions
about universal observable facts. I may share the 'what-it-is-likeness' of love
with another person; but I must be a human person to share it, as I would have
to be a bat if I wanted to share the 'what-it-is-likeness' of a bat with another bat.
This does not necessarily mean that physicalism is wrong tout court (Nagel
remained faithful to his physicalist starting point or at least kept sympathizing
with this worldview). But even a strictly convicted physicalist has to concede
that there are phenomena which are not (or at least, as Nagel maintains, 'not
yet') satisfactorily explainable within the framework of physicalist descriptions
of matters of fact.
This observation underlines the remaining significance of the premodern
distinctions between body and soul, though it does not necessarily support the
Cartesian dualist alternative to modern physicalism. In the case of Descartes,
the immediate self-evidence of the thinking T (cogito), which is to be
distinguished from the fallible evidence of sense experiences, marked the point
of departure of a dualist distinction between different substances, namely body
and mind. But this distinction, which neglects to problem of vegetative or
animal souls, turned out to have problematic or at least contra-intuitive
consequences, since it immediately provoked the question how mental and

physical 'substances' are correlated to each other. Am I a separated soul which
plays piano on the 'modules' of its brain, as Sir Karl Popper and the neurologist
Sir John Eccles suggested still in the 20th century? Or is the causal connection
between theses substances only something illusionary, as Gottfried Wilhelm
Leibniz' concept of a perfectly programmed 'pre-established harmony' between
the essentially different causal rows of physical and mental entities suggested?
Modern attempts to overcome this contra-intuitive dualism tended to prefer
materialist explanations or at least the less contra-intuitive position of
'functionalism'; a theory which was first elaborated by the American
philosopher Hilary Putnam. According to this approach to the 'mind-body
problem', the relation between 'mind and brain' is comparable with relation
between hardware and software (though more futurist representatives of
functionalism, like Ray Kurzweil, concede that the human 'hardware' is rather
to be described as 'wetware', namely something quite dirty and error-prone
which may be overcome in the long run by a more trustworthy and clean
'hardware'). It could be argued that this modern trend is due to the appeal of
metaphorical fashions. Whereas the physicians of the Roman Empire tried to
explain the dynamics of the brain by comparing it with a central heating
system, it was quite fashionable to compare it with a pneumatic organ in the
age of Leibniz and Johann Sebastian Bach. Thus it is not surprising, that the
metaphors of the past became finally substituted by the more advanced
metaphoric of the post-modern cyberspace. 1 Yet this does not necessarily
disqualify the functionalist trend of the late twentieth century. The intelligent
use of metaphors is a constitutive element of innovative research, and the post-
modern computer metaphoric has turned out be an extraordinary inspiring tool
of neuroscientific theory production. 2 However, techno-morph metaphors are
never more than guiding models, designed to deepening our understanding of
special aspects of human- or animal-bodies. Thus it is no surprising that the
proposal to develop a theoretical solution of the mind body problem which is
exclusively based on this functional model became already disputed in the
Ironically enough, it was Hilary Putnam himself who became one of the most
influential critics of the functionalist turn of contemporary cognitive sciences.
Putnam's philosophical externalism ('meanings' just ain't in the head') moved in
the direction of Ludwig Wittgenstein philosophy of language, which is (as

For a quite illuminating history of ideas concerning the Brain: Ernst Florey; Olaf Breidbach
(Ed.), Das Gehirn - Organ der Seek. Zur Ideengeschichte der Neurobiologie (Berlin 1993).
For an extensive discussion of the scientific use of metaphors see: Janet Martin Soskice,
Metaphor and religious language (Oxford, 1985), 97-141.

Putnam explicitly points out) 1 much closer the Aristotelian tradition than to the
modern dichotomy between dualist or functionalism 'theory options'.
This 'hylemorphic' tradition dominated the orthodox strands of Western
Christianity for more than one millennium, including the more Platonic strands
of Christian orthodoxy. Moreover, it is important to realize that this more
traditional approach to the problem of body and soul is as little reducible to a
mere 'theory option', as my understanding of 'what it is like to be in pain or
love' is reducible to the conclusiveness of theory hypothesis. The Platonic-
Aristotelian approach to the problem of body and soul is based on a realistic
interpretation of our everyday experience, and this is the reason why it is
incompatible with idealized theoretical preliminary distinctions like the
classical modern (post-Humean) 'fact-value-distinction' or the related Kantian
distinction between theory and practice. 2
Seen from an ontologically realist viewpoint (in the Aristotelian sense of this
word), it would be awkward to speak about 'souled' entities without
acknowledging their intrinsic value. I do not simply observe souls in the world,
as I may observe a signpost or a jellyfish. As soon as I discover, for example,
that this being, at the road junction, which I had nearly overrun with my car, is
not a signpost but a human person, I immediately realize that there is not only
something I should know but someone who's existences calls an attitude of
ethical responsibility. A human body is not a thing, and this is the reason why I
can't avoid adopting a value laden attitude as soon as I am faced with
'someone' (as distinct from 'something').
To use an expression of Wittgenstein's Philosophical investigations: 'My
attitude towards him is an attitude towards a soul. I am not of the opinion that
he has a soul, (part II, § iv)' The point if this aphorism is, that my pre-theoretical
attitude to a human person it not reducible to matter of propositional attitudes
(like knowing, having an opinion about something, etc.). The distinction
between persons and things or robots is not a matter of theoretical
considerations about the objective properties of things. We may experiment
with the borderlines between 'animated' and 'dead' entities, but at the end of
the day this would not be a theoretical but a social experiment (as it is the case
in Steven Spielberg's movie LA.). For it is our pre-theoretical (ethical and
aesthetical) attitude towards entities which introduces the distinction between
animated and dead bodies into our habits and life forms.

See the two essays "Aristotle after Wittgenstein" and "Changing Aristotle's Mind", in Hilary
Putnam, World and Life, (Cambridge, MA 1994).
See also Hilary Putnam, The collapse of the fact I value dichotomy and other essays (Cambridge,
MA, 2002).

This is the reason why Aristotle and Aquinas did not consider the difference
between animate and inanimate 'substances' as a matter of empirical
description but of intellectual intuition (a kind of pre-reflexive shape
perception); and this is the reason why Aristotle's 'hylemorphism' used the
sophisticated distinction between 'hyle' (matter) and 'morphe' (shape, form) to
analyse the 'essence' of animate 'substances'. The concept of 'form' is neither
reducible to a pre-modern circumscription for the interconnecting 'software' of
a materialized 'hardware', nor is it exclusively concerned with the explanation
of the human mind or the aporiai of human self-knowledge (like in Descartes).
It rather refers to the value laden, teleological dynamic of animated entities in
general, from the vegetative soul of plants, via the sensitive soul of animals, to
the rational soul of 'rational animals' (i.e. humans).
For the same reason, considerations on 'physical' entities (in the pre-modern
sense of 'physis') were not focused on a reductionist Newtonian concept of
causality, but on three distinctive aspects of 'causation'. The soul of an animate
entity, for example, was to be considered as (secondary) cause of the dynamic
'movements' of the corresponding body (causa efficiens), as cause of its intrinsic
value and 'end' (causa finalis), and as cause of its substantial shape or 'form'
(causa formalis);1 and it goes without saying that this dynamical approach to the
body-soul problem was incompatible with any kind of substance dualism. My
soul is not something essentially different from my body. To the contrary,
though it transcends my bodily reality, it constitutes at once the substantial
essence of my body in imparting it with its shape, its intrinsic value and its
characteristic beauty.
Seen from this Platonic-Aristotelian point of view, the vexing modern
question of how to explain the 'correlation' between body and soul is a typical
example for the tortures philosophers catch when they get trapped by a
misleading (or, as Aristotle would have said, unrealistic) presentation of a
problem. However, there is at least one respect which justifies the Cartesian,
anthropocentric approach to the conundrum of the human self, and this leads
us the second part of my short introduction into the philosophical foundations
of Schleiermacher's hermeneutics of the self: the problem of self-knowledge.
Up to a certain point, the basic principles of Schleiermacher's 'first
philosophy' (dialectic), and especially his distinction between the 'organic' and
the 'formal' are comparable with the tradition of premodern hylemorphism.
However, Schleiermacher does not simply neglect Descartes considerations on
human self-consciousness. Despite his affinity to the pre-modern and especially
Platonic tradition, Schleiermacher adopted, as it were, a third perspective on the
problem of body and soul, which is neither simply pre-modern nor trapped in

See for example Aristotle: De anima, II 415b.

the dichotomy of dualism and physicalist monism - a perspective which
includes something new, or at least something not satisfactorily explicated in
Aristotle or Aquinas. Exactly this leads us to the contemporary discussion about

Philosophical foundations of Schleiermacher's hermeneutics of the self:
B. The problem of self-knowledge

(B) Other than in Thomas Nagel's rediscovery of the 'what-it-is-likeness' of
the self-awareness, the problem of self-knowledge is connected with basic
problems of modern language analysis and Wittgenstein's so called 'private
language argument'. According to this argument, it makes no sense to use
language expressions which are only understandable by a single individual. I
must always be able to share what I am speaking about with other persons, and
there is no possibility to speak about 'feelings' or 'intuitions' without connec-
ting them with an observable matter, gesture or action. Like in Aristotle (but
other than in Plato) there is no possible knowledge of a form without the
possibility of connecting it with an observable 'matter'.
Already few years after Wittgenstein's dead, Hector Neri Castaheda (1924-
1991) demonstrated that this position is at least problematic. There are
irreplaceable expressions in our language, the use of which is not necessarily
connected with a common observable 'matter'. Though we share these
expressions among us, their essential meaning is in each case only accessable to
a single individual, and this not only in the sense of the individual experience of
a certain state of mind ('what-it-is-likeness'), but it in the sense of a knowledge
which is detachable from my familiarity with specific mental states.
The crucial argument of Castaheda is developed in his essay He, based on
considerations on so called 'quasi-indexicals'. Indexicals are personal, local or
temporal pronouns like T , 'there' or 'now'. Their common future is that they
are always used in a unique manner, though we normally do not have any
problems to use them appropriately. If I am saying, for example, 'I am here' you
must say 'Ah, you are there' if you like to refer to the same place I am speaking
about; and if I am saying 'you' to you, you must say T if you like to refer to the
same person I am relating to by saying 'you'. This is why children always
struggle to get to grips with our use of indexicals. Quasi-indexicals are
derivative of these modes of language use. They are used to speak about a
person who expresses themselves by indexicals. We say, for example, 'He is a
liar', if we speak about what the person itself would express by 'I am a liar'.
Starting from this terminological distinction, Castaheda's essay demonstrates
that it is sometimes impossible to substitute the quasi-indicator he* by a general

expression salva veritate, i.e. without changing its truth function. He exemplifies
this impossibility by using the following sentence:

(1) The editor of Psyche [a scientific journal] knows that he* is a millionaire.

If we try to substitute the quasi-indexical he* in this sentence by a general
description (like 'the editor of Psyche') we immediately discover that this is
accompanied by a crucial change of meaning. We may say, for example:

(2) The editor of Psyche knows that the editor of Psyche is a millionaire.

But this sentence does obviously no longer have the same meaning than (1).
The editor may, for example, know that he is a millionaire whithout knowing
that he is the editor of Psyche (he does not know that the responsible board has
just appointed him for this post in absentia). In this case (1) is true (he* knows
that he is a millionaire), but (1) does not implicate that (2) is true as well (he
does not necessarily know that the editor of Psyche is a millionaire). Or a person
may know that the editor for Psyche is a millionaire, for he knows that the
responsible board appointed a new editor, and he knows that the new editor
will inherit a fortune after being appointed, but he does not yet know that the
board appointed himself as editor. In this case sentence (2) is true, but it does not
implicate that sentence (1) is true as well.
To make a long story short, self-ascriptions are not simply substitutable by
generalising predications which focus on the properties of a person (like 'the
editor of psyche'). This does not necessarily mean that they refer to something
hidden in the 'inner life' of the subject; based on quasi-indexicals it is even
possible to speak about them in indirect speech. But they are irreducible and
they are irreducibly connected with a characteristic asymmetry of usage:
Though everyone says T to himself, no one can say T to another person; and
though we do not have the slightest difficulty in understanding indexicals their
manner of use is highly contingent ('I am now here' nearly always means
something different). In knowing myself, I know 'something' of me which is at
best comparable with the protagonist of Robert Musil's Man with out qualities; a
dimension of myself which is detached from any stable property and any stable
location in time or space.
Exactly this leads us back to the second revolution of modernity, which is
connected with the post-Kantian controversy about the transcendental Ego and
the problem of self-knowledge. As the German philosopher Dieter Henrich
(who was the teacher of Manfred Frank) has demonstrated in his pathbreaking
essay Fichte's original intuition (Fichtes ursprungliche Einsicht, 1982), arguments
which underline the irreducibility of the I-perspective recall the 'original

intuition of Fichte'; namely Fichte's revolutionary observation that the
phenomenon of self-consciousness is not reducible to a mode of reflexive
knowledge or objectifying predication. In considering the problem of self-
consciousness we rather have to pay attention to two aspects of the self which
are not reducible to each other.
Following Manfred Frank, we may exemplify these two aspects by analysing
my mirror image. How did I learn to know that this person, whom I meet every
morning in the mirror of my bathroom, is 'myself? In order to answer this
question, we will have to proceed in two steps.

(I) Fichte argued that this knowledge cannot be the outcome of an act of
'mirroring' or 'reflection', or the outcome of an act of introspection or self-
observation, which he called 'reflection' as well.
In the case of 'reflexive' modes of knowledge, I
can only re-cognise myself, which means, I can
only re-discover in my mirror image what I am
already acquainted with. The aporia of knowing,
which crops u p at this point, may be illustrated
by a landscape painter who wants to paint a
painting which includes the painter painting the
landscape. Our painter may push back his easel
to observe the point were he was staying when
he began to paint the landscape. But he will
never observe the point where he is actually
painting his painting. He may always push back
his easel a further step, but he will never catch the point where he is painting
here and now (i.e. the point which is indicated by indexicals). As little as
indexicals are reducible to descriptive predications as little is my 'knowing of
myself reducible to reflexive observations.
The deeper reason for this impossibility is connected with Kant's analysis on
the transcendental ego; namely his demonstration that subjectivity is a
'condition of the possibility' of objectivity. There is a fundamental difference
between the 'spontaneous' act of painting or observing (which Dieter Henrich
calls T ) , and a passive object which may be observed by the painter (which
Henrich calls 'person'). If I am looking in my mirror image, I only see an 'object'
(person); and thus I do not see anything which informs me about the 'subject'
(I) which is looking in the mirror. The only feature which characterises this 'I
perspective' is that it is not an object 'observed' (= past participle) but a 'subject'
which is actively 'observing' (= present participle). However, this is exactly
what I do not see in the mirror. The subject (I perspective) is neither an object
(person), nor is it circumscribable by predicates. However, I am nevertheless

familiar with myself as subject, and according to Kant I even must be familiar
with my subjectivity, for only this allows me to distinguish between 'objective'
and 'subjective' perspectives on the reality (note that most animals are not able
to draw this distinction; they are self-aware, but they do not know themselves).
Consequently, my familiarity with myself as subject must be based on a form of
pre-reflexive knowing - a mode of knowing which is irreducible to reflexive
knowledge, and irreducible to every kind of knowledge which is passively
'given' (like the pain which I share with animals). Self-knowledge is neither
reducible to a kind of 'what-is-it-likeness' (self-awareness) nor to a kind self-
observation or introspection.
This was 'Fichte's original intuition': our reflexive self-knowledge
presupposes some sort of pre-reflexive knowledge with regard to the
spontaneous activity of ourselves as thinking subjects. However, as the Early
Romantics argued, Fichte's conclusion included a crucial mistake. If we
presuppose that there must be some sort of intuitive acquaintance of the T
(subject perspective) with itself, this may be sufficient to explain why I am
familiar with myself as a spontaneous subject. But this does not answer the
question, why the 'person', I can observe in my mirror image, is me as well?
Fichte's approach to the problem of the human self explains why self-
knowledge presupposes a pre-reflexive familiarity with something which is
neither reducible to the property of an object, nor to the what-is-it-likeness of a
special kind of self-awareness. Self-knowledge presupposes a kind of
familiarity with the mere 'me-ishness' of my spontaneous perspective on these
phenomena (a familiarity with the T who has pain, or has knowledge of its
mirror image). But this approach does not answer our starting question why I
am simultaneously familiar with myself as an observable object in the world. In
order to answer this question we have to make another step.
(II) This second step leads us back to the Early Romantic conviction, that the
phenomenon of self-consciousness is not derivable from a first principle (like
the transcendental ego in Fichte) but essentially aporetic. Fichte acknowledged
that the phenomenon of self-knowledge presupposes something like a pre-
reflexive familiarity of myself with myself. But this familiarity cannot be
reduced to the pre-reflexive intuition of a spontaneous T . Self-knowledge is
neither to be reduced to an objectifying, reflexive knowledge, nor to an
'intellectual intuition' of my subjective spontaneity. Rather it must be based on
a pre-reflexive familiarity with myself which transcends the dialectic of 'subject'
and 'object' from the outset. - As Dieter Henrich has demonstrated in the above
essay, Fichte tried to revise his concept of pre-reflexivity from about 1800,
following a similar train of thought.
The point of the Early Romantic criticism of Fichte may again be illustrated
by our starting example. When I am looking in the mirror of my bathroom, I do

not discover: 'Ah, this is
the person I did already
learn to know by a pre-
reflexive intuition of my
spontaneous acts of
looking around when I
cast up my eyes in the
bedroom.' I am rather
confronted with the
confusing experience
that this object, over
there in the mirror, is
something which
essentially belongs to me even though it reminds me that there is something
essentially missing. For I am seeing only an object, and every property of this
object differs from the mode I know myself as a spontaneous subject for the
simply reason that it is objectifiable and thus everything but not a subject. The
point of the Early Romantic approach to the problem of the self is hidden in this
gap between subject and object, since this gap reveals that my intuitive
familiarity with myself is something prior to the distinction between the
subjective and objective modes of my beeing in the world. Self-knowledge it is
not based on a sort of subjective feeling, but on a kind of feeling which is
connected with beeing as such.
To observe my mirror image is not suitable to find out whom I am; my
mirror image does not unveil the unity of myself. Rather it reminds me that I
am not in unity with myself; it recalls the original split which embroils me in the
finite dialectic of subject and object. Consequently it reminds me that the unity,
which connects these poles together, becomes inaccessible as soon as I try to fix
it as something subjective or objective. I am, indeed, justified to say: this person
in the mirror is myself; and I am justified to say that the T which is looking in
the mirror is myself as well. However, the 'self, which connects these two
modes of beeing together, is neither an object nor a subject; rather it is to be
considered as the relation, which links subject and object together based on the
idea of a unity which is only present in the mode of lacking.
To say it with Kierkegaard (see unit six), the self is a relation which is
conscious of itself not because of a positive but because of a negative familiarity
with the common ground of the relata of this relation. If I relate myself to myself
as the subject which is looking around in the bedroom, or if I relate myself to
the object which is reflected in the mirror image of my bathroom: in both cases I
know that I am related to myself, since both cases make manifest that the unity
of myself is missing. To be myself means, to be a negative unity, a mode of being

which is only present in the mode of absence. Like in Fichte, this mode of
presence presupposes a familiarity with the unity of myself. You need to be
familiar with what is absent, in order to discover that its absence is present (no
one would feel homesick with regard to a country he never learned to know).
However, the ground of this familiarity is not accessible to my finite self. Like in
Plato, I am only participating in the inconceivable perfection of this unique mode
of beeing.
Platonic theologians like Thomas Aquinas would call this 'beeing' God, and
this leads us back to the connection between Schleiermacher's Early Romantic
approach to the problem of self-consciousness and his theological hermeneutics.
There are three modes of being myself which are not reducible to each other,
two of which are constitutive for the subject object split (the above outlined split
between self- and external-awareness is derivative of this split): The 'me-
ishness' of myself, which constitutes myself as a spontaneous 'subject without
properties', and the being of myself as an objectifiable person in the world. As
far as I am a spontaneous subject (T), I am familiar with something unique:
Seen from my point of view there is only one being the indexical T is applicable
to - it indicates the possibility of a unique world. On the other hand, I am
simultaneously aware of myself as an objectifiable object. I may have the
impression that I am unique, but at the same time I will never escape the
observation that I am nothing but a dust particle in the universe. However,
these different perspectives on 'myself are only manifestations of the same
paradox: the paradox that I am an 'individual general', 'something' which is
simultaneously unique and universal.
Moreover, my pre-reflexive attitude towards other persons reveals a second
paradox. Just as I know that the non-replaceability of my I-perspective is
indissolubly entangled with an objectifiable, contingent person, so I know
(inversely) that the contingency of every observable person is indissolubly
entangled with a unique I perspective.
Briefly speaking, I am always faced with the paradox that every person is at
once a contingent being and a matter of universal significance; and that the only
thing I can essentially share with every other person is that it is unique and not
exchangeable. The only thing, I have essentially in common with another
person, is that it is essentially different from me - an 'individual general' which
transcends the difference between the identical and the different, and reminds
me in something inconceivable.
This is why the divinatory practice of hermeneutics is so crucial for
Schleiermacher's philosophical theology, and this is why this practice is at once
a matter of theoretical sincerity, aesthetical sensitivity, and ethical
responsibility. Since I have neither access to the unique universe of another
person, nor to its perspective on my very own universe, all I can do in order to

cope with the undeniable limitations of my subjective perspective on this world
is, to respond to every voice which questions my hermeneutical prejudgements
about what keeps this world together, and to strive for a unity which is
coherent with the unpredictability of individual manifestations of the absolute.
Schleiermacher's infamous 'feeling of absolute dependence' is to be located at
precisely this point. It is the feeling of absolute dependence with regard to an
inconceivable ground, which reveals to me the essential incompleteness of my
subjective perspective on the world insofar as it I am called to trust in the
evidence of things not seen.

The Text
The following two short text-extracts of Andrew Bowie (Introduction:
Subversions of the Subject) and Manfred Frank (The Text and its style) are taken
from Frank's book The Subject and the Text, and designed to deepen your
understanding of the classical presentation of the problem of self-consciousness
in the wake of Kant and Fichte. The very short second text will focus on how
this discussion is related to Schleiermacher's considerations about Hermeneutics
and Dialectics, and the relevant passages on self-consciousness in § 3 of The
Christian faith (see unit four). Eventually, the last essay of Manfred Frank, titled
Self-awareness and Self-knowledge, will provide you with an introduction to the
contemporary Anglo-American discussion about this topic.

Primary Literature
Bowie, A.: Introduction, in: Frank, Manfred, The subject and the text. Essays on
literary theory and philosophy. Edited, with an introduction by Andrew
Bowie; translated by Helen Atkins, Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press 1997, XVI-XXVI
Frank, Manfred, Can Subjectivity be Naturalized? (available on request)
Frank, Manfred, 'Fragments of a History of the Theory of Self-Consciousness from
Kant to Kierkegaard'. In: Critical Horizons 5 (2004), 53-136
Frank, Manfred, 'Non-objectal Subjectivity'. In: Journal of consciousness studies
14/5-7 (2007), 152-173
Frank, Manfred, Self-Awareness and Self-Knowledge. Mental Familiarity and
Epistemic Self-Ascription. In: Reijen, W. v.; Weststeijn, W. G. (Ed.),
Subjectivity, Avant garde critical studies, Amsterdam: Rodopi 2000,193-

Henrich, Dieter, Fichte's original Insight. In: Christensen, D. E. (Ed.),
Contemporary German philosophy 1982,15-54.*
Nagel, Thomas, 'What is it like to be a bat?'. In: Philosophical Review 83/4 (1974),
Schleiermacher, Friedrich, The Christian faith. English translation of the second
German edition, edited by H. R. Mackintosh and J. S. Stewart, Edinburgh:
T. & T. Clark 1928, § 3 (see unit 4)
Schleiermacher, Friedrich, On religion. Speeches to its cultured despisers. Intr.,
transl., and notes by Richard Crouter, Texts in German philosophy,
Cambridge England: Cambridge University Press 1988
Castaneda, H.-N.: He. The Logic of Self-Consciousness. In: Ratio 8 (1966), 117-142*

Secondary Literature (19lh century)
Beiser, Frederick C , German idealism. The struggle against subjectivism, 1781-1801,
Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press 2002
Frank, Manfred, The philosophical foundations of early German romanticism.
Translated by Elizabeth Millaan-Zaibert, Intersections (Albany, N.Y.),
Albany, NY: State University of New York Press 2004
Otto, Rudolf, How Schleiermacher Re-discovered the Sensus Numinis. In: Religious
essays. A supplement to "The idea of the Holy". Translated by Brian Lunn,
Oxford bookshelf, Oxford University Press: London 1931, 68-77
Roy, Louis, 'Consciousness According to Schleiermacher '. In: The Journal of
Religion 77/2 (1998), 217-231*

Secondary Literature (contemporary philosophy)
Chisholm, Roderick, The First Person. An Essay of Reference and Intentionality,
Minneapolis: The University of Minnesota Press 1981
Groen, Arne, 'The Embodied Self: Reformulation of the Existential Difference in
Kierkegaard'. In: Journal of consciousness studies 11 (Hidden resources)
(2004), 26-43 (includes remarkable considerations about self-consciousness
in contemporary cognitive science)*
Lycan, William G. (Ed.), Mind and cognition. A reader, Cambridge, Mass., USA:
Basil Blackwell 1990
Nagel, Thomas, The view from nowhere, New York - Oxford: Oxford University
Press 1986
Rosenthal, David M. (Ed.), The Nature of mind, New York: Oxford University
Press 1991
Shoemaker, Sydney; Swinburne, Richard, Personal identity, Great debates in
philosophy, Oxford: Blackwell 1984
Thandeka, The embodied self. Friedrich Schleiermacher's solution to Kant's problem of
the empirical self, SUNY series in philosophy, Albany: State University of
New York Press 1995


1. What are the limits of physicalist or functionalist explanations of the
'mind-brain problem'?
2. What are the aporiai of attempts to explain the phenomenon of self-
consciousness by a theory of 'self-reflection'?
3. What are the problems of Wittgenstein's private language argument and
subsequent discussion about quasi-indexicals?
4. What is the connection between dialectic, hermeneutic and the aporia of
5. What is the connection between self-consciousness and religious
considerations about the transcendence of God?
6. Does the post-Cartesian subject-object dialectic necessarily include a
Cartesian dualism?

Self-consciousness, Sin and Grace in
Schleiermacher's The Christian Faith

Concomitant reading: Marina ch. 2, ch. 7-8, ch. 10, ch. 12, ch. 15

We are now prepared to read Schleiermacher's theological opus magnum
without ripping it out of its philosophical context, namely the context of
Schleiermacher's dialectic and hermeneutic and the Early Romanic, decidedly
anti-subjectivist concept of feeling and individuality.
As outlined in the introduction of the last unit, the linkage between the (in
accordance with Schleiermacher's dialectic only gradually distinguishable)
fields of theology and philosophy is to be located in the aporia of the early
romantic critic of Fichte, respectively the concept of reflexivity. This aporia is
not reducible to a theoretical problem. The impossibility to give account of the
ground of my identity as a human being is not only an essential feature of my
pre-theoretical 'being in the world'; it is also essentially connected with the use
of context relative intersubjective symbols. As soon as a human being discovers
is own mirror image, it can no longer avoid realising that its existence is
depending on a 'ground' which transcends the limits of its thinking and acting;
and as soon as it tries to cope with this abyss rationally (instead of demonizing it
as something spooky or irrational) it is forced to rely on symbolic makeshifts or
narratives in order to express what transcends the limits of human
Exactly this is the philosophical background of what Schleiermacher
circumscribes, in § 4 of the introduction of The Christian Faith, as 'the
consciousness of being absolutely dependent'. In so far this consciousness or
'feeling' (Gefiihl in the early Romantic, non-subjectivist sense of the word) is
based on a mode of 'immediate self-consciousness' (§ 3) it may be considered as
a necessary presupposition of human knowledge, though it is not simply to be
reduced to an issue of theoretical or speculative reason. Rather it is to be located
in the area of philosophical ethics, since it appeals to my responsibility to
cultivate symbolic expressions for an inexpressible 'common good' which I can
share with other people (ethical values, aesthetical values, religious traditions,
etc.). At the same time, the range of this responsibility is not to be delimitated to
matters of private concern. Its significance can be followed up from the most

elementary level of everyday hermeneutics (How do I understand what other
people try to convey to me?) up to the inter-subjective attempts of the
community of scientists to elaborate universally valid rules of scientific
knowledge (a problem which is particularly considered in Schleiermacher's
Given that our attempts to solve the problem of identity and difference in
terms of a 'unified concept of (scientific) rationality' are necessarily bound to fail,
even scientists cannot avoid the use of value laden, symbolic expressions for
something they can not explain. Even more, given that scientific knowledge is
necessarily based on a symbolic mediated preconception of the totality of facts
in need of explanations, scientific rationality is always embedded in the use of
symbolic makeshifts. The symbolism of art and religion is not a borderline
phenomenon which may be overcome in the long run of scientific progress. It
marks the foundation of scientific knowledge. As Martin Heidegger has put it
in his opus magnum Being and Time, which was strongly influenced by the
tradition early Romanticism, science is not primarily a mode of knowledge about
the world; rather it is a mode of 'being in the world'. It participates in our
symbolic mediated attempts to cope with our mortal 'being there'. Science is not
a rationally organized system of propositions which is complemented by
symbolic makeshifts. Rather it is an intersubjective mediated makeshift which
may be complemented (and strategically perfected) by a rationally organized
system of propositions.
Exactly this marks the point where theological considerations about God
become important in Schleiermacher. As distinct from the tradition of early
modern enlightenment, the word 'God' is not a stopgap for a lack of our
rational and moral capacities. Schleiermacher turns the tables. The word 'God'
enciphers the human calling to deal rationally with the fact the every finite
knowledge is a stopgap. Religious habits and narratives make explicit what
every child knows as soon as it overcomes the narcissistic inclination do
demonize her limitations; and it could be argued that naive atheists, like Daniel
Dennett or Richard Dawkins, did never overcome the infantile stage of scientific
narcissism (as distinct from of enlightened atheists, like Karl Marx, Friedrich
Nietzsche, or Sigmund Freud).
In the wake of Kierkegaard and Barth, we may ask at this point nevertheless
the crunch question of post-liberal theology: Is this aporetic starting point of
religious habits and narratives still to be located at the terrain of philosophical
or scientific reason (in the modern sense of this word) or is it already infected
by specific, tradition bound narratives and habits? To come to the head: Is the
insight that modern attempts to develop a 'unified concept of science' are
necessary bound to fail rationally uncircumventable, or is it already entangled
with a typical Christian attitude towards boundaries - namely an attitude of

humility which is rooted in the biblical narrative of creation and the Christian
dialectic of grace and sin (hubris)?
Given that the articulation of such questions is, like the distinction between
'liberal' and 'post-liberal theologians', the outcome later experiences, we have
to take into consideration that they are only answerable indirectly in the light of
later developments. Our contemporary perception of philosophical or scientific
rationality is coined by the secularized eschatologies of the 19th and 20th century;
social-political (Feuerbach, Marx, Spencer, etc.) or scientific narratives (Carnap,
Quine, Nagel, Dennett, etc.) which tend to blur the qualitative difference
between scientific aporiai 'not yet' solved, and aporia indissoluble 'in principle'.
Based on the contra-factual promise of a future condition which may allow us
to solve the 'seemingly indissoluble', they blunt our sensitivity for the inherent
limitations of our being in the world. As Kierkegaard would have put it, they
tend to make us 'narrow minded'. Seen from this vantage point, our readiness
to concede that the problem of self-consciousness is indissoluble in principle
seems to depend on our attachment to a distinctive Christian narrative; a
narrative which provides us with the courage to change what can be changed
and the serenity to accept what cannot be changed.
Schleiermacher was still unaffected by the secular eschatologies of the 19th
century, and in this sense he was much less secularized than his liberal or post-
liberal successors. He was convinced that the highest form of human rationality
is necessarily related to the Christian narrative of salvation, and that every
attempt to 'pass over' the awareness of the essential limitations of human
reason is to be considered as a type of irrationality. The Christian narrative of
grace and sin is, according to The Christian faith, aligned to sharpen the
awareness of boundaries without discouraging the idea of progress (as it would
be the case in what Schleiermacher calls, 'aesthetic forms of faith' like
Buddhism, see § 63); and this is what is rationally required should the idea of
scientific and social progress not become self-deceptive. It could be argued that
this conviction was to be confirmed dramatically in the wake of the political
experiments of the 20th century, and that it may be confirmed even more
dramatically by the forthcoming ecological crises. But this would go beyond the
scope of Schleiermacher's approach to this problem, though it is difficult to
imagine that he would not have adopted a similar 'post-liberal' attitude with
regard to the modern myth of progress, had he been familiar with these later
For this reason it is as least questionable to isolate Schleiermacher's course
setting philosophical considerations on the limitations of human knowledge from
his Christ-centered theology. It may be a matter of dispute to what extent
Schleiermacher was aware of the interference between his more theological and

his more philosophical writings. But as a matter of fact his philosophy was
rooted in the Christian narrative of sin and grace from the outset.
Hence it could be argued that 'father of liberal theology' was not really
liberal. Schleiermacher's philosophical introduction to his theological opus
magnum is rather exemplary for his philosophy as a whole: It is aligned from
the outset to consider the ethical and psychological conditions of the possibility
of a 'truth' which is essentially connected with the memory of Jesus of
Nazareth. Schleiermacher's philosophy was from the outset a 'Christ-centered'
undertaking - or, to put it more precisely, it was Jesus-centered.

Since we are reading Schleiermacher against the background of modern
theology, the last specification may strike to us as trivial. We tend to associate
the word 'Christocentrism' primarily with an historical person. However, seen
against the background of his theological forerunners, this kind of
Christocentrism is anything but self-evident.
Schleiermacher's philosophical theology was as much based on Jesus-
centered considerations about the conditions of the possibility of the historical
event of incarnation, as Aquinas' philosophical theology was arguably based on
Christ-centered ontological considerations about the conditions of the
possibility of the liturgical event of transubstantiation. In order to understand
the historical significance of Schleiermacher's theological opus magnum The
Christian Faith, we have to take into consideration that this new approach to the
foundations of Christian faith displays a significant shift in the awareness of the
focus of Christian doctrine, and that it was not an autonomous invention of
Schleiermacher. Rather it was part of an ingenious response to the theological
challenge of modernity. What had changed with regard to the perception of
Jesus Christ in modern times?
In Goethes Wahlverwandtschaften, which appeared in 1809, the young lady
Ottilie writes in her diary: 'To a valet, no man is a hero' (II, ch. 5). Hegel repeats
this sentence about ten years later, thereby adding: 'Not because the former is
not a hero, but because the latter is a valet.' 1 In both cases we are concerned
with a typical modern experience - the experience of my grandma, who was ten
years old when the German Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated in 1918, and who told
me secretly in the seventies of the last century that she could never imagine the
Emperor sitting at the loo. My grandmother grew up in the rural Catholic
region of southwest Germany. In this a region most people were not even able

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Lectures on the philosophy of world history. Introduction, reason
in history. Transl. from the German edition of Johannes Hoffmeister by H.B. Nisbet;
introduction by Duncan Forbes (Cambridge, 1980), 87f.

to imagine a priest sitting at the loo when she was borne in 1908. But this did
not prevent her from eventually imagining the unimaginable.
The above citation of Hegel focuses on this difference of perception: the
difference between the detached perspective of someone who considers the
emperor as an emperor, and the attached perspective of someone who
considers the emperor as man sitting at the loo. According to Hegel this
difference is not primarily a matter of time, but a matter of perspective. The
valet perspective is not 'more sober', 'more realist' or 'more enlightened' than
its counterpart. The lesson, my grandma had to learn, was not that her former
perception of public persons was delusive. She rather had to learn that it is
possible to distinguish between different perspectives on the same person. The
emperor remains an emperor (despite his valet) because it is the symbolism of
the 'public space' which makes him appear as detached from the prose of
private life.
Seen from this angle, the public perceptibility of an emperor may be
compared with an Egyptian Pyramid (see § 26 of Kant's Critique of Judgement):
To marvel its scale you have to keep some moderate distance - otherwise you
will either see nothing significant at all (too large a distance) or a trivial heap of
gray stones (too small a distance). To the valet the emperor is no emperor
because his 'distanceless' perspective is incompatible with the significance of a
public person. However, this does not prevent the emperor from displaying his
historical or political significance as soon as we adopt the appropriate distanced
perspective of the public space.
The fact that this difference appeared as a matter of philosophical and artistic
concern already at the turn of the 19th century indicates that the distinction
between public and private space was becoming increasingly fragile in the
aftermath of the French revolution (1789). Ottilie's sentence signifies a
philosophical, aesthetical and political problem, and this problem did not stop to
attract the attention of scholars and artists. The borderline between public and
private space became increasingly blurred in the course of the nineteenth and
early twentieth century, until it definitive broke down at the sight of, what
Richard Sennett called, the late modern 'tyranny of intimacy' (which may be
dated back to 1968).1
Seen against the background of this post-modern brake-down, one of the
most significant marks of late-modernity is that it seems to be no longer
possible to draw a self-evident distinction between matters of 'public' and
'private' concern. We may criticize the yellow press, which is primarily
concerned with the royal loo, and adopt the meta-perspective of educated
academics which, in resisting writing about these things, are all the more

See Richard Sennett, The fall of public man (New York, 1996).

interested in writing about people who indulge writing about these issues.
Eventually this only confirms the inescapability of the late modern levelling of
the early modern distinctions between publicity and privacy. It is anything but
easy to control the 'subconscious' dynamic of modern imagination which,
voluntarily or involuntarily, seduces us to adopt Ottilie's 'valet perspective'.
This is the reason why the suggestive logic of modern, historical-realist
novels about Mohammed, Jesus or Mary Magdalene is at the same time
subversive and irresistible. It is irresistible because it stages imaginations which
are already 'in the air' - thereby leaving no realistic space to confront them by
remitting a fatwa or praying the rosary; and they are subversive, because they
undermine the spiritual reading of Holy Scriptures which is always
accompanied by an attitude of caution, awe, and reticence with regard to 'holy
Now it is important to notice that the modern 'valet perspective' did not only
introduce a change of perception with regard to the early modern distinction
between public and private space. It marks all the more a break with the
religious symbolism of the Middle Ages. In pre-modernity religion was not a
private matter or an issue of 'subjective narratives' distinguishable from the
allegedly 'hard and fast' public domains of politics, science or medicine. The
spiritual practice of 'discrimination of the spirits' was a matter of public
significance; and because of this the basic attitude to Jesus Christ was not the
attitude to an amiable personality but to an awesome authority.
Exactly this leads us to the revolutionary change of focus between classical
modern theology and the philosophical theology of the Early or High Middle
Ages: the break between a sacramental-ontological and a historical realist
interpretation of Jesus Christ. To become clear about the scope of this upheaval,
we may remind the medieval distinction between the historical and the
symbolic-spiritual meaning of the scriptures, as exposed in Thomas Aquinas'
Summa theologica (la q. 1 a. 10 corp.):
'whereas in every other science things are signified by words, this science has the
property, that the things signified by the words have themselves also a signification.
Therefore that first signification whereby words signify things belongs to the first
sense, the historical or literal. That signification whereby things signified by words
have themselves also a signification is called the spiritual sense, which is based on
the literal, and presupposes it.'
Mediaeval theology appreciated the literal significance of the Holy
Scriptures. It did not only 'presuppose' an historical background of the history
of salvation (as Bultmann suggested in modern times), but took seriously that
the sacramental practice of the church was the offspring of real historical
events. However, as Henry de Lubac has demonstrated in his overwhelming
monographs about the Mystical Body (Corpus mysticum) in the Middle Ages and

Medieval exegesis, this historical realism was only the hotbed of a deeper,
symbolic realism - the sacramental recollection and commemoration of an
ongoing cosmic transfiguration or transubstantiation.
According to this sacramental realism every historical or natural event is to be
considered as the created sign of a universal process of deification (theosis).
Every sign, and every entity which can be referred to by signs, refers directly or
indirectly to the transubstantiating power of the 'subsistent beeing' of God
which is mysteriously revealed in the 'sacramental body' of the Church. For this
reason, theological sentences about Jesus Christ are not only referring to an
historical event. Rather they figure as starting point of a multifaceted movement
of references and relegations. As Thomas asserts, 'the (historical) things
signified by the words have themselves also a signification'. More precisely, this
means that historical and natural realities are to be read as the pre-figuration
and pledge of a coming cosmic reality; and expressions for this ,cosmic reality' are
not only not to be reduced to the shadow-world of 'merely symbolic'
expressions of subjective experiences. Rather they are to be conceived as
referring to a sacramental reality in comparison with which even what
empirical sciences may call 'reality' to be appears as a shadow world.
What a true symbol reveals is not less but more real than our empirical reality;
and the paradigm of this 'true reality' is instantiated by the 'true body' of the
Eucharistic - the only substantial reality which is beyond doubt. This inverted
perspective on the relation between empirical and symbolical realities was
especially relevant to the 'body of Christ'. Christ's body was not to be reduced
to an empirical reality of the past; rather the historical body of Jesus was to be
interpreted in the light of the ontological plenitude of his eschatological body, the
glory of the Lord, which is incipiently actualised in the 'visible' reality of the
church (as 'body of Christ'), and sacramentally present in the host (as 'body of
Because of this inverted perspective, which was not focused on theoretical
hypotheses about historical events but on the meditation and contemplation of
the 'transubstantiating' power of cosmic-sacramental signs, medieval theology
resisted the tendency to overemphasize the 'first signification' (prima significatio)
of the historia. The notion of historia (history) was associated with the 'spectacle',
the 'gesticulation' of the theatre and the distraction of 'hysterical' gestures. 1 It
denoted the disordered attitude of sin and disruption - something perverse and
demonic which distracts the human spirit from contemplating the
unchangeable truth of the divine 'substance' which was revealed through the
tautological expression 'I am who I am' already in the second book of Moses.
Even the edifying 'spectacles' of the Holy Scriptures raised the suspicion of

See Henri de Lubac, Exegese medievale. Les quatres sens de I 'Ecriture (Paris, 1980), II429.

Tertullian and Augustine that every spectacle recovers the germ of idolatry in
strengthening the attachment to finite entities. To come to the head: In the eyes
of this orthodox tradition every unfractured veneration of a historical person
would have been considered as idolatry - even in the case of Jesus of Nazareth.
This cautious attitude toward the historia of the biblical scriptures should
drastically change in modernity, beginning with the revaluation of historical
narratives in Renaissance art (the historia in Leon Battista Alberti's Delia pittura
(1436), and ending with the breakdown of public symbolism in modernity
which leads in the worst case to the splatter film 'realism' of Mel Gibson's The
Passion of Christ or to the royal tampon of the duchess of Cornwell.
People like Schleiermacher, Goethe or Hegel did not only problematise quite
early the ethical, political and aesthetical implications of the accelerating
breakdown of the symbolic realism of earlier times. Schleiermacher was also the
first scholar to develop a decidedly theological response to this challenge.
Like in the case of his criticism of scientific rationality, which undermines the
dualism between 'subjective (private) narratives' and 'objective sciences', this
response was especially destined to preempt the looming privatization of
religious symbols. However, to perform this task Schleiermacher had to take
seriously the modern 'historicization' of the Christian narrative, and this is why
he involuntarily became simultaneously the forerunner of what he tried to
prevent (like it is was the case with the 19th centuries' reception of his anti-
subjectivist concept of subjectivity).
Schleiermacher's hermeneutics of the biblical scriptures is, indeed, neither
concerned with the 'four senses of the sacred scriptures', which characterised
the sacramental ontology of the Middle Ages, nor with the authoritative
revelation of divine propositions, which characterised the Biblicism of early
modern protestant Orthodoxy. In the wake of Hermann Samuel Reimarus
(1694-1768), Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-1781), and the historical-critical
research of German 'Neologists' like Johann Salomo Semler (1725-1791), his
doctrinal Christocentrism is, on the contrary, unreservedly focused on the
historical Jesus.
The tradition of historical research on Jesus can be traced back to the English
deists (John Locke, Matthew Tindal) and Thomas Cubb who's book The True
Gospel of Jesus Christ Asserted appeared in London already in 1738. Hence
Schleiermacher's cero offset happened not unprepared. But it was anything but
self-evident nevertheless. Considered from the retrospective, it rather appears
as the starting point of a systematic theological revolution. As from now the
unity of the biblical canon seemed to be no longer based on the apostolic
authority of the church as body of Christ (like in Irenaeus of Lyons) or on an
authoritative divine act ob verbal inspiration (like in protestant Orthodoxy), but

on a biographical unit in the historical sense of this word: the individuality (in-
divisibility) of an historical personality.
However, this revolutionary venture was doomed to fail. Already in his 1835
volume Das Leben Jesus David Friedrich Straufi sharply attacked the historical
reading of the Gospels, thereby kicking of a series of historical-critical studies
which culminated in Albert Schweitzer's sweeping balance of the modern
'quest of the historical Jesus' in 1906.1 As from now the attempts of the 19th
century to uncover the historical 'personality' of Jesus appeared as a dead end.
To be sure, this does not at all mean that the historical research on Jesus did
reach its end with the turn of the 20th century. Subsequent to Ernst Kasemann,
and scholars like Pierre Benoit or W. D. Davies, a 'Second Quest' for the
historical Jesus resurged in 1953, which was eventually followed by a more
sober, younger generation of biblical Scholars in the 80th of the 20th century,
namely the "Third Quest'. Scholars of this 'Third Quest' demonstrated
convincingly that Schweitzer's and Bultmann's attempts to get rid of the
tantalizing 'historical Jesus' quest once and for all were no less biased than the
'Live of Jesus' novels of the 19th century. A methodological disciplined
approach to the historical, archaeological and literary context of the New
Testament scriptures does not only allow us to uncover the social-historical,
cultural and religious hotbed of Jesus teaching and live; giving the exciting
discovery of the so called Dead Sea scrolls (nearly 1000 documents) in the Wadi
Qumran in between 1947 and 1979, it allows us to do so even better than ever
before, and it is worth to be noticed that (other than in Schleiermacher's 'first'
and Kasemann's 'second quest') the research focus of the 'third quest' is largely
disconnected from theological or Christological concerns; many leading scholars
of this generation are Jews, atheists or agnostics.
There can be no longer any doubt that it is at least possible to adumbrate a
fragmented outline of the historical epicentre of the 'Palestinian Jesus
movement'. 2 However, the recent 'third quest' is unequivocally focused on
Jesus impact as a public acting person - his activities as a preacher, his relation to
socio-cultural and religious movements in Second Temple Judaism (before AD
70), etc. It does no longer allow us to anchor the fragmentary achievements of
historical-critical research in a reliable image of Jesus personality, let alone that
it would allow us to anchor the authoritative unity of the biblical canon in the

Albert Schweitzer, The quest of the historical Jesus. A critical study of its progress from Reimarus to
Wrede. Translated from the German by W.Montgomery (London, 31954).
For an introduction into the more recent, social-historical,third search of Jesus of Nazareth',
see: James H. Charlesworth, The historical Jesus. An essential guide (Nashville, TN, 2008); Gerd
TheiSen; Annette Merz, The historical Jesus. A comprehensive guide (London, 1998); and from a
distinguished critical point of view: Luke Timothy Johnson, The real Jesus. The misguided quest
for the historical Jesus and the truth of the traditional Gospels (San Francisco, 1996).

biographical unit of an individual. Jesus unmistakable face evades the grasp of
scholarly research, and every theology erected on historical considerations
about his individual personality is built on sand. No one can provide us with an
authentic glance on the live of this man; we can only see him 'in a mirror,
darkly' (1 Cor 13:12). As the German biblical scholar Gerd TheiSen has put it in
his monograph The Shadow of the Galilean: We can only see the Galilean moving
trough the shadows retained in the Gospels.
Despite this disturbing outcome of the modern historical Jesus quests,
modern theology kept supporting the post-Kantian conviction that the allegedly
'metaphysical' Christ-centrism of theologians like Aquinas should be replaced
by some sort of anthropocentric (or existentialist) Christ- or Jesus-centrism.
After Schweitzer's balance this was, however, only possible by assimilating
David Straufi' distinction between the 'The Christ of Belief and the Jesus of
History' 1 . Modern theology became focused on the non-realist, 'kerygmatic'
(annunciating) narratives of preachers, and this change of focus remained valid
even in the case of Bultmann's disciple Kasemann.
Now it is no accident that Straufi' left-Hegelian distinction between the 'Jesus
of history' and the 'Christ of Belief was the invention of an atheist. The
theological assimilation of this distinction was initiated by Martin Kahler's book
The So-Called Historical Jesus and the Historic, Biblical Christ not earlier than in
1892, though this did not prevent Kahler form causing a knock on effect in the
wake of Schweizer's balance of the first historical Jesus quest. It initiated the
'kerygmatic' turn of modern theology, which was formative to theologians as
different as Rudolf Bultmann, Karl Barth, Dietrich Bonheoffer, Paul Tillich, and
Ernst Kasemann. Under the guise of the 'Christ of Belief, the focus of modern
Jesus-centrism became something like a anthropocentric myth; a kerygmatic
narrative of primarily existential or anthropological significance, and in the
most uncompromising cases something like the 'Jesus' of Rudolph Bultmann (a
mythological proclaimer of a time of 'existential decision'), Don Cupitt (an
'ethical teacher' which supports me in discovering my true 'selfhood'), or John
Hick (a mythological 'metaphor' for God's action in the world). Introduced by
an atheist, the 'Christ of Belief eventually evaporated to an imaginary fiction.
Seen from the viewpoint of an intellectually more rigorous and spiritually
more uncompromising, late modern approach to the centre of Christian faith,
the 'third Jesus quest' may be interpreted as a first step beyond these
disillusioning experiments. Inasmuch as the recent Jesus quest is based on the
unbiased methodologies of secular scholarship, it encourages theologians more
then ever before to take seriously the historical, socio-cultural and religious

'Der Christus des Glaubens und der Jesus der Geschichte' was also the title of Straufi'
unconcealed materialist attack on Schleiermacher in 1865.

hotbed which shaped the beginnings of Christianity. The 'historical sense' of the
scriptures does again matter. However, scholarly attempts to uncover the
multifaceted context of Jesus' preaching and live do not solve the problem of
the unity of the biblical Kerygma. They do not expose the congregating focus of
the 'Church' which arose from this historical hotbed. The disillusioning outcome
of modern attempts to detach the 'body of Christ' from the 'body of his church'
is rather indicative of a self-deconstruction of modern theology tout court. It
recalls the remaining superiority to the symbolic realism of the premodern,
spiritual reading of the scriptures, which was rooted in the unifying force of the
devotion of Christ in worship and prayer. 1
We may leave this question open in order to focus in conclusion again on our
starting question: How are we to evaluate Schleiermacher's anthropologically
focused historical-hermeneutic turn in the light of these later developments?
It is, first, again important to notice that Schleiermacher's theology is not
reducible to its effective history. His quest for the historical Jesus is not
reducible to the delusions of the later 19th century which culminated in Ernest
Renan famous Vie de Jesus (1863). As indicated above, Schleiermacher's theology
does not support the subjectivist tendencies of his successors. His
historicization of Christ was rather destined to prevent modern theology from
slipping into a privatization of religious symbols.
In order to understand the significance of this point, it may be of help to
disentangle the historiographic and the symbolic-imaginative dimension of the
modern Jesus-quest. With regard to the first dimension, the historical Jesus
quest in the strict sense of this word, we may argue that contemporary research
has achieved a phase of serenity with regard to the classical modern fuss about
Jesus. History does matter, but it does not provide us with a unifying
foundation of Christian doctrine. However, with regard to the second
dimension, the modern imagination with regard to the historical Jesus, Ottilie's
'valet perspective' has lost its disquieting potential not in slightest. The
historical realism of the 19th century remains significant; if not because of
historical reasons so at least in that it has become part and parcel of our
everyday narratives. Is it really possible to base the Christian doctrine of the
incarnation of God on the encounter with an historical person? Is it really
possible to imagine a human person which speaks in the authority of God?

See Hoff, Johannes, Self-Revelation as Hermeneutic Principle? A Genealogical Analysis of the Rise
and the Fall of the Kantian Paradigm of Modern Theology. In: Cunningham, C ; Candler, P. M.
(Ed.), The Grandeur of Reason: Religion, Tradition and Universalism, London: SCM-Press

We may consider the modern Jesus quest as misleading, but we cannot
simply opt out of the historical realist imagination of modernity. 1 Rather,
following Schleiermacher, we may argue instead: Yes, it is possible to imagine
the dogma of the incarnation in a 'realist' manner - even if we are not able to
proof how this event 'really' took place. Schleiermacher's anthropology was
designed to recover the universal significance of the Christian symbolism of the
incarnation departing from this historical-realist perspective; and that is what it
still achieves, no matter how 'realist' his account Jesus was in terms of historical
With regard to this continuity, the difference between classical- and post-
modernity may be compared to the difference between the historical realism of
the scholarly discussions of the 19th century and the imaginary free play of the
postmodern cinema. Following Josef Ratzinger, we may argue that the
surviving inclination of biblical scholars to design a biographical realist
portrayal of Jesus of Nazareth provides us less with an insight into the
historical 'life of Jesus' than with an imaginative self-portrait of the respective
scholars; a more or less amateurish piece of art which expresses their private
ideals and personal preferences. 2 However, there are more imaginative, artistic
self-portraits in postmodern culture which support the 'hysterical realism' of
modernity more efficacious, such as Martin Scorsese's portrait of Jesus of
Nazareth or bestsellers like The Davinci Code (both focused on Maria
It would be insufficient to engage in barren scholarly speculations about
historical probabilities, if theologians wanted to succeed in exorcising the
catchy attraction of postmodern spectacles. Following Aquinas' strategy of
'dissolving objections' (see: STh la q. 1 a. 8 Corp.), it may be more promising to
nullify the distraction caused by hysterical phantasms without breaking the
silence about the inaccessible 'historical truth'. An example of this approach to
the imago of the 'historical Jesus' is Pierro Paolo Pasolini's II vangelo secondo
(1964), a film which is, significantly, not based on historical speculations. Rather
it presents an unpretentious 'literal' visualisation of the gospel of Matthew,
created, ironically, by a disrooted Roman-Catholic atheist who had previously
been sentenced to jail for his 'blasphemous and obscene' coproduction
RoGoPaG (together with Rosselini, Godard and Goretti).
To some extent Pasolini achieves the impossible by combining the historical
'realist' phantasm of the modern cinema-perspective on Jesus with a strategy of

For a post-modern attempt of ,opting out' see: John Behr, The mystery of Christ. Life in death
(Crestwood, N.Y, 2006).
See the introduction to: Benedict, Jesus of Nazareth. Translated from the German by Adrian J.
Walker (New York, 2007).

contextualisation, thereby allowing us to imagine the 'historical reality' of Jesus'
life without loosing the distance which makes a personality of world historical
significance perceptible as a person of historical significance. His film develops
a realist but extremely minimalist and quiet depiction of Jesus of Nazareth; a
fragmented mirror image of the man of Galilee which uses the faces of the
surrounding poor people (a filmic realisation of the church, which is not
accidentally played by lay actors) to provide us with an indirect glance at the
protagonist of the gospel. Even the suffering of Christ is exhibited only
indirectly. While he becomes crucified in a crowded scenario of mass
crucifixions, only the suffering face of Mary reveals the unimaginable passion
which is hidden behind the scenery of gambling soldiers. This proceeding is
underlined by an extremely repetitive, fragmentary selection of music of
different epochs and ecclesial traditions which resonates with the gospel (Bach,
Mozart, Prokofiev, Webern, Ramirez, Gregorian and Byzantine chants, etc.).
Pasolini uses, as it were, the cultural and ecclesial effective history of Jesus as
the reflector of an event which, for the time being, can only be uncovered
'through a mirror, darkly'.
In a nutshell, Pasolini provides us with an ingenious filmic realisation of 1
Cor 13:12. He takes seriously our historical-realist imagination without caving
into the plush sofa perspective of Renan's The Life of Jesu', or the pornographic
realism of Mel Gibson. Rather he tries to keep the tension between the intimacy
of a private perspective on Jesus and the detachment of the public retrospective
on Christ. His concise selection of literary citations of the gospel underlines this
dramaturgic strategy. Though Pasolini engaged his revered Catholic mother,
Susanna Pasolini, to play the virgin Mary, his text selection mercilessly
underlines Jesus' foreignness to any form of private intimacy, as expressed in
the rejection of the Nazarene by his home village and Jesus' own rejection of his
mother and family ("Who is my mother?" Mt 12:48). Thus, Pasolini
demonstrates in his own manner that it is still possible to fuse the realism of
modernity with the first step of a spiritual ascent (the 'historical' level of the
premodern fourfold reading of the scriptures).
In terms of Pasolini's Marxist philosophy it is eventually remarkable that he
was able to achieve this end without suppressing the revolutionary features of
the fourth Gospel, revealed by the exchange of glances between Judas and Jesus
and the final acceleration of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem. Pasolini's enactment of
this 'end game' is revealing both in historical and in spiritual terms: It reveals
the subversive potential of Jesus' human 'personality', and the self-
withdrawing spiritual attitude of the 'the Lamb of God who takes away the sin
of the world'(Joh 1:29).
The remaining theological significance of Schleiermacher's anthropologically
founded hermeneutic may be located at exactly this level. Schleiermacher did

not try to evade the increasing impact of the historical valet-perspective on
'heroes', kings and religious founders. Rather he deliberately adopted the only
possible attitude toward this tendency; he 'traversed the phantasm'. He did not
'repress' the modern inclination of imagining Christ sitting on the loo, flirting
with Maria Magdalena or (as Ernest Renan put it in his Vie de Jesus) weeping in
the Garden of Gethsemane because of 'the young maidens who, perhaps, would
have consented to love him' (ch. 23) Rather, he directly cut across the
imaginings of modern realism, thereby developing an image of Jesus which is
comparable with Pasolini's image even in the sense that it was, ironically, only
the outcome of his creative imagination.
Schleiermacher did not anticipate that the decision to historicise the gospel
was only the first step of a more complex movement. Unwittingly he kicked off
a discussion which became consummated in the self-deconstruction of the
modern realist myths of biblical scholars. Seen from this angle, his attempt to
uncover the historical secret of the Nazarene is, indeed, only of historical
interest. But his psychological realism was at once part of the creative
experiment to develop an anthropology which is compatible with the modern
imagination. With regard to this dimension his psychological realism remains
important. It takes seriously the irresistible modern scruple concerning the
sheer possibility of a human person who speaks in the authority of God, and it
allows for a response to this challenge which keeps the 'leeway of historical
It is exactly this last point which connects Schleiermacher's christocentric
theological considerations on the remaining significance of the Christian
symbolism with his philosophically path-breaking considerations on the problem
of self-consciousness. Schleiermacher was, indeed, able to realistically imagine a
human person who is more than a prophet; a person who is (in the Christian
sense of the word) 'free from sin'. Namely, the only person whose self-
consciousness was unreservedly rooted in the 'feeling of absolute dependence',
and thus able to pray, act, and preach undaunted (without hysterical
distraction) out of the presence of the divine 'love, wisdom and power'. As a
result, by detouring through the 'hysterical' phantasm of the 'historical Jesus',
Schleiermacher exemplarily recovered the premodern ideal of contemplative
detachment; a spiritual attitude which overcomes the idolatrous attachment to
graspable, finite entities based on the commitment to the inconceivability of
God. This is what connects Schleiermacher's philosophical theology, despite the
historical chasm which separates us from his time, with the theology to come.

The Text

The following extract of Schleiermacher's The Christina Faith will give you an
introduction to Schleiermacher's dogmatic focused on his philosophically and
theologically crucial considerations on the phenomenon of self-consciousness
and the 'feeling of absolute dependence'. For this reason it will primarily
contain the crucial parts of his Introduction. However, besides § 33 which is
concerned with the legacy of the ontological proof of the existence of God, it
will also include the first paragraph of part 2, which is concerned with the
antithesis of sin and grace. Together with unit one, which was concerned with
Ebeling's systematic outline of part I of The Christian Fait, this may give you a
first overview over this voluminous work as a whole, since the most
comprehensive and theologically most extensive second part is systematically
based on this antithesis. In addition to this, the systematic framework of sin and
grace is not only significant with regard to Schleiermacher's theology. It will
return mutatis mutandis again following Kierkegaard's considerations about the
human self in his Sickness onto death, which will be the focus of unit six.

Friedrich Schleiermacher



§ 2. Since Dogmatics is a theological discipline, and thus pertains solely to the
Christian Church, we can only explain what it is when we have become clear as to the
conception of the Christian Church.
1. (T)he present work entirely disclaims the task of establishing on a
foundation of general principles a Doctrine of God, or an Anthropology or
Eschatology either, which should be used in the Christian Church though it did
not really originate there, or which should prove the propositions of the
Christian Faith to be consonant with reason. For what can be said on these
subjects by the human reason in itself cannot have any closer relation to the
Christian Church than it has to every other society of faith or of life.
2. Granted, then, that we must begin with a conception of the Christian
Church, in order to define in accordance therewith what Dogmatics should be
and should do within that Church: this conception itself can properly be
reached only through the conception of 'Church' in general, together with a

proper comprehension of the peculiarity of the Christian Church. Now the
general concept of 'Church/ if there really is to be such a concept, must be
derived principally from Ethics, since in every case the 'Church 'is a society
which originates only through free human action and which can only through
such continue to exist. The peculiarity of the Christian Church can neither be
comprehended and deduced by purely scientific methods nor be grasped by
mere empirical methods. For no science can by means of mere ideas reach and
elicit what is individual, but must always stop short with what is general. Just
as all so-called a priori constructions in the realm of history come to grief over
the task of showing that what has been in such-and-such wise deduced from
above is actually identical with the historically given—so is it undeniably here
also. And the purely empirical method, on the other hand, has neither standard
nor formula for distinguishing the essential and permanent from the
changeable and contingent. But if Ethics establishes the concept of the 'Church/
it can, of course, also separate, in that which forms the basis of these societies,
the permanently identical from the changeable elements, and thus by dividing
up the whole realm it can determine the places at which the individual forms
could be placed as soon as they put in an appearance historically. [...]

I. The Conception of the Church: Propositions Borrowed from Ethics.

§ 3. The piety which forms the basis of all ecclesiastical communions is, considered
purely in itself, neither a Knowing nor a Doing, but a modification of Feeling, or of
immediate self-consciousness.
1. That a Church is nothing but a communion or association relating to
religion or piety, is beyond all doubt for us Evangelical (Protestant) Christians,
since we regard it as equivalent to degeneration in a Church when it begins to
occupy itself with other matters as well, whether the affairs of science or of
outward organization; just as we also always oppose any attempt on the part of
the leaders of State or of science, as such, to order the affairs of religion. But, at
the same time, we have no desire to keep the leaders of science from
scrutinizing and passing judgment from their own point of view upon both
piety itself and the communion relating to it, and determining their proper
place in the total field of human life; since piety and Church, like other things,
are material for scientific knowledge. Indeed, we ourselves are here entering
upon such a scrutiny. And, similarly, we would not keep the leaders of State
from fixing the outward relations of the religious communions according to the
principles of civil organization—which, however, by no means implies that the
religious communion is a product of the State or a component part of it.
However, not only we, but even those Churches which are not so clear about

keeping apart Church and State, or ecclesiastical and scientific association, must
assent to what we have laid down. For they cannot assign to the Church more
than an indirect influence upon these other associations; and it is only the
maintenance, regulation, and advancement of piety which they can regard as
the essential business of the Church.
2. When Feeling and Self-consciousness are here put side by side as
equivalent, it is by no means intended to introduce generally a manner of
speech in which the two expressions would be simply synonymous. The term
'feeling' has in the language of common life been long current in this religious
connexion; but for scientific usage it needs to be more precisely defined; and it
is to do this that the other word is added. So that if anyone takes the word
'feeling' in a sense so wide as to include unconscious states, he will by the other
word be reminded that such is not the usage we are here maintaining. Again, to
the term 'self-consciousness' is added the determining epithet 'immediate,' lest
anyone should think of a kind of self-consciousness which is not feeling at all;
as, e.g., when the name of self-consciousness is given to that consciousness of
self which is more like an objective consciousness, being a representation of
oneself, and thus mediated by self-contemplation. Even when such a
representation of ourselves, as we exist in a given portion of time, in thinking,
e.g., or in willing, moves quite close to, or even interpenetrates, the individual
moments of the mental state, this kind of self-consciousness does appear simply
as an accompaniment of the state itself. But the real immediate self-
consciousness, which is not representation but in the proper sense feeling, is by
no means always simply an accompaniment. It may rather be presumed that in
this respect everyone has a twofold experience. In the first place, it is
everybody's experience that there are moments in which all thinking and
willing retreat behind a self-consciousness of one form or another; but, in the
second place, that at times this same form of self-consciousness persists
unaltered during a series of diverse acts of thinking and willing, taking up no
relation to these, and thus not being in the proper sense even an
accompaniment of them. Thus joy and sorrow—those mental phases which are
always so important in the realm of religion—are genuine states of feeling, in
the proper sense explained above; whereas self-approval and self-reproach,
apart from their subsequently passing into joy and sorrow, belong in
themselves rather to the objective consciousness of self, as results of an analytic
contemplation. Nowhere, perhaps, do the two forms stand nearer to each other
than here, but just for that reason this comparison puts the difference in the
clearest light.
3. Our proposition seems to assume that in addition to Knowing, Doing, and
Feeling, there is no fourth. This is not done, however, in the sense which would
be required for an apagogic proof; but those other two are placed alongside of

Feeling simply in order that, with the exposition of our own view, we may at
the same time take up and discuss those divergent views which are actually in
existence. So that we might leave the question entirely aside whether there is a
fourth such element in the soul, but for two reasons: namely, in the first place,
that it is our duty to convince ourselves as to whether there is still another
region to which piety might be assigned; and, in the second place, that we must
set ourselves to grasp clearly the relation which subsists between Christian
piety in itself, on the one hand, and both Christian belief (so far as it can be
brought into the form of knowledge) and Christian action, on the other. Now, if
the relation of the three elements above-mentioned were anywhere set forth in a
universally recognized way, we could simply appeal to that. But, as things are,
we must in this place say what is necessary on the subject; though this is to be
regarded as simply borrowed from Psychology, and it should be well noted
that the truth of the matter (namely, that piety is feeling) remains entirely
independent of the correctness of the following discussion. Life, then, is to be
conceived as an alternation between an abiding-in-self (Insichbleiben) and a
passing-beyond-self (Aussichheraustreten) on the part of the subject. The two
forms of consciousness (Knowing and Feeling) constitute the abiding-in-self,
while Doing proper is the passing-beyond-self. Thus far, then, Knowing and
Feeling stand together in antithesis to Doing. But while Knowing, in the sense
of possessing knowledge, is an abiding-in-self on the part of the subject,
nevertheless as the act of knowing, it only becomes real by a passing-beyond-
self of the subject, and in this sense it is a Doing. As regards Feeling, on the
other hand, it is not only in its duration as a result of stimulation that it is an
abiding-in-self: even as the process of being stimulated, it is not effected by the
subject, but simply takes place in the subject, and thus, since it belongs
altogether to the realm of receptivity, it is entirely an abiding-in-self; and in this
sense it stands alone in antithesis to the other two—Knowing and Doing.
As regards the question whether there is a fourth to these three, Feeling,
Knowing, and Doing; or a third to these two, abiding-in-self and passing-
beyond-self: the unity of these is indeed not one of the two or the three
themselves; but no one can place this unity alongside of these others as a co-
ordinate third or fourth entity. The unity rather is the essence of the subject
itself, which manifests itself in those severally distinct forms, and is thus, to
give it a name which in this particular connexion is permissible, their common
foundation. Similarly, on the other hand, every actual moment of life is, in its
total content, a complex of these two or these three, though two of them may be
present only in vestige or in germ. But a third to those two (one of which is
again divided into two) will scarcely be found.
4. But now (these three, Feeling, Knowing, and Doing being granted) while
we here set forth once more the oft-asserted view that, of the three, Feeling is

the one to which piety belongs, it is not in any wise meant, as indeed the above
discussion shows, that piety is excluded from all connexion with Knowing and
Doing. For, indeed, it is the case in general that the immediate self-
consciousness is always the mediating link in the transition between moments
in which Knowing predominates and those in which Doing predominates, so
that a different Doing may proceed from the same Knowing in different people
according as a different determination of self-consciousness enters in. And thus
it will fall to piety to stimulate Knowing and Doing, and every moment in
which piety has a predominant place will contain within itself one or both of
these in germ. But just this is the very truth represented by our proposition, and
is in no wise an objection to it; for were it otherwise the religious moments
could not combine with the others to form a single life, but piety would be
something isolated and without any influence upon the other mental functions
of our lives. However, in representing this truth, and thus securing to piety its
own peculiar province in its connexion with all other provinces, our proposition
is opposing the assertions from other quarters that piety is a Knowing, or a
Doing, or both, or a state made up of Feeling, Knowing, and Doing; and in this
polemical connexion our proposition must now be still more closely considered.
If, then, piety did consist in Knowing, it would have to be, above all, that
knowledge, in its entirety or in its essence, which is here set up as the content of
Dogmatics (Glaubenslehre): otherwise it must be a complete mistake for us here
to investigate the nature of piety in the interests of our study of Dogmatics. But
if piety is that knowledge, then the amount of such knowledge in a man must
be the measure of his piety. For anything which, in its rise and fall, is not the
measure of the perfection of a given object cannot constitute the essence of that
object. Accordingly, on the hypothesis in question, the most perfect master of
Christian Dogmatics would always be likewise the most pious Christian. And
no one will admit this to be the case, even if we premise that the most perfect
master is only he who keeps most to what is essential and does not forget it in
accessories and side-issues; but all will agree rather that the same degree of
perfection in that knowledge may be accompanied by very different degrees of
piety, and the same degree of piety by very different degrees of knowledge. It
may, however, be objected that the assertion that piety is a matter of Knowing
refers not so much to the content of that knowledge as to the certainty which
characterizes its representations; so that the knowledge of doctrines is piety
only in virtue of the certainty attached to them, and thus only in virtue of the
strength of the conviction, while a possession of the doctrines without
conviction is not piety at all. Then the strength of the conviction would be the
measure of the piety; and this is undoubtedly what those people have chiefly in
mind who so love to paraphrase the word Faith as 'fidelity to one's convictions.'
But in all other more typical fields of knowledge the only measure of conviction

is the clearness and completeness of the thinking itself. Now if it is to be the
same with this conviction, then we should simply be back at our old point, that
he who thinks the religious propositions most clearly and completely,
individually and in their connexions, must likewise be the most pious man. If,
then, this conclusion is still to be rejected, but the hypothesis is to be retained
(namely, that conviction is the measure of piety), the conviction in this case
must be of a different kind and must have a different measure. However
closely, then, piety may be connected with this conviction, it does not follow
that it is connected in the same way with that knowledge. And if, nevertheless,
the knowledge which forms Dogmatics has to relate itself to piety, the
explanation of this is that while piety is, of course, the object of this knowledge,
the knowledge can only be explicated in virtue of a certainty which inheres in
the determinations of self-consciousness.
If, on the other hand, piety consists in Doing, it is manifest that the Doing
which constitutes it cannot be defined by its content; for experience teaches that
not only the most admirable but also the most abominable, not only the most
useful but also the most inane and meaningless things, are done as pious and
out of piety. Thus we are thrown back simply upon the form, upon the method
and manner in which the thing comes to be done. But this can only be
understood from the two termini, the underlying motive as the starting-point,
and the intended result as the goal. Now no one will pronounce an action more
or less pious because of the greater or less degree of completeness with which
the intended result is achieved. Suppose we then are thrown back upon the
motive. It is manifest that underlying every motive there is a certain
determination of self-consciousness, be it pleasure or pain, and that it is by
these that one motive can most clearly be distinguished from another.
Accordingly an action (a Doing) will be pious in so far as the determination of
self-consciousness, the feeling which had become affective and had passed into
a motive impulse, is a pious one.
Thus both hypotheses lead to the same point: that there are both a Knowing
and a Doing which pertain to piety, but neither of these constitutes the essence
of piety: they only pertain to it inasmuch as the stirred-up Feeling sometimes
comes to rest in a thinking which fixes it, sometimes discharges itself in an
action which expresses it.
Finally, no one will deny that there are states of Feeling, such as penitence,
contrition, confidence, and joy in God, which we pronounce pious in
themselves, without regard to any Knowing or Doing that proceeds from them,
though, of course 1, we expect both that they will work themselves out in actions
which are otherwise obligatory, and that the reflective impulse will turn its
attention to them.

5. From what we have now said it is already clear how we must judge the
assertion that piety is a state in which Knowing, Feeling, and Doing are
combined. Of course we reject it if it means that the Feeling is derived from the
Knowing and the Doing from the Feeling. But if no subordination is intended,
then the assertion might just as well be the description of any other quite clear
and living moment as of a religious one. For though the idea of the goal of an
action precedes the action itself, at the same time it continues to accompany the
action, and the relation between the two expresses itself simultaneously in the
self-consciousness through a greater or less degree of satisfaction and
assurance; so that even here all three elements are combined in the total content
of the state. A similar situation exists in the case of Knowing. For the thinking
activity, as a successfully accomplished operation, expresses itself in the self-
consciousness as a confident certainty. But simultaneously it becomes also an
endeavour to connect the apprehended truth with other truths or to seek out
cases for its application, and thus there is always present simultaneously the
commencement of a Doing, which develops fully when the opportunity offers;
and so here also we find Knowing, Feeling, and Doing all together in the total
state. But now, just as the first-described state remains, notwithstanding,
essentially a Doing, and the second a Knowing, so piety in its diverse
expressions remains essentially a state of Feeling. This state is subsequently
caught up into the region of thinking, but only in so far as each religious man is
at the same time inclined towards thinking and exercised therein; and only in
the same way and according to the same measure does this inner piety emerge
in living movement and representative action. It also follows from this account
of the matter that Feeling is not to be thought of as something either confused
or inactive; since, on the one hand, it is strongest in our most vivid moments,
and either directly or indirectly lies at the root of every expression of our wills,
and, on the other hand, it can be grasped by thought and conceived of in its
own nature.
But suppose there are other people who would exclude Feeling altogether
from our field, and therefore describe piety simply as a Knowledge which
begets actions or as a Doing which proceeds from a Knowing: these people not
only would have to settle first among themselves whether piety is a Knowing or
a Doing, but would also have to show us how a Doing can arise from a
Knowing except as mediated by a determination of self-consciousness. And if
they have eventually to admit this point, then they will also be convinced by the
above discussion that if such a complex does bear the character of piety,
nevertheless the element of Knowing in it has not in itself got the length of
being piety, and the element of Doing is in itself no longer piety, but the piety is
just the determination of self-consciousness which comes in between the two.
But that relationship can always hold in the reverse order also: the Doing has

not got the length of being piety in those cases in which a determinate self-
consciousness only results from an accomplished action; and the Knowing is in
itself no longer piety when it has no other content than that determination of
self-consciousness caught u p into thought.

§ 4. The common element in all howsoever diverse expressions of piety, by which
these are conjointly distinguished from all other feelings, or, in other words, the self-
identical essence of piety, is this: the consciousness of being absolutely dependent, or,
which is the same thing, of being in relation with God.

1. In any actual state of consciousness, no matter whether it merely
accompanies a thought or action or occupies a moment for itself, we are never
simply conscious of our Selves in their unchanging identity, but are always at
the same time conscious of a changing determination of them. The Ego in itself
can be represented objectively; but every consciousness of self is at the same
time the consciousness of a variable state of being. But in this distinction of the
latter from the former, it is implied that the variable does not proceed purely
from the self-identical, for in that case it could not be distinguished from it.
Thus in every self-consciousness there are two elements, which we might call
respectively a self-caused element (ein Sichselbstsetzen) and a non-self-caused
element (ein Sichselbstnichtsogesetzthaben); or a Being and a Having-by-some-
means-come-to-be (ein Sein und ein Irgendwiegewordensein). The latter of these
presupposes for every self-consciousness another factor besides the Ego, a
factor which is the source of the particular determination, and without which
the self-consciousness would not be precisely what it is. But this Other is not
objectively presented in the immediate self-consciousness with which alone we
are here concerned. For though, of course, the double constitution of self-
consciousness causes us always to look objectively for an Other to which we can
trace the origin of our particular state, yet this search is a separate act with
which we are not at present concerned. In self-consciousness there are only two
elements: the one expresses the existence of the subject for itself, the other its co-
existence with an Other.
Now to these two elements, as they exist together in the temporal self-
consciousness, correspond in the subject its Receptivity and its (spontaneous)
Activity. If we could think away the co-existence with an Other, but otherwise
think ourselves as we are, then a self-consciousness which predominantly
expressed an affective condition of receptivity would be impossible, and any
self-consciousness could then express only activity—an activity, however,
which, not being directed to any object, would be merely an urge outwards, an
indefinite 'agility' without form or colour. But as we never do exist except along
with an Other, so even in every outward-tending self-consciousness the element

of receptivity, in some way or other affected, is the primary one; and even the
self-consciousness which accompanies an action (acts of knowing included),
while it predominantly expresses spontaneous movement and activity, is
always related (though the relation is often a quite indefinite one) to a prior
moment of affective receptivity, through which the original aglity received its
direction. To these propositions assent can be unconditionally demanded; and
no one will deny them who is capable of a little introspection and can find
interest in the real subject of our present inquiries.
2. The common element in all those determinations of self-consciousness
which predominantly express a receptivity affected from some outside quarter
is the feeling of Dependence. On the other hand, the common element in all those
determinations which predominantly express spontaneous movement and
activity is the feeling of Freedom. The former is the case not only because it is by
an influence from some other quarter that we have come to such a state, but
particularly because we could not so become except by means of an Other. The
latter is the case because in these instances an Other is determined by us, and
without our spontaneous activity could not be so determined. These two
definitions may, indeed, seem to be still incomplete, inasmuch as there is also a
mobility of the subject which is not connected with an Other at all, but which
seems to be subject to the same antithesis as that just explained. But when we
become such-and-such from within outwards, for ourselves, without any Other
being involved, that is the simple situation of the temporal development of a
being which remains essentially self-identical, and it is only very improperly
that this can be referred to the concept 'Freedom.' And when we cannot
ourselves, from within outwards, become such-and-such, this only indicates the
limits which belong to the nature of the subject itself as regards spontaneous
activity, and this could only very improperly be called 'Dependence.'
Further, this antithesis must on no account be confused with the antithesis
between gloomy or depressing and elevating or joyful feelings, of which we
shall speak later. For a feeling of dependence may be elevating, if the 'having-
become-such-and-such' which it expresses is complete; and similarly a feeling
of freedom may be dejecting, if the moment of predominating receptivity to
which the action can be traced was of a dejecting nature, or again if the manner
and method of the activity prove to be a disadvantageous combination.
Let us now think of the feeling of dependence and the feeling of freedom as
one, in the sense that not only the subject but the corresponding Other is the
same for both. Then the total self-consciousness made up of both together is one
of Reciprocity between the subject and the corresponding Other. Now let us
suppose the totality of all moments of feeling, of both kinds, as one whole: then
the corresponding Other is also to be supposed as a totality or as one, and then
that term 'reciprocity' is the right one for our self-consciousness in general,

inasmuch as it expresses our connexion with everything which either appeals to
our receptivity or is subjected to our activity. And this is true not only when we
particularize this Other and ascribe to each of its elements a different degree of
relation to the twofold consciousness within us, but also when we think of the
total 'outside' as one, and moreover (since it contains other receptivities and
activities to which we have a relation) as one together with ourselves, that is, as
a World. Accordingly our self-consciousness, as a consciousness of our existence
in the world or of our co-existence with the world, is a series in which the
feeling of freedom and the feeling of dependence are divided. But neither an
absolute feeling of dependence, i.e. without any feeling of freedom in relation to
the co-determinant, nor an absolute feeling of freedom, i.e. without any feeling
of dependence in relation to the co-determinant, is to be found in this whole
realm. If we consider our relations to Nature, or those which exist in human
society, there we shall find a large number of objects in regard to which
freedom and dependence maintain very much of an equipoise: these constitute
the field of equal reciprocity. There are other objects which exercise a far greater
influence upon our receptivity than our activity exercises upon them, and also
vice versa, so that one of the two may diminish until it is imperceptible. But
neither of the two members will ever completely disappear. The feeling of
dependence predominates in the relation of children to their parents, or of
citizens to their fatherland; and yet individuals can, without losing their
relationship, exercise upon their fatherland not only a directive influence, but
even a counter-influence. And the dependence of children on their parents,
which very soon comes to be felt as a gradually diminishing and fading
quantity, is never from the start free from the admixture of an element of
spontaneous activity towards the parents: just as even in the most absolute
autocracy the ruler is not without some slight feeling of dependence. It is the
same in the case of Nature: towards all the forces of Nature—even, we may say,
towards the heavenly bodies—we ourselves do, in the same sense in which they
influence us, exercise a counter-influence, however minute. So that our whole
self-consciousness in relation to the World or its individual parts remains
enclosed within these limits.
3. There can, accordingly, be for us no such thing as a feeling of absolute
freedom. He who asserts that he has such a feeling is either deceiving himself or
separating things which essentially belong together. For if the feeling of
freedom expresses a forth-going activity, this activity must have an object
which has been somehow given to us, and this could not have taken place
without an influence of the object upon our receptivity. Therefore in every such
case there is involved a feeling of dependence which goes along with the feeling
of freedom, and thus limits it. The contrary could only be possible if the object
altogether came into existence through our activity, which is never the case

absolutely, but only relatively. But if, on the other hand, the feeling of freedom
expresses only an inward movement of activity, not only is every such
individual movement bound up with the state of our stimulated receptivity at
the moment, but, further, the totality of our free inward movements, considered
as a unity, cannot be represented as a feeling of absolute freedom, because our
whole existence does not present itself to our consciousness as having
proceeded from our own spontaneous activity. Therefore in any temporal
existence a feeling of absolute freedom can have no place. As regards the feeling
of absolute dependence which, on the other hand, our proposition does
postulate: for just the same reason, this feeling cannot in any wise arise from the
influence of an object which has in some way to be given to us; for upon such an
object there would always be a counter-influence, and even a voluntary
renunciation of this would always involve a feeling of freedom. Hence a feeling
of absolute dependence, strictly speaking, cannot exist in a single moment as
such, because such a moment is always determined, as regards its total content,
by what is given, and thus by objects towards which we have a feeling of
freedom. But the self-consciousness which accompanies all our activity, and
therefore, since that is never zero, accompanies our whole existence, and
negatives absolute freedom, is itself precisely a consciousness of absolute
dependence; for it is the consciousness that the whole of our spontaneous
activity comes from a source outside of us in just the same sense in which
anything towards which we should have a feeling of absolute freedom must
have proceeded entirely from ourselves. But without any feeling of freedom a
feeling of absolute dependence would not be possible.
4. As regards the identification of absolute dependence with 'relation to God
'in our proposition: this is to be understood in the sense that the Whence of our
receptive and active existence, as implied in this self-consciousness, is to be
designated by the word 'God/ and that this is for us the really original
signification of that word. In this connexion we have first of all to remind
ourselves that, as we have seen in the foregoing discussion, this 'Whence' is not
the world, in the sense of the totality of temporal existence, and still less is it
any single part of the world. For we have a feeling of freedom (though, indeed,
a limited one) in relation to the world, since we are complementary parts of it,
and also since we are continually exercising an influence on its individual parts;
and, moreover, there is the possibility of our exercising influence on all its parts;
and while this does permit a limited feeling of dependence, it excludes the
absolute feeling. In the next place, we have to note that our proposition is
intended to oppose the view that this feeling of dependence is itself conditioned
by some previous knowledge about God. And this may indeed be the more
necessary since many people claim to be in the sure possession of a concept of
God, altogether a matter of conception and original, i.e. independent of any

feeling; and in the strength of this higher self-consciousness, which indeed may
come pretty near to being a feeling of absolute freedom, they put far from them,
as something almost infra-human, that very feeling which for us is the basic
type of all piety. Now our proposition is in no wise intended to dispute the
existence of such an original knowledge, but simply to set it aside as something
with which, in a system of Christian doctrine, we could never have any concern,
because plainly enough it has itself nothing to do directly with piety. If,
however, word and idea are always originally one, and the term 'God' therefore
presupposes an idea, then we shall simply say that this idea, which is nothing
more than the expression of the feeling of absolute dependence, is the most
direct reflection upon it and the most original idea with which we are here
concerned, and is quite independent of that original knowledge (properly so
called), and conditioned only by our feeling of absolute dependence. So that in
the first instance God signifies for us simply that which is the co-determinant in
this feeling and to which we trace our being in such a state; and any further
content of the idea must be evolved out of this fundamental import assigned to
it. Now this is just what is principally meant by the formula which says that to
feel oneself absolutely dependent and to be conscious of being in relation with
God are one and the same thing; and the reason is that absolute dependence is
the fundamental relation which must include all others in itself. This last
expression includes the God-consciousness in the self-consciousness in such a
way that, quite in accordance with the above analysis, the two cannot be
separated from each other. The feeling of absolute dependence becomes a clear
self-consciousness only as this idea comes simultaneously into being. In this
sense it can indeed be said that God is given to us in feeling in an original way;
and if we speak of an original revelation of God to man or in man, the meaning
will always be just this, that, along with the absolute dependence which
characterizes not only man but all temporal existence, there is given to man also
the immediate self-consciousness of it, which becomes a consciousness of God.
In whatever measure this actually takes place during the course of a personality
through time, in just that measure do we ascribe piety to the individual. On the
other hand, any possibility of God being in any way given is entirely excluded,
because anything that is outwardly given must be given as an object exposed to
our counter-influence, however slight this may be. The transference of the idea
of God to any perceptible object, unless one is all the time conscious that it is a
piece of purely arbitrary symbolism, is always a corruption, whether it be a
temporary transference, i.e. a theophany, or a constitutive transference, in
which God is represented as permanently a particular perceptible existence.

§ 5. What we have thus described constitutes the highest grade of human self-
consciousness; but in its actual occurrence it is never separated from the lower, and

through its combination therewith in a single moment it participates in the antithesis of
the pleasant and the unpleasant.

1. The relation between these two forms of self-consciousness, namely, the
feeling of absolute dependence and the self-consciousness which, as expressing
the connexion with perceptible finite existence, splits up into a partial feeling of
dependence and a partial feeling of freedom, will best be seen if we bring in yet
a third form. If we go back to the first obscure period of the life of man, we find
there, all over, the animal life almost solely predominating, and the spiritual life
as yet entirely in the background; and so we must regard the state of his
consciousness as closely akin to that of the lower animals. It is true, indeed, that
the animal state is to us really entirely strange and unknown. But there is
general agreement that, on the one hand, the lower animals have no knowledge,
properly so called, nor any full self-consciousness which combines the different
moments into a stable unity, and that, on the other hand, they are nevertheless
not entirely devoid of consciousness. Now we can hardly do justice to this state
of affairs except by postulating a consciousness of such a sort that in it the
objective and the introversive, or feeling and perception, are not really distinct
from each other, but remain in a state of unresolved confusion. The
consciousness of children obviously approximates to this form, especially
before they learn to speak. From that time on, this condition tends more and
more to disappear, confining itself to those dreamy moments which form the
transition between sleep and waking; while in our wide-awake hours feeling
and perception are clearly distinct from each other, and thus make up the whole
wealth of man's sensible life, in the widest sense of the term. In that term we
include (speaking simply of the consciousness, and leaving out action proper),
on the one hand, the gradual accumulation of perceptions which constitute the
whole field of experience in the widest sense of the word, and, on the other
hand, all determinations of self-consciousness which develop from our relations
to nature and to man, including those which we described above (§ 4, 2) as
coming nearest to the feeling of absolute dependence; so that by the word
'sensible' we understand the social and moral feelings no less than the self-
regarding, since they all together have their place in that realm of the particular
which is subject to the above-mentioned antithesis. The former division [i.e. the
accumulation of perceptions] which belongs to the objective consciousness, we
pass over, as it does not concern us here. But in the whole of the latter class,
consisting of feelings which we have designated sensible, the corresponding co-
determinant to which we trace the constitution of the present state belongs to
the realm of reciprocal action; so that, whether we are at the moment more
conscious of dependence or of freedom, we take up towards it, in a sense, an
attitude of equal co-ordination, and indeed set ourselves as individuals (or as

comprised within a larger individual, as, e.g.,. in our patriotic feelings) over
against it as another individual. Now it is in this respect that these feelings are
most definitely distinguished from the feeling of absolute dependence. For
while the latter from its very nature negatives absolute freedom (§ 4, 3), though
it does it under the form of self-consciousness, this is not the consciousness of
ourselves as individuals of a particular description, but simply of ourselves as
individual finite existence in general; so that we do not set ourselves over
against any other individual being, but, on the contrary, all antithesis between
one individual and another is in this case done away. Hence there seems to be
no objection to our distinguishing three grades of self-consciousness: the
confused animal grade, in which the antithesis cannot arise, as the lowest; the
sensible self-consciousness, which rests entirely upon the antithesis, as the
middle; and the feeling of absolute dependence, in which the antithesis again
disappears and the subject unites and identifies itself with everything which, in
the middle grade, was set over against it, as the highest.
2. If there did exist a feeling of absolute freedom, in it also the above
antithesis would be done away. Only, such a subject could never stand in any
relation with other similarly constituted subjects, but whatever is given to it
must be given as purely susceptible or passive material. And since, for this
reason alone, such a feeling is never found in man, the only immediate self-
consciousness in man on that grade is the feeling of absolute dependence which
we have described. For every moment which is made up of a partial feeling of
freedom and a partial feeling of dependence places us in a position of co-
ordinate antithesis to a similar Other. But now there remains the question,
whether there exists any other self-consciousness, not immediate but
accompanying some kind of knowledge or action as such, which can be ranked
along with that which we have described. Let us then conceive, as the act or
state of an individual, a highest kind of knowledge in which all subordinate
knowledge is comprised. This, indeed, in its province is likewise elevated above
all antithesis. But its province is that of the objective consciousness. However, it
will of course be accompanied by an immediate self-consciousness expressive of
certainty or conviction. But since this concerns the relation of the subject as
knower to the known as object, even this self-consciousness which accompanies
the highest knowledge remains in the realm of the antithesis. In the same way,
let us conceive a highest kind of action, in the form of a resolve which covers
the whole field of our spontaneous activity, so that all subsequent resolves are
developed out of it, as individual parts, which were already contained in it.
This also in its province stands above all antithesis, and it is likewise
accompanied by a self-consciousness. But this also concerns the relation of the
subject as agent to that which may be the object of its action, and thus has its
place within the antithesis. And since obviously this must be equally true of

every self-consciousness which accompanies any particular knowledge or
action, it follows that there is no other self-consciousness which is elevated
above the antithesis, and that this character belongs exclusively to the feeling of
absolute dependence.
3. While the lowest or animal grade of consciousness gradually disappears as
the middle grade develops, the highest cannot develop at all so long as the
lowest is present; but, on the other hand, the middle grade must persist
undiminished even when the highest has reached its perfect development. The
highest self-consciousness is in no wise dependent on outwardly given objects
which may affect us at one moment and not at another. As a consciousness of
absolute dependence it is quite simple, and remains self-identical while all other
states are changing. Therefore, in itself it cannot possibly be at one moment thus
and at another moment otherwise, nor can it by intermission be present at one
moment and absent at another. Either it is not there at all, or, so long as it is
there, it is continuously there and always self-identical. Now if it were im-
possible for it to co-exist with the consciousness of the second grade (as it
cannot with that of the third), then either it could never make an appearance in
time, but would always remain in the concealment in which it lay during the
predominance of the lowest grade, or it must drive out the second and exist
alone, and, indeed, in ever-unchanging identity. Now this latter supposition is
controverted by all experience, and indeed is manifestly impossible unless our
ideation and action are to be entirely stripped of self-consciousness, which
would irrevocably destroy the coherence of our existence for our own minds. It
is impossible to claim a constancy for the highest self-consciousness, except on
the supposition that the sensible self-consciousness is always conjoined with it.
Of course, this con-junction cannot be regarded as a fusion of the two: that
would be entirely opposed to the conception of both of them which we have
established. It means rather a co-existence of the two in the same moment,
which, of course, unless the Ego is to be split up, involves a reciprocal relation
of the two. It is impossible for anyone to be in some moments exclusively
conscious of his relations within the realm of the antithesis, and in other
moments of his absolute dependence in itself and in a general way; for it is as a
person determined for this moment in a particular manner within the realm of
the antithesis that he is conscious of his absolute dependence. This relatedness
of the sensibly determined to the higher self-consciousness in the unity of the
moment is the consummating point of the self-consciousness. For to the man
who once recognizes what piety is, and appropriates it as a requirement of his
being, every moment of a merely sensible self-consciousness is a defective and
imperfect state. But even if the feeling of absolute dependence in general were
the entire content of a moment of self-consciousness, this also would be an
imperfect state; for it would lack the definiteness and clearness which spring

from its being related to the determination of the sensible self-consciousness.
This consummation, however, since it consists in the two elements being related
to each other, may be described in two different ways. Described from below it
is as follows: when the sensible self-consciousness has quite expelled the animal
confusion, then there is disclosed a higher tendency over against the antithesis,
and the expression of this tendency in the self-consciousness is the feeling of
absolute dependence. And the more the subject, in each moment of sensible
self-consciousness, with his partial freedom and partial dependence, takes at
the same time the attitude of absolute dependence, the more religious is he.
Described from above it is as follows: the tendency which we have described, as
an original and innate tendency of the human soul, strives from the very
beginning to break through into consciousness. But it is unable to do so as long
as the antithesis remains dissolved in the animal confusion. Subsequently,
however, it asserts itself. And the more it contributes to every moment of
sensibly determined self-consciousness without the omission of any, so that the
man, while he always feels himself partially free and partially dependent in
relation to other finite existence, feels himself at the same time to be also (along
with everything towards which he had that former feeling) absolutely
dependent—the more religious is he.
4. The sensibly determined self-consciousness splits up of itself, in
accordance with its nature, into a series of moments that differ in their content,
because our activity exercised upon other beings is a temporal one, and their
influence upon us is likewise temporal. The feeling of absolute dependence, on
the other hand, being in itself always self-identical, would not evoke a series of
thus distinguishable moments; and if it did not enter into relation with such a
series in the manner described above, either it could never become an actual
consciousness in time at all, or else it must accompany the sensible self-
consciousness monotonously without any relation to the manifold rising and
falling variations of the latter. But, as a matter of fact, our religious
consciousness does not take either of these forms, but conforms to the
description we have given above. That is to say: being related as a constituent
factor to a given moment of consciousness which consists of a partial feeling of
freedom and a partial feeling of dependence, it thereby becomes a particular
religious emotion, and being in another moment related to a different datum, it
becomes a different religious emotion; yet so that the essential element, namely,
the feeling of absolute dependence, is the same in both, and thus throughout
the whole series, and the difference arises simply from the fact that it becomes a
different moment when it goes along with a different determination of the
sensible self-consciousness. It remains always, however, a moment of the higher
power; whereas, where there is no piety at all, the sensible self-consciousness
breaks up (as was likewise described) into a series of moments of the lower

power, while in the period of animal confusion there does not even take place a
definite separation and antithesis of the moments for the subject.
It is the same with the second part of our proposition. That is to say: the
sensible self-consciousness splits u p also, of itself and from its very nature, into
the antithesis of the pleasant and the unpleasant, or of pleasure and pain. This
does not mean that the partial feeling of freedom is always pleasure, and the
partial feeling of dependence always pain, as seems to be assumed by those
who wrongly think that the feeling of absolute dependence has, of its very
nature, a depressing effect. For the child can have a feeling of perfect well-being
in the consciousness of dependence on its parents, and so also (thank God) can
the subject in his relation to the government; and other people, even parents
and governments, can feel miserable in the consciousness of their freedom. So
that each may equally well be either pleasure or pain, according to whether life
is furthered or hindered by it. The higher self-consciousness, on the other hand,
bears within it no such antithesis. Its first appearance means, of course, an
enhancement of life, if a comparison arises with the isolated sensible self-
consciousness. But if, without any such reference, we think of it in its own self-
identity, its effect is simply an unchanging identity of life, which excludes any
such antithesis. This state we speak of under the name of the Blessedness of the
finite being as the highest summit of his perfection. But our religious
consciousness, as we actually find it, is not of that character, but is subject to
variation, some pious emotions approximating more to joy, and others to
sorrow. Thus this antithesis refers simply to the manner in which the two
grades of self-consciousness are related to each other in the unity of the
moment. And thus it is by no means the case that the pleasant and the
unpleasant, which exist in the sensible feeling, impart the same character to the
feeling of absolute dependence. On the contrary, we often find, united in one
and the same moment (as a clear sign that the two grades are not fused into
each other or neutralized by each other so as to become a third) a sorrow of the
lower and a joy of the higher self-consciousness; as, e.g., whenever with a
feeling of suffering there is combined a trust in God. But the antithesis attaches
to the higher self-consciousness, because it is the nature of the latter to become
temporal, to manifest itself in time, by entering into relation with the sensible
self-consciousness so as to constitute a moment. That is to say: as the emergence
of this higher self-consciousness at all means an enhancement of life, so
whenever it emerges with ease, to enter into relation with a sensible
determination, whether pleasant or unpleasant, this means an easy progress of
that higher life, and bears, by comparison, the stamp of joy. And as the
disappearance of the higher consciousness, if it could be perceived, would
mean a diminution of life, so whenever it emerges with difficulty, this

approximates to an absence of it, and can only be felt as an inhibition of the
higher life.
Now this alternation undeniably forms the feeling-content of every religious
life, so that it seemed superfluous to illustrate these formulae by examples. But
we may now go on to ask how this usual course of the religious life is related to
that which we have at an earlier point described, if only problematically, as the
highest development of it. Suppose that the opposite characters are both
continuously being strongly imprinted upon the individual religious emotions,
so that both alternately rise to a passionate level: this gives to the religious life
an instability which we cannot regard as of the highest worth. But suppose that
the difficulties gradually disappear, so that facility of religious emotions
becomes a permanent state; and that gradually the higher grade of feeling
comes to preponderate over the lower, so that in the immediate self-conscious-
ness the sensible determination asserts itself rather as an opportunity for the
appearance of the feeling of absolute dependence than as containing the
antithesis, which is therefore transferred into the realm of mere perception: then
this fact, that the antithesis has almost disappeared again from the higher grade
of life, indisputably means that the latter has attained its richest content of
5. From the above it follows directly that (and in what sense) an
uninterrupted sequence of religious emotions can be required of us, as indeed
Scripture actually requires it; and it is confirmed every time a religious soul
laments over a moment of his life which is quite empty of the consciousness of
God (since no one laments the absence of anything which is recognized to be
impossible). Of course, it goes without saying in this connexion that the feeling
of absolute dependence, when it unites with a sensibly determined self-
consciousness, and thus becomes an emotion, must vary as regards strength.
Indeed, there will naturally be moments in which a man is not directly and
definitely conscious of such a feeling at all. And yet, indirectly, it can be shown
that in these moments the feeling was not dead; as, e.g., when such a moment is
followed by another in which the feeling strongly asserts itself, while the
second is not felt to be of a different character from the first or a definite
departure from it, but to be linked up with it tranquilly as a continuation of its
essentially unchanged identity (which is not the case when the preceding
moment was one from which the feeling was definitely excluded). Also, of
course, the different formations assumed by the sensible self-consciousness in
virtue of the highly manifold minglings of the feeling of freedom and the
feeling of dependence, differ in the degree in which they evoke or encourage
the appearance of the higher self-consciousness; and in the case of those which
do it in a lesser degree, a weaker appearance of the higher need not be felt as an
inhibition of the higher life. But there is no determination of the immediate

sensible self-consciousness which is incompatible with the higher; so that there
is no kind of necessity for either of the two ever to be interrupted, except when
the confused state of consciousness gains ground, and both retire behind it.
Postscript.—If thus the direct inward expression of the feeling of absolute
dependence is the consciousness of God, and that feeling, whenever it attains to
a certain clearness, is accompanied by such an expression, but is also combined
with, and related to, a sensible self-consciousness: then the God-consciousness
which has in this way arisen will, in all it's particular formations, carry with it
such determinations as belong to the realm of the antithesis in which the
sensible self-consciousness moves. And this is the source of all those
anthropomorphic elements which are inevitable in this realm in utterances
about God, and which form such a cardinal point in the ever-recurring
controversy between those who accept that fundamental assumption and those
who deny it. For those who rejoice in the possession of an original idea of the
Supreme Being derived from some other quarter, but who have no experience
of piety, will not tolerate the statement that the expression of that feeling posits
the action of the very same thing which is expressed in their original idea. They
assert that the God of feeling is a mere fiction, an idol, and they may perhaps
even hint that such a fancy is more tenable in the form of Polytheism. And those
who will not admit either a conception of God or a feeling which represents
Him, base their position on the contention that the representation of God which
is put together out of such utterances, in which God appears as human,
destroys itself. Meanwhile, religious men know that it is only in speech that
they cannot avoid the anthropomorphic: in their immediate consciousness they
keep the object separate from its mode of representation, and they endeavour to
show their opponents that without this integration of feeling no certainty is
possible even for the strongest forms of objective consciousness or of transitive
action, and that, to be consistent, they must limit themselves entirely to the
lower grade of life.
§ 6. The religious self-consciousness, like every essential element in human nature,
leads necessarily in its development to fellowship or communion; a communion which,
on the one hand, is variable and fluid, and, on the other hand, has definite limits, i.e. is a
1. If the feeling of absolute dependence, expressing itself as consciousness of
God, is the highest grade of immediate self-consciousness, it is also an essential
element of human nature. This cannot be controverted on the ground that there
is for every individual man a time when that consciousness does not yet exist.
For this is the period when life is incomplete, as may be seen both from the fact
that the animal confusion of consciousness has not yet been overcome, and
from the fact that other vital functions too are only developing themselves
gradually. Nor can it be objected that there are always communities of men in

which this feeling has not yet been awakened; for these likewise only exhibit on
a large scale that undeveloped state of human nature which betrays itself also in
other functions of their lives. Similarly it cannot be argued that the feeling is
accidental (non-essential), because even in a highly developed religious
environment individuals may be found who do not share it. For these people
cannot but testify that the whole matter is not so alien to them but that they
have at particular moments been gripped by such a feeling, though they may
call it by some name that is not very honouring to themselves. But if anyone can
show, either that this feeling has not a higher value than the sensible, or that
there is besides it another of equal value—only then can anyone be entitled to
regard it as a merely accidental form, which, while it may perhaps exist for
some people in every age, is nevertheless not to be reckoned as part of a
complete human nature for everybody.
2. The truth that every essential element of human nature becomes the basis
of a fellowship or communion, can only be fully explicated in the context of a
scientific theory of morals. Here we can only allude to the essential points of
this process, and then ask everybody to accept it as a fact. Fellowship, then, is
demanded by the consciousness of kind which dwells in every man, and which
finds its satisfaction only when he steps forth beyond the limits of his own
personality and takes up the facts of other personalities into his own. It is
accomplished through the fact that everything inward becomes, at a certain
point of its strength or maturity, an outward too, and, as such, perceptible to
others. Thus feeling, as a self-contained determination of the mind (which on
the other side passes into thought and action, but with that we are not here
concerned), will, even qua feeling, and purely in virtue of the consciousness of
kind, not exist exclusively for itself, but becomes an outward, originally and
without any definite aim or pertinence, by means of facial expression, gesture,
tones, and (indirectly) words; and so becomes to other people a revelation of the
inward. This bare expression of feeling, which is entirely caused by the inward
agitation, and which can be very definitely distinguished from any further and
more separate action into which it passes, does indeed at first arouse in other
people only an idea of the person's state of mind. But, by reason of the
consciousness of kind, this passes into living imitation; and the more able the
percipient is (either for general reasons, or because of the greater liveliness of
the expression, or because of closer affinity) to pass into the same state, the
more easily will that state be produced by imitation. Everybody must in his
own experience be conscious of this process from both its sides, the expressing
and the perceiving, and must thus confess that he always finds himself, with
the concurrence of his conscience, involved in a multifarious communion of
feeling, as a condition quite in conformity with his nature, and therefore that he
would have co-operated in the founding of such a communion if it had not been

there already.
As regards the feeling of absolute dependence in particular, everyone will
know that it was first awakened in him in the same way, by the communicative
and stimulative power of expression or utterance.
3. Our assertion that this communion is at first variable and fluid follows
from what we have just been saying. For as individuals in general resemble
each other in variable degrees, both as regards the strength of their religious
emotions and as regards the particular region of sensible self-consciousness
with which their God-consciousness most easily unites, each person's religious
emotions have more affinity with those of one of his fellows than with those of
another, and thus communion of religious feeling comes to him more easily
with the former than with the latter. If the difference is great, he feels himself
attracted by the one and repelled by the others; yet not repelled directly or
absolutely, so that he could not enter into any communion of feeling with them
at all; but only in the sense that he is more powerfully attracted to others; and
thus he could have communion even with these, in default of the others, or in
circumstances which specially drew them together. For there can hardly exist a
man in whom another would recognize no religious affection whatever as being
in any degree similar to his own, or whom another would know to be quite
incapable of either moving or being moved by him. It remains true, however,
that the more uninterrupted the communion is to be, i.e. the more closely the
kindred emotions are to follow each other, and the more easily the emotions are
to communicate themselves, so much the smaller must be the number of people
who can participate. We may conceive as great an interval as we like between
the two extremes, that of the closest and that of the feeblest communion; so that
the man who experiences the fewest and feeblest religious emotions can have
the closest kind of communion only with those who are equally little
susceptible to these emotions, and is not in a position to imitate the utterances
of those who derive religious emotion from moments where he himself never
finds it. A similar relation holds between the man whose piety is purer, in the
sense that in every moment of it he clearly distinguishes the religious content of
his self-consciousness from the sensible to which it is related, and the man
whose piety is less pure, i.e. more confused with the sensible. However, we may
conceive the interval between these extremes as being, for each person, filled up
with as many intermediate stages as we like; and this is just what constitutes
the fluidity of the communion.
4. This is how the interchange of religious consciousness appears when we
think of the relation of individual men to each other But if we look at the actual
condition of men, we also find well-established relationships in this fluid, and
therefore (strictly speaking) undefined communion or fellowship. In the first
place, as soon as human development has advanced to the point of a domestic

life, even if not a completely regulated one, every family will establish within
itself such a communion of the religious self-consciousness—a communion
which, however, has quite definite limits as regards the outside world. For the
members of the family are bound together in a peculiar manner by definite
congruity and kinship, and, moreover, their religious emotions are associated
with the same occasions, so that strangers can only have an accidental and
transitory, and therefore a very unequal, share in them.
But we also find families not isolated but standing collectively in distinctly
defined combinations, with common language and customs, and with some
knowledge or inkling of a closer common origin. And then religious
communion becomes marked off among them, partly in the form of
predominating similarity in the individual families, and partly by one family,
which is particularly open to religious emotions, coming to predominate as the
para-mountly active one, while the others, being as it were scarcely out of their
nonage, display only receptivity (a state of affairs which exists wherever there is
a hereditary priesthood). Every such relatively closed religious communion,
which forms an ever self-renewing circulation of the religious self-
consciousness within certain definite limits, and a propagation of the religious
emotions arranged and organized within the same limits, so that there can be
some kind of definite understanding as to which individuals belong to it and
which do not—this we designate a Church.
Postscript. —This will be the best place to come to an understanding, from our
own point of view, as to the different senses in which the word Religion is
customarily used—though indeed, as far as possible, we here confine ourselves
to an occasional and cursory employment of the word for the sake of variety. In
the lirst place, then, when people speak of a particular religion, this is always
with reference to one definite 'Church/ and it means the totality of the religious
affections which form the foundation of such a communion and are recognized
to be identical in the various members, in its peculiar content as set forth by
contemplation and reflection upon the religious emotions. Correspondingly, the
individual's susceptibility (which admits of different degrees) to the influence
of the fellowship or communion, as also his influence upon the latter, and thus
his participation in the circulation and propagation of the religious emotions—
this is designated Religiosity (Religiositat). Now if a man, on the analogy of
'Christian Religion' and 'Mohammedan Religion,' begins to speak also of
'Natural Religion,' he is again abandoning the rule and confusing the use of
words, because there is no natural 'Church' and no definite compass within
which the elements of natural religion can be sought. If the expression 'Religion
in general' be employed, it again cannot signify such a whole. Nothing can fitly
be understood by it but the tendency of the human mind in general to give rise
to religious emotions, always considered, however, along with their expression,

and thus with the striving for fellowship, i.e. the possibility of particular
religions (but without regard to the distinction between fluid and defined
fellowships). It is only that tendency, the general susceptibility of individual
souls to religious emotion, that could be called 'religion in general.' These
expressions, however, are seldom clearly distinguished in actual use.
Now, in so far as the constitution of the religious affections of the individual
contains more than can be recognized as uniform in the communion, this purely
personal element is usually, in regard to its content, called Subjective Religion,
while the common element is called Objective Religion. But this usage becomes
in the highest degree inconvenient whenever (as is now the case among
ourselves) a large Church splits up into several smaller communions without
entirely giving up its unity. For the peculiarities of the smaller Churches would
then also be 'subjective religion' in comparison with what was recognized as
common to the larger Church, while they would be 'objective' in comparison
with the peculiarities of their particular members. Finally, in the religious
emotions themselves, a distinction can be made between the inner deter-
mination of self-consciousness and the manner of its outward expression,
though these are closely connected; and thus the organization of the
communicative expressions of piety in a community is usually called Outward
Religion, while the total content of the religious emotions, as they actually occur
in individuals, is called Inward Religion.
Now, while these definitions may well be the best, as comprehending the
various and very arbitrary usages, we have only to compare the expressions
with the explanations given, in order to realize how indeterminate it all is.
Therefore it is really better to avoid these designations in scientific usage,
especially as the term 'religion,' as applied to Christianity, is quite new in our

II. The Diversities of Religious Communions in General:
Propositions borrowed from the Philosophy of Religion.
§ 7. The various religious communions which have appeared in history with clearly
defined limits are related to each other in two ways: as different stages of development,
and as different kinds.
Our proposition does not assert, but it does tacitly presuppose the
possibility, that there are other forms of piety which are related to Christianity
as different forms on the same level of development, and thus so far similar. But
this does not contradict the conviction, which we assume every Christian to
possess, of the exclusive superiority of Christianity. [...] Our proposition
excludes only the idea, which indeed is often met with, that the Christian
religion (piety) should adopt towards at least most other forms of piety the
attitude of the true towards the false. For if the religions belonging to the same

stage as Christianity were entirely false, how could they have so much
similarity to Christianity as to make that classification requisite? And if the
religions which belong to the lower stages contained nothing but error, how
would it be possible for a man to pass from them to Christianity? Only the true,
and not the false, can be a basis of receptivity for the higher truth of
Christianity. The whole delineation which we are here introducing is based
rather on the maxim that error never exists in and for itself, but always along
with some truth, and that we have never fully understood it until we have
discovered its connexion with truth, and the true thing to which it is attached.
With this agrees what the apostle says when he represents even Polytheism as a
perversion of the original consciousness of God which underlies it, and when,
in this evidence of the longing which all these fancies have failed to satisfy, he
finds an obscure presentiment of the true God (Rom 1.21; Acts 17,27-30).

§ 8. Those forms of piety in which all religious affections express the dependence of
everything finite upon one Supreme and Infinite Being, i.e. the monotheistic forms,
occupy the highest level; and all others are related to them as subordinate forms, from
which men are destined to pass to those higher ones.
[...] Idol-worship proper is based upon a confused state of the self-
consciousness which marks the lowest condition of man, since in it the higher
and the lower are so little distinguished that even the feeling of absolute
dependence is reflected as arising from a particular object to be apprehended by
the senses. So, too, with Polytheism: in its combination of the religious
susceptibility with diverse affections of the sensible self-consciousness, it
exhibits this diversity in such a very preponderant degree that the feeling of
absolute dependence cannot appear in its complete unity and indifference to all
that the sensible self-consciousness may contain; but, instead, a plurality is
posited as its source. But when the higher self-consciousness, in distinction
from the sensible, has been fully developed, then, in so far as we are open in
general to sensible stimulation, i.e. in so far as we are constituent parts of the
world, and therefore in so far as we take u p the world into our self-
consciousness and expand the latter into a general consciousness of finitude, we
are conscious of ourselves as absolutely dependent. Now this self-consciousness
can only be described in terms of Monotheism, and indeed only as we have
expressed it in our proposition. For if we are conscious of ourselves, as such
and in our finitude, as absolutely dependent, the same holds true of all finite
existence, and in this connexion we take u p the whole world along with
ourselves into the unity of our self-consciousness. Thus the different ways of
representing that existence outside of us to which the consciousness of absolute
dependence refers, depend partly on the different degrees of extensiveness of
the self-consciousness (for as long as a man identifies himself only with a small

part of finite existence, his god will remain a fetich); and partly on the degree of
clearness with which the higher self-consciousness is distinguished from the
lower. Polytheism naturally represents in both respects an indeterminate
middle stage, which sometimes is very little different from Idol-worship, but
sometimes, when in the handling of the plurality there appears a secret striving
after unity, may border very closely on Monotheism; whether it be that the gods
rather represent the forces of Nature, or that they symbolize the human
qualities which are operative in social relationships, or that both these
tendencies are united in the same cult. Otherwise it could not in itself be
explained how the correlative term in the feeling of absolute dependence could
be reflected as a plurality of beings. But if the higher consciousness has not
become quite distinct from the lower, then the correlative can only be conceived
in a sensible way, and then for that very reason it contains the germs of
plurality. Thus it is only when the religious consciousness expresses itself as
capable of being combined with all the states of the sensible self-consciousness
without discrimination, but also as clearly distinct from the latter, in such a way
that in the religious emotions themselves no sharper distinction appears than
that between the joyful and the depressing tone—it is only then that man has
successfully passed beyond those two stages, and can refer his feeling of
absolute dependence solely to one Supreme Being.
[... §10] Finally, this must be added: that if one faith wishes to establish the
validity of its own application of the idea as against the others, it cannot at all
accomplish this by the assertion that its own divine communication is pure and
entire truth, while the others contain falsehood. For complete truth would mean
that God made Himself known as He is in and for Himself. But such a truth
could not proceed outwardly from any fact, and even if it did in some in-
comprehensible way come to a human soul, it could not be apprehended by
that soul, and retained as a thought; and if it could not be in any way perceived
and retained, it could not become operative. Any proclamation of God which is
to be operative upon and within us can only express God in His relation to us;
and this is not an infra-human ignorance concerning God, but the essence of
human limitedness in relation to Him. On the other hand, there is the connected
fact that a consciousness of God which arose in a realm of complete barbarity
and degradation might be really a revelation, and might nevertheless, through
the fault of the mind in which it arose, become, in the form in which it was
apprehended and retained, an imperfect one. And therefore it may truly be said
even of the imperfect forms of religion, so far as they can be traced, in whole or
in part, to a particular starting-point and their content cannot be explained by
anything previous to that point, that they rest upon revelation, however much
error may be mingled in them with the truth. [...]

III. Presentation of Christianity in its Peculiar Essence:
Propositions borrowed from Apologetics.

§ 11. Christianity is a monotheistic faith, belonging to the teleological type of
religion, and is essentially distinguished from other such faiths by the fact that in it
everything is related to the redemption accomplished by Jesus of Nazareth.

[...] 2. It is indisputable that all Christians trace back to Christ the
communion to which they belong. But here we are also presupposing that the
term Redemption is one to which they all confess: not only that they all use the
word, with perhaps different meanings, but that there is some common element
of meaning which they all have in mind, even if they differ when they come to a
more exact description of it. The term itself is in this realm merely figurative,
and signifies in general a passage from an evil condition, which is represented
as a state of captivity or constraint, into a better condition—this is the passive
side of it. But it also signifies the help given in that process by some other
person, and this is the active side of it. Further, the usage of the word does not
essentially imply that the worse condition must have been preceded by a better
condition, so that the better one which followed would really be only a
restoration: that point may at the outset be left quite open. But now apply the
word to the realm of religion, and suppose we are dealing with the teleological
type of religion. Then the evil condition can only consist in an obstruction or
arrest of the vitality of the higher self-consciousness, so that there comes to be
little or no union of it with the various determinations of the sensible self-
consciousness, and thus little or no religious life. We may give to this condition,
in its most extreme form, the name of God-lessness, or, better, God-forgetfullness.
But we must not think this means a state in which it is quite impossible for the
God-consciousness to be kindled. For if that were so, then, in the first place, the
lack of a thing which lay outside of one's nature could not be felt to be an evil
condition; and in the second place, a re-creating in the strict sense would then
be needed in order to make good this lack, and that is not included in the idea
of redemption. The possibility, then, of kindling the God-consciousness remains
in reserve even where the evil condition of that consciousness is painted in the
darkest colours. Hence we can only designate it as an absence of facility for
introducing the God-consciousness into the course of our actual lives and
retaining it there. This certainly makes it seem as if these two conditions, that
which exists before redemption and that which is to be brought about by re-
demption, could only be distinguished in an indefinite way, as a more and a
less; and so, if the idea of redemption is to be clearly established, there arises
the problem of reducing this indefinite distinction to a relative opposition. Such
an opposition lies in the following formulas. Given an activity of the sensible

self-consciousness, to occupy a moment of time and to connect it with another:
its 'exponent' or 'index' will be greater than that of the higher self-
consciousness for uniting itself therewith; and given an activity of the higher
self-consciousness, to occupy a moment of time through union with a
determination of the sensible, its 'exponent' or 'index' will be less than that of
the activity of the sensible for completing the moment for itself alone. Under
these conditions no satisfaction of the impulse towards the God-consciousness
will be possible; and so, if such a satisfaction is to be attained, a redemption is
necessary, since this condition is nothing but a kind of imprisonment or
constraint of the feeling of absolute dependence. These formulas, however, do
not imply that in all moments which are so determined the God-consciousness
or the feeling of absolute dependence is at zero, but only that in some respect it
does not dominate the moment; and in proportion as that is the case the above
designations of Godlessness and God-forgetfulness may fitly be applied to it.
3. The recognition of such a condition undeniably finds a place in all
religious communions. For the aim of all penances and purifications is to put an
end to the consciousness of this condition or to the condition itself. But our
proposition establishes two points which in this connexion distinguish
Christianity from all other religious communions. In the first place, in
Christianity the incapacity and the redemption, and their connexion with each
other, do not constitute simply one particular religious element among others,
but all other religious emotions are related to this, and this accompanies all
others, as the principal thing which makes them distinctively Christian. And
secondly, redemption is posited as a thing which has been universally and
completely accomplished by Jesus of Nazareth. And these two points, again,
must not be separated from each other, but are essentially interconnected. Thus
it could not by any means be said that Christian piety is attributable to every
man who in all his religious moments is conscious of being in process of
redemption, even if he stood in no relation to the person of Jesus or even knew
nothing of Him—a case which, of course, will never arise. And no more could it
be said that a man's religion is Christian if he traces it to Jesus, even supposing
that therein he is not at all conscious of being in process of redemption—a case
which also, of course, will never arise. The reference to redemption is in every
Christian consciousness simply because the originator of the Christian
communion is the Redeemer; and Jesus is Founder of a religious communion
simply in the sense that its members become conscious of redemption through
Him. Our previous exposition ensures that this will not be understood to mean
that the whole j religious consciousness of a Christian can have no other content
than simply Jesus and redemption, but only that all religious moments, so far as
they are free expressions of the feeling of absolute dependence, are set down as
having come into existence through that redemption, and, so far as the feeling

appears still unliberated, are set down as being in need of that redemption. It
likewise goes without saying that, while this element is always present,
different religious moments may and will possess it in varying degrees of
strength or weakness, without thereby losing their Christian character. But it
would, of course, follow from what has been said, that if we conceive of
religious moments in which all reference to redemption is absent, and the image
of the Redeemer is not introduced at all, these moments must be judged to
belong no more intimately to Christianity than to any other monotheistic faith.
4. The more detailed elaboration of our proposition, as to how the
redemption is effected by Christ and comes to consciousness within the
Christian communion, falls to the share of the dogmatic system itself. Here,
however, we have still to discuss, with reference to the general remarks we
made above, the relation of Christianity to the other principal monotheistic
communions. These also are traced back each to an individual founder. Now if
the difference of founder were the only difference, this would be a merely
external difference, and the same thing would be true if these others likewise
set up their founder as a redeemer and thus related everything to redemption.
For that would mean that in all these religions the religious moments were of
like content, only that the personality of the founder was different. But such is
not the case: rather must we say that only through Jesus, and thus only in
Christianity, has redemption become the central point of religion. For inasmuch
as these other religions have instituted particular penances and purifications for
particular things, and these are only particular parts of their doctrine and
organization, the effecting of redemption does not appear as their main
business. It appears rather as a derivative element. Their main business is the
founding of the communion upon definite doctrine and in definite form. If,
however, there are within the communion considerable differences in the free
development of the God-consciousness, then some people, in whom it is most
cramped, are more in need of redemption, and others, in whom it works more
freely, are more capable of redemption; and thus through the influence of the
latter there arises in the former an approximation to redemption; but only up to
the point at which the difference between the two is more or less balanced,
simply owing to the fact that there exists a communion or fellowship. In
Christianity, on the other hand, the redeeming influence of the Founder is the
primary element, and the communion exists only on this presupposition, and as
a communication and propagation of that redeeming activity. Hence within
Christianity these two tendencies always rise and fall together: the tendency to
give pre-eminence to the redeeming work of Christ, and the tendency to ascribe
great value to the distinctive and peculiar element in Christian piety. And the
same is true of the two opposite tendencies: the tendency to regard Christianity
simply as a means of advancing and propagating religion in general (its own

distinctive nature being merely accidental and secondary), and the tendency to
regard Christ principally as a teacher and the organizer of a communion, while
putting the redeeming activity in the background.
Accordingly, in Christianity the relation of the Founder to the members of
the communion is quite different from what it is in the other religions. For those
other founders are represented as having been, as it were, arbitrarily elevated
from the mass of similar or not very different men, and as receiving just as
much for themselves as for other people whatever they do receive in the way of
divine doctrine and precept. Thus even an adherent of those faiths will hardly
deny that God could just as well have given the law through another as through
Moses, and the revelation could just as well have been given through another as
through Mohammed. But Christ is distinguished from all others as Redeemer
alone and for all, and is in no wise regarded as having been at any time in need
of redemption Himself; and is therefore separated from the beginning from all
other men, and endowed with redeeming power from His birth. [...]
5. This development of the argument will, it is hoped, serve to confirm
what we have established for the purpose of determining the distinctive
element of Christianity. For we have tried, as it were by way of experiment, to
single out from among the common elements of Christian piety that element by
which Christianity is most definitely distinguished externally; and in this
attempt we were guided by the necessity of regarding the inner peculiarity and
the outward delimitation in their interconnexion. Perhaps in a universal
Philosophy of Religion, to which, if it were properly recognized, Apologetics
could then appeal, the inner character of Christianity in itself could be exhibited
in such a way that its particular place in the religious world would thereby be
definitely fixed. This would also mean that all the principal moments of the
religious consciousness would be systematized, and from their interconnexion
it would be seen which of them were fitted to have all the others related to them
and to be themselves a constant concomitant of all the others. If, then, it should
be seen that the element which we call 'redemption' becomes such a moment as
soon as a liberating fact enters a region where the God-consciousness was in a
state of constraint, Christianity would in that case be vindicated as a distinct
form of faith and its nature in a sense construed. But even this could not
properly be called a proof of Christianity, since even the Philosophy of Religion
could not establish any necessity, either to recognize a particular Fact as
redemptive, or to give the central place actually in one's own consciousness to
any particular moment, even though that moment should be capable of
occupying such a place. Still less can this present account claim to be such a
proof; for here, in accordance with the line we have taken, and since we can
only start from a historical consideration, we cannot even pretend to do as
much as might be done in a complete Philosophy of Religion. Moreover, it is

obvious that an adherent of some other faith might perhaps be completely
convinced by the above account that what we have set forth is really the
peculiar essence of Christianity, without being thereby so convinced that
Christianity is actually the truth, as to feel compelled to accept it. Everything we
say in this place is relative to Dogmatics, and Dogmatics is only for Christians;
and so this account is only for those who live within the pale of Christianity,
and is intended only to give guidance, in the interests of Dogmatics, for
determining whether the expressions of any religious consciousness are
Christian or not, and whether the Christian quality is strongly and clearly
expressed in them, or rather doubtfully. We entirely renounce all attempt to
prove the truth or necessity of Christianity; and we presuppose, on the
contrary, that every Christian, before he enters at all upon inquiries of this kind,
has already the inward certainty that his religion cannot take any other form
than this. [...]

IV. The Relation of Dogmatics to Christian Piety.
§ 15.Christian doctrines are accounts of the Christian religious affections set forth in

1. All religious emotions, to whatever type and level of religion they
belong, have this in common with all other modifications of the affective self-
consciousness, that as soon as they have reached a certain stage and a certain
definiteness they manifest themselves outwardly by mimicry in the most direct
and spontaneous way, by means of facial features and movements of voice and
gesture, which we regard as their expression. Thus we definitely distinguish the
expression of devoutness from that of a sensuous gladness or sadness, by the
analogy of each man's knowledge of himself. Indeed, we can even conceive
that, for the purpose of maintaining the religious affections and securing their
repetition and propagation (especially if they were common to a number of
people), the elements of that natural expression of them might be put together
into sacred signs and symbolical acts, without the thought having perceptibly
come in between at all. But we can scarcely conceive such a low development of
the human spirit, such a defective culture, and such a meagre use of speech,
that each person would not, according to the level of reflection on which he
stands, become in his various mental states likewise an object to himself, in
order to comprehend them in idea and retain them in the form of thought. Now
this endeavour has always directed itself particularly to the religious emotions;
and this, considered in its own inward meaning, is what our proposition means
by an account of the religious affections. But while thought cannot proceed
even inwardly without the use of speech, nevertheless there are, so long as it

remains merely inward, fugitive elements in this procedure, which do indeed in
some measure indicate the object, but not in such a way that either the
formation or the synthesis of concepts (in however wide a sense we take the
word 'concept') is sufficiently definite for communication. It is only when this
procedure has reached such a point of cultivation as to be able to represent itself
outwardly in definite speech, that it produces a real doctrine (Glaubenssatz), by
means of which the utterances of the religious consciousness come into
circulation more surely and with a wider range than is possible through the
direct expression. But no matter whether the expression is natural or figurative,
whether it indicates its object directly or only by comparison and delimitation,
it is still a doctrine.
2. Now Christianity everywhere presupposes that consciousness has
reached this stage of development. The whole work of the Redeemer Himself
was conditioned by the communicability of His self-consciousness by means of
speech, and similarly Christianity has always and everywhere spread itself
solely by preaching. Every proposition which can be an element of the Christian
preaching is also a doctrine, because it bears witness to the determination of the
religious self-consciousness as inward certainty. And every Christian doctrine is
also a part of the Christian preaching, because every such doctrine expresses as
a certainty the approximation to the state of blessedness which is to be effected
through the means ordained by Christ. But this preaching very soon split up
into three different types of speech, which provide as many different forms of
doctrine: the poetic, the rhetorical (which is directed partly outwards, as
combative and commendatory, and partly inwards, as rather disciplinary and
challenging), and finally the descriptively didactic. But the relation of
communication through speech to communication through symbolic action
varies very much according to time and place, the former having always
retreated into the background in the Eastern Church (for when the letter of
doctrine has become fixed and unalterable, it is in its effect much nearer to
symbolic action than to free speech), and having become ever more prominent
in the Western Church. And in the realm of speech it is just the same with these
three modes of communication. The relation in which they stand to each other,
the general degree of richness, and the amount of living intercourse in which
they unfold themselves, as they nourish themselves on one another and pass
over into one another—these things testify not so much to the degree or level of
piety as rather to the character of the communion or fellowship and its ripeness
for reflection and contemplation. Thus this communication is, on the one hand,
something different from the piety itself, though the latter cannot, any more
than anything else which is human, be conceived entirely separated from all
communication. But, on the other hand, the doctrines in all their forms have

their ultimate ground so exclusively in the emotions of the religious self-
consciousness, that where these do not exist the doctrines cannot arise.

§ 16. Dogmatic propositions are doctrines of the descriptively didactic type, in which
the highest possible degree of definiteness is aimed at.
1. The poetic expression is always based originally upon a moment of
exaltation which has come purely from within, a moment of enthusiasm or
inspiration; the rhetorical upon a moment whose exaltation has come from
without, a moment of stimulated interest which issues in a particular definite
result. The former is purely descriptive (darstellend), and sets up in general
outlines images and forms which each hearer completes for himself in his own
peculiar way. The rhetorical is purely stimulative, and has, in its nature, to do
for the most part with such elements of speech as, admitting of degrees of
signification, can be taken in a wider or narrower sense, content if at the
decisive moment they can accomplish the highest, even though they should
exhaust themselves thereby and subsequently appear to lose somewhat of their
force. Thus both of these forms possess a different perfection from the logical or
dialectical perfection described in our proposition. But, nevertheless, we can
think of both as being primary and original in every religious communion, and
thus in the Christian Church, in so far as we ascribe to everyone in it a share in
the vocation of preaching. For when anyone finds himself in a state of
unusually exalted religious self-consciousness, he will feel himself called to
poetic description, as that which proceeds from this state most directly. And, on
the other hand, when anyone finds himself particularly challenged by insistent
or favourable outward circumstances to attempt an act of preaching, the
rhetorical form of expression will be the most natural to him for obtaining from
the given circumstances the greatest possible advantage. But let us conceive of
the comprehension and appropriation of what is given in a direct way in these
two forms, as being now also wedded to language and thereby made com-
municable: then this cannot again take the poetic form, nor yet the rhetorical;
but, being independent of that which was the important element in those two
forms, and expressing as it does a consciousness which remains self-identical, it
becomes, less as preaching than as confession, precisely that third form —the
didactic—which, with its descriptive instruction, remains distinct from the two
others, and is made up of the two put together, as a derivative and secondary
2. But let us confine ourselves to Christianity, and think of its distinctive
beginning, namely, the self-proclamation of Christ, Who, as subject of the
divine revelation, could not contain in Himself any distinction of stronger and
weaker emotion, but could only partake in such a diversity through His
common life with others. Then we shall not be able to take either the poetic or

the rhetorical form of expression as the predominating, or even as the really
primary and original, form of His self-proclamation. These have only a sub-
ordinate place in parabolic and prophetic discourses. The essential thing in His
self-proclamation was that He had to bear witness regarding His ever
unvarying self-consciousness out of the depths of its repose, and consequently
not in poetic but in strictly reflective form; and thus had to set Himself forth,
while at the same time communicating His alone true objective consciousness of
the condition and constitution of men in general, thus instructing by description
or representation, the instruction being sometimes subordinate to the
description, and sometimes vice versa. But this descriptively didactic mode of
expression used by Christ is not included in our proposition, and such
utterances of the Redeemer will hardly be set up anywhere as dogmatic
propositions; they will only, as it were, provide the text for them. For in such
essential parts of the self-proclamation of Christ the definiteness was absolute,
and it is only the perfection of the apprehension and appropriation which
reproduces these, that can be characterized by the endeavour after the greatest
possible definiteness. Subordinate to these, however, there do appear genuinely
dogmatic propositions in the discourses of Christ, namely, at those points at
which He had to start from the partly erroneous and partly confused ideas
current among His contemporaries. [...]
Postscript.—This account of the origin of dogmatic propositions, as having
arisen solely out of logically ordered reflection upon the immediate utterances
of the religious self-consciousness, finds its confirmation in the whole of
history. The earliest specimens of preaching preserved for us in the New
Testament Scriptures already contain such propositions; and on closer
consideration we can see in all of them, in the first place, their derivation from
the original self-proclamation of Christ, and, in the second place, their affinity
to figurative and rhetorical elements which, for permanent circulation, had to
approximate more to the strictness of a formula. Similarly in later periods it is
clear that the figurative language, which is always poetic in its nature, had the
most decided influence upon the dogmatic language, and always preceded its
development, and also that the majority of the dogmatic definitions were called
forth by contradictions to which the rhetorical expressions had led.
But when the transformation of the original expressions into dogmatic
propositions is ascribed to the logical or dialectical interest, this is to be
understood as applying only to the form. A proposition which had originally
proceeded from the speculative activity, however akin it might be to our
propositions in content, would not be a dogmatic proposition. The purely
scientific activity, whose task is the contemplation of existence, must, if it is to
come to anything, either begin or end with the Supreme Being; and so there
may be forms of philosophy containing propositions of speculative import

about the Supreme Being which, in spite of the fact that they arose out of the
purely scientific interest, are, when taken individually, difficult to distinguish
from the corresponding propositions which arose purely out of reflection upon
the religious emotions, but have been worked out dialectically. But when they
are considered in their connexions, these two indubitably show differences of
the most definite kind. For dogmatic propositions never make their original
appearance except in trains of thought which have received their impulse from
religious moods of mind; whereas, not only do speculative propositions about
the Supreme Being appear for the most part in purely logical or natural-
scientific trains of thought, but even when they come in as ethical pre-
suppositions or corollaries, they show an unmistakable leaning towards one or
other of those two directions. Moreover, in the dogmatic developments of the
earliest centuries, if we discount the quite unecclesiastical Gnostic schools, the
influence of speculation upon the content of dogmatic propositions may be
placed at zero. [...] The Evangelical (Protestant) Church in particular is
unanimous in feeling that the distinctive form of its dogmatic propositions does
not depend on any form or school of philosophy, and has not proceeded at all
from a speculative interest, but simply from the interest of satisfying the
immediate self-consciousness solely through the means ordained by Christ, in
their genuine and uncorrupted form. Thus it can consistently adopt as dogmatic
propositions of its own no propositions except such as can show this derivation.
Our dogmatic theology will not, however, stand on its proper ground and soil
with the same assurance with which philosophy has so long stood upon its
own, until the separation of the two types of proposition is so complete that,
e.g., so extraordinary a question as whether the same proposition can be true in
philosophy and false in Christian theology, and vice versa, will no longer be
asked, for the simple reason that a proposition cannot appear in the one context
precisely as it appears in the other: however similar it sounds, a difference must
always be assumed. But we are still very far from this goal, so long as people
take pains to base or deduce dogmatic propositions in the speculative manner,
or even set themselves to work up the products of speculative activity and the
results of the study of religious affections into a single whole. (...)


§ 33 This feeling of absolute dependence, in which our self consciousness in general
represents thefinitude of our being (cf§ 8, 2), is therefore not an accidental element, or
a thing which varies from person to person, but is a universal element of life; and the
recognition of this fact entirely takes the place, for the system of doctrine, of all the so-
called proofs of the existence of God.
1. One cannot concede the postulated self-consciousness with the content
we have already described, and yet maintain that it is something unessential,

i.e. that it may or may not be present in a man's life according to whether, in the
course of his life, he meets with this or that experience. For its emergence does
not depend at all upon the fact that something definite and objective is given in
the experience of a partially developed subject, but only on the fact that in some
way or other the sensory consciousness has been stimulated from without. But
what is presupposed on the subjective side is only that which is common to
all—the intelligence in its subjective function, in which the disposition towards
God-consciousness is a constituent element.
That the feeling of absolute dependence as such is the same in all, and not
different in different persons, follows from the fact that it does not rest upon
any particular modification of human nature but upon the absolutely general
nature of man, which contains in itself the potentiality of all those differences
by which the particular content of the individual personality is determined.
Further, if a difference is admitted between perfection and imperfection as
measured by greater or less development, this arises from the fact that the
emergence of this feeling depends upon a contrast having been apprehended in
consciousness; the lack of development is simply the lack of differentiation of
functions. For when the objective consciousness and self-consciousness are not
yet clearly differentiated in such a way as nevertheless to be distinctly
connected together, in that case the consciousness as a whole has not yet
become genuinely human. And if sensuous self-consciousness and the higher
self-consciousness are not thus differentiated from one another and related to
one another, development is incomplete. [...]
3. But even supposing its universality could be disputed, still no obligation
would arise for the system of doctrine to prove the existence of God; that would
be an entirely superfluous task. For since in the Christian Church the God-
consciousness should be developed in youth, proofs, even if youth were
capable of understanding them, could only produce an objective consciousness,
which is not the aim here, nor would it in any way generate piety. We are not
concerned here with the question whether there are such proofs, and whether, if
we have no immediate certitude of God, then that of which we do have
immediate certitude, and by which God could be proved, must not itself be
God. Our point simply is that these proofs can never be a component part of the
system of doctrine; for that is only for those who have the inner certainty of
God, as we have already described it, and of that they can be directly conscious
at every moment. On our interpretation of Christian doctrine it would be quite
unnecessary to enlarge on this point did it not seem essential to protest against
the general custom of furnishing Dogmatics at this point with such proofs, or at
least of referring to them as already familiar from other sciences. It is obvious
that for the purpose of Dogmatics this reference is quite useless: for neither in
catechetical nor in homiletical nor in missionary work can such proofs be of any

value. Experience,, too, shows how little can be accomplished by such a polemic
against theoretical atheism as above described. Dogmatics must therefore
presuppose intuitive certainty or faith; and thus, as far as the, God-
consciousness in general is concerned, what it has to do is not to effect its
recognition but to explicate its content. That such proofs are not the concern of
Dogmatics is obvious also from the fact that it is impossible to give them
dogmatic form; for we cannot go back to Scripture and symbolical books, since
they themselves do not prove, but simply assert. Moreover, he for whom such
assertion is authoritative needs no further proof.
The prevalent method of inflating Christian doctrine with rational proofs and
criticism had its origin in the confusion of Dogmatics and philosophy in old
Patristic times. Closely related to this, and therefore to be named here, is the
equally erroneous view that Christian theology, to which Dogmatics also
belongs, is differentiated from Christian religion by its sources of knowledge.
Religion, for instance, it is argued, draws from Scripture only, but theology
draws also from the Fathers, reason and philosophy. But as theology itself
draws from Scripture, and the Scriptures themselves have arisen out of the
Christian religion, what originates in reason and philosophy cannot be
Christian theology. It is certainly a great gain here, and elsewhere, to banish all
material of this kind from the Christian system of doctrine, for only thus is a
uniformity of method to be established. Such a difficult choice as that between
moral proofs, geometrical proofs, and probable proofs is not a task for any
dogmatic theologian to take up, even if it be only for his own personal


Explication of the facts of the religious self-consciousness,
as they are determined by the antithesis
§ 62. The God-consciousness described in the foregoing occurs as the actual content
of a moment of experience only under the general form of self-consciousness, i.e. the
antithesis of pleasure and pain.
1. The disposition to the God-consciousness can be represented as a
continuous impartation of that consciousness, but only in a degree that is
infinitely small; with the consequence that the transition to a definite and
perceptible magnitude is always dependent on some other fact of
consciousness. Now, were such a transition to take place in our self-
consciousness apart from the form of the antithesis, i.e. neither as an
advancement nor as an arrestment of the God-consciousness, it would need to

be a transition that was continuous and uniform. This is conceivable if, inde-
pendently of any other fact of consciousness, the God-consciousness were to
rise noticeably above the infinitely small degree just referred to. The condition
of the God-consciousness in such a case would be one of constant repression,
dull uniformity, any emergence of vitality above a very low average being
found only among the other facts of consciousness. A constant uniformity in the
God-consciousness, however, is conceivable also in a state of existence where an
absolute facility existed of evoking it in its absolute strength from every other
fact of consciousness. The condition of the God-consciousness in this case
would be that of a blessed uniformity of constant predominance. Clearly,
however, our religious consciousness is not such that more and less do not
apply to it; on the contrary, it oscillates between these extremes, sharing, as it
does, the variations of our temporal life. True, this more and less, simply as
such, may seem to be of the nature of a fluctuating difference rather than of an
antithesis. Still, contrariety of movement creates an antithesis; for a movement
from less to more indicates that the disposition to the God-consciousness is
developing with increasing freedom, while one from more to less is an
arrestment of it and indicates that other impulses are more powerful.
But now in this as in other provinces of experience (as there is no such state
as absolute blessedness or as complete abeyance of the God-consciousness)
pleasure and pain are by no means to be regarded as so separate from each
other that one of them might in some circumstances actually exist without the
other. If, then, the determining power of the God-consciousness is felt to be
limited, pain is bound up with it, i.e. is present even in the highest pleasure.
Whereas, if the consciousness that this power is arrested excites pain, the God-
consciousness is nevertheless willed as such a power, and is thereby in and for
itself an object of pleasure. [...]
3. Everything related to the Redeemer in the religious consciousness of the
Christian is peculiar to the distinctively Christian articulation of the antithesis
under discussion. No proposition, as we have already said, describing the
feeling of absolute dependence apart from this antithesis, can be a description
of a religious moment in its entire content, for in every such moment that
feeling occurs only as a relative turning away from God or turning towards
Him. From these two statements we must go on to assert that no proposition
merely describing the condition of the individual life with reference to this
antithesis is a description of the entire content of a religious moment, since in
every such moment the condition described must needs manifest itself in the
emergence of the feeling of absolute dependence. In the actual life of the
Christian, therefore, the two are always found in combination: there is no
general God-consciousness which has not bound up with it a relation to Christ,

and no relationship with the Redeemer which has no bearing on the general
God-consciousness. [... ]

§ 63. While in general the manner in which the God-consciousness takes shape in
and with the stimulated self-consciousness can be traced only to the action of the
individual, the distinctive feature of Christian piety lies in the fact that whatever aliena-
tion from God there is in the phases of our experience, we are conscious of it as an action
originating in ourselves, which we call Sin; but whatever fellowship with God there is,
we are conscious of it as resting upon a communication from the Redeemer, which we
call Grace.
1. Let us suppose an aesthetic form of faith. It will reduce both these
arrestments and continued developments of the God-consciousness, as indeed
every other change in man's experience, to passive states, and represent them
consequently as the effects of external influences in such a manner that they will
appear simply to be appointed events, while the ideas of merit and guilt will
really not apply to them at all. Accordingly, we may say that the controversy
regarding freedom, as it is usually urged in this sphere, is just the controversy
as to whether our passive states are to be regarded as subordinate to our active
states or vice versa: and that freedom in the latter sense is the universal premiss
of all teleological forms of faith, which alone, by starting as they do from the
ascendency of spontaneous activity in man, are able to find guilt in all
arrestments of the disposition to the God-consciousness, and merit in every
progression of it. More precise determinations, however, of the 'how' of either
are not to be found in the common nature of these forms of faith; this only is
self-evident, namely, that if both arrestment of the impulse to the God-
consciousness and quickened development of it are to be equally the act of one
and the same individual, and consequently opposites are to be explained by the
same cause, then, in relation to the doer, the two must cease to be opposed.
2. In Christian piety as described here there is no such initial difficulty to be
surmounted. The description given here, however, is identical with the general
exposition put forward above. For if the feeling of absolute dependence, which
was previously in bondage, has been set free only by redemption, the facility
with which we are able to graft the God-consciousness on the various sensuous
excitations of our self-consciousness also springs solely from the facts of
redemption, and is therefore a communicated facility. And if the bondage of the
feeling of absolute dependence did not betoken its real absence (for absence
would imply the impossibility of such an act as is here designated sin), then in
every portion of life that could be regarded as a whole in itself, the God-
consciousness too was present in degree even if only as something infinitely
small, and thus whenever such a portion of life came to an end there took place
an act having relation to the God-consciousness. Not, however, an act involving

the evocation of the God-consciousness as a co-determinant of the moment, i.e.
not a turning to God (from which an experience of communion with God
always arises of itself), but a turning away from God, so that with the
acceptance of such a redemption there is always conjoined a backward look to
sin as prior to it. Now the fact that here communion with God rests on an act
extraneous to it by no means prevents our bringing Christianity under the
general category of teleological forms of faith. For, on the one hand,
communication and action are not mutually exclusive, for corporate acts, e.g.,
have their origin for the most part in a single person, and yet are acts also on
the part of the rest; while, on the other hand, appropriation of redemption is
always represented as action, as a laying hold of Christ, or the like. In the case,
however, of a religious consciousness contrariwise regarding its derangements
as coming from elsewhere, but communion with God (into which these do not
enter) as proceeding from the individual's own spiritual vitality, the term
redemption could be applied (and even that in a very subordinate sense) only
to that which sealed up the external sources of the derangements. Redemption
through Jesus, however, has never been thought of in this way. And the further
we carry the way of looking at things just indicated, then the more the lack of
communion with God is taken to be merely fortuitous, the less definitely are sin
and grace as such (and as earlier and later) differentiated from each other, and
the more does the conception of redemption recede into the distance, till all
three disappear together. This disappearance actually occurs when it is
assumed that the unity of the sensuous and the higher self-consciousness is the
natural basic condition of the individual—a condition in which the absence of
the God-consciousness in any particular moment remains merely accidental,
something which at once cancels itself out in corporate life, inasmuch as all do
not suffer from the same accident at once. This, taken strictly, is the non-
Christian view which recognizes no need of redemption; for in Christianity
these two, sin and grace, are valid ideas only on the basis of redemption and on
the assumption that it has been appropriated.
3. Moreover, the proposition cannot be taken as implying that in the
immediate Christian self-consciousness sin and grace are to be referred to
separate moments and to be kept absolutely apart from each other as mutually
incompatible. On the contrary, as the energy of the God-consciousness is never
at its absolutely highest any more than the engrafting of the God-consciousness
on the excitations of the sensuous self-consciousness is ever absolutely constant,
there is involved in this circumstance a limiting deficiency of the God-
consciousness, which is certainly sinful. Just as little, however, in a truly
Christian consciousness can the connexion with redemption be utterly null, for
in that case the Christian consciousness would, until the connexion was re-
established, be, contrary to what is assumed, non-Christian. And as this

connexion proceeds originally from the Redeemer, so His communicated action
is implied throughout. Here, accordingly, while the elements we are discussing
are antithetic they are only such as in the religious life, of the Christian they are
conjoined in every moment, though always in varied measure.


Primary Literature
Schleiermacher, Friedrich, The Christian Faith. English translation of the second
German edition, edited by H. R. Mackintosh and J. S. Stewart, Edinburgh:
T. & T. Clark 1928
Schleiermacher, Friedrich, On religion. Speeches to its cultured despisers. Intr.,
transl., and notes by Richard Crouter, Texts in German philosophy,
Cambridge England: Cambridge University Press 1988
Schleiermacher, Friedrich, The life of Jesus, Miffletown, PA: Sigler Press 1997
Schleiermacher, Friedrich, Christmas Eve. Dialogue on the incarnation. Transl. with
introduction and notes by Terrence N. Tice, San Francisco: EM Texts 1990

Secondary Literature
Clements, Keith W., Friedrich Schleiermacher, The Making of modern theology,
London: Collins 1987, 7-65,
Gerrish, B. A., A prince of the church. Schleiermacher and the beginnings of modern
theology, The Rockwell lectures, Philadelphia: Fortress Press 1984
Marina, Jacqueline, Transformation of the Self in the thought of Schleiermacher,
Oxford: Oxford Scholarship Online 2008
Marshall, Bruce D., 'Hermeneutics and Dogmatics in Schleiermacher's Theology'. In:
The Journal of Religion 67 (1987), 14-32(critical discussion of Schleier-
macher's account of Jesus' 'unique God-consciousness')
Niebuhr, Richard Reinhold, Schleiermacher on Christ and religion, Library of
philosophy and theology, New York: Charles Scribner's 1965
Stein, Craig C , Schleiermacher's construction of the subject in the introduction to The
Christian faith in light ofM. Foucault's critique of modern knowledge,
Schleiermacher studies and translations, Lewiston, N.Y: E. Mellen Press
Thiel, John E., God and world in Schleiermacher's Dialektik and Glaubenslehre.
Criticism and the methodology of dogmatics, Basler und Berner Studien zur
historischen und systematischen Theologie, Bern: P. Lang 1981, 9-30, 31-70
Sykes, Stephen Whitefield, Friedrich Schleiermacher, Makers of contemporary
theology, Woking: Lutterworth Press 1971
Williams, Robert R., Schleiermacher the theologian. The construction of the doctrine of
God, Philadelphia: Fortress Press 1978


1. Is it possible to demonstrate Schleiermacher's 'feeling of absolute
dependence' philosophically?
2. Is it possible to have an 'individual experience' or 'knowledge' of this
feeling? (see § 5)
3. In which sense is Schleiermacher's thinking 'Jesus-centred'?
4. Is it possible to imagine 'what is it would be like to be Jesus', and if not
(as Thomas Nagel would argue), why it is crucial to join a church in
order to become like Jesus?
5. Why does the Church need dogmatics?
6. Is Schleiermacher's dogmatic based on philosophical or on ecclesio-
logical considerations?
7. Discuss the philosophical foundations and theological implications of
Schleiermacher's concept of sin and redemption?

Schleiermacher7s Disciples and Critics

Concomitant reading: Marina, ch. 1, ch. 9, ch. 11, ch. 13, ch. 15

The following unit will provide an opportunity to recapitulate critically the
previous attempts to read Schleiermacher in his philosophical context. This will
include the necessity to reconsider the weakest point of Schleiermacher's
theology, his concept of the trinity, which is symptomatic for the theological and
philosophical limits of Schleiermacher's attempts to retrieve Christian
orthodoxy under the conditions of post-Kantian philosophy. Furthermore, this
unit will include a brief introduction to Schleiermacher's effective history up to
the late 60s of the last century, when scholars like Hans-Joachim Birkner,
Gerhard Ebeling, Heinz Kimmerle, and (one generation later) Manfred Frank
started to reconsider the traditional reading of Schleiermacher (see unit one).
The primary text of this unit will give you access to this 'pre-critical' reading
of Schleiermacher straight from the horse's mouth: It is about Karl Barth's last
text on Schleiermacher, an essay which includes a summary of Barth own
theological biography in the light of his confessedly overpowering German
predecessor. Published under an unequivocal Kierkegaardian title ('Concluding
Unscientific Postscript') in 1968, it appeared as appendix to a selection of
primary texts ('Schleiermacher-Auswahl') just in the year of Barth's dead. In
terms of the questioning, outlined above, this text is significant in three
1. Compared with Barth's Gottingen Lectures on the 'The theology of
Schleiermacher' of 1923/24, it demonstrates how this most important theological
critic started to reconsider his reading of Schleiermacher's writings at the very
same time when Schleiermacher's hermeneutics began to attract the attention of
secular philosophers, and German scholars started negotiations to provide a
critical edition of Schleiermacher's opera, which led to the foundation of the
editorial circle of the KGA ('Kritische Gesamtausgabe') in 1972.
2. Barth's essay, secondly, demonstrates how influential Schleiermacher's
theology was - up to the point that it considers the 'anthropological turn' of the
twentieth century (Bultmann, Brunner, Tillich, Moltmann etc.) as nothing more
than a footnote to Schleiermacher. Furthermore it recalls how faraway Barth felt

himself from considering his own 'neo-orthodox' approach as a sufficiently
elaborated response to the challenge of Schleiermacher's anthropological turn.
3. Thirdly, towards the end of his essay, Barth posits five pairs of questions
which underline the points of resistance against any hurried attempt to
harmonize his Church Dogmatics with Schleiermacher's Christian Faith.
In the following, these questions may serve as a guide for reassessing the
outcome of the foregoing units in the light of Barth's critic as well as in the light
of the pertinent chapters of our companion (see above)."i However, read against
the background of the philosophical discussions outlined in the foregoing units,
the last pair of Barth's questions may become most important: 'Are the two
questions which I posed four times (a) correctly formulated (...) Or are all the
questions I have posed (b) incorrectly formulated'. Since the limits of Barth's
Schleiermacher interpretation are thoroughly connected with the (in
Schleiermacher's sense of the word) 'undialectical' character of Barth's
bifurcating questions 1-4, there are good reasons to suppose that every attempt
to overcome the deadlock of the 'post-liberal' controversy on the relation of
philosophy and theology has to focus on exactly this point.
This especially concerns the crunch question, post-liberal theologians are
used to pose against the tradition of 'liberal theology': Is Schleiermacher's
foundational concept of God based on generalizing philosophical
considerations or on biblical revelation? Read against the background of this
question, The Christian Faith is usually (following Brunner and Barth) qualified
as the prototype of a liberal theology, and consequently, Schleiermacher
appears as the philosophical theologian who sells out revelation for a universal
concept of religion, and the divine 'word' for a hermeneutic strategy of cultural
accommodation. However, it is anything but easy to decide where
Schleiermacher's theology is really to be posited - as the following paragraph
from his The Christian Faith demonstrates:
"There is no general God-consciousness which has not bound up with it a relation to
Christ, and no relationship with the Redeemer which has no bearing on the general
God-consciousness ... For the former propositions are in no sense the reflection of a
meager and purely monotheistic God-consciousness, but are abstracted from one
which has issued in fellowship with the Redeemer" (CF, § 62).

As you will learn in reading the pertinent texts of your companion, the
response of contemporary scholars to the 'crunch question' of post-liberal
theology is still anything but concordant. It will be your task to develop you
own assessment of this conflict - particularly departing from the theological

i I recommend a careful reading of the last paragraph of Barth's text before you start to solve
Barth's problems in occasion of your module essay.

essay of Eilert Herms (University of Tubingen), who provides a textual well
founded protestant-orthodox reading of Schleiermacher, and the philosophical
essay of David E. Kleem (University of Iowa), who tries to provides a
downright 'humanistic' reading, thereby reducing Schleiermacher's
philosophical theology to some sort of Spinozism.
This Spinozist track is not necessarily deceptive. As Manfred Frank's
companion essay (which was already part of unit two) indicates, the influence
of Spinoza's monism on Schleiermacher's philosophy is, indeed, not to be
underestimated. However, in Frank's decidedly philosophical reading of
Schleiermacher the influence of Spinoza (and mutatis mutandis Leibniz) is
rather to be interpreted as indication of problem than as justification of a one-
dimensional reading of his philosophy, and this may be valid for
Schleiermacher's theology as well.
The problem we have to cope with at this point is connected with the relation
of universal rationality (the topic of Schleiermacher's dialectic) and particular
traditions (the topic of his hermeneutics). In general we may argue that is not
possible to resolve unambiguously the tension between universality and
particularity in favour of a universalized rationality (as Klemm proposes to do);
the 'religious intuition' of human subjects is always bound to particular
expressions of their truth in accordance with particular cultural traditions. But
we should notice, nevertheless that numerous ambiguities of Schleiermacher's
philosophy and theology are rooted in unsolved problems of his philosophy. Thus it
may be more promising, instead of simply 'defending' Schleiermacher's
orthodox roots, to read ambiguities of his 'philosophical theology' as symptoms
of a philosophical perplexity which necessitates further philosophical (and
theological) research. To put it more precisely, following the advice of Andrew
Bowie's companion essay (p. 77): We may see 'Schleiermacher's difficulties as
pointing towards ideas of a kind that have only recently been more fully
articulated.' For, 'many of the points at which Schleiermacher is inconsistent
tend to be the points where he is trying to get beyond his influences to new
ways of seeing the issues.'

This more 'deconstructive' than 'critical' attitude may also bear fruit with
regard to Schleiermacher's indubitable problematic concept of trinity, which is
discussed in the companion essay of Francis Schussler-Fiorenza. It appears to be
obvious that Schleiermacher trinitarian 'modalism' is deeply rooted in his
'Spinozist' (monist) concept of the 'absolute', and that the inconsistencies,
provoked by this legacy, are part and parcel of the flaws of his theology as well.
In terms of this challenge, the main problem of Schleiermacher's philosophical
theology may be traced back to his use of Leibniz' (Spinozist) 'principle of

identity'(see Frank p. 18, and 23)1, which includes the 'identity of
indiscernibles' - namely that, what is not distinguishable based on predications
(or properties), is to be considered as identical. Why is this principle
incompatible with the foundations of Christian orthodoxy?
It may suffice to answer this question by relating Leibniz' principle to the
Cappadocian concept of 'causality' which (especially in the case of Gregory of
Nyssa) gave access to the orthodox distinction between three divine hypostases
of the trinity (see the Theology and Philosophy module): As soon as we accept
Leibniz' principle of identity it becomes impossible to distinguish between the
trinitarian 'hypostases' without separating them based on different predicates
(like 'power' = father, 'wisdom' = son, and 'love' = holy spirit). However, the
apophaticism of Cappadocian theology was exactly based on this possibility:
The distinction between different relations of causality (the father 'generates', the
son 'is generated', the spirit 'proceeds') was simply designed to prove that it is
possible to distinguish (i.e. avoid modalism) without going back to semantic
distinctions between different intrinsic predicates (i.e. without caving into the
tritheistic temptation to distinguish the divine persons based on properties
which characterise the intrinsic 'nature' of different 'substances'). The
possibility to develop an apophatic concept of the trinity is indissolubly
connected with the possibility to draw non-predicative distinctions, since
otherwise everything collapses into the ocean of an undifferentiated unity as
soon as we 'remove' the distinction between different predicates in favour of
apophatic expressions. For this reason the apophatic (non-predicative)
distinction between three 'hypostases' was destined to become dubious as soon
as everything which is not predicative distinguishable was to be considered as
As soon as we accept Leibniz' principle of identity it becomes impossible to
retrieve the trinitarian 'exchange of gifts' as a feature of (what was later to be
called) the 'immanent' trinity which distinguishes the divine 'persons' despite
their unity in substance; as soon as we accept Leibniz' principal of analytical
identity it is no longer possible to understand what the Cappadocian fathers
meant when they were speaking of a causal order (taxis) in between predicative
undistinguishable 'hypostases'. Consequently, modern theology either tended
in the direction of some sort of modalism, or it slipped into the opposite
extreme of an anthropomorphic tritheism (like it is the case in Jurgen

1 For a critical discussion of the logical presuppositions of this concept (whithout explicitly
relating it to Schleiermacher) departing from Nicholas of Cusa's philosophy of mathematics,
see: Johannes Hoff, Kontingenz, Beruhrung, Uberschreitung. Zur philosophischen Propiideutik
christlicher Mystik nach Nikolaus von Kues (Freiburg/Br., 2007), 2.1; and with regard to the
orthodox trinity 4.3.2 and 4.4.2 and 4.4.3

The last point is symptomatic for Schleiermacher's blueprint of modern
theology in so far as it unfolds a possible option which Schleiermacher
(following the patristic fathers) by all means tried to exclude: Schleiermacher
was deeply convinced that Christian theology had to conserve its apophatic
roots, and that it had to resist any inclination of mythologizing Christian
doctrine, like it would be the case with anthropomorphic (dialogical)
speculations about the interior relations of the trinity. However, the Spinozist
(respectively idealist) background of Schleiermacher's apophaticism prevented
him from recovering the apophatic trinitarianism of the 4 th century all at once.
Rather it forced him to adopt the position of Marcel of Ankyra instead, who
was a moderate modalist of the 4th century (which, after all, enjoyed the
sympathies of Athanasius). Thus Schleiermacher's incapacity to develop the
concept of inner-trinitarian differentiations whithout slipping into the
anthropomorphism of kataphatic speculations doomed him more or less
ineluctably to apprehend the 'absolute itself as an un-differentiated unity.
Reconsidered against this background, the theological flaw of Leibniz'
principle may be recapitulated as follows: In undermining the possibility to
distinguish between the trinitarian 'persons', based on pure causal relations, the
principle of identity leaves room only for distinctions based on attributes which
account for the trinitarian manifestations of God in the history of salvation (the so
called 'economical trinity' which is reflected in Schleiermacher's distinction
between the divine attributes of 'power, love, and wisdom'). And consequently
there is no longer any possibility to reconsider the 'immanent trinity' without
running in one of the following three traps: 'Immanent trinity' becomes either
(a) reduced to a logical empty phrase which is only of theoretical significance
(Hegel, and to some extend Rahner and Barth), or it becomes (b) reduced to a
tritheistic mirror image of the economic trinity (Moltmann), or it becomes (c)
nullified without trace (Sabellius and tendentially Schleiermacher).
Interpreted against this background, Schleiermacher's appreciation of the
'economic trinity' may be interpreted as a stopgap: It allowed him to develop
his concept of trinitarian predicates though the suitability of this strategy to
recover the doctrine of trinity was rather dubious. However, this did not
prevent his economic doctrine of divine attributes to become standard in
modern theology. Like in the case of his 'historical Jesus' turn, Schleiermacher's
salvation-historical hermeneutics of the trinity became part and parcel of a
theological movement which reinforced the reformation impulse to overcome
the allegedly 'metaphysical' considerations of premodern orthodoxy in favour
of the historical or kerygmatic narratives of the 19th and 20th century: Whereas
the pre-modern, spiritual reading of the scriptures was sotereologically focused
on the concepts of theosis or visio dei (the divinisation of the blessed at the end
of time), the concept of salvation became now either focused on the 'historical

Jesus' (Schleiermacher) or on a quasi-historical narrative of revelation (Hegel,
Barth, Rahner etc.).
In the case of Schleiermacher this 'economical turn' eventually answers the
notorious question why he posited his trinitarian symbolism not at the
beginning (like Barth who starts in his Church Dogmatic with a trinitarian
enfolding of Hegel's concept of self-revelation) but at the end of his The
Christian faith (at, what Schleiermacher remarkably calls, his 'conclusion'). If
theology has to focus on the hermeneutics of the human history of salvation, it
appears to be most consistent to justify the concept of trinity as the outcome of
some sort of summarising meta-reflection - a meta-reflection which elucidates
afterwards, by means of symbolical predications (power, wisdom, love), the
structuring principles of the salvific history of 'The Christian faith' as a whole.
However, Schleiermacher's attenuated 'modalism' sheds some light on his
ambivalent relation to the 'economic turn' of modern theology all at once. Like
his successors Barth, Jiingel, Pannenberg or Rahner, Schleiermacher tried to
overcome the allegedly 'metaphysical' (hypostatic) premodern concept of
trinity in favour of a narrative-economical turn; but (at least other than Hegel,
Jiingel, Barth, and Pannenberg) he tried to perform this task without
relativizing the inconceivable immutability of God - therein unambiguously
supported only by Kierkegaard 1 . Exactly this conservative attitude (God is
immutable) motivated him to support the apophaticism of premodern
orthodoxy. And thus his attempt to recover the rather dubious trinitarianism of
Marcel of Ancyra testifies all at once his desire to keep in touch with Christian

The Text
Karl Barth

See Caspar Wenzel Torn0, The Changeless God of Schleiermacher and Kierkegaard. In: Niels
j0rgen Cappel0rn; Richard Crouter (Ed.), Schleiermacher und Kierkegaard 1 Schleiermacher and
Kierkegaard. Subjectivity and truth (Berlin, 2006), pp.265-279, 267f. According to Bruce
McCormack's traditional, Barthian reading, Schleiermacher remains at this point attached to
the premodern 'mixture of dogmatic elements and metaphysical elements'. See Bruce
McCormack, Not a Possible God but the God Who Is: Observations on Friedrich Schleiermacher's
Doctrine of God. In: Bruce McCormack; G. W. Neven (Ed.), The reality of faith in theology.
Studies on Karl Barth Princeton-Kampen Consultation, 2005 (Bern, 2007), pp.111-139

[ 1261] Having been invited to write an 'Introduction' to this selection from
Schleiermacher's writings, I have decided (after initial hesitations) that I could
most conscientiously contribute, in the form of an 'Afterword,' a brief overview
of the history of my own relationship to this 'church father of the nineteenth
(and also the twentieth?!) century' —or, if you will, an 'unscientific postscript.'
What follows thus somewhat presumptuously describes a not unimportant
segment in the course of my own life.
The temptation for some thus might not be slight to begin reading this book
here, whereas it would be more meaningful for them to take in and digest the
selection from Schleiermacher's expressions of his own life which has been so
capably and creatively compiled by H. Bolli (without any involvement on my
part). So, the curious are warned! Whoever takes a different view from the one
here solemnly advised does so with my express disapproval. Dixi et salvavi
animam meam.
There was once a time, so I must begin, in my youthful occupation with
theology when—after first having worked through Immanuel Kant's Critique of
Practical Reason several times and (only then, but equally intensively) his
Critique of Pure Reason—1 knew how to swear no higher than by the man, Daniel
Ernst Friedrich Schleiermacher.
I had highly respected my father, Professor Fritz Barth in Bern—his picture
still hangs directly before me today—as a sound scholar, quite apart from all
personal and spiritual ties. But I myself could not adopt, as one said at that
time, his (moderately) 'positive' theological attitude and direction, determined
in his youth through J. T. Beck. Neither my first New Testament teacher, Rudolf
Steck, with his amiable but rather tediously exact analyses (he considered even
Galatians to be 'inauthentic') nor my first dogmatics teacher, Hermann
Ludemann, with his ever ill-tempered systematic acuity (he was, like Steck, a
direct pupil of F. C. Bauer's), was able to make a deeper and enduring
impression on me. The same was true of the Old Testament scholar Karl Marti,
who was also a greatly learned man ; what he (a pupil of Wellhausen's) had to
say about Israel's history and religion was a hopelessly dry kind of wisdom.
That the Old Testament was concerned with something exciting I did not begin
to discover until Berlin under Gunkel. What I owe despite everything to those
Bern masters is that I learned to forget any fears I might have had. They gave
me such a thorough grounding in the earlier form of the [ 1262] 'historical-
critical' school that the remarks of their later and contemporary successors
could no longer get under my skin or even touch my heart—they could only get
on my nerves, as is only too well known.
In Berlin, where by the way I learned to esteem Harnack even higher than
Gunkel, I then bought myself, along with Wilhelm Herrmann's Ethics, a copy of

Schleiermacher's Speeches on Religion to its Cultured Despisers, in the edition by R.
Otto, which I still use. Eureka! Having apparently sought for 'The Immediate/ I
had now found it, not through Hermann Kutter, who wrote his first book under
that title, but through Schleiermacher. That those Speeches were the most
important and correct writings to appear since the closing of the New
Testament canon was a fact from which I did not allow my great Marburg
teacher [Herrmann] to detract—just as little as I did his denigration of
Schleiermacher's later and late writings. I did not see, yet I sensed, the line of
continuity which runs through Schleiermacher's life's work from the Speeches to
the so-called Glaubenslehre1 (a rather un-Schleiermacherian designation), and
was implicitly inclined to give him credit all down the line. Anyway, as was
certainly quite in order, I also loved Eichendorff and was especially fond of
Novalis. Was I (am I!) a bit of a romantic myself? (By the way, what I wrote in
the first edition of my Romans on pp. 195-204 about the evils of romanticism
with explicit reference to the young Schleiermacher is something of which I
'repent and suffer in my heart,' just as in my holy zeal at that time I did not
really do justice to pietism.) One thing, however, is certain, that even before
1910 I was a stranger in my innermost being to the bourgeois world of Ritschl
and his pupils. In the year when the first edition of Romans appeared (1919), I
could still produce the provocative sentence: 'We can afford to be more
romantic than the romantics.' But even the 'historicism' by which Ernst
Troeltsch and the historians of religion of that time thought they could outbid
the Ritschlians (and thus also the teacher whom I still regard so highly, Wilhelm
Herrmann) struck me as being too sterile, and at any rate was not what I was
looking for. I had just now (not without direct and indirect instruction from
Schleiermacher) tasted something of what 'religion' itself was supposed to be.
And the pallid 'Schleiermacher renaissance' which began to emerge around
1910 was also a more literary affair which did not take me any further, nor
could it take me any further. The only one of its representatives who made any
impression on me as an interpreter of Schleiermacher, and who gave me
something lasting to think about, was Heinrich Scholz, who then later became
my close friend. At any rate, that Schleiermacher renaissance was superseded a
few years later by a Luther renaissance, which, at least in its beginnings (around
the anniversary celebrations of 1917), despite and because of Karl Holl, struck
me as rather unfortunate.
Now, as to what concerned me, in 1909 I moved from Marburg to Geneva,
and in 1911 to Safenwil. At both places the relatively few writings of
Schleiermacher's which I owned received a special place of honor on my still
rather modest bookshelves. But then came certain turning points which also
touched my relationship to him. [ 1263]

Although in Geneva I had still lived completely and utterly in the religious
atmosphere which I brought with me from Marburg, and especially from the
circle of the Christliche Welt and its friends, when I moved to the industrial
village of Safenwil, my interest in theology as such had to step back noticeably
into second place (even though it continued to be nourished by my eager
reading in the Christliche Welt, the Zeitschrift fur Theologie und Kirche, and even in
the works of Troeltsch, etc.). Because of the situation I found in my community,
I became passionately involved with socialism and especially with the trade
union movement. At that time I did not yet know that, in his later years,
Schleiermacher also had become involved in the beginnings of these things, at
least on the periphery—even though here and there I might have gathered that
from his sermons! Those now came into my possession, along with his letters,
his Christian Morals, and other of his writings—after a foray I conducted into
my maternal grandfather's estate in Basel. This grandfather had studied in
Berlin during the forties of the nineteenth century under, among others, the
later Schelling, and afterwards in Heidelberg under R. Rothe, thus, he had still
been able to take in something of Schleiermacher's atmosphere, but then in the
following period had gone over, like so many of his contemporaries, to a rather
primitive theological conservatism, which was softened only by the mild
pietism of my good grandmother. He had indeed purchased Schleiermacher
(good for me that he did!), but had hardly read him seriously, and, judging
from a few biting notes in the margins, had not loved him. So now those books
had landed in my lap. But then, I had to read Sombart and Herkner, I had to
read the Swiss trade union newspaper and the Textilarbeiter. Indeed, I also had
to prepare my weekly sermon and my confirmation classes. Although in these
pastoral activities I was decisively stimulated by Schleiermacher, it goes
without saying that, like Schleiermacher himself as he proceeded, I did not
exactly express myself in the language, or even exclusively in the original sense,
of the Speeches. Even so, I really had neither the time nor the desire to pursue
further research into his work.
Then came the beginning of my friendship with Eduard Thurneysen. He was
committed to what was then the 'modern' theology of his Basel teachers, P.
Wernle and B. Duhm ; beyond that, however, he was connected with Hermann
Kutter and, further back, with Christoph Blumhardt. He made them both better
known to me ; before that my knowledge of them had only been cursory. From
Kutter I simply learned to speak the great word 'God' once again seriously,
responsibly, and forcibly. From Blumhardt I learned just as simply (at least at
the beginning) what it meant to speak of Christian hope. Ragaz and his
'religious socialists' interested Thurneysen, and they interested me too, but only
from a certain distance. The concept of 'God's kingdom' was portrayed in
various ways (sometimes more transcendently, sometimes more immanently) —

but certainly no longer in the form familiar to us from Ritschl and his followers.
The question lay in wait for me at the door: Had not even 'my' Schleiermacher
perhaps used that concept in a way which to me was now becoming
increasingly strange?
And then the First World War broke out and brought something which for
me was almost even worse than the violation of Belgian neutrality—the horrible
manifesto of the ninety-three German intellectuals who identified [ 1264]
themselves before all the world with the war policy of Kaiser Wilhelm II and
Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg. And to my dismay, among the signatories I
discovered the names of almost all my German teachers (with the honorable
exception of Martin Rade). An entire world of theological exegesis, ethics,
dogmatics, and preaching, which up to that point I had accepted as basically
credible, was thereby shaken to the foundations and with it everything which
flowed at that time from the pens of the German theologians. And
Schleiermacher? Had not even he in the first of his Speeches from 1799 written
impossible things about the British and the French? Had he not also been a
leading Prussian patriot from 1806 to 1814? Would he also perhaps have signed
that manifesto? Fichte certainly, perhaps Hegel too, but Schleiermacher? Ac
cording to what I know of his letters from the period after 1815, I remain
convinced that, no, he would not have done that. Nevertheless, it was still the
case that the entire theology which had unmasked itself in that manifesto, and
everything which followed after it (even in the Christliche Welt), was grounded,
determined, and influenced decisively by him.
'My child, what are we now to speak?' These well known words from The
Magic Flute continue: "The truth, the truth, lest she also be complicit.' But that
was easier said than done. It was Thurneysen who once whispered the key
phrase to me, half aloud, when we were alone together: what we needed for
preaching, instruction, and pastoral care was a 'wholly other' theological
foundation. It seemed impossible to proceed any further on the basis of
Schleiermacher. I can still see Thurneysen's contemptuous gesture to my
Schleiermacher books in Safenwil. But where else could we turn? Kutter was
also impossible, because he, like Ragaz later on, would have nothing to do with
theology, but wanted only to know and to preach the 'living God.' He was also
impossible for me, because, with all due respect for him and his starting point,
his 'living God' had become extremely suspicious to me after his wartime book
Reden an die deutsche Nation [Speeches to the German Nation]. During that
period Thurneysen once even broached the strange ques tion of whether we
shouldn't study Hegel. But nothing came of that then. We did not even reach
for the Reformers at first, although in Geneva I had worked through Calvin's
Institutes closely and from an earlier period had come to know (or thought I had
come to know) the chief writings of Luther. The 'old orthodoxy' was present to

us only in the caricatures in which it had been taught to us at the university. In
fact and in practice, as is well known, some thing much closer at hand forced
itself upon us. We made a fresh attempt to learn our theological ABCS all over
again. More reflectively than ever before, we began reading and expounding
the writings of the Old and New Testaments. And behold, they began to speak
to us—very differently than we had supposed we were obliged to hear them
speak in the school of what was then called 'modern' theology. The morning
after Thurneysen had whispered to me our commonly held conviction, I sat
down under an apple tree and began, with all the tools at my disposal, to apply
myself to the Epistle to the Romans. That was the text which as early as my own
confirmation classes (1901-1902) I had heard was supposed to be concerned
with something central. I began to read it as if I had never read it before—and
not without deliberately writing out the things which I was discovering. Only
now did I begin to regard my [ 1265] father, who had died in 1912, with, as I put
it in the preface to the first edition of Romans, 'respect and gratitude'
theologically as well. He belonged to those who were disregarded and slightly
disdained in the theological lecture halls and seminar rooms of his time. And
regardless of the warning at the end of Mozart's Seraglio that 'Nothing is so
hateful as revenge,' I will not conceal the fact that for a moment the thought
raced through my head that I could and would now exact a kind of reprisal
from those who had placed my father in the shadows, even though he had been
just as learned as they (only from a different point of view). Be that as it may, I
read and read and wrote and wrote. Meanwhile, we published a bundle of
sermons. True, among the books I had inherited from my father, I found many
by J. T. Beck which were fruitful to use. True, at that time we also read huge
amounts of Dostoevsky (here again at Thurneysen's prompting) as well as
Spittler, Kierkegaard, and even Overbeck—who had not been 'disposed of and
whom one merely needed to mention in Basel at that time to make everyone's
hair bristle. My philosopher brother, Heinrich, took care that I should once
again seriously confront the wisdom of Plato as well. And Father Kant, who
had provided the initial spark for me once before, also spoke in a remarkably
new and direct way to me in those years. Even Kutter, despite everything,
doubtless continued to speak to me. So at that time (and indeed later), I read the
biblical text with many different kinds of spectacles, as I unhesitatingly made
known. But by using all those different kinds of spectacles, what I honestly
wanted to express (and was convinced I was expressing) was the word of the
Apostle Paul. That is how The Epistle to the Romans originated and appeared, in
a first, and then immediately in a second edition, in which, at the beginning of a
long and pugnacious preface, I at once confessed that 'no stone' of the first
edition was left 'standing upon the other.' During the time when I was at work
on the second edition, our eldest daughter, today an energetic grandmother, but

then a little girl of six years, explained to anyone who was willing to listen that
Daddy was now working on 'a much better Epistle to the Romans'! What the
angels might have been saying to themselves on this occasion is another matter.
At any rate, the second edition, the one which became 'famous/ thus came into
being. Whoever might want to pursue further the beginnings and progress of
the so-called dialectical theology may turn to the volumes prepared by J.
Moltmann and W. Furst.2
However, in this whole story what about my relationship to —
Schleiermacher? It is certain, for one thing, that neither in his youth nor in his
maturity could he have preached a sermon like the one I preached and then
published in 1916 under the title, 'The Pastor Who Does Right by the People.' It
is also certain that what I thought, said, and wrote from that year on, I simply
did without him, and that his spectacles were not sitting on my nose as I was
expounding the Epistle to the Romans. He was no longer a 'church father' for
me. It is further certain, however, that this 'without him' implied [ 1266] a rather
sharp 'against him.' On occasion, I intentionally made that explicit. Yet I really
did not do it—since 'old love never fades'—without a deep inner regret that it
could not be otherwise.
But then it came about in the course of this change, which my friend Emil
Brunner also made, that in his book Die Mystik und das Wort (1924) he gave very
drastic expression to our departure (which was unavoidable) from
Schleiermacher. I had to review the book in Zwischen den Zeiten, and found
myself in something of a quandary over it. Although it contained a great deal
which I also held in my heart against Schleiermacher, I was not very happy
with the way in which Brunner presented his case. I did not regard the term
'mysticism' as an adequate designation of Schleiermacher's intentions.
Moreover, in his fight against Schleiermacher and his victory over him (and
here there were already some first indications of my later conflict with
Brunner), I saw him relying just as forcefully on F. Ebner's anti-idealistic
logology (a forerunner of contemporary linguistic philosophy) as on the
validity of the 'Word' (of God). (It is not without reason that J. Moltmann has so
happily stressed this in his edition of the writings of 'dialectical theology.' 3 )
Above all, although certainly 'against' Schleiermacher in my own way, I for my
part was neither so certain nor so completely finished with him as Brunner
undoubtedly was after he had completed that book.
I owe to his book, nonetheless, that it had an extraordinarily stimulating
effect on me in the new and comprehensive study of Schleiermacher which I
had meanwhile undertaken. For almost overnight in 1921 I found myself
transposed into a newly founded chair for Reformed theology at Gottingen. I
had now cheerfully decided—Ragaz and Kutter gave me no applause for this
decision—in my own way and style to pursue theological research and teaching

with grim seriousness. To carry out this task I was of course only very partially
equipped. And so, before venturing on dogmatics, I announced some purely
historical lectures—essentially for my own instruction, but not without a
considerable influx of students. First I offered a two-hour course on the
Heidelberg Catechism, then some four-hour courses on Calvin, on the
Reformed confessions, on Zwingli, and finally on Schleiermacher! As far as I
know, no one either before or since has attempted to interpret Schleiermacher in
the light of his sermons. That was precisely what I first tried to do in my
lectures, moving on from there to his Speeches, to the Soliloquies, to the Dialogue
on Christmas, to the Brief Outline on the Study of Theology, to his Hermeneutics, and
finally, as far as time allowed, to The Christian Faith. Certainly it did not remain
hidden that I was not exactly satisfied with the things which were appearing
before our wondering eyes. But I attained the main purpose toward which I
strove: I now understood Schleiermacher a little better than before (as I hope
my students did as well). So without presupposing that I could pronounce an
anathema over him, I was then in a position during my last three semesters at
Gottingen to begin working out, and lecturing on, my own dogmatics.
However, the posture of the Gottingen theological faculty was so Lutheran at
that time that I was only allowed to teach that topic under the completely
different heading of 'Instruction in the Christian Religion.' [ 1267]
Laughing up my sleeve, I carried out this charade for three semesters. In the
period which followed I then wrote various essays on Schleiermacher—for
example, on 'Schleiermacher's Celebration of Christmas' (1924)—in part with a
certain irony, but on the whole with a straightforward respect for his
achievement, for his humanity and spirituality, and for the greatness of his
historical impact. Indeed, with all the distance I had gained from him, I was not
without a certain love for this person who had evidently perceived 'human
nature' in its totality. Through my probings into Schleiermacher, I also learned
to appreciate from afar certain matters where I stood (or again came?) much
closer to him theologically than I had ever supposed could be the case after
1916. Has not Paul Seifert even gone so far as to assert that my growing, and
increasingly noticeable, interest in Schleiermacher's theology was 'certainly
indicated by the surprisingly positive evaluation' of him in my Protestant
Theology in the Nineteenth Century I4 'Positive' is no doubt somewhat too strong a
term for what I really said there. Nevertheless, when faced with such a slight
exaggeration, I do not want to deny that for all my opposition to
Schleiermacher, I could never think of him without feeling what Doctor Bartolo
so well articulated in The Marriage of Figaro: 'An inner voice always spoke to his
advantage'; or at least, never without confirming the rather coarse popular
expression, 'A criminal always returns to the scene of the crime.' And did I not
even openly boast in 1947 that on the basis of my presuppositions I was actually

in a much better position to illuminate Schleiermacher than, say, Horst Stephan
(who, by the way, was among my teachers at Marburg)? However, it must not
be overlooked that after praising everything worthy of praise in my writings on
Schleiermacher, I still had ringing in my ears the venerable 'Apostles' 'and
Nicene Creeds. Theologically speaking, I could not revert to Schleiermacher.
This phase in my relationship to him is noteworthy for the following reason:
it was determined not only by a much better knowledge of his work, but also by
a conscious distancing of myself from him which could no longer be reversed.
Then a further and presumably final phase unexpectedly developed. That is,
it came to pass that we 'old fighters' from the second and third decades of our
rather eventful century suddenly saw ourselves overtaken and overwhelmed
by a new theological movement. 'Demythologization' and 'existentialization' of
theological language were its catchwords. And the one who had inaugurated it
was none other than our erstwhile companion of old, Rudolf Bultmann.
As far as demythologizing was concerned, the enterprise left me cold. For one
thing, it was only too well known to me—not the term but the matter itself—
from my theological beginnings. Furthermore, I found it much too humorless.
Finally, after my experiences with modern man, who was after all the object of
the exercise, I could not regard it as a fruitful instrument for conversation with
this creature. Apologetics is something of which I am deeply [ 1268] suspicious,
something alien to me in all its forms, and therefore also in this reductionist
However, I certainly listened to the other news, so vigorously presented, that
theological language was supposed to need existentializing. For I had indeed
known for a long time, and had even said myself in the first and then especially
in the second edition of Romans (occasionally even with the use of the term),
that genuinely theological language could not talk about its object in merely
intellectual terms, but could only express what it had to say existentially, that is,
in terms which directly and unavoidably confronted persons in their human
existence. Even before I read Kierkegaard, that had been thoroughly pounded
into me by Wilhelm Herrmann, and in fact had not been entirely unknown to
me before that. For me that belonged to the obvious formal conditions, to the
moral presuppositions of my 'theological existence,' to which in one way or
another I tried to do justice and to which I tried to adhere. But now I was
receiving what at first (but only at first) glance seemed to be fabulously new
tidings, that theology had to be existential theology in a material, technical, and
fundamental sense as well. Apart from his knowledge and confession as a
baptized member of the Christian community, thus apart from the way he was
engaged in his own human existence, the theologian was first supposed to
orient himself toward and clarify that which was supposed to be at stake for
human existence and human engagement in general and as such. Only then, in

that context, and according to the standards of such 'existential' instruction,
might he consider and articulate the Christian engagement of his existence, and
thus his Christian faith. His task as a theologian was supposed to be to
understand and proclaim precisely the faith which had become credible in this
way. Tertullian's dictum that Deus non est in genere was in error: Deus est in
genere. That was what struck me as something really novel in my first encounter
with this most recent theology. One of the most unforgettable experiences of my
life was the time when Bultmann (it may have been around 1922—he was still
amiably disposed toward me in view of the second edition of Romans) once
visited me in Gottingen in order to read to me for more than an hour over coffee
and almond cake from the lectures of Martin Heidegger which he had attended
and transcribed. The purpose of this exercise: just as we had to apply ourselves
to any great spiritual achievement in precisely this ('existential') direction, so
we also had to apply ourselves to the gospel documented in the New
Testament. Delighted by this basic systematic teaching of his, as well as by the
'historical-critical' method which he himself so masterfully represented (in this
respect a true pupil of his Marburg predecessor, Julicher), many older and
younger students gathered themselves around him. Instead of orienting oneself
to Heidegger, or Jaspers, or M. Buber, or finally even to fifty pages of D.
Bonheoffer, one could most recently even as a Roman Catholic theologian
become a Bultmannian. And, as many from the younger generation in
particular experienced (in connection with the general spiritual exhaustion after
the Second World War), to a certain extent one could even concur with him (the
master) instinctively or intuitively. Among themselves Bultmann's pupils then
became a rather various and even splintered group. But on the basis of
Bultmann's systematic starting [ 1269] point, they remained a group and a
school. On the basis of that starting point, they can no doubt be brought
together under a common denominator.
What is that common denominator? Now I must speak of the impression
which the whole phenomenon made on me from the beginning and which has
only increased with time: the common denominator was and is indeed
Schleiermacher—not the very image of him, but certainly in a new form which
accommodated itself to the 'contemporary spiritual situation' or 'linguistic
situation' and to the contemporary (or rather one contemporary) vocabulary.
Unmistakably, my old friend and enemy, Schleiermacher! Once again, the
Christian exhortation relegated to that cozy nook where the contemporary
society and world pretend to their authoritative claim! Once again, the
symbiosis of theology and philosophy so characteristic of Schleiermacher! Once
again, an anthropologizing of theology, just as obviously as in Schleiermacher,
who had thereby simultaneously brought the theological learning of the
eighteenth century to completion while establishing that of the nineteenth

century! Once again, the tension-in-unity between subject and object which he
had so masterfully described in the second of his Speeches! And once again, the
original and ultimate unity of both which he there so triumphantly proclaimed,
the glorious elimination of the 'subject-object schema.' Once again, the move
found in The Christian Faith of granting supremacy to 'feeling/ in whose place of
course one could then set 'faith' in order to move somewhat closer to the Bible
or the Reformation, 'faith' on which was conferred sovereignty over everything
which might be its ground, object, and content. So that is more or less (the list
could easily be extended) how, in attentively considering its rise and
development, I supposed and suppose that this most recent 'modern' theology
ought to be understood—as a new and vigorous Schleiermacher renaissance!
Now, allow me one more citation from The Marriage of Figaro: 'What I said
about the noble youth was only a suspicion, it was only a matter of distrust.'
Was it in this case only a matter of suspicion and distrust? Yet I found it
remarkably confirmed by the fact that I occasionally ran across utterances from
the representatives of this (for the present) new direction in which they openly
enough acknowledge precisely the same kinds of parallels. Consider what
Martin Redeker writes in the introduction to his excellent reissue of Der
christliche Glaube (1961):
The feeling of absolute dependence thus means being engaged by the
transcendent as something infinite and unconditioned. If one wanted to
interpret the concept of feeling and of immediate self-consciousness in
contemporary terms so as to rule out psychologistic misunderstandings, then
perhaps this primal act of human existence could be characterized through
modern existentialist philosophy in terms of care for being, for the foundation
and meaningfulness of existence, as Tillich has already suggested in his
dogmatics. The theology of the experience of faith thus means connecting all
theological utterances to these basic questions of human existence. [ 1270]
Or consider carefully what Friedrich Hertel writes in the preface to his recent
book on Schleiermacher's theology (dedicated to G. Ebeling): 'If theology and
proclamation are to be guided today by the task of a 'non-religious'
interpretation, and thus if nothing else is to be considered as speaking humanly,
then one may not forget that it was Schleiermacher—despite his employment of
the concept of religion—who paved the way for this striving!' 6 Or consider just
as carefully the disposition and conceptuality with which Hertel analyzes
Schleiermacher's first two and decisive Speeches.7 And what had I already run
across in 1922, the time of the 'beginnings of dialectical theology/ from the pen
of Bultmann himself in the very year he had discovered Heidegger, at the outset
of his long review of the second edition of Romans.
Karl Earth's Epistle to the Romans may be characterized by one sentence, the
phraseology of which he would disagree with, but which would still be valid in

terms of the usage that has been prevalent in the present time: the book
attempts to prove the autonomy and absoluteness of religion. It thus takes its
place ... in the same line with such works as Schleiermacher's Speeches on
Religion and Otto's Idea of the Holy, with modern attempts to demonstrate a
religious a priori, and finally with the Epistle to the Romans itself, which . . .
basically has no other intention than this. However different all these attempts
may be in detail, they seek to give verbal expression to the consciousness of the
uniqueness and absoluteness of religion.
The disposition and conceptuality in this review were also noteworthy. It
was 'faith/ again and again it was 'faith,' which was at the center of those
things which Bultmann found interesting and now praiseworthy in my book
(whose first edition two years before he had rejected rather contemptuously).
What (according to him) I had expressed about faith, he supposed he could
effortlessly place in a series with what Schleiermacher, R. Otto, and E. Troeltsch
had treated under the heading of 'religion.' Then in this very same series he
even dared to place Paul's Epistle to the Romans itself! At that time he had not
yet learned to use the language of Heidegger. But what does it matter? In that
book review the outlines of the whole Bultmann, even the later and the latest
Bultmann, can clearly be recognized. No wonder that the closeness, and even
the alliance, which once supposedly existed between us, could only be
something apparent and transitory, as later became painfully evident:
Bultmann was and is a continuator of the great tradition of the nineteenth
century, and thus in new guise, a genuine pupil of Schleiermacher.
And this is precisely the common denominator under which I see him as well
as his followers, who are otherwise so diverse among themselves: what
connects them with him, and with each other, is the consciously and
consistently executed anthropological starting point which is evident as the
focus [ 1271] of their thought and utterances. And that was and is precisely a
clear recurrence of Schleiermacher. Was it not Schleiermacher who had already
made the distinction, so remarkable in the second 'speech' even though it was
capable of supersession [Aufhebung], between 'intuition' and 'feeling'—a
distinction which later disappeared in favor of the 'feeling' which incorporated
'intuition' within itself (absolute dependence!)? Had he not already described
the Christian faith as a particular form of this 'feeling,' in which all objectivity,
and all contents characteristic of it, were supposed to be sublated [aufgehoben]
and supplied? Hadn't he already known nothing of the Old Testament as an
indispensable positive presupposition of the New? Hadn't he already reduced
the function and meaning of Jesus to that of a great prototype of faith, and thus
of that feeling? Hadn't he already reduced the proper relationship postulated
between Christians and Jesus to that which today is proclaimed as the

'discipleship' owed him? Wasn't his eschatology as devoid of all concrete
content as that which today is known as the 'theology of hope'?
Certainly many existentialist theologians (as Wilhelm Herrmann had already
done) ardently appealed to Luther, to whom Schleiermacher appealed only
seldom or not at all (having found him too rough-hewn and contradictory). Still
others reverted more to Kierkegaard, to whom of course Schleiermacher could
not yet have appealed. As to Luther, no doubt out of the Weimar Edition of his
works, that great Pandora's Box, one can extract a theologically existentialist,
and thus indirectly Schleiermacherian, thread! But how many other threads one
must then leave unconsidered or must even decisively cut off! And as to
Kierkegaard, I must confess that the appeal of the existentialist theologians to
him as their great and direct forerunner has made me a little reserved toward
him. Why did he actually delimit himself—in his original manner, but yet also
in conformity to the spirit of the middle of the nineteenth century—so sharply
against Hegel, but hardly at all, to my knowledge, against Schleiermacher? In
short, despite the fact that the vocabulary of his recent theology included
concepts which Schleiermacher certainly would not have cherished—such as
Word, encounter, occurrence, cross, decision, limit, judgment, etc.—I could not
allow myself to be deceived that within their own context they did not break
with the narrowness of Schleiermacher's anthropological horizon, that there
under the pretext of being so correctly 'human,' in that certainly unromantic
sobriety, his path was once again traversed. That Schleiermacher made the
Christianly pious person into the criterion and content of his theology, while,
after the 'death of God' and the state-funeral dedicated to him, one now
jubilantly wants to make the Christianly impious person into its object and
theme, these certainly are two different things. In the end and in principle,
however, they probably amount to the same thing. And because, despite all
remaining admiration, I for my part had decisively departed from
Schleiermacher's path, it was not possible to join with those multitudes who,
openly or secretly, consciously or unconsciously, were following in his train.
Rather, as it says in the song, I had to 'make my wayward path through the
woods, a mangy little sheep'—I, the poor neo-orthodox theologian, the
supernaturalist, the revelational positivist, as I had to hear from so many
quarters on both sides of the Atlantic. Until better instructed, I can see no way
from Schleiermacher, or from his contemporary epigones, to the [ 1272]
chroniclers, prophets, and wise ones of Israel, to those who narrate the story of
the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, to the word of the apostles— no
way to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the Father of Jesus Christ, no
way to the great tradition of the Christian church. For the present I can see
nothing here but a choice. And for me there can be no question as to how that
choice is to be made.

So, just as I finally could not hold fast to the old Marburg, so could I catch
hold of the new Marburg even less. Even less? Yes, for at the risk of seeming
malicious, I must here add something else—a 'merely' humanistic, or if you
will, a 'merely' aesthetic question, which irresistibly pressed itself upon me in
the course of comparing Schleiermacher with his contemporary followers.
Given the fact that I might be able to attach myself to Schleiermacher
theologically (something I cannot now do) on some kind of grounds (which are
not now visible to me) and then of course join forces with those who follow him
in our own day, nonetheless I would still remain deeply alarmed at the simple
contrast between the stature, the weight, and the quality of Schleiermacher's
personality and achievements—human, Christian, and academic—and those
corresponding qualities which have so far appeared in the framework of the
new Schleiermacher renaissance. To cite a tolerably similar example at least for
the sake of clarity: what a shockingly different niveau between Schleiermacher's
definition of God, still impressive in its own way, as the 'source of the feeling of
absolute dependence,' and the definition from one of his contemporary
epigones, at first glance so similar and apparently dependent on
Schleiermacher's, but then so terribly wretched and banal by comparison: God
as the supposed 'source of my involvement with my fellow humans'! To this
example could easily be added a multitude which are similar and even worse.
But no, I will resist the malicious desire to characterize Schleiermacher by
comparing him in any further detail with his contemporary pupils. Rather,
setting aside everything which I have in petto [in private] against the being,
acting, and stirring in the sphere of today's swaggering theologians, I want to
turn now to something positive, in the form of a little song of praise for the
human greatness of Schleiermacher and his work, and thus without in any way
referring too closely to the greatness or smallness of our own day.
'Small of stature' like Zaccheus, and beyond that, after his sister Charlotte
(who later became so close to him) had once dropped him as a small child,
somewhat misshapen, Schleiermacher was an open, expansive, and truly
comprehensive spirit. Pressing beyond all mere 'diagnosis' and analysis, he
aimed toward synthesis. He had the freedom to take part with hearty
affirmation in the style, the language, and the ideals of his contemporaries, or
just as freely to step back from them, or even decisively to oppose his special
knowledge to them as something novel. He was inclined toward peace, even
when he became very cutting. Many things troubled and angered him which he
saw and heard and read, but I can recall no passage in his letters or even in his
books where he expressed himself peevishly, acidly, or poisonously with regard
to them. That was certainly related to the fact that at every stage of his life, and
in all the branches of his life's work, he had something positive to say. His
youthful writings (the Speeches and the Soliloquies) served, of course, as a

prelude, but one which established the melody. When he spoke and wrote
[ 1273] he was thus not experimenting, but was proceeding on the basis of well-
considered tenets and themes, which he never styled or formulated stiffly, but
in which he displayed, rather, an astonishing suppleness of thought. If his style
often approached the limits of the tolerable, especially in his earlier years, yet he
never became tasteless. He discovered and represented in personal union a
consistent philosophy and just as consistent a theology. And in both fields he
worked out a remarkable coherence between the whole and the parts, as well as
between his earlier and later writings. Beyond that, he was also in a position to
produce, with his left hand as it were, a complete translation of Plato with
introductions to all of the dialogues. And, after listening to a flute concert, he
was able to depict the most difficult point in his dogmatics in the form of a
short novel.
There was, in addition, his humanity in the stricter sense: he knew the
meaning of friendship and love. And although he was not spared
disappointments here (Friedrich Schlegel!) and there (Eleonore Grunow and the
rather immature, dependent, and opaque young widow who then became his
spouse), he endured them with manly forbearance and dignity—refined and
gallant, a gentleman to the end. In those two fields [philosophy and theology],
he was acquainted with more than mere play. He displayed a similar humanity
toward the two colleagues in Berlin who so spitefully fought him: Hegel the
philosopher, and Marheineke the Lutheran dogmatician. Furthermore, in the
Sendschreiben an Liicke [Open Letter to Liicke] and in the notes and supplements
to the later editions of the Speeches, it may be observed how capable he was of
self-criticism and of unfolding new and corrective aspects of his previous work
(even if one must admit that, had he really put that into practice, then such was
indeed precisely his strength!—he would have remained terribly true to
himself). At any rate, according to K. A. Varnhagen von Ense's Denkwiir-
digkeiten (1848), which are generally so illuminating for that period,
Schleiermacher also possessed the wonderful ability to laugh, above all at
himself. He was an ethicist on the basis of a profound ethos which did not
restrict him either to the philosophical or (even less) to the theological sphere in
formal and methodological questions (which he wonderfully mastered!), but
rather which permitted and demanded (happily or unhappily) that he dare to
take up the most difficult particular problems of human and Christian,
individual and social existence.
And now we come to the center of his humanity, which must be kept firmly
in mind in any consideration of the range of issues which he represented, when
we go on to say that Schleiermacher was outspokenly a man of the church.
Throughout the course of his life, he thought, spoke, and acted in the
consciousness of his concrete responsibility precisely on that front. It drove him,

from his youth to the days of his old age, irresistibly to the pulpit. And
whatever one may think of it theologically, he not only talked about the 'feeling
of absolute dependence,' but had that feeling himself—rather, it had him. He
himself was one of those who were moved by what he said about it in the
pulpit (as well as in the podium and in the salon!), carried away at times to the
point of tears. And that no doubt hangs together with the fact that [ 1274] while
he certainly conceded to the 'worthy men called rationalists' those things which
at that time were to be conceded, he himself—no Pietist, but certainly a
'Moravian of a higher order'—had a personal relationship to Jesus which might
well be characterized as love. Although constantly engaged with the question of
John the Baptist, 'Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?,' he
never broke free from Jesus, but had to return to him again and again. I suspect
that on that basis (and contrary to the malign appearance in particular of his
Christology), and only on that basis, was it given to him to depict the 'Christian
faith' not only in aphoristic excurses, but also 'in its context.'
As this particular man—thinker, preacher, teacher, and writer—
Schleiermacher determined the nineteenth century. Not in the field of
philosophy! In those textbooks, as is well known, he figures only as an 'also
ran.' Certainly, however—and precisely this will be drawn in as a positive point
in any evaluation of his scholarly intention—in the field of theology. Here his
influence has survived. It has survived not only his being badly compromised
by Feuerbach, and then his being compromised even worse by Ritschl and his
followers, but also that catastrophe which broke out in 1914 for the whole
theology which followed him, and even the onslaught of 'our' so-called
dialectical theology. Here, even in the middle of our century, he was able to
produce, as shown, those 'existentialist' epigones. Truly a great man and a great
That, then, is the song of praise from one who is able to concur with
Schleiermacher rebus sic stantibus in 220 fundamental sense whatsoever. Nor,
therefore, with the liberal, mediating, and conservative theology of the
nineteenth century. And thus especially not, and even less, with the
Schleiermacher-epigones of the present. At this point, on the same purely
humanistic level, let me pose a brief question to them: Where and when among
you, in your school and in what you have produced, has a personality and a
life's work emerged whose caliber and stature would be worthy of mention in
the same breath with those of Schleiermacher, even if only from afar? In this
respect I place myself among you, but the question pertains to you especially
who are in a particular way to be measured against him. Perhaps I have
overlooked someone or something up to now. Perhaps those who and that
which are here missed are still to come. If it can be shown to me in good time,
then I would also want to praise you, if not your theology, on a similarly

humanistic plane. Until then, I will think of you in terms of what is written in
Psalm 2:4, whereas despite everything I could not think of Schleiermacher in
such terms. Schleiermacher impresses me (I notice that here I am involuntarily
lapsing into the style of the ironic-polemical passages of the Speeches), whereas
you— although and because I am sincerely striving to love even you as
myself— impress me not at all.
It may be surprising that I have declared myself to be at odds with
Schleiermacher only with reservations: rebus sic stantibus, 'for the present/ 'until
better instructed.' Something like a reservation, a genuine uncertainty, may
rightly be detected here. The door is in fact not latched. I am actually to the
present day not finished with him. Not even with regard to his point of view.
As I have understood him up to now, I have supposed and continued to [ 1275]
suppose that I must take a completely different tack from those who follow
him. I am certain of my course and of my point of view. I am, however, not so
certain of them that I can confidently say that my 'Yes' necessarily implies a
'No' to Schleiermacher's point of view. For have I indeed understood him
correctly? Could he not perhaps be understood differently so that I would not
have to reject his theology, but might rather be joyfully conscious of proceeding
in fundamental agreement with him?
In what follows I will attempt to formulate and ventilate two questions four
times in order to make my perplexity known. By answering them dialectically,
perhaps my history with Schleiermacher can now go further.
1. Is Schleiermacher's enterprise concerned (a) necessarily, intrinsically, and
authentically with a Christian theology oriented toward worship, preaching,
instruction, and pastoral care? Does it only accidentally, extrinsically, and
inauthentically wear the dress of a philosophy accommodated to the person of
his time? It is clear that in that case—regardless of details—I would at least
have to entertain the possibility of affirming the enterprise. But would I then
have understood it correctly? Up to now I have supposed that Schleiermacher
cannot be understood in this way, thus finding myself materially at odds with
Or is his enterprise concerned (b) primarily, intrinsically, and authentically
with a philosophy which turns away from Aristotle, Kant, and Fichte in order to
locate itself in the vicinity of Plato, Spinoza, and Schelling, mediating between
logos and eros while aesthetically surmounting both, a philosophy indifferent
as to Christianity and which would have wrapped itself only accidentally,
extrinsically, and inauthentically in the garments of a particular theology,
which here happens to be Christian? It is clear that in that case I could only take
and maintain my distance from Schleiermacher. But in this way have I
understood him correctly? And if in this way I have not understood him

correctly, then am I acting properly by distancing myself from him and his
2. In Schleiermacher's theology or philosophy, do persons feel, think, and
speak (a) in relationship to an indispensable [unaufhebbar] Other, in accordance
with an object which is superior to their own being, feeling, perceiving, willing,
and acting, an object toward which adoration, gratitude, repentance, and
supplication are concretely possible and even imperative? Were that the case,
then [ 1276] I would prick up my ears and be joyfully prepared to hear further
things about this Other, in the hopes of finding myself fundamentally at one
with Schleiermacher. But then, if I supposed I could find such things in him—
perhaps in the dark passages of the Speeches where he expresses an 'intimation
of something apart from and beyond humanity' or in that later, famous
definition of God as 'the source of the feeling of absolute dependence' — would
I have understood him correctly? Up to now I have supposed I had to
understand him differently, thus not being able to attach myself to him. Was
and is that supposition foolish or indeed quite wise?
Or, for Schleiermacher, do persons feel, think, and speak (b) in and from a
sovereign consciousness that their own beings are conjoined, and are indeed
essentially united, with everything which might possibly come into question as
something or even someone distinct from them? If that were the case, then the
door between him and me would indeed be latched, and substantial
communication would then be impossible. But have I understood him correctly
if up to now I have supposed that I ought to understand him in this way?
Would I need to understand him in a completely different way in order to
regard substantial communication between him and me as something which is
not impossible?
3. According to Schleiermacher, do persons feel, think, and speak (a)
primarily in relationship to a reality which is particular and concrete, and thus
determinate and determinable, and about which, in view of its nature and
meaning, they can abstract and generalize only secondarily? In that case
Schleiermacher and I would be in profound agreement. But have I understood
him correctly here when I interpret him in this way? How wonderful and
hopeful that would be! However, if I would then have attributed something to
him which does not at all accord with his own outlook and intention, then how
could my outlook and intention, which would not at all be in concordance, to
say nothing of coincidence, possibly be reconciled with his?
Or, according to Schleiermacher, do human feeling, thinking, and acting
occur (b) primarily in relationship to a general reality whose nature and
meaning have already been derived and established in advance, so that on that
basis only secondary attention is paid to its particular, concrete, determinable,
and determinate form? In that case, of course, I would immediately have to

issue a protest. In that case Schleiermacher and my humble self would be
completely separated from the outset. But in that case—having so understood
him up to now—would I have understood him correctly? If he could be
understood in some other way, then my protest would be left hanging in the
air. I would then have to meet him with a Pater, peccavi! and to accept modestly
the instruction he would have to impart to me. Oh, if only I were in such a
4. , which not only distinguishes itself again and again from all other
spirits, but which is seriously to be called 'holy'? If this is the correct way to
understand Schleiermacher, that is, if it accords with his own standpoint,
then—instead of disputing with him—what is to prevent me from joining him
and deliberating further with him about its basic content and consequences?
But then, in this way have I understood him correctly? Could I, as a
conscientious interpreter, be responsible for this understanding of
Schleiermacher's position?
Or, according to Schleiermacher, is the spirit which moves feeling, thinking,
and speaking persons rather (b) a universally effective spiritual power, one
which, while individually differentiated, basically remains diffuse? In that case
we would be and remain—he, the great, and I, the little, man—separated from
each other. But in this way have I understood him correctly, i.e., congenially?
Or have I burdened him with an alien point of view? If I could dispense with
this viewpoint, would I not have to recognize and confess that he and I are not
quite so far apart?
Whoever has followed carefully this fourfold explication of my two
questions will not fail to recognize that in each case I would greatly prefer to
have understood Schleiermacher in terms of the first question, and just as
greatly [ 1277] to have misunderstood him in terms of the second. When my life
is over I would certainly like to live at peace with Schleiermacher with regard to
these issues. Yet in all four cases I had to end each question with a question!
And that means that all along the line I am not finished with Schleiermacher,
that I have not made up my mind, whether on the positive or even on the
negative side! Even though and because I find myself embarked upon a course,
clear as day to myself and others, which certainly is not his. With regard to this
man's basic standpoint, I find myself in a great, and for me very painful,
perplexity. And to illuminate it even more sharply, I will not fail to pose a final
pair of questions:
5. Are the two questions which I posed four times (a) correctly formulated
as such, i.e., so as to correspond to Schleiermacher's intentions? Would the
possible answers to these questions be sufficient for a substantive judgment
(positive, negative or critical) about the standpoint he represented? Do these

questions provide a basis for a meaningful and relevant discussion about the
way he worked out the details of his position?
Or are all the questions I have posed (b) incorrectly formulated, i.e., so as not
to correspond to Schleiermacher's intentions? Thus, would their possible
answers be insufficient for a substantive judgment about his point of view? Do
they fail to provide a basis for a substantial and relevant discussion of the
particular tenets and themes by which Schleiermacher worked out his position?
The only certain consolation which remains for me is to rejoice that in the
kingdom of heaven I will be able to discuss all these questions with
Schleiermacher extensively—above all, of course, the fifth—for, let us say, a
couple of centuries. 'Then I will see clearly that—along with so many other
things, also that—which on earth I saw through a glass darkly.' I can imagine
that that will be a very serious matter for both sides, but also that we will both
laugh very heartily at ourselves.
Incidentally—moving away from the earlier humanistic plane—that which
can be viewed as waiting in the eschatological distance with the 'old sorcerer'
also pertains, of course (including the fifth and final set of questions), mutatis
mutandis, to those lesser sorcerer's apprentices of his who are today making
villages and cities insecure. I know what I have intended, and continue to
intend, in distinction from them as well, but I confess that even concerning
them do I find myself in a certain perplexity. In their own way, without
possessing Schleiermacher's significance, they certainly mean well, too. If those
who follow in his footsteps (at a great human distance from him) are to fall with
him, then they might also be able to stand with him. And I certainly would not
want to exclude them from my eschatological peace with Schleiermacher, to
which I previously alluded. The only thing is that I cannot take my 'reunion'
with them quite so seriously, nor can I imagine it quite so joyfully, as I can my
'reunion' with their forefather, Schleiermacher. When contemplating the great
then-and-there of the coming revelation, it is probably not only permitted, but
also imperative to think in terms of a certain gradation. As to a clarification of
my relationship to Schleiermacher, what I have occasionally contemplated for
here and now—and thus not only with respect to a theological event in the
kingdom of glory (which will then form the triumphal ending to my history
with Schleiermacher), but, so to speak, with [ 1278] respect also to a millennium
preceding that kingdom—and what I have already intimated here and there to
good friends, would be the possibility of a theology of the third article, in other
words, a theology predominantly and decisively of the Holy Spirit. Everything
which needs to be said, considered, and believed about God the Father and God
the Son in an understanding of the first and second articles might be shown and
illuminated in its foundations through God the Holy Spirit, the vinculum pads
inter Patrem et Filium. The entire work of God for his creatures, for, in, and with

human beings, might be made visible in terms of its one teleology in which all
contingency is excluded. In Church Dogmatics IV, 1-3,1 at least had the good
instinct to place the church, and then faith, love, and hope, under the sign of the
Holy Spirit. But might it not even be possible and necessary to place
justification, sanctification, and calling under this sign—to say nothing of
creation as the opus proprium of God the Father? Might not even the christology
which dominates everything be illuminated on this basis [conceptus de Spiritu
Sancto!)? Isn't God—the God confessed by his people through the revelation of
his covenant and who is to be proclaimed as such in the world—essentially
Spirit (John 4:24, 1 Cor. 3:17), i.e., isn't he the God who in his own freedom,
power, and love makes himself present and applies himself? Was it perhaps
something of that sort which, without having gotten beyond obscure
intimations, was so passionately driving my old friend Fritz Lieb in the past
decades of his life, a life which was moved and moving on that basis all along?
And is that perhaps also what in our own day the promising young Catholic
dogmatician Heribert Muhlen in Paderborn is getting at? Be that as it may,
interpreting everything and everyone in optimam partem, I would like to reckon
with the possibility of a theology of the Holy Spirit, a theology of which
Schleiermacher was scarcely conscious, but which might actually have been the
legitimate concern dominating even his theological activity. And not his alone! I
would also like to apply this supposition in favor of the Pietists and (!)
rationalists who preceded him, and, of course, in favor of the 'Moravians of a
lower order' of the eighteenth century, and beyond that, in favor of the
'Enthusiasts' who were so one-sidedly and badly treated by the Reformers, and
still further back, in favor of all those agitated and contemplative souls, the
spiritualists and mystics of the Middle Ages. Could it not be that so many
things which for us were said in an unacceptable way about the church and
about Mary in Eastern and Western Catholicism might be vindicated to the
extent that they actually intended the reality, the coming, and the work of the
Holy Spirit, and that on that basis they might emerge in a positive-critical light?
And then even in etwa ['more or less'] —as one is wont to say today in bad
German) Schleiermacher's miserable successors in the nineteenth century and
the existentialist theologians in our twentieth century as well? The whole
'history of sects and heretics' could then be discovered, understood, and written
not 'impartially' but quite critically as a 'history' in which everything is
thoroughly tested and the best retained, a history of the ecclesia una, sancta,
catholica et apostolica gathered by the Holy Spirit.
This is merely a suggestion, as is only proper, of what I dream of from time
to time concerning the future of theology in general, and in particular
concerning the perplexity in which I find myself as I attempt to evaluate [ 1279]
Schleiermacher as well as also those who preceded and succeeded him. I will no

longer experience this future, to say nothing of leading the way into it or taking
its work in hand.
Not, however, that some gifted young person—in the supposition that he or
she is called to it—should now immediately run down the path and into the
marketplace for me with a buoyantly written brochure entitled 'Toward a
Theology of the Holy Spirit' or something of that sort! And how misunderstood
my beautiful dream would be if anyone supposed that what is at stake is now
to say 'the same thing from an anthropological standpoint' once again! As if
that were not precisely what is so deeply problematic about Schleiermacher,
that he—brilliantly, like no one before or after him—thought and spoke 'from
an anthropological standpoint'! As if it were precisely the Holy Spirit which
encouraged him to do so, or would encourage anyone to do so! As if
Pneumatology were anthropology! As if I, instead of dreaming of a possibility
of better understanding Schleiermacher's concern, had dreamed quite crudely
of continuing in his path! I warn! If I am not to have dreamed sheer nonsense,
then only persons who are very grounded, spiritually and intellectually, really
'well-informed Thebans,' will be capable of conceiving and developing a
theology of the third article. Those who are not or not yet to that point, instead
of boldly wanting to actualize a possibility of the millennium, should prefer to
persevere for a little while with me in conscious 'perplexity.'


Primary Literature
Karl Barth, Protestant theology in the nineteenth century. Its background and history
(Grand Rapids, Mich, 2002), ch. 11.
Karl Barth, Concluding Unscientific Postscript on Schleiermacher, The theology of
Schleiermacher. Lectures at Gottingen, winter semester of 1923/24 (Grand
Rapids, Mich, 1982), pp.261-279
Friedrich Schleiermacher, "On the Discrepancy between the Sabellian and
Athanasian Method of Representing the Doctrine of the Trinity (1822).
Transl. by Moses Stuart." In: Biblical Repository and Quarterly Observer 5-6
(1855), pp.31-35 (April); 1-116 (July)
Schleiermacher, The Christian Faith, § 170-172

Secondary Literature
Schleiermacher, Karl Barth and the Foundations of Theology
Dawn DeVries, Does Faith Save? Calvin, Schleiermacher and Barth on the Nature of
Faith. In: Bruce McCormack; G. W. Neven (Ed.), The reality of faith in
theology. Studies on Karl Barth Princeton-Kampen Consultation, 2005 (Bern,
2007), pp.163-190 (especially relevant with regard to Barth's second
question, see below)
Gerrish, A prince of the church
Helmer, Chr.: Mysticism and Metaphysics: Schleiermacher and a Historical-
Theological Trajectory. In: The Journal of Religion 83/4 (2003), 517-538.
Schussler-Fiorenza, F.: Schleiermacher and the Construction of a Contemporary
Roman Catholic Foundational Theology, in: The Harvard Theological Review
89/2 (1996), 175-194 (philosophy and theology)
Robert Sherman, The shift to modernity. Christ and the doctrine of creation in the
theologies of Schleiermacher and Barth (New York, 2005)
Stephen Sykes, The identity of Christianity. Theologians and the essence of
Christianity from Schleiermacher to Barth (London, 1984)
Theodore M. Vial, "Friedrich Schleiermacher on the Central Place of Worship in
Theology." In: Harvard Theological Review 91 (1998), pp.59-73 (especially
relevant with regard to question 1, 3 and 4).

Schleiermacher and the Doctrine of Trinity
Kaled Anatolius, "The immediately triune God: a patristic response to
Schleiermacher." In: Pro Ecclesia 10 (2001), pp.159-178
Niebuhr, Schleiermacher on Christ and religion
Williams, Schleiermacher the theologian


1. "Is Schleiermacher's enterprise concerned (a) necessarily, intrinsically,
and authentically with a Christian theology oriented toward worship,
preaching, instruction, and pastoral care" or "is his enterprise concerned
primarily, intrinsically, and authentically with a philosophy which turns
away from Aristotle, Kant, and Fichte in order to locate itself in the
vicinity of Plato, Spinoza, and Schelling"?
2. "In Schleiermacher's theology or philosophy, do persons feel, think, and
speak (a) ... in accordance with an object which is superior to their own
being, feeling, perceiving, willing, and acting" or "do persons feel, think,
and speak (b) in and from a sovereign consciousness that their own
beings are conjoined, and are indeed essentially united" with everything?
3. "According to Schleiermacher, do persons feel, think, and speak (a)
primarily in relationship to a reality which is particular and concrete?" or
"do human feeling, thinking, and acting occur (b) primarily in
relationship to a general reality whose nature and meaning have already
been derived and established in advance"
4. "Is the spirit which moves feeling, speaking, and thinking persons, when
things come about properly, (b) an absolutely particular and specific
Spirit" or "rather (b) a universally effective spiritual power?"
5. Are these (Karl Barth's) questions "correctly formulated as such, i.e., so as
to correspond to Schleiermacher's intentions?"
6. Was Schleiermacher's a modalist?
7. Is Schleiermacher's concept of the trinity based on hermeneutical or
dialectical considerations?
8. Does Schleiermacher's philosophy provide leeway for an alternative
retrieval of the doctrine of the trinity?
9. Is it possible to solve the modern controversy on the doctrine of trinity
detached from philosophical considerations about the concept of the
'absolute' (as Barth proposed)?