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Criticism of Religion

(1,496 words)

Author(s): Grätzel, Stephan
From Mythos to Logos? 1. In comparison with the various religions, philosophy and the sciences, both physical and natural, are of late appearance. As demonstrated by the emergence of Greek philosophy in the sixth century BCE, they emerged from a criticism of the religious apprehensions and praxis of their time. Philosophy, which always understands itself as, among other things, criticism of religion, sees itself confronted with the task of demythologizing the world, and of leading culture from ‘myth…

Enlightenment (Age of)

(1,360 words)

Author(s): Grätzel, Stephan
Concept of the Age 1. In an affirmation now become famous, Kant describes the Enlightenment as “the emergence of man from self-accusatory sheepishness.” This definition of ‘Enlightenment’ means a change in the human being's self-knowledge and place in the universe, and has led to the conception of a new change of the ages of the world. Kant is putting all of his emphasis here on 'self-accusatory’ (in Ger., selbstverschuldet). Every person, Kant holds, is outfitted with reason, and therefore has the duty to act ‘reasonably,’ or ‘according to reason’ ( vernunftgemäß). Here Kant means t…

Wholeness/Holism

(1,601 words)

Author(s): Grätzel, Stephan
1. While the term ‘whole’ has been one of the fundamental concepts of Western philosophy and science from the outset, the concept of wholeness, as a scientific one, is a neologism, having come into use only toward the end of the nineteenth century. Here it is especially biology and psychology that give the concept the meaning that it still has today in scientific theory (‘holism’), medicine (‘holistic medicine’), or psychology (‘holistic psychology’). Concepts and Theories of Wholeness: Goethe 2. The concept of wholeness has a close affinity with the German word Gestalt (originally, ‘…

Determinism

(1,011 words)

Author(s): Grätzel, Stephan
1. Determinism is a Weltanschauung or worldview that holds all processes of inanimate and animate nature, together with human acts, to be causally conditioned. In other words, inorganic, organic, cultural, and psychic life presents a tight succession of cause and effect. Between causes and effects, therefore, no objective undetermined, random uncaused moment can be introduced, and this in principle. Therefore natural, cultural, and psychic processes are basically (pre-)determinable. 2. The ancient protagonists of this theory are Democritus, Epicurus, and Lucreti…

Progress

(1,361 words)

Author(s): Grätzel, Stephan
Progress and History 1. The successes of the natural and cultural sciences in European modernity engendered technological innovation. This led in turn to an ‘acceleration’ of culture, of its means of conveyance, and of production and communication. Rapid public transport, one's own Internet connection, or the last-minute ticket to the Maledives, provide occasion for the conceptualization that the human being is in a constant state of progress. Progress becomes not only a basic concept for an appraisal of history, but, beyond this, a basic characteristic of (modern) humanity—an anth…

Rationalism/Irrationalism

(1,130 words)

Author(s): Grätzel, Stephan
Assertions and Truth 1. The fifteenth-century Renaissance effected a completely new orientation of the sciences. The manner of thinking appeared that was typical of the sixteenth century: rationalism. Here, it was the philosophy of René Descartes (1596–1650) that founded a new form of thought and made it the standard of the sciences. As Descartes demonstrated in his Discours de la Méthode (Fr. “Discussion of Method”; 1637), reason was no longer satisfied that it only maintain assent to received teachings. A doubt abiding in the reason prevents the latter…

Reason

(1,357 words)

Author(s): Grätzel, Stephan
Understanding/Reason 1. Today's concept of reason is a product of the philosophy of the Enlightenment, which places reason above simple understanding as the highest capacity of the mind. This ranking reversed the translations of the medieval and early modern ages. For scholastic and Reformation translators, ‘understanding,’ insight, was the English word for the Latin ratio, and the translation of the superior capacity, intellectus, was ‘reason.’ In most Western languages, in the Enlightenment, this correspondence was reversed: ‘reason,’ as a superior capacity, became intellec…

Balthasar, Hans Urs von

(521 words)

Author(s): Grätzel, Stephan
[German Version] (Aug 12, 1905, Lucerne – Jun 26, 1988, Basel), Catholic theologian (cardinal May 28, 1988) and philosopher of religion. He played an important role as a mediator between literature, philosophy, and theology, while being a critical observer of interconfessional dialogue. He was a very prolific author (85 books, over 500 essays), translator (approx. 100 translations from the Greek, Latin, French, Spanish, and Italian), and the founder of several secular associations, of a publishing house (Johannes-Verlag, Einsiedeln), and a journal ( Communio). I. After receivi…