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(639 words)

Author(s): Hartmann, Georg
Antiquity In Greek and especially Roman antiquity, the figure of the genius is met, for example, in the conceptualization of a procreative power residing in the male human being. Genius, which is also regarded as a protective divinity, and enjoys cultic veneration, can be ascribed to an exalted personality (as Lat., genius Augusti); but it can also, collectively, be seen in the (Roman) people, and, last but not least, in a place (Lat., genius loci, ‘genius of the place’). The genius comes into view in, for example, the form of a serpent (that from time to time emerges…

Political Religion

(664 words)

Author(s): Hartmann, Georg
The concept ‘political religion’ (in Fr., religion politique; religion séculière, Fr., ‘secular religion’) is used to denote totalitarian systems of the twentieth century, such as → National Socialism, Stalinism, and Maoism (→ Mao [Cult of]), under the viewpoint of a union of church and state, a condition so pregnant with consequences. It was political scientist and philosopher Eric Voegelin who offered the first systematic treatment of the theme, against the background of a strengthening National Socialism in 1938, with his essay, Die politischen Religionen (Ger., “The Politi…


(1,015 words)

Author(s): Hartmann, Georg
1. The expression nihilism (from Lat., nihil, ‘nothing’) is used in the broadest sense, and frequently with polemical intent, to denote a radical skepticism, as handed on in classical form by Sophist Gorgias (c. 480–380 BCE): “First, there is nothing. Second, even if there were something, it would still be unknowable for human beings; third, even if it were knowable, it could not be transmitted to our fellow human being, or made understood” (Sextus Empiricus, Adv. Matt., VII, 65ff.: DK 82, B3). Inasmuch as the reproach of nihilism was levied in connection with religious…


(1,386 words)

Author(s): Hartmann, Georg
Postmodern Positions 1. Since the 1960s, various diagnoses of the current condition of society, culture, and knowledge have been propounded and dealt with under the heading ‘postmodernity.’ First, at the end of the 1960s, the return to traditional narrative forms within American literature after James Joyce was designated as ‘postmodern.’ Charles Jencks introduced the concept into architectural theory in the 1980s, and connected with it the concept of ‘double coding’ in architectural construction.…


(161 words)

Author(s): Hartmann, Georg
The concept enérgeia (Gk., ‘efficacy,’ ‘activity’) becomes important for religion—especially for the European history of religion of the outgoing nineteenth century and the opening of the twentieth—by way of the Weltanschauung of W. Ostwald (1853–1932), against a background of the momentous successes of science. In the doctrine of the Monistenbund (“Monist League”), which Ostwald co-founded, energy is the essence of all things. This idea is a departure, of course, from the hitherto controlling schema of interpretation of a mechanistically conn…


(177 words)

Author(s): Hartmann, Georg
Human beings draw boundaries to ‘bound themselves off’ as members of one group against ‘the others’: in order to erect identities of their own and to specify their own territories vis-à-vis the outer world. ‘We-they’ thinking leaves its traces in almost all areas of human behavior. Fences, boundary stones, and turnpikes cannot be overcome by everyone at all moments: They show persons whether they may enter, as they belong there, or whether they must remain without. The temple (in Greek, témenos, ‘bounded space’) is the religious space par excellence. The living spaces of re…


(420 words)

Author(s): Hartmann, Georg
The word ‘teleology,’ formed from the Greek télos (‘end,’ ‘goal,’ ‘purpose,’ ‘completion’) and lógos (‘word,’ ‘reason,’ ‘teaching’), was originally a coinage by philosopher Christian Wolff (1679–1754). His neologism was based on the thought of the ‘purpose,’ or ‘final cause’ of a thing, which Aristotle had conceptualized in a framework of his doctrine of the four causes. Accordingly, the point of departure of teleological thought is the goal-directedness, or purposefulness, of changes or processes. As early as Homer's Iliad, a similar motif is to be found in the form of …

Disenchantment/Re-enchantment of the World

(471 words)

Author(s): Hartmann, Georg
1. The concept disenchantment of the world (Ger., “Entzauberung der Welt”) reflects experiences of the nineteenth century. Industrialism and the triumph of science, together with the art of engineering, fostered the belief that, in principle, everything can be experienced and then conquered by calculation. Max Weber, with whose work the concept of disenchantment is especially connected, traced this conviction back to Western intellectualization and rationalization, which, he thought, is reflected in …


(258 words)

Author(s): Hartmann, Georg
In the seventeenth century, in the wake of the → Enlightenment, and from the wish for a knowledge of reality delivered from various phantoms and illusions, Francis Bacon drafted his doctrine of idols (Lat., idolum, ‘specter,’ ‘idol’; from Gk., eídolon, ‘image’; → Idol), a classification of avoidable prejudices. ‘Ideologue’ (Fr., idéologue, from Lat., idea, ‘[ideal] image’) was used in the latter half of the eighteenth century to indicate French Enlightenment thinkers like A. L. C. Destutt de Tracy (1754–1836) and E. B. de Condillac (1714–1780), wh…