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Isaiah Berlin

A Value Pluralist and Humanist View of Human Nature and the Meaning of Life

Series:

Connie Aarsbergen-Ligtvoet

Value pluralism, a philosophical perspective belonging to the humanist and liberal family, is meeting with increasing attention and support in contemporary political and moral philosophy. Its starting point is that (personal and social) human life is characterized by conflict between the various (good) values and ends that are pursued. Value pluralism takes cultural and moral diversity seriously and thereby also denies the validity of — in their view — potentially dangerous monisms that promise a perfect, tension-free human life. But does value pluralism itself not lead to another danger —that of moral relativism and questioning the meaning of human life itself? This study describes the anthropology of Sir Isaiah Berlin (1909-1997), value pluralism’s founding father. Berlin wants to protect both moral and cultural diversity against monist tendencies but at the same time struggles to avoid moral relativism. This study follows Berlin critically in this dilemma, thereby giving insight into how value pluralism differs from contemporary postmodernist and conventionalist positions.
Through this study profound insight can be gained into the anthropological assumptions behind value pluralism. This study reveals the basic assumptions in Western and liberal thought that often remain implicit and hidden, leading to much misunderstanding and conflict. Berlin’s ideas can enrich existing theories of pluralism and contribute to intercultural and interreligious dialogue. And, last but not least, Berlin’s value pluralism helps us to understand the roots of ideologically and religiously inspired violence.

Limping but Blessed

Jürgen Moltmann’s Search for a Liberating Anthropology

Series:

Ton van Prooijen

For Jürgen Moltmann, theological anthropology must be liberating. It should take a stand against dehumanizing images and concepts of human life and point out ways to “true humanity.” In his view, a theologian can develop such a liberating anthropology only if he speaks explicitly from the perspective of God’s kingdom as conceived in the Bible and the Christian tradition and if he speaks to and in his context, as one who experiences contemporary sufferings and hopes. But how? This book analyzes the development of Moltmann’s theology in the light of this quest for a liberating view on human life. It examines the anthropological concerns in the different stages of his theological enterprise: his post-war Trümmertheologie, the “loose theological threads” of the 1950s, his theology of hope and promise in the 1960s, his theology of the cross, human rights and play in the 1970s and his ecological and “charismatic” theology of the 1980s and 1990s. Moltmann’s theological thinking has taken place consciously at the intersection of personal experiences, historical challenges, biblical testimony and the fundamentals of the Christian tradition. Analyzing his quest for a liberating anthropology in a chronological way, this study therefore gives an impression of the frictions and fault lines of Christian anthropology in the context of the societal changes during the second half of the twentieth century. A concluding chapter discusses some of the problems accentuated in the course of this analysis and evaluates some valuable leads for a Christian anthropology today.