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Nature Piety

(717 words)

Author(s): Gladigow, Burkhard
Religion in Romanticism 1. Since Schleiermacher's new definition of religion as “contemplation and feeling of the universe,” or as a “sense of and taste for the infinite,” concepts arise that no longer seek to grasp religion only through the definitions of Christian theology—or through its attempted destruction at the hands of criticism of religion—but to ascribe it “its own province in the heart and soul” (Schleiermacher). With this new approach, possibilities open up for the injection of a romant…


(1,488 words)

Author(s): Gladigow, Burkhard
Multiplicity of Souls 1. After the idea of God, the idea that a human person has one or more souls became a widespread driving force of religious orientation and cultic instruction books. By way of extremely different conceptualizations, the soul is bound up with, especially, the whole history of religion, but without being exhausted in the area of religion. In view of the broad spectrum of cultural constructions, different demands and needs present themselves by way of notions of the soul. Concept…

Science Fiction

(1,497 words)

Author(s): Gladigow, Burkhard
Mythic Reports 1. Mythic reports of gods and heroes, such as Gilgamesh, Odysseus, or Thoth, who had come to the boundaries of the world and of their own existence, have, over millennia, formed the narrative style that connects a mythic geography with reflections on ‘other gods and other persons.’ The fundamental enclosure of the traditional world thus remains preserved, even if, in journeys to the beyond, and heaven, or to ‘new realms,’ frontiers are overcome in narrative, and new spaces of existe…

Natural Science

(1,490 words)

Author(s): Gladigow, Burkhard
1. Natural science as a subject in a dictionary bearing on religion seems to combine leading concepts of two divided ‘cultures.’ In a framework of European history of religion, not only have ‘religion’ and ‘science’—at first sight—developed in irreversible distinction from each other, but especially the natural sciences have postulated an object of knowledge and sketched a method that seemed to exclude ‘religion’ as a ‘subject.’ Indeed, when both fields undertook to speak on the same matters, their propositions see…


(1,431 words)

Author(s): Gladigow, Burkhard
Needs for Security 1. From prehistoric times, security and shelter from the hardships of nature, from threats by hostile animals and human enemies, and from the risks of illness and death, have been among the key concerns of cultural practice. As civilizing and cultural achievements have multiplied, certain elements of security and expectations of safety, in various areas of that civilization and culture, have multiplied as well, and determinable risks have been reduced. Attire and housing, nutriti…


(802 words)

Author(s): Gladigow, Burkhard
Two Scientists 1. “That conviction of reason—bound up with deep feeling—that is revealed in the experiential world, forms my concept of God. Thus, it can also be designated, in the customary manner of expression, as pantheistic (Spinoza).” So wrote Albert Einstein in 1934, thereby inserting his ‘relation to the world’—that, in another connection, he also designated as ‘cosmic piety’—into the tradition of Jewish philosopher Baruch de Spinoza (1632–1677).1 Spinoza's formulation, sive deus sive natura (Lat., ‘god or nature’) had delivered for subsequent times the patter…


(3,025 words)

Author(s): Gladigow, Burkhard
State of the Problem 1. For the religious dimensions of the relationship between the human being and nature, between human beings and their environment, the seventeenth century offers the decisive reorientation that takes up ancient, medieval, and current positions of a Christian confessionalism. Sketching a religious history of nature also means addressing the question of how the concept of nature has been applied to the structuring of modern discourse on the human being, God, and the world. Modern…


(2,844 words)

Author(s): Gladigow, Burkhard
Modern Discovery of Polytheism 1. In a letter to Jacobi of January 6, 1813,1 Goethe states that as poet and artist he is a polytheist, as a natural scientist he is a pantheist, and as a moral person he is a Christian. With this sovereign religious self-classification, Goethe has allocated a relative, and at the same time positive, evaluation to the theologically negatively composed concept of “polytheism.” And there is more: to maintain that one can be at once a monotheist and a polytheist, and both of these…


(3,296 words)

Author(s): Gladigow, Burkhard
1. “One who asks the meaning of life is sick,” wrote Sigmund Freud in 1937 in a letter to Marie Bonaparte. Viktor Frankl's later response is, “One who does not ask the meaning of life gets sick.”1 Behind these two neat accentuations stands—among other things—the question of the transition from an unquestioning consciousness of a meaningful and meaning-filled life, to its crisis-attended questioning. The historical locus of the question of the ‘meaning of life’ can be broadly defined in terms of two modern conditions. The one is gr…


(1,118 words)

Author(s): Gladigow, Burkhard
1. With the discovery of electricity and magnetism in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the → European history of religion changed, too, with the new bands of attachment between the sciences on the one side and religious patterns on the other. Attraction or repulsion, energy working at a distance (or arriving via other objects), and, finally, even experimental little bolts of lightning could now be generated, and they supplied fundamentally new ‘plausibility schemata’ for areas until now…