A Philosophical Anthropology of the Cross: The Cruciform Self

A Philosophical Anthropology of the Cross: The Cruciform Self

A Philosophical Anthropology of the Cross: The Cruciform Self

A Philosophical Anthropology of the Cross: The Cruciform Self


What does the cross, both as a historical event and a symbol of religious discourse, tell us about human beings? In this provocative book, Brian Gregor draws together a hermeneutics of the self--through Heidegger, Gadamer, Ricoeur, and Taylor--and a theology of the cross--through Luther, Kierkegaard, Bonhoeffer, and Jüngel--to envision a phenomenology of the cruciform self. The result is a bold and original view of what philosophical anthropology could look like if it took the scandal of the cross seriously instead of reducing it into general philosophical concepts.


Sustained by philosophy, religion receives its justification from thinking

—G. W. F. Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion

Justifying religious faith through thinking consciousness: this is arguably the highest aspiration of the philosophy of religion. Whether this aspiration is itself justifiable, however, is another question. Can religious faith be grasped and grounded, so that its content is justified by the necessity of the philosophical concept? Does religious faith have its telos in philosophical consummation? Or does there remain some residual opacity that philosophy cannot penetrate, some otherness that philosophy cannot reconcile within its own conceptual scheme? How should philosophy approach a reality that claims to be an irresolvable scandal for philosophical thinking?

This book explores that question with regard to a specific problematic— namely, whether philosophy can think the cross of Jesus Christ, which is central to Christian faith as both a historical event and a fundamental figure of Christian discourse. the cross poses a unique challenge—according to the apostle Paul, a scandal—for philosophical wisdom, and during the course of this study we will encounter several cases of philosophical engagement with the cross: in Hegel, for whom the cross is pivotal in the historical development of Spirit; in Nietzsche, who sees the cross as nihilistic, as a curse on human life, strength, and flourishing; in Heidegger, for whom the cross provides an ontic model for the Destruktion of the history of metaphysics; and in Ricoeur, who interprets the death of Jesus on the cross as a triumph of life and love over death, as an ethical transfer of love to the lives of his followers. the question, however, is whether these philosophical interpretations preserve the true scandal and offense of the cross, or whether something crucial is lost in them. Our task will be to consider how philosophical thinking can face the cross honestly, so that it is transformed by the cross rather than transforming the cross in order to fit its philosophical agenda. We are investigating, in order words, the possibility of an authentically cruciform philosophy.

No doubt this is a vast undertaking. in order to set the parameters of our investigation, I will focus specifically on the significance of the cross for philosophical thinking about what it means to be human. With the phrase anthropo . . .

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