The Reconstruction of Religion: Lessing, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche

The Reconstruction of Religion: Lessing, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche

by Jan-Olav Henriksen


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The Reconstruction of Religion explores the thoughts of three influential philosophers--G. E. Lessing, Soren Kierkegaard, and Friedrich Nietzsche--looking in particular at their influential approaches to the relationship between religion and modernity.

In a period of a little more than one hundred years, Lessing, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche each developed a different theory of religion. Rejecting the possibility of maintaining religious faith on the old foundation of church tradition, these thinkers formulated new ways of understanding religion in response to the challenges of modernity. Though the conclusions of each system are different, there remain important elements in common between them, such as the importance of ""religious subjectivity."" Jan-Olav Henriksen compares and contrasts the thought of Lessing, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche, showing that each of these philosophers still has something important to contribute to understanding religion in our own postmodern era.

For anyone interested in the position of religious belief in today's world, these reconstructions of religion are of great value. In addition to their place in the history of ideas, these three philosophical approaches anticipate some of the recent issues relating to religion in postmodernity. Henriksen's perceptive work moves beyond the level of historical analysis to insightful rereadings of Lessing, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche that help us better understand the place of religion in our pluralistic society.

Jan-Olav Henriksen is Dean of research and Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy of Religion at (MF) Norwegian School of Theology, Oslo, Norway.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781498220941
Publisher: Wipf & Stock Publishers
Publication date: 03/13/2015
Series: Lessing, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche
Pages: 238
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Jan-Olav Henriksen is Dean of research and Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy of Religion at (MF) Norwegian School of Theology, Oslo, Norway.

Table of Contents

Three Writers Facing the Modern Challenges to Religion1
Modernity: Religion as Construction5
Anticipations of Postmodernism?11
Technical Information and a Reflection on the Scope of This Study13
2.Lessing: Conceptual Differentiation, Critique of Tradition, and Acceptance of Plurality15
Setting the Stage: Lessing's Historical Position and Contribution17
Lessing's Aim23
Truth and Human Development--Anthropological Teleology24
Is There Religious Truth without Secure Historical Truth? Toward a New Notion of Natural Religion31
The Background for Human Development in the Treatise on Education41
The Relationship between Natural and Revealed Religion44
On the Development of Religion and Religious Subjectivity in Christianity and Its Background46
Plurality without Truth?53
Lessing's Mediate Position as a Critic and a Mask Wearer55
Relativizing the Impact of Religion--Transforming the Subject: Nathan as a Final Gateway to Lessing's Understanding of Religion59
Concluding Remarks69
3.Kierkegaard: Irony and the Struggle for Authentic Appropriation of Religion: Anticipations of Postmodern Attitudes, Insights, and Problems75
Kierkegaard's Dissertation on Irony Read as a Prolegomenon to Postmodernism76
Socratic Irony77
Romantic Irony and Christian Faith85
Conclusion: As a Mastered Element, Irony Creates Reality87
Faith, Truth, and History--Kierkegaard's Answer to Lessing88
The Religious Mode of Existence: Subjectivity as Passion for Truth101
Faith Shapes the Development of Subjectivity107
Decontextualized Individuality112
Different Modes of Religious Subjectivity116
Conclusion: Religion and the Quest for Self-Formation--a Postmodern Interpretation121
4.Nietzsche: The Deconstruction of Religion as an Expression of Powerless and Self-Deceptive Subjectivity131
Who Is Nietzsche--and Where Is He?131
Critique of Language as a Constituting Element of Subjectivity135
Perspectivism and Plurality143
Annihilation of the Metaphysical World, Consequently: Dissolving Radical Otherness149
The Concept of God as an Expression of Human Subjectivity152
The Death of God162
Relating to History: The Productivity of Life in the Subject167
Concluding Reflections173
Formation of the Self181
Religion's Contribution to Humanity186
The Relation to History: Criticism and Suppositions188
Reflections on the Role of the Other and of Otherness190
Irony and Double Reflexivity194

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