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Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834)

Schleiermacher, the Study of Religion, and the Future of Theology: A Transatlantic Dialogue by Wilhelm Grab, Brent W. Sockness, and Wilhelm Grab (Theologische Bibliothek Topelmann: De Gruyter)  The past three decades have witnessed a significant transatlantic and trans-disciplinary resurgence of interest in the early nineteenth-century Protestant theologian and philosopher, Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834). As the first major Christian thinker to theorize religion in a post-Enlightenment context and re-conceive the task of theology accordingly, Schleiermacher holds a seminal place in the histories of modern Christian thought and the modern academic study of religion alike. Whereas his "liberalism" and humanism have always made him a controversial figure among theological traditionalists, it is only recently that Schleiermacher´s understanding of religion has become the target of polemics from Religious Studies scholars keen to disassociate their discipline from its partial origins in liberal Protestantism. Schleiermacher, the Study of Religion, and the Future of Theology documents an important meeting in the history of Schleiermacher studies at which leading scholars from Europe and North America gathered to probe the viability of key features of Schleiermacher´s theological and philosophical program in light of its contested place in the study of religion.

Excerpt: The past three decades have witnessed a significant transatlantic and transdisciplinary resurgence of interest in the early nineteenth-century Protestant theologian and philosopher Friedrich Schleiermacher (17681834). As the first major Christian thinker to theorize religion in a post-Enlightenment context and re-conceive the task of theology accordingly, Schleiermacher holds a seminal place in the histories of modern Christian thought and the modern academic study of religion alike. Whereas his "liberalism" and humanism have always made him a controversial figure among theological traditionalists, it is only relatively recently that Schleiermacher's understanding of religion has become the target of polemics from Religious Studies scholars keen to disassociate their discipline from its partial origins in liberal Protestantism. This book documents a historic meeting in the history of Schleiermacher studies at which leading scholars from Europe and North America gathered in equal numbers in order to interpret and probe the viability of central features of Schleiermacher's theological and philosophical program in light of its contested place in the study of religion.

The main venue for this three-day conference, held October 29—November 1, 2008, was Swift Hall of the University of Chicago Divinity School, an institution long known for its insistence that theological studies be pursued within the context of the academic study of religion and that inquiry—be it historical, social scientific, humanistic, or philosophical in nature—into the phenomena of religion comply with the highest standards of the modern research university. Such an institutional ethos—whatever its complex origins in European and distinctly American intellectual traditions—is fully in the spirit of Schleiermacher, who, by making the Christian religious community's "way of believing" (Glaubensweise)— rather than God or scripture—the primary object of theological reflection, helped pave the way for the emergence of Religionswissenschaft in the second half of the nineteenth century and "Religious Studies" in the twentieth. For this reason it was likewise fitting that a conference of this nature be brought to a conclusion at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion (AAR), the world's largest association of scholars and teachers of religion. The papers found in the first five parts of this volume, then, began as lectures delivered in the stately third floor lecture hall of Swift Hall to an audience of Schleiermacher specialists, students and faculty from the Divinity School and surrounding Hyde Park seminaries, and interested scholars of religion travelling to Chicago for the AAR Annual Meeting. The research reports that comprise the final, sixth part of the volume were delivered in the Waldorf Room of the Chicago Hilton to a fraction of the some 5000 AAR members, in attendance at the early November meeting.

Readers of this volume will find a wide variety of perspectives on key aspects of Schleiermacher's religious, theological, and philosophical thought. Indeed, the "conflict of interpretations" present in these pages is one of the book's most striking features. In order to see this, one need only compare Richard Crouter's (chapter 1) warning about the dangers of too eagerly pressing Schleiermacher into contemporary service with Eilert Herms' (chapter 27) insistence that detailed historical reconstructions of the sort favored by Crouter quickly confront a law of diminishing returns and only acquire their real import to the degree that they are able to inform and illuminate current theological questions. Alternatively, one might read part three with a close eye on the remarkably different understandings of "transcendentality" more (Gamwell, Dierken, Klemm) or less (Sorrentino, Grove, Marina) explicitly held by that part's six contributors. Even a category as basic to Schleiermacher's conception of religion as "feeling" seems quite up for grabs with respect to its precise place in Schleiermacher's understanding of selfhood and its relation to the cognitive and social dimensions of religion. This largely tacit disagreement over Gefuhl is discernible across the entire volume.

While it of course belongs to a classic thinker to generate a plurality of interpretations, a brief surmise as to a few likely sources of disagreement might prove helpful, especially to non-specialist readers. Three present themselves as most salient: First, the continued expansion of the Schleiermacher Kritische Gesamtausgabe (1980—) has gradually but decisively broken through the old "canon within a canon" of available and frequently studied sources. The result has been a shakeup and reassessment of some of the most familiar territory in Schleiermacher studies as even the most canonical of works (e.g., the Speeches) suggest new readings in light of the expanded constellation of texts in relation to which such worked-over classics stand. Second, the disciplinary background and institutional placement of the various contributors clearly exercise a considerable influence upon the approaches adopted, specific themes developed, and the evaluative judgments tendered by each author. And while the majority of conference participants belong to departments of Religious Studies or theological faculties/schools, this bipolar distribution belies a far more complex disciplinary pluralism within which philosophical, historical, ideology-critical, and more conventional ecclesial-theological interests compete. Third, the transatlantic dimension of the volume is perhaps its most interesting feature, since the papers are not only colored by pre-understandings supplied by different disciplinary orientations and institutional contexts, but also by the broader intellectual traditions, trends, and academic discourses found on either side of the Atlantic. So, for instance, the impact of analytic philosophy of religion (Dole, Proudfoot, Marina), pragmatism (Hector), and process theology (Gamwell) are palpable on the American side. By contrast, on the German-dominated European side, one can discern strong echoes of the recent Cassirer renaissance (Moxter, Richter), a pronounced emphasis—indebted to Habermas and Apel — on the communicative aspects of Schleiermacher's theory of religion, and the prominence of what might be called a neo-idealist impulse inspired by the work Dieter Henrich (Grove, Dierken, Grab-Schmidt; with a mild protest from Arndt). Such broad and diffuse "atmospheric" differences help explain why American disputes over Schleiermacher's theory of religion are often carried out in terms (e.g., "naturalism" or "realism") quite foreign, even jarring, to German researchers immersed in the discourses of communicative rationality and Subjektivitätstheorie.

Symbol Theory, Hermeneutics, and Forms
of Religious Communication by Cornrlia  Richter

Although it stands last in the title of this paper, religious communication is the first theme I must address, for it is the main concern and focus of Schleiermacher's entire theology and parts of his philosophy as well. In their excellent anthology on Schleiermacher's philosophy, Dieter Burdorf and Reinhold Schmücker chose the title Dialogische Wissenschaft to denote not only research into dialogue as a form, but also scholarship that is itself dialogical. They claim that Schleiermacher, like Plato, chose dialogue as philosophy's essential form. Yet Schleiermacher was not simply imitating Plato, for in his decisively theoretical approach to modern dialogical research Schleiermacher incorporated the dialogical principle into the constitution of knowledge itself.1 Although Burdorf and Schmücker recognize that Schleiermacher tried to put his theoretical reflections to the test in sermons, educational programs, and academic lectures, I would like to underscore this point even more strongly: Schleiermacher not only declares theology to be communicative and provides us with theoretical reflections on this conception, he also performs communicative theology and philosophy throughout his works. Beginning with the early Speeches in 1799 and continuing up to his last introduction to the Dialectics in 1833, Schleiermacher stresses the fundamental importance of communicative acts, owing to the inescapable difference between individuals and their divergent opinions. Hence, it is not only a philosophically or academically interesting task to reflect on dialogue and dialectics, it is also a prerequisite for all knowledge and action among people.

In the first section of this paper I will treat Schleiermacher's early and, of course, most famous work, On Religion: Speeches to its Cultural Despisers from 1799. Here, in an act of religious and theological communication, Schleiermacher offers basic reflections on why religion is inextricably bound to religious communication. This is, of course, also true for Schleiermacher's Soliloquies (1800), Christmas Celebration (1806), and his Sermons, but time and length constraints permit me to provide only some brief comments on these in a classical German footnote.' In section two I will turn to Schleiermacher's Hermeneutics, in which he theoretically develops the problem of understanding and the inevitability of communication in detail and outlines criteria for a better understanding of texts and oral discourse. In the third section, I will show how these hermeneutical considerations extend to symbol theory in its various forms, be it in cultural theory, in the arts, or in practical theology, and how this brings us back to the issue of communication. All of this will be done in light of recent research on Schleiermacher and thus in accord with the charge given to our panel.

1. Forms of Religious Communication

Richard Crouter once said that Schleiermacher is always communicative, but that "On Religion stands as primary example of this extensive rhetorical process." The reason for this primacy is not only Schleiermacher's special interest in rhetorical or hermeneutical processes as we might discuss them today. Rather, Schleiermacher's interest is based on a profound theological idea. In the first speech, the apologia, he confesses that he is driven by divine necessity, by natural force, and by divine vocation. Life as a whole, he says, is determined by two essential and reciprocal forces, attraction and repulsion (Aneignen und Abstossen). Every individual constantly seeks to perceive and to share what is perceived, to confide in and open up to others. Thus, in the second speech on the essence of religion Schleiermacher calls religion "the necessary and indispensible third" complement to metaphysics and morality; religion is "Sinn und Geschmack fürs Unendliche," and in religion we have an "Anschauen des Universums." The aim, however, of all those who seek religion is humankind, since love strives to be enacted and answered.? The third speech explains how this can be obtained: the path to religion is a question of self-education (Bildung zur Religion), and any single step must be enacted by oneself, thereby revealing again that we have been born with a natural predisposition for religion. So, on the one hand, all religious ideas and impressions can and must be shared. On the other hand, they cannot be taught like natural sciences; rather, they must be performed, felt, and enacted. It does not come as a surprise, then, that in the fourth speech, before proceeding to characterize the different religions in the fifth and last speech, Schleiermacher declares religion to be bound to community, for it is the nature of religion to express itself, to be expressed, and to share deep impressions, perceptions, and feelings.' All of this is to be carried out, however, not in academic monographs and papers, but by actually talking to each other and using all efforts, arts, and means of language in order to substantiate our vague and fleeting words.

The fascinating power of the Speeches—especially their insistence on putting religion on par with metaphysics and morality and their strong emphasis on feeling—had an enormous impact in Schleiermacher's time. The focus on "Gefühl" has subsequently stimulated an extensive interdisciplinary debate on feeling and emotion, which to this day remains unsettled. Within theology, a re-orientation towards his position in the German-speaking countries of Europe in the 1970s caused a change of perspective that is often called the "Schleiermacher Renaissance" and is closely tied to the name of Hans-Joachim Birkner. After decades of the dominance of dialectical theology, religion became once again the focus of theological reflection, spurring on immense and still ongoing research on the concept of religion, the relation between religion and culture, and the theory of religion in classical German philosophy. This flurry of scholarly activity thereby established Schleiermacher as a philosopher of stature equal to Kant, Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel. Pursuing these topics within the context of recent German theology inevitably means surveying the works of Ulrich Barth, Friedrich Wilhelm Graf, Dietrich Korsch, Jan Rohls, Wilhelm Grab, Jörg Dierken, Michael Moxter, and Georg Pfleiderer, among others. Unfortunately, going down this road on this occasion would surely exceed the limitations of this paper.

For many years research on the Speeches focused on Schleiermacher's concepts of intuition (Anschauen) and feeling (Gefühl), proceeding from there to Schleiermacher's other writings and to the general discourse on subjectivity and emotion. In 1984, Robert R. Williams discussed the differences between Schleiermacher and Hegel and came to the conclusion that Schleiermacher's Gefühl is not a transcendental subjectivity in the foundationalist CartesianKantian sense . . . not a self-sufficient foundation prescribing structures to and legislating for experience. Rather Gefühl is the original disclosure of the pre-given life-world, the immediate presence of whole undivided being. Gefühl then is not a transcendental foundation of experience, but only the medium of access to the foundation. But in this case the foundation turns out to be the world (Lebenswelt) as the ultimate horizon of consciousness."

I mention Williams here because it is interesting to see how close his interpretation is to Dieter Henrich's theory of subjectivity, which takes immediate self-consciousness as a prereflexive familiarity (prareflexive Vertrautheit) prior to any reference of the subject to herself.

Jan Rohls has stressed the fact that the notion of feeling, which in the Speeches is closely tied to the notion of intuition, was later developed by Schleiermacher in the Glaubenslehre in such a way that notion of intuition was gradually dropped in favor of feeling as "immediate self-consciousness." Rohls then extended the theory of feeling as "immediate self-consciousness" to a theory of piety by drawing upon analytical philosophy, and defended this theory against objections raised by the critique of religion),

In 1994, Christian Albrecht published an extensive study of Schleiermacher's theory of piety, which, he claimed, could be understood as a general theory of the relation between consciousness and reality, whether we look at the Speeches, the Glaubenslehre, or the Dialectics. Given the size of his topic, Albrecht confined himself to an analysis of the texts mentioned above and refrained from relating Schleiermacher to his historical and philosophical context. He thereby not only followed much contemporary research on Schleiermacher, which was and still is focused on the new critical edition of Schleiermacher's works, but also presented Schleiermacher as a versatile author, who not only thought in an inter- and transdisciplinary way, but also encouraged theology to enlarge its research programs to topics far beyond what was expected, e.g., to hermeneutics and symbol theory.

Before we discuss the latter, allow me to return for a moment to Schleiermacher's relation to the classical German philosophy and theories of subjectivity of his day. In a major 2004 study, Peter Grove pursued both of these topics simultaneously via a systematic interpretation of Schleiermacher's philosophy of religion, which focused mainly on the Speeches and the later Glaubenslehre.15 This wide-ranging work investigates Schleiermacher's relation to the Enlightenment, Kantianism, the so-called "Spinoza Renaissance," and early German Romanticism. His detailed analysis of Schleiermacher's writings through 1803 demonstrates the strong impact of authors such as Wolff, Eberhard, Reinhold, Kant, Jacobi, Fichte, and Friedrich Schlegel. Particularly noteworthy are Grove's new insights into Schleiermacher's relationship to Reinhold and Kant. And while the idea that Schleiermacher neither simply followed nor rejected Kant's dualisms is not new,16 Grove has provided us with a more nuanced understanding of the specific differences between these thinkers.

This brings me to one of the most recent debates concerning Schleiermacher's Speeches, namely, his relation to Spinoza and the question of whether the Speeches are pantheistic or not. In 1999, at a Schleiermacher Gesellschaft conference in Halle commemorating the Speeches, Konrad Cramer argued for a significant difference between Spinoza and Schleiermacher, despite the fact that both employ the notion of intuiting the Universe. Cramer concluded that while in Spinoza this notion denoted rational comprehension (denkendes Begreifen), in Schleiermacher it was bound to feeling qua "sense and taste" (Sinn and Geschmack). Christof Ellsiepen has pursued this topic a step further by relating Schleiermacher's notion of intuiting the Universe to Spinoza's idea of scientia intuitiva. Ellsiepen was able to build upon two previous studies of the relationship of Schleiermacher to Spinoza—those of Günter Meckenstock and Julia Lamm—both of which drew support from the critical edition of Schleiermacher's Jugendschriften on Spinoza published in 1984.19 Distinctive of Ellsiepen's study is its deeper investigations into Schleiermacher's reading and commentary on Jacobi's Letters on Spinoza, which Ellsiepen considers the basis for understanding Schleiermacher's notion of religious intuition. Interpreting the latter as grounded in the relationship between individuality and universality and viewed from the perspective of finite human consciousness, Ellsiepen clearly rejects all interpretations of the Speeches that suggest an immediate and somehow revelatory relation between the human subject and the divine. Instead, Ellsiepen suggests, it was exactly this complex tension between the non-concrete "Universum" (as the Absolute) and our vivid and embodied relation to it that was determinative for Schleiermacher's theology.

With respect to the Speeches, then, we are back to where we started, namely, to the enormous influence of Spinoza, or let us say of Jacobi's Spinoza, on Schleiermacher. It is intriguing to see how—at least in the Speeches—the philosophy of Spinoza meets communication theory. Given the absoluteness of the Universe, hermeneutical efforts are the very least that finite subjects need! So let's proceed to section two on Schleiermacher's hermeneutics.

2. Hermeneutics

This is a perfect opportunity to highlight the value of the new critical edition of Schleiermacher's works (KGA), keeping in mind what Wolfgang Virmond wrote in 1984 about the complex processes of identifying the individual manuscripts and reconstructing their history. So far, the new edition contains some relatively unknown texts on hermeneutics and philology, which until now have been familiar only to scholars working in the archives.22 Moreover, thanks to their excellent historical introductions and principled organization, the KGA volumes provide us with a coherent picture of the development and relations of these texts for the first time.

Schleiermacher's different forms of religious communication and his reflections on them have deeply influenced all kinds of academic discourse on communication, hermeneutics, linguistic theory, and symbol theory—not only within theology, but also far beyond, e.g., in linguistics and rhetorical studies. Within contemporary German theology, Schleiermacher's hermeneutical and communication-theoretical insights have even inspired some of the most popular approaches in exegetical or dogmatic theology. As far as I can see, there is no philosophically or linguistically oriented introduction to hermeneutics today that would not regard Schleiermacher as a turning point in the hermeneutic tradition. In saying this, I do not mean to imply that hermeneutics before Schleiermacher was worthless. According to Wolfgang Hübener's able reconstruction,25 this was the verdict of Dilthey.26 What I do wish to say is that Schleiermacher's idea that all understanding is based on misunderstanding has opened new perspectives in a rather crucial way. Hence it is quite astonishing that Jürgen Habermas, famous for his models of intersubjective communication, had yet to refer to Schleiermacher in 1989, when Gunther Wenz argued that Schleiermacher's theory of communication is not only close to Habermas' conception, but could even help strengthen it, thanks to its strong claim not to neglect the religious foundations of modernity.

Having broached the question regarding the originality of Schleiermacher's hermeneutics, I should note that this issue has become a major focus of ongoing research. I would first mention Lutz Danneberg, who has put enormous effort into relating Schleiermacher's hermeneutics to the earlier hermeneutic tradition. His scholarship is important because he tries to carefully distinguish between continuities that have simply been overlooked, on the one hand, and Schleiermacher's innovative moves, on the other. According to Danneberg, there is one problem in particular that continuously and deeply troubles Schleiermacher and which might be the reason why his hermeneutic program was never finished—namely, the relation between hermeneutics and theology, particularly the latter's close relation to the New Testament.29 For in the discourse of his contemporaries, especially in a tradition called hermeneutica sacra, the idea of accommodation (as put forward by Ernesti) was involved—that is, the idea that the interpretation of texts is not only tied to the author's intention, but also to the possibilities of reception and understanding of the first readers. To what extent did the authors of the biblical texts simply follow (and have to follow) the then common use of language? How did they express their individual, and thus new, Christian ideas? This became a problem for Schleiermacher because he held that any intellectual revolution, any paradigmatic shift in tradition, is tied to a linguistic revolution. New ideas need new forms of expression, new words, and new arguments. Such issues were closely related to the question, crucial at the time, concerning the relation between the Old and New Testaments.

In a similar manner, Harald Schnur claims that many interpreters see Schleiermacher's position as a turning point in the tradition of hermeneutics, but they do so with insufficient knowledge about the history of that tradition. He therefore retrieves and explores the hermeneutical writings of Johann August Ernesti, Johann Georg Hamann, Johann Gottfried Herder, and Friedrich Schlegel. Another such effort to relate Schleiermacher to his predecessors (e.g., Leibniz, Wolff, Baumgarten, Herder, and Schlegel) was made by Reinhold Rieger, who interprets Schleiermacher's hermeneutics to be a hermeneutics of "Sinn" (sense/meaning), because understanding aims at texts containing sense—this, in contrast to the merely referential hermeneutics found especially in semiotics. According to Rieger, the notion of Sinn provides the missing link in Schleiermacher's attempt to understand the relationship between subject-constituted spontaneity and object-related receptivity, and Schleiermacher's principle of oscillation between identity and difference furnishes the philosophical backdrop: Whatever it is that makes sense to me, there will always remain a difference, however small, in what is supposed to be identical.33 Over time, Schleiermacher developed this basic idea into a hermeneutics of difference, determination, and development.34 Although I concur in the main with Rieger's reconstruction, I think it incorrectly reduces Schleiermacher's import for hermeneutics to textual hermeneutics.

Let me therefore conclude this section by referring to Wolfgang H. Pleger, who stresses Schleiermacher's ability to connect rhetoric, hermeneutics, and dialectics within his philosophical thinking. Pleger is absolutely right in pointing out the fact that Schleiermacher did not confine himself to textual exegesis but was interested in all sorts of communication. What we first understand is something someone actually said. Indeed, all understanding is part of this understanding, since each text is human speech in a fixed form. Even a formal speech (eine Rede), Pleger argues, is no monologue but an act of dialogical communication. So, in fact, dialectics, which Schleiermacher from 1822 on interpreted as the art of communication, would structure the outer framework of hermeneutics—not in the sense of being just one philosophical discipline among others, but as the universal way of building knowledge in general. The notions of the "art of understanding" and "general knowledge" are bound to such diverse concepts as arts, semiotics, and symbol theory. Remarks on the first two of these concepts have made for some nice footnotes. Symbol theory will occupy us in my third and final section.

3. Symbol theory

It is noteworthy that research on Schleiermacher and Ernst Cassirer has run parallel during the last few years. Critical editions of both authors are underway (or in the case of Cassirer have just been finished), both authors are invoked in interdisciplinary discourse, and both are studied in order to raise crucial questions for a better understanding of religion. In 2000, Dietrich Korsch and Enno Rudolph organized a conference on Cassirer in theology and invited Martin Laube to give a lecture on Schleiermacher and Cassirer. Even though Schleiermacher and Cassirer seem to be rather close at first sight, Laube's conclusion was disillusioning: the closer they seem to get, the further they drift apart.

While Cassirer sought to extend the Kantian critique of reason toward a general critique of culture, Schleiermacher sought to found culture entirely upon the transcendental principle of knowledge. While Cassirer kept his distance from all integrative systems of symbolic forms, Schleiermacher aimed precisely for a systematic construction. In the same volume, Dietrich Korsch argued that for Schleiermacher the relation between culture and religion is based on an implicit theological premise, namely that religion is not just one sphere or form of culture among others, but that the two are in some sense equivalent and culture is itself religious—an idea Korsch considered to be incorrect. Wilhelm Grab, in turn, proposed that any comparison between Schleiermacher and Cassirer must focus on Schleiermacher's philosophical Ethics, not on his Hermeneutics.42 According to Grab, Schleiermacher had already formulated an idea of culture close to that of Cassirer; both were even based on the idea of symbolization. But in contrast to Cassirer, Schleiermacher had not yet formulated this idea of symbolization as a process of "reflexive self-transparency" (reflexive Sich-Durchsichtigkeit) or through the notion of "sense" (Sinn). In the wake of this debate, I decided to attempt an extensive comparison of Schleiermacher and Cassirer myself, aiming at a clarification of their similarities and differences. With respect to Schleiermacher's corpus, I chose the Dialectics and Ethics as basic texts for my twofold examination. First, I tried to determine the internal relation between transcendental philosophy and cultural phenomenology, with the problematic result that the latter is determined by the former. Second, I inquired into how the transcendental structures we find in the Dialectics also shape the position of religion within cultural phenomenology. This examination led me to the firm conclusion that for Schleiermacher all culture is ultimately bound to its absolute transcendent foundation as the unifying perspective of everything ideal and real. This is, however, an ambivalent result. For now it becomes obvious that Schleiermacher's constant reference to something absolute—no matter whether he calls it the Universe (Speeches), the transcendental foundation (Dialectics), or the "whence" of all our dependence (Glaubenslehre)— implies the danger of an asymmetrical and pre-reflective determination of cultural phenomena, processes, and interpretations. Hence, it is all the more important to connect this transcendental line of thinking in Schleiermacher to his other basic idea, namely, that one ought constantly to seek to understand and formulate religious and theological issues in the language of culture.

This can be achieved in a prominent way in the arts, as Inken Mädler has shown. By synthesizing Schleiermacher and Cassirer, Mädler has found a way to analyze the products of art and their use that is both intellectually satisfying as well as artistically challenging. In 1999, she presented a study of Schleiermacher's well-known idea of "religious style" in the context of art as a religious act.45 Mädler pointed out the inherent mathematical connotations of this concept and thus demonstrated that the idea of unity (Einheit) that Schleiermacher aimed at constantly must not be understood in the sense of a static figure but in the sense of constancy and continuity. She also draws on Cassirer, who championed the notion of progression over that of substantial concepts. "Einheit" in Schleiermacher accordingly means a principle of progression ad infinitum.46 In subsequent work, Mädler has extended this concept to objects of emotional importance for people—i.e., objects people set their hearts on. Using a phenomenological approach, she explored the way in which such objects create a dense network of spatial, temporal, social, and religious relations. For this reason, her study is highly illuminating for pastoral care and educational theory.47

What was implicit in Mädler became the explicit program of Martina Kumlehn, who inquired into the relevance of Schleiermacher's theory of religious communication for present educational theory.48 She began her study by citing Schleiermacher's remark to Lücke to the effect that those who wished to hear nothing of God rarely contended with the idea of God itself, but rather attacked the way the idea of God was generally treated, i.e., its prevailing expression.49 Her point was that this remark is still valid today and applicable to understanding contemporary difficulties in teaching and speaking about religion. In order to demonstrate this, she examined and drew upon Schleiermacher's idea of "individual symbolization," as well as his reflections on language and hermeneutics. She concluded that Schleiermacher's special merit was that he did not restrain himself to forms of religious communication, but instead understood them as part of interpersonal communication in general.

And with this, the stage for my own concluding remarks is set. Current research on Schleiermacher is widespread and promising, opting for interdisciplinary and—as shown by this conference—international discourse. I would identify the main currents of this growing research in two areas: First, completion of the critical edition and advancing historical research enables us to read the well-known texts anew, to understand their historical context, and see them in "full view." Reading hitherto unknown texts or familiar ones in new constellations sometimes even changes the discourse overall (e.g., Walter Jaeschke's edition of Hegel's Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion). Yet, Schleiermacher's full potential will not be revealed through more thorough historical research alone, for this would run the risk of becoming an exclusively internal scholarly debate. I would therefore, second, stress the idea that we must not only read Schleiermacher, but also adopt his way of practicing theology. Scholarly reflections on various theories and concepts of religion are extremely important and must not be neglected. Yet in the fourth Speech Schleiermacher left us with this word of warning: academic theology must not cling to lifeless reflection but must be carried out through vivid perceptions. This implies not only addressing our papers to a broader public, even though these efforts to communicate —like the Speeches—might lack conceptual clarity and precision. It means above all not forgetting to talk about basic experiences and needs that relate the Christian dogmatic tradition to what we consider relevant for human life. So let us — or, at least the theologians among Schleiermacher's heirs—speak about hate and despair, trust, hope, and responsibility, as well as about those symbols still held to be central to Christian belief. Let us speak about the Universe, about God, and about the narratives told about Jesus Christ; about emotion and self, about misunderstanding and understanding. In short, let us speak about religion.




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