The Postmodern Revival of the Philosophical Anthropology toward Interpretation of Religion and Ethics

The postmodern philosophical anthropology intertwined with many post- Kantian followers because of its radical solutions regarding the essence of religious faith and its functions in culture. The truth about religious faith has to do a lot with the truth about a man. Does religious faith make a person more human? ; does it redeem him or not—that is the question? To be able to find that answer one has first to seek an objective answer to a question, who is a man in society?


The postmodern man


One must not forget that any association with socialism as a philosophy and sociological system is born out of a materialistic tradition and is a sort of answer to particular problems and questions with which classical thinkers struggled.  That was a tradition of the idealistic German philosophy that started with Kant, continued with Fichte and Hegel to Feuerbach.  In this mode of materialistic thinking, the idea of society is created by the surrounding reality of the object.   Nevertheless, domination of idealism over reality began the firm heritage of Marxism. This sort of philosophy continues in some modified forms of the contemporary postmodernism. The postmodern materialists show both reductionist and simplistic interpretation of the religious experience. Their reductionist understanding of religion is found in two basic forms of naturalism, first in socio-economic and second in the psychological naturalism. With this interpretation, religious experience loses autonomy and at all existential sense. The postmodern materialistic vision of a man comes from the description of a man as being composed of matter and surrounded by nature which is also a physical thing.  The man is a biological being. He is genetically connected with the material world (matter) which is also controlled by dialectic, evolutionary laws. Humans can be distinguished from other people because of their ability to perform work.


The man is also able to reflect. As a result, can look at his existence in relationship to himself, his species, and the world as a whole as opposed to mere existence without reflection. Self-awareness (which is man’s ability to look and reflect on himself and his actions) induces not only a person’s work ethic but also how the world views what he contributes to it. Thus it may help define his future goals in relationship to himself and the world. Man, by his biological nature, is naturally drawn to it or centered by it. In other words, he continues to return to it to seek harmony and peace within him. Because of his self-awareness and his ties to nature, he wants to change nature and may do so causing life to rise on the evolutionary scale using what we call work. Social relationships between human beings are influenced, and material things are often used as the mediating means. Work can be described as the transformation of raw nature into work which is the fundamental element of any economic structure.


Conditions of alienation


According to materialists, if the man puts more attention to God, man is left with less for himself. Workers put their whole purpose of life in their product. Their life belongs to the product. More productivity on the part of the employee causes him to present himself as less than he is. Being alienated from the objects of his labor and the process of production, man is also alienated from himself–he cannot fully develop the many sides of his personality. Therefore, all the primary institutional spheres were marked by a condition of alienation.


We may see from this reflection that the materialistic concept of a man is a utopian project of liberating human being and making him happy where the essential element in this process is the elimination of religion and faith. Since moral conscientiousness is an awareness of its incompleteness, the real liberation and happiness is a fight for full identification of human being.


As stated at the beginning, right religion necessarily is connected with the concept of human being and all of the reality. It takes in consideration metaphysics and anthropology. We need more strongly underline that a proportion about the existence of eternal and self-progressing material is not a scientific affirmation. Which of the sciences such as physics, biology, chemistry or any other, has appropriate data to ascertain eternity of material things? It is not also affirmation which agrees with simple experiments of pre-scientific recognition, in which operates the rule of contrariety. After its rejection, it is easy to explain everything. But this is happening for the price of treason of reality.  In the history of human thought, philosophical anthropology was understood as recognition of the truth about the world, humanity and all of the reality.  Philosophical anthropology primarily was developed from the natural desire of man to recognize truth (how things are) which is the core need of all human activity. Activity to appropriately act, follow the prescribed pattern of making and processing this world and myself. There is a need to acknowledge what this reality is about. As we may see through the history of human thought searching for truth is not easy. The person in the attempt to penetrate the mystery of this world and his own life is endangered with mistakes and lapses.  But certain problems continue to come back and necessitate new efforts of recognition. Such is the attitude of the human person toward truth which is his charter and necessity from which he cannot resign as the price of being human. Classic Materialists brought in the field of Philosophical Anthropology dangerous revolution because it was identified with ideology and functionality. From its beginning, the Marxists system has been already programmed as atheistic.  New forms of this revival system exclude in its roots of existence the action of God in the world and human person. With such a philosophy of thinking ‘s hard to lead discussion. One possibility is the acceptance or rejection.


The contemporary Christian culture


Social constructions are immeasurably valuable. Nevertheless, the truth about the human person and religion does not question this. At the same times, spiritual needs for truth, liberty, goodness, love to build in communities are immensely significant. So acceptance of a personal God with whom human person interconnects through religion confirms a person in such values as subjectivity, liberty, love, and horizon of human hope. The contemporary Christian culture gives us an occasion for deeper reflection upon the situation and the perspective of man – of the human person, capable of conscious and free activity, of directing his destiny and history.


The man of the nineteenth and twentieth century’s has undergone the ancient temptation “you shall be as gods.” The conviction of man’s perfection, his self-sufficiency and auto-creation produced the well-known mirage of divinity, joined with the view that God and religious values are a stumbling block on the road to man’s full development, and, above all, that they limit his freedom. Promethean atheism has taken its rise in the name of bestowing upon man greater value; consequently, it was decided to eliminate God, “to kill Yahweh,” so that man could be – fully autonomous and mature (F. Nietzsche) – free (S. Freud, J. P. Sartre). That he might obtain a paradise on earth, save himself by the revolutionary creation of a new economic, social structure (K. Marx, F. Engels, and E. Bloch). All the above-mentioned thinkers and ideologists strove by various ways to eliminate God and religion from human life and human culture on terrains where Christianity had been routed for many centuries. They could delude many into thinking that a real God does not exist, that He is merely a man’s construct, “a human illusion,” which hampers man, limits him. So in the name of the right of man, it is necessary to reject God and to realize man’s striving for fullness and happiness on earth, if not immediately, then in the future. Neither man nor human culture can longer operate this way. When the Transcendent God is eliminated, and all links with Him are broken, there we give rise to “new gods,” “new cults,” new “paradise myths” and new “religions.”


Practical life experiences


In the face of the hopes held forth by the disciples and proclaimers of the death of God, which hopes were very much alive and attractive towards the end of the nineteenth century and still on into the first half of the twentieth century, we are now standing at the threshold of the twenty-first century enriched even more by practical life experiences than by theoretical discussions. We have experienced and continue to experience how unreal and how feeble these promises have turned out to be.  At the same time how threatened and alone man has become when he has been put in place of God. We are thus at present witnesses as the man wakes up and rouses himself from his fascination with “being God.” The experiences of the twentieth century – how painful and costly they have been of 150 million killed have shown that those “absolutes” man has created, the “lay religions,” the “political religions,” have not fulfilled man’s aspirations. They have not created paradise on earth; they have not eliminated all forms of alienation. On the contrary, they have brought forth enormous threats, new ways of isolation, and above all new forms of slavery for man. We are aware of the vast drama of our times continues, in which great achievements and great opportunities exist side by side with previously not encountered threats of the destruction of man or the total annihilation of humanity. The experience of those real threats which arose after the “death of God” show even more clearly and in perspective both of all mankind and of each man in particular why it is necessary to have the transcendent God as man’s source and exemplar. It is so important that man may live as a man, and not like a slave of the structures which he has created, so that the culture which man himself has created may not turn against him, but that it be as John Paul II said a “civilization of love and the freedom of man”. It is a great paradox that this rejection of God which was to secure man complete freedom has, in reality, led him to slavery and submission as human products. Today better than ever we understand that the freedom of the human person as dependence upon his own “I,” and his ability to decide and select from among various values, goods, is linked with the human person’s being open to the personal Transcendent God. Without this perspective, which is opened by the personal God who is unlimited in his love, man becomes deformed, and even dies the most threatening sort of death, for it is a moral end. Today better and more clearly than a century ago, we know that God does not cramp human freedom, but also God alone is the guarantee of this freedom.”Man cannot be truly free or serve the cause of the development of real freedom, if he does not acknowledge and does not experience the transcendence of his existence in relation to the world, and his connection with God” So many now argue for the necessity of bringing back the sacrum in culture, in order that man and human culture may be saved. Religion, which shows man’s transcendent dimension and His transcendence about the world of matter and all social groups, stands in the center of interest. Therefore, since the myths of earthly paradise and ideologies have failed to eliminate religion from human life, there must be a need for a relationship with God who loves the person.


References: John Paul II, address on the XIV World Day of Peace, Rome, Jan. 1, 1981, cf. “L’Osservatore Romano,” 1980, no.11, p.3


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