|Abstract (english)|| |
This doctoral dissertation seeks to analyse the multi-layered and very complex connection between Neo-Scholasticism and the philosophy of existence using the example of a comprehensive, posthumously released study by Stjepan Zimmerman titled Jasperov egzistencijalizam [Jaspers’Existentialism] (Zagreb 2001), where Zimmermann, in his own understanding of Neo-scholastic philosophy, attempts to engage in a treatise with Jasper's philosophy of existence. The introductory part of the dissertation observes how Zimmermann, following the encyclical “Humani generis” of Pope Pius XII in 1950, uncritically assumes the term “existentialism” as a designation of the German philosophy of existence. For this reason, the introductory part of the dissertation notes that “French Existentialism” seeks sharply and clearly to distinguish itself from the German philosophy of existence, primarily when it comes to the “meaning” of human existence: while French Existentialism perceives existence as the exclusive “project” of human freedom, which often verges on its understanding as a matter of absolute human self-will (the ultimate consequence is Sartre's statement: “Hell is other people”), the German philosophy of existence, especially Jaspers’, explicitly underlines man's responsibility towards his own being in the world, without which it is impossible to have a responsible relationship with fellow beings and all phenomena that may be encountered in the world. For Jaspers, the relationship is especially acute when it comes to the point “'Neighbourtranscendence-divinity-God”, where it is indicated that the issue of responsibility is not just a metaphysical, but, above all, a basic existential question which attempts to adopt and achieve Kant's “categorical imperative”, i.e. a type of mental autonomy that is unthinkable without acting responsibly in the world at large. In this connection, an attempt is made to show how Zimmerman along the lines of Neoscholastic ''anti-modernism“ of the 20thcentury finds it very hard to trace a path towards a fruitful dialogue with the philosophy of existence, but also with the other philosophical streams of the time, and consistently commits an impermissible methodological mistake: his Neoscholastic understanding of philosophy is “applied ”to interpreted philosophers, in this case Jaspers, without a single effort to understand what Jaspers genuinely cared about. For Zimmermann, every thought of the potential “autonomy of mind” is strange, as is human freedom deriving from it, but also the possibility that “faith” itself can be developed on the basis of a free personal decision, beyond any religious-institutional framework, and let alone that existence could be based upon itself – again in the Kantian sense– which is consistently followed by Jaspers. A crucial distinction between Kant and Jaspers exists, however, firstly because Jaspers with his teaching on “the encompassing” and God as “the all-encompassing” certainly does not exclude the possibility of ''cognitive phenomena per se'', hence he, “with Kant, goes beyond Kant”. Zimmermann finds it hard to understand who in Jaspers’ entire philosophy perceives only Jasper's “agnosticism” which, according to him, ultimately ends in “atheism”. Therefore, any serious critical dialogue is missing. As this doctoral dissertation seeks to demonstrate, while, for instance, the German Neo-scholastics (J. B. Lotz, B. Welte, at al) continuously strive to engage in fruitful discourse with the philosophy of existence, Zimmermann and many Croatian Neo-scholastics of the 20thcenturybring forward in their treatise numerous condemnations and unwise “labels” which do not derive from serious critical analysis. Zimmermann is convinced there is potential in the "rational Gnosticism of God”, by means of rational proof of His existence. He not only implies the notion of God as object, as the “Transcendent”' being superior to all other beings (Thomas Aquinas), but equally implies the redundancy of any faith: the foundation and guarantor of the validity of faith is not the direct relation of existence to the Beloved, but exclusively to religion as an institution. For this very reason, the dissertation recognizes the great significance of Jaspers’ notion of “philosophical faith” which, in his view, is most profoundly “anchored” and “harboured” in the human being itself and as such presents the prerequisite for any other faith and the path to the selfunderstanding of man in the horizon of transcendence in general. Hence, the philosophy of existence does not represent any decline in modern-day ''anthropology'' or “subjectivism”, but above all the “defence” of existence from all those “celestial „guiding principles – as Welte says – could pose a threat to human freedom, or the materialization of the very essence of man. On other hand, man lives incomplete ignorance of his own origin and of the ultimate purpose of his existence, although he continuously strives to give diverse answers, however temporary and superficial they may be, of which revealed faith is certainly one of most important historical answers. Irrespectively of how imperfect they are, all these answers in their own way “wake” man from a dream veiled in self-evident truths of everyday life that are the biggest enemy of philosophy. In the conflict with transcendence, and at the same time being unable to break through “material survival”, existence in its shock due to this inner brokenness “awakens” and, waking up “for the sake of oneself”, man collides with the world in a hitherto unknown form, but also with himself as a puzzle that is yet to be resolved as a task for winning back genuine essence. The course of resolving the puzzle is nothing more to Jaspers than the course for gaining awareness on one’s existence or, more precisely, entering one's own existence. This awakening is a “leap”, i.e. it does not happen gradually as a “surprise attack”, as a sudden sobering up from earlier contemplation on reality, as the abandoning of material survival simply in an absolutely open horizon, where there still prevails the complete questionability of everything, and especially existence. However, beyond this questionability there is a vague suspicion that the world and the I are not “in vain” here, that everything has its source, and in order to experience it, “self-being” (Selbstsein) has to pursue it over oneself, which, according to Jaspers, generates “uneasiness” for abandoning the self and the “status” so far, as well as the necessity of posing questions on essence, inevitably raised in that horizon devoid of all self-understanding. In such a situation of man’s absolute exposure and surrender to the world in its nonmaterial form, in which we encounter our very existence, Jaspers addresses the following question: what role can faith on the basis of Revelation have in the course of self-enlightenment and in the self-constitution of existence, and in what relationship does faith understood in such a way stand for “philosophical faith”'? When it comes to the Christian faith in Revelation, Jaspers was very explicit: “I do not believe in Revelation; to my knowledge I have never believed in the possibility”. Jaspers here suggests that he does not believe in the positive (objective) substance of Revelation, but he understands it as a “code”, i.e. as an option, but not as an exclusive reference to transcendence. In relation to many other codes, Revelation, according to Jaspers, is substantially richer and does not leave us existentially indifferent (ravnodušnim), the reason for which is that it has continuous relevance for man, but in an exclusively natural form, as a concrete “reference” for a human-altered relationship towards oneself. The Enlightenment’s crude reduction of Revelation to the natural laws that had been discovered at the time on the theological-ecclesiastic side corresponds to the absolute deterrence of man in the sense of relieving him completely from a burden of responsibility and selfresponsibility. Faith based on the Divine Revelation did not arise out of the man's fear, ignorance, scepticism or “despair” due to his inability to grasp the essence of being, but from the necessity to have an opinion of one's own existence, and the expression of that thinking is – historically speaking –theology , while philosophy occurs as an opinion “from the source of man's being”, but in such a way that philosophical opinion can be reflected upon as can Revelation in its existential significance, so with no other instances and authorities of truth. A responsible existence has the task to provide for the entry of transcendence into immanence but in the purely existential sense, i.e. the “entry” by no means takes place without man's active, willing opening towards the transcendental individual level, so with no institutional mediation that relieves man from any responsibility for his own existence. In Jaspers’ case, this implies at the same time the absolute redundancy of mediating Revelation through priesthood and the Church having required an individual “appropriation” of the released substance of any faith. Philosophy, according to Jaspers, has the task of being in part also an “educator for Revelation” (Erzieherin zur Offenbarung) as it liberates us of all cave idols, all individual prejudices concerning the entire reality and all other ecclesiastical and institutional dogmatic remedies for transcendence. On the contrary, we have, according to Jaspers, an understanding of Revelation as a kind of “propaganda”, the blindfolded acceptance of which represents for Kant and Jaspers only “misfortune for the genuine freedom of man”. Yet, Revelation, philosophically reflected on, i.e. understood as a “code”, may become the subject matter of “existential appropriation” (existentielle Aneignung), by no means as an unconditionally given “canon” of our universal relationship with the world. We are acquainted with Revelation according to Jaspers through “prophets”, “apostles”, “churches” and “priesthood”, and it is per se a product of “inspiration” by Divine Scripture particularly bearing witness to the prophets who have directly listened to the voice of God for which Jaspers concludes that there could be no doubts in their experience. Nevertheless, while this Divine communication towards the prophets is not a direct one, but a prophetic conveying or announcement of the communication to the populace, this leads to the diluting of the original sense of the conveyed message because “communication” between God and prophets takes place by the voiceless listening to the voice, while communication between prophets and listeners occurs by means of the human language within the human heart burdened by images of the senses, perceptions, comparisons, etc., so that the Divine communication necessarily has to be misunderstood due to the deficiency of proper human language. Precisely for this reason, “faith in the prophetic Revelation has no character of the Revelation which is bestowed on the prophets themselves”, i.e. “prophetic revelation” is not “Divine Revelation”, but its human mediation. Like later priests, the prophets wanted to bring forward the incredible to a credible notion, to make it generally straightforward, so that the Divine communication already in this pre-institutional phase is transformed into a “human act”, and the act of “translation” from the Divine into a human notion represents for Jaspers the first seed of “disbelief” within institutional religion. When it comes to the Apostolic Annunciation of faith, Jaspers is more critical than in terms of the prophets, given this is not only about an apostolic intervention of Divine communication, but -ontologically observed – the deprivation of the Word by pronouncing Jesus as Christ, i.e. as the very Word of Good. Unlike the prophets who are in direct “communication” with God, the apostles do not announce but bear witness to Christ, the Son of God became the Son of Man and his “word” which is now – without any mediation – understandable in any human language. Although it is both for the Jews and Greeks »σκανδαλον« of unseen proportions, Jaspers, however, allows that Jesus – not Christ –is introduced into the story of the prophets, he preaches the Kingdom of God, the Last Judgement, the ethos of the Sermon on the Mount and the fundamental structure of man in the faith of God that is not so radical as the announcement of Christ on the part of the apostles. It is clear that in this existential-philosophical view, a historic “Jesus” is far more interesting for Jaspers than the transcendental “Christ” because he had learned with Kant that any attempt to shape a transcendental expression on transcendence necessarily ends in nonsense and in the lack of corroboration of all our statements. In view of the facts from historic research, particularly focused on Jesus, Apostolic Revelation for Jaspers seems ultimately doubtful as it is based only on individual “witness attestations” (Bezeugung) which contain no “objective validity”. Zimmermann continuously refers to his rational metaphysics to the point of ruling out any need for believing, which, according to Jaspers, Kierkegaard has already shown: historic research as no meaning for faith because faith requires no historical facts, as facts are flat since the “spirit” in Hegel's context dwells in them no longer, i.e. they are living as long as we attribute spiritual meaning to them. When it comes to prophets, apostles and priesthood, for Jaspers believers are in the worst position because they receive the Word of God “second hand”, never directly, and either God communicates with them directly or by means of inspiration, so that they believe through an intermediary, i.e. first they believe the intermediary and then God. Beyond religiously preached and interceded transcendence, Jaspers points out explicitly that transcendence can be experienced only in “transcending” as in the course of the continuous prevailing of one's own material survival in the world. In contrast to any religiously founded faith, Jaspers’ “philosophical faith” is nothing but faith in one's own “ability to be” (Seinkönnen), the continuous prevailing in any material form of “being” in the world, a continuous “revival” (Aufschwung) towards transcendence and the simultaneous feeling of “failure” (Scheitern), which for Jaspers, in a permanent exchange, represents the essence of human existence. Without this continuous self (transcendence) there is no experience of transcendence, no other chance to reach the ''borderline situation”, where the finality of the final and of the materially given is tested, of what can be thought about and determined to the end. The freedom that was given as a gift from transcendence and for which we have to fight all the time precisely enables our opinion to transcend every boundary, to rise above the worldly and ultimately assume full responsibility for our own existence. The responsibility for opinions and actions for the purpose of a continuous self-overcoming relieves me absolutely of “ecclesiastic leadership” which at the same time is an absolutely redundant “guidance to self-transcendence” (Führung durch die Transzendenz selbst). It is experienced and adopted only when I am no longer “affected” by nothing in the world of material immanence. Hence, it turns out to be a paradox that transcendence as a matter of fact, the “worthlessness „of everything material-secular, as long as I think “something” or “about something”, I am firmly anchored in immanence and I can neither open up towards transcendence nor towards my own genuine existence: I cannot be “affected” by the supra-secular, which for Jaspers simultaneously means I cannot be capable either of genuine being in the world nor of encountering transcendence. If, starting from these fundamental tenets held by Jaspers, we evaluate Zimmerman's Neo-scholastic position, we could say that his personal existence was not “affected” by anything other than the institutional-ecclesiastic, and thus neither by transcendence proper in the broad sense of the term.