Continuing the discussion at the end of the Iran Film Festival thread – a discussion that has vanishingly little to do with film festivals – here is an explication of the idea of “Christian Theology” being overcome by “Christian Anthropology.” The long quote at the end comes from Alexandre Kojève’s Introduction to the Reading of Hegel, p. 67.
Theology vs Anthropology – it’s worth looking at the two terms closely, since the discussion is about the dialectical overcoming of the opposition theos/anthropos. We think of theology, these days, as something studied by odd humanists and true believers, and of anthropology as science. But the opposition is more direct, and, more important for a philosophical/theological discussion, the distinction between God and Man can be treated as a false distinction – because God and Man can be treated as constructions of each other. I am arguing, following Hegel/Kojève, that the Christian idea, properly understood, is the dissolution of the false opposition, a dissolution represented in the myth of the incarnation of God in Christ, simultaneously in the idea that God/the divine has an interest in/dwells within every particular individual, making slaves and emperors equal before/beneath God.
However, this last construction rests on a re-statement of a fallacy, of God outside/above the world, that the Christian anthropological, or theo-anthropological idea – Man as God as Man as God, etc. – exposes. I may eventually – certainly not today since I’m majorly procrastinating as far as the real world is concerned – work up a more systematic “introduction to the introduction” or maybe a “how did you spend your Hegel Summer?” series of posts, but this spot may be as good a non-starting point as any. (It may not really matter where you start, or pretend to start, in such a discussion, since it all gets taken up in the same philosophical circling/spiraling anyway.)
Take it away, Alexandre:
Now, according to Hegel, one can realize the Christian anthropological idea (which he accepts in full) only by “overcoming” the Christian theology: Christian Man can really become what he would like to be only by becoming a man without God – or, if you will, a God-Man. He must realize in himself what at first he thought was realized in his God. To be really Christian, he himself must become Christ.
According to the Christian Religion, Individuality, the synthesis of the Particular and the Universal, is effected only in and by the Beyond, after man’s death.
This conception is meaningful only if Man is presupposed to be immortal. Now, according to Hegel, immortality is incompatible with the very essence of human being, and, consequently, with Christian anthropology itself.
Therefore, the human ideal can be realized only if it is such that it can be realized by a mortal Man who knows he is such. In other words, the Christian synthesis must be effected not in the Beyond, after death, but on earth, during man’s life. And this means that the transcendent Universal (God), who recognizes the Particular, must be replaced by a Universal that is immanent in the World.
* * *
The history of the Christian World, therefore, is the history of the progressive realization of that ideal State, in which Man will finally be “satisfied” by realizing himself as Individuality – a synthesis of the Universal and the Particular, of the Master and the Slave, of Fighting and Work. But in order to realize this State, Man must look away from the Beyond, look toward this earth and act only with a view to this earth. In other words, he must eliminate the Christian idea of transcendence. And that is why the evolution of the Christian World is dual: on the one hand there is the real evolution, which prepares the social and political conditions for the coming of the “absolute” State; and on the other, an ideal evolution, which eliminates the transcendent idea, which brings Heaven back to Earth, as Hegel says.
It’s not more complicated than John 3:16, either you believe or you don’t, but enough of the hermeneutic shell games