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Schleiermacher: On Religion: Speeches to its Cultured Despisers (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy) Paperback – April 26, 1996


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Product Details

  • Series: Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy
  • Paperback: 130 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (April 26, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521479754
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521479752
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #281,242 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

."..a superb new edition and translation of the original-and most forceful-version of Friedrich Schleiermacher's Uber die Religion, the volume which is sometimes taken as a new starting point for modern religious thought." Journal of Theological Studies --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Hermenaut on April 29, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book, written by Schleiermacher in 1799 at the height of his involvement with the early German Romantics, was considered one of the most provocative and intriguing reads of its day. It continues to be read today because it retains that provocative and intriguing character. In an attempt to respond to Enlightenment critiques of religion, Schleiermacher creates an entirely novel manner of thinking and speaking about religion. In this book it is possible to see the beginnings of his creative and controversial move to ground religion, not in metaphysics or morals, but rather in feeling (or what he later will call immediate self-consciousness). The ripples of this move are still apparent in Protestant theology today. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in tracing the development of modern theology back to its roots. The Crouter translation is particularly good, and it expertly renders the 18th-century language into fluid, clear prose.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Kelly M. Cooper on July 31, 2000
Format: Paperback
I was required to read this book for a class and was completely blown away by it. Schleiermacher's concept of the spiritual nature of the world is immensely poetic and is the most beautiful depiction that I have read to date. His discussion of the idea of "cultural constructs" caused me to re-think many aspects of my own life, and the way that society and culture affect our daily living. I often reflect upon his words when I am swept up in the masses in the city. The beauty and joy that he expresses in life and the idea of truly living are splendid. In an era where religion and spirituality are all too much neglected, Schleiermacher causes us to think of why we think the way we do, and what the root of that thinking might be. His work could be considered a handbook for those who follow a mystical tradition, and his grace in manipulating the written word often rivals that of St. Augustine in his "Confessions." I believe this to be one of the most important and one of the most beautiful theological works for spiritually curious readers, as well as theological scholars.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Rizal Halim on June 19, 2005
Format: Paperback
In this book, Schleiermacher wanted to revitalize the idea that human feeling is absolutely dependent on God. One who reads history in his era will find that something had disappeared from religious life because of subjective rationalism. I assume this is exactly the reason for Romantic movement. In the view of Friedrich Schleiermacher, romanticism was a movement of the rediscovery of feeling as the essence of religion. Feeling is the key idea of how someone internalizes the values, morality, and even the idea of God within himself.

For Schleiermacher, science and knowledge which is based on rationality could not explain the essence of religion. Religion has nothing to do with the knowledge of nature. The knowledge of God, on the contrary, could not be understood in the frame of `cause and effect.' Religion always related to the infinite thing, and in order to understand it, one must use immediate feeling. Schleiermacher said, "to seek and to find this infinite and eternal factor in all that lives and moves...and to know life itself only in immediate feeling-that is religion." Schleiermacher denied science because it could not bring out the contemplation of the infinite. Science or knowledge of religion is not religion itself, and it obviously, cannot be, possibly on the same level with feeling or the contemplation of religion.

It is very clear in his book that Schleiermacher wanted to put science and morality underneath religion. One could not understand any thing without religion. As a result, morality and all ethical systems have no meaning without religion. Briefly, it is impossible for a person to be moral or scientific without religion.

After subjugating science, morality and even art, Schleiermacher redefined religion and its relation to the universe.
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Schleiermacher's On Religion is a reaction to those scientifically minded folk who were carried away by the spirit of the "enlightenment" and felt that they must do away with religion. These "cultured despisers" are exactly the audience S had in mind when writing this piece. To get his point across, he demonstrates how his notion of religion has nothing to do with the empty superstitions with which religion is being charged. His argument is that whatever the despisers think is "religion" is simply a straw man that they themselves have constructed.

Schleiermacher contends that true religion arises when one has an "intuition and feeling of the infinite." This is an experience that lets the individual realize that they are a part of something far greater than his or her self. This intuition would be akin to the color red realizing that it was simply just one infinitely small sliver of the rainbow. It is hard here to conclude whether this is some sort of mystical experience or if it is more logically mediated. I should note that S's lofty, romantic tone tends to blur this distinction. Whatever it may be, he goes on to state what it is not.

What religion is not are metaphysics, ethics and social power structures. These, he writes, are the true enemies that the despisers are confronting and not this "intuition." He goes as far as to write that religion is not even something that can be linguistically delineated at all. Again, this may be in reference to a religious experience, but is probably suggesting something like recognizing both the immanence of infinity and then the absurd consequences of infinity. For example, individuality gets blurred to zero when considered in an infinite group.

I mostly find this notion of intuition to be troublesome.
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