News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Tugendhat Article and Interview

Monday, August 20, 2007

Tugendhat Article and Interview

I mentioned a while ago that I was reading Tugendhat's great lectures on analytical philosophy and another one on self-consciousness. Habermasian Reflections pointed me to an interview with Tugendhat, that I found interesting. I then found a link at the bottom of that to an article on religion by Tugendhat himself.

Tugendhat writes about religion and God:

As what we are dealing with is an anthropological need, I must start from a correspondingly fundamental fact. Such a fact seems to me to be the experience of contingency: people inevitably find that it does not depend on them whether they attain their goals or avoid their "ungoals". The extreme example of contingency is death. While other species live in their situation, humans live independently of their situation, related to the future. People strive for an "ever onward," an "ever more."

But this tendency is frustrated by death and contingency. The "more" seems empty, and what at first seems like sense can also be seen as senseless. People have therefore also sought another relationship to volition and time, one contrary to the first: pausing instead of striving for "ever more," abdicating the will instead of insisting. In my book "Egozentrizität und Mystik" (egocentricity and mysticism) I call this second, reflected relationship to time and volition mysticism. This word may certainly be understood in other ways. But what's important here is that this reflection, which is no longer directed at objectives but at things "in their entirety," represents a shift in natural human life, which nonetheless is not necessarily focussed on the supernatural.
I really think that Tugendhat is in a class by himself when it comes to philosphical scholars. He is not a great philosopher as are Wittgenstein and Habermas but he is a serious scholar whose work is deadly acute and relentlessly honest. The intellectual rigoro of his work is much more stringent than Habermas' who often seems to me to gloss over significant logical and grammatical problems.

1 comment:

Carl J. Spier (Washington, D.C.) said...

In the same interview, Tugendhat characterized this 'anthropological need' in such a way as to dismiss belief in God: "The supernatural is defined by there being no empirical evidence for it one way or the other. For that reason, belief in God today seems either naive or dishonest." Whether he is a 'great' thinker or only a 'serious' thinker would be rash to decide, especially in view of his own estimate of his philosophical work -- as modest.