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Nihilisme op de grens van filosofie en theologie. Een onderzoek naar de reflektie op het praktisch nihilisme bij Weischedel, Tillich en Barth

(1991) Riessen, Johannes Pieter van

This study focuses on questions about the nature and range of 'nihil', as implicated in the term nihilism. If nihilism can be seen as a still contemporary attitude of mind and as an attitude which has physical implications as well -the annihilation of man and all life on earth- then it is important to search for the epistemological, ontological and anthropological aspects, which are related to nihilism as a European tendency. Within the scope of the extensive literature on nihilism, this study wants to concentrate on both philosophical and theological questions on the aspects mentioned earlier. Two choices have been made, which, in our opinion, characterize the specific nature of this study. In the first place we formulate a heuristic distinction between theoretical and practical nihilism, the first of which is a form of systematic 'radicalization' of negation and doubt, the latter an exceptional non-ontological, existential threat. Secondly, we analyse the way in which this distinction is reflected in the negative way of thinking of the philosopher Weischedel, and in what way two European theologians, Paul Tillich and Karl Barth, reacted to crises, viz. through their studies 'De cooed om to zijn' in 1955 ('The courage to be', 1952) and 'Der Römerbrief' from the early twenties. Despite all the changes in the relation of theology and philosophy, a thorough reflection is found in both studies analysed here, which is also found in the 'Systematic Theology' and the 'Kirchliche Dogmatik' respectively. In these we also find a rational accentuation of the problem, beside the theological interpretation. Through the systematic analysis of these works it can be demonstrated that, in their theology, Tillich and Barth are acquainted with the problem of nihilism of the modern age. ...

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