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The Spiritual Situation in Our Technical Society

Edited by: J. Mark Thomas
Product Code: P064
ISBN: 9780865542938
Product Format: Paperback
Availability:Not currently available.
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Price: $35.00

For Paul Tillich three powerful spiritual forces determine our contemporary situation: science, technology, and capitalism. Culture, as he understands it, is the form of religion and religion is the substance of culture. From this perspective our contemporary “situation” inherently manifests religious and ethical dimensions. Tillich’s mediating theology requires an understanding of religious symbols and of the contemporary world to which they speak. According to J. Mark Thomas, “Doing theology today without an understanding of the dynamics of our technological era would have been, for him, impossible.” Tillich’s essays in this volume span a period from 1927 to 1964. They include several types of documents, some previously unpublished and some translated into English for the first time. In spite of differences in time and place, Tillich’s thoughts remain relatively consistent from the earliest works to the latest. In parts I and II of this collection, Tillich explores the relationship of science to society, the university, and other realms of knowledge. He discusses the contemporary world situation and its loss of “religious depth.” This “lost dimension,” or loss of depth, and our “horizontal” progress through time reduce man and nature to the level of tools and put in peril our ability to question the meaning of life. Science and technology have always conflicted with religious and spiritual understanding. The ways that science and religion are conceived and misconceived as modes of cognition is the subject of parts III and IV. These essays point out the confusion and absurdity that arise when scientific method is applied to religious symbols. Science does not conflict with religion because religion operates at the level of meaning and symbole, not at the level of tangible object and conclusion. Tillich examines the misapplication of scientific thought that leads to the objectification of humanity and that threatens the “personal” itself. The fifth and final section explores the ambiguities of science and technology. The ability of our technical to enhance or destroy life on this planet is explored in terms of our conquest of space and our nuclear capability. In spite of the potential for destructiveness in technical science, Tillich sees the necessity of freedom in science and opposes any restriction on its pursuit of truth. Tillich calls us to understand and put in context the determining structures and decisive trends of our culture. The ambiguity surrounding science, technology, and capitalism places before us limitless possibilities for good or evil. In the face of mankind’s loss of religious depth, Tillich sees humanity’s struggle with the contemporary situation as a positive sign. Where there is questioning, there is hope and the possibility of transcending the destructive aspect of our technological generation. J. Mark Thomas earned his Ph.D. in Ethics and Society from the University of Chicago and is presently teaching at Beloit College in Wisconsin.
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