Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Intellectual Life
The Copernican shift set in motion by the work of Immanuel Kant not only revolutionized philosophy, it was transformative of theology as well. The pioneering work of Friedrich Schleiermacher, who as a young man had immersed himself in the work of Kant, set forth a theological vision that both critically embraced, and moved significantly beyond, Enlightenment insights. Starting from an analysis of subjectivity greatly indebted to Kant and those who followed him, Schleiermacher analyzed the conditions of the possibility of the self’s relation to the Absolute. In doing so, he made groundbreaking claims that would influence theological discourse throughout both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries: any theological discourse adequate to its subject matter must take into account the role of the subject in its relation to the Absolute; failure to do so leads to a concept of God wholly inadequate to the reality of God, one in which God is understood as outside of, and completely other than, the subject.