Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Discussion of Daniel Walker Howe's What hath God Wrought

Over on the H-Net, they had a discussion on Daniel Walker Howe's epic What hath God Wrought, with contributions from specialists in the respective disciplines.

This discussion inspired the Mormons to have a similar statement in their journal Dialogue, which is generally pleased with Howe's overall treatment of the Mormons, noticing however its heavy indebtedness to Richard L. Bushman.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Does la longue durée function differently in technological cases?

When Daniel Walker Howe writes in What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 (Oxford History of the United States), Oxford (Oxford University Press) 2007,
Their wooden plows differed little from those used at the time of the Norman Conquest. Livestock foraged for themselves, so they bred unselectively and their manure did not accumulate for fertilizer. (p.35)
he is basically making an argument of une longue durée with respect to agricultural technique. Similarly, when Howe writes
Neither Alexander the Great nor Benjamin Franklin (America’s first postmaster general) two thousand years later knew anything faster than a galloping horse. (p.1)
he is making a transportation-related observation, pointing out une longue durée, with respect to the speed limit of conveyance.

In the general case, a statement of longue durée appears as a form of universal quantification for a specific temporal range, where a single counter example can bring down the rule. But despite the fact that this is not logically impossible, we are willing to accept the veridity of these longues durées by virtue of the fact that they seem eminently plausible.

Upon introspection into potential sources of such certainty, I find the vague notion, that if a better plow or a faster mode of conveyance had become possible, we would have heard. It would have changed the world around. We imagine that it would have provided a general with a superior striking force, or a king with an agricultural edge, that would have been exploited.

If we consider the context of the study of the species in North America, were naturalists were constantly looking for new exemplars and gathering the specimens that they encountered, it is equally possible to make statements about the range of species, because if they were found elsewhere, they would have communicated that information.

It is the pressure of such an interest in gathering information that allows us to accept universal quantification in these cases.

When did Husband start to mean spouse?

As Daniel Walker Howe observes in What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 (Oxford History of the United States) (p. 34). Oxford University Press 2007.
So many and varied were the aspects of farm labor that unmarried farmers were exceedingly rare; to operate a farm household took both a man and woman. And so the word “husband,” originally meaning “farmer,” came to mean “married man.”
That statement is a bit timeless in the way it is cast here. When exactly is that transition to be placed?

One way to approach that problem is to see how the word is used in various early Bible editions. In Tynsdale's New Testament from 1525, for example, there are 17 occurrences of "husband" in the sense of spouse (9 times "husband", and 16 times "husbande", with John 4:18 exhibiting both spellings). The NT part of the Wycliff Bible from 1395 spells the word "hosebonde" (30 times) or "hosebondis"  (11 times)---which is the earliest English Bible translation that is easily accessible.

Switching to literature then, if we look at Chaucer's Canterbury Tale, for example the Prologue of the Wife of Bath, which probably dates from 1396, we find also:
For, lordynges, sithI twelf yeer was of age \\
Thonked be God, that is eterne on lyve \\
Housbondes at chirche dore I have had fyve
Similarly, in the metric Chronicle of Robert of Gloucester, which was written between 1260 and 1300, the phrase is also attested (vv.11,300-11,303).
Euere lokede þis burgeis · wan hii were vorþ idriue ·*
Prestles hom was wel wo · þat hii nere issriue ·*
Roberd of caumpedene · þat hosebonde was on ·*
Vor he was a lute clerc · he ssrof hom echon ·*.
Given that we are now back in Middle English, I think the statement as made is misleading; the change in the meaning of the word had happened at least 500 years before the start of the era covered in Howe's book.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Trying to understand the Zion Plat

Trying to understand the ideas behind the Zion Plat description, given what is generally known about farming in the 1815s---see Daniel W. Howe, What hath God Wrought, Cambridge University Press (2007), Chapter I The Continental Setting, Section.2---or the description of Joseph Smith Sr as a farmer, is now always easy.

For the purposes of this discussion, the question of what happened to the various temples is not very interesting, though this was indubitably one of the key issues for the Mormons themselves. The focus extends to the basic infrastructure for the individual lots and houses.

The agricultural society of the times was a single-family unit of the husband and farmer and the wife, plus their children, possibly some old or unmarried relatives, and/or borders.

That unit has its house on the 2000 m2 plot that each family receives, with the tree grove in the front, the house 25 feet away from the street, and the garden in the back. Since the garden is the main source of the fruits and if at all vegetables that the family will consume, it make sense to have it close to the house. It is possible that the grove was supposed to include fruit trees as well. The garden would most likely also include a privy and the well, if the lot has one, though the commentary does not make that clear. It is also possible that workshops would be located here, such the grist mills, carding machines or the cooper shop that Joseph Smith Jr worked in when he lived on the Smith family farm on the Manchester/Palmyra line.

What is more puzzling is that the stables and the barns have been moved out and placed into the south (not, as sometimes said, the north and the south, just the south). This effectively means that the main units of transportation and mobility, the horse and the carriage or buggy are away from the house. Not only does this make transportation difficult, as the horses are possibly up to 1.41 miles away from the house (in a square plat, the max distance is the diagonal of the plat). The farmland, on the other hand, is supposed to be up north and tended by the agriculturalists. This means that the farmland is even farther than the house from the animal power that assists in the plowing.

There are some ameliorating factors to the arrangement of living. While in slightly different Indian configurations, such as the Old Southwest, a similar agglomeration of horses would have provided a very enticing target for Apaches and Comanches, the centralization also simplified supervision or even guard duties. The description says nothing about that, but it could have been the intent. Furthermore, thinking back to the anecdote of Joseph Smith Jr and Emma borrowing the wagon from Joseph Knight Sr for retrieving the golden plates of the Book of Mormon in Lucy Mack Smith's history, there was an expectation that the animals would be roaming the forest and that a considerable animal hunt might be required before being able to depart (EMD I.B.5, p.328). In such a context, the long distance could feel acceptable. Furthermore, the requirement that stables and barns are to be outside of the settlement does not prohibit one from leaving a horse in the garden over night, at least not as far as we can tell.

Another puzzlement is the absence of any locale for manufacturing, industry or shops. Admittedly, in the context of a city full of Saints, it might be unnecessary to export anything from elsewhere, and the majority of the workshops at least could fit into the yard, though that would probably not be so for the steel mills and brickyards. But taverns, general stores and specialist shops like pharmacies were well known; the Smiths had operated the one in Palmyra and the other in Kirtland, Ohio, and they were acquainted with Dr Robinson's pharmacy from Palmyra. It is unclear where they were supposed to go.

Finally, there is also no other form of connection to the economy of the larger unit, no postal roads or wharfs on a river or similar. The absence of water in the general case is a bit suspicious, but maybe they were expecting to have no problems with well-digging (as was apparently the case for Palmyra and Macedon).

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Edmund Morgan on American Liberty and Slavery

In his monumental study from 1975, Edmund S. Morgan shows how the original plan of making a collaborative, bi-racial society in Virginia, in the wake of the Lost Colony in the Carolinas was thwarted from the beginning by the lack of interest of the Indians on the one side and the English on the other side.

What came about instead was a largely land-based aristocracy of tobacco farmers that consumed huge numbers of people power to establish their crops, using indentured servants. This was necessary initially, Morgan argues, because the high levels of mortality prevented the expenditure for anything but servants paying off. These servants were commanded only through the promise of eventual liberty and treated more harshly than anywhere else in either England or the colonies.

However, as the levels of mortality declined, and the number of servants that had completed their indenture began to bolster the number of poor restless males in the colony, it behoved the tobacco growers to switch from using indentured servant labor to slave labor, which was initially mostly imported from Barbados, a country the Virginians were already sending pigs and cows to. Slave labor was more expensive initially but since the investment was now viable for a longer time, and capable of self-replication, the initial expenditure was worth the effort.

As the number of slaves in Virginia grew, the relationship between the white poor and the white rich changed, a change that was reflected in the laws of the colony, leading to working out what for all intentions and purposes was the Republican ideal of independence and equality that supported Virginia's commanding role in the protest against England and in taking over the ship of state after the successful American Revolution.

Morgan wonders at least whether the fact that the State with the highest number of slaves at the moment of independence had been such a champion of Republican liberty was not due to the fact that every day they were confronted with the view of what it looked liked to have no liberty.

Among the important literature references that Morgan makes are:

Unfortunately, the voluminous diary of Landon Carter is hard to get; I have found some excerpt, such as here or here, but the multi-volume edition was only completed in the late 1960s and thus is not available via Google Books for another couple of years.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Steven Harper on Cultural Identity in Jackson County, MI

In his Mormon Historical Study, "Overwhelmingly Democratic": Cultural Identity in Jackson County, Missouri, 1827-1833, Steven Harper sketches the state of identity in Jackson County with the arrival of the Mormons, first on their Lamanite mission, and then on their attempt to setup the New Zion near Independence, MI.

It was clear that the Jackson County residents, by democratic, meant themselves, and neither the Indians being settled nor the slaves nor the Mormons that arrived at a rate of ~400 per year, bringing their size to 1/3 between 1831 and 1834.

Harper first explains the development of the Virginian notion of slavery versus white freedmen in terms of Edmund S. Morgan's famous study, American Slavery, American Freedom, and how that conception was exported to Missouri in a way that was commented upon by Alexis Tocqueville.

The Missouri compromise ensured slavery in this part of the country, where no cheap free white labor was available for settling, as the example of Mr Shepard shows. But the "other" also made for good business: Indian trade and Indian annuities, as well as the slave trade, all contributed to Missouri's economy.

Harper is strongest where he shows that "all was not well" for the Missourians there, who experienced their frontier position, next door to the Indians, and in the aftermath of the Virginia slave rebellion of Nat Turner in 1831, put the axe and the gun into their hands as acts of self-defense as well as acts of pioneer claimant spirit.

Harper obliquely references Eber D. Howe's late recollections when asking for the compatibility of Mormonism and democracy. Harper avoids the question of how such a county could have worked (Nauvoo would have more to say about this), and whether the parallel infrastructure that the Mormons built up, with their store and their newspaper, did not have the effect of making the Mormons bad business for the Missourians.

Harper also notes how vague the call for a New Jersualem in the Americas is in the Book of Mormon.

Further Reading

shipping duties in New Orleans harbor 1815-1830

... at least for French ships, are summarized here. Notice that Light Money is a tax on the construction and upkeep of light houses.

Andrew Jackson on Land Policy in 1832 and the Manufacturers' Reply

On Tuesday, December 4th, 1832, the then-president of the United States of America, Andrew Jackson, had the opportunity to address both houses of Congress in the moral equivalent of a State of the Union address. Andrew Jackson did this in writing, which was then read before the members, and the Journal of the Senate preserves this document.

When turning to issues of the interior, Jackson addresses the problem of the public lands that had been set aside from the States for the Federal Government.
It cannot be doubted that the speedy settlement of these lands constitutes the true interest of the republic. The wealth and strength of a country are its population, and the best part of that population are the cultivators of the soil. Independent farmers are every where the basis of society, and true friends of liberty. (13)
For this purpose the public lands should be parceled out, surveyed and sold off at cost.
It seems to me to be our true policy that the public lands shall cease, as soon as practicable, to be a source of revenue, and that they be sold to settlers || in limited parcels, at a price barely sufficient to reimburse to the United States the expense of the present system, and the cost arising under our Indian compacts. The advantages of accurate surveys and undoubted titles, now secured to purchasers, seem to forbid the abolition of the present system, because none can be substituted which will more perfectly accomplish these important ends. (13-14)
Jackson is clear that the value of the land comes from the work of the settlers, "that it is their labor alone which gives real value to the lands" (14), and that by pursuing such a course the interests of the Nation coincide with the dreams of the individuals, namely "to afford to every American citizen of enterprise, the opportunity of securing an independent freehold" (14).

The enthusiasm that the US President displayed for the agricultural part of the populace was harshly criticized by the representatives of the manufacturing sector, as indicated by the documents in the appendix of the Congressional Debate records for the 22nd Congress.
That the President of the United States should, in a public document, addressed to the representatives of the whole people of this Union, peremptorily declare one part of the population by them represented better than the rest, appears to the subscribers little compatible with that equality of rights upon which our whole social system is, by them, believed to be founded. If one part of the population, parties to the social compact, is the best, it necessarily follows that another part of the same population is the worst; that there are different degrees of merit in different portions of the same population, estimated no by their moral, but by their social condition; not by their individual qualifications of virtue and understanding, but by their respective occupations and possessions (42).
The subscribers---John Quincy Adams and Lewis Condict---then proceed to interpret the "independent farmers" of Jackson's letter with the wealthy landowners of the feudal system, and from thence with slave-owning landowners of the South (43). The subscribers complained about the criticism levied against the US Bank, the refusal to fund internal improvements, the lack of protection for the output of the internal industries, "whether agricultural, industrial or mechanical", and the giving away of public lands to increase the landowners at the expense of the other members of society (43). And their counter-examples reveal that the focus of internal improvement targets the system of transportation that supports the conveying of goods of commerce.
To benefit the people, by making navigable the river or creek in their neighborhood---by bringing commerce to their doors---and by increasing the value of their property, are among the most important and most valuable services that a representative can render to his constituents. (44)
All of this is viewed in the context of the positive effects of the Constitution:
The constitution itself is but one great organized engine of improvement---physical, moral, political. (45)
The subscribers then go to show that it is their constitutional responsibility to manage the public lands properly, not to throw them away at sale prices:
It appears to the subscribers that Congress could neither give away the public lands to individual settlers, to enable them to acquire independent freeholds, or surrender them to the States in which they are situated, without a threefold violation of the constitution: …. (47)
The subscribers deem it an excellent part of the policy of the Union to welcome the useful liberty and equal rights, and honest subsistence, and the chances of affluence upon our shores; but they conceive it neither politic nor just to bestow upon them, or upon any adventurers, whether of foreign or of domestic birth, the acquisitions of the nation, made with the moneys levied upon all the people in all the States. (47
The underpinning of the problem is the continued protection of the tariffs which support the manufacturing inside the United States from the external world, which Jackson in a separate part of the letter had wanted to limit to articles needed for war.
The necessities of the nation in time of war furnish an unanswerable argument for the protection of its manufacturers---of all its manufacturers in time of peace. (51)
They [i.e. the subscribers, RCK] believe that protection, permanent protection, to the interest of domestic industry, including agriculture, manufacturers and || the mechanic arts, is a right secured to the citizens, whose property and subsistence depend upon that protection, by the constitutions itself, as well as by the laws; …. (51-52
In the end, the subscribers could not resist to point the fingers at the instigators of the stance that Jackson was taking, mainly because they had expected a stronger response to South Carolina.
Before the [State of the Union, RCK] message was delivered, a convention, assuming to represent the people of South Carolina, and to exercise, in their name, an absolute, unlimited, and, therefore, despotic power of sovereignty [sic!], had issued an ordinance, declaring and ordaining that all the several acts and parts of acts of the Congress of the United States, for imposing duties and imposts on the importation of foreign commodities, and now having actual operation and effect within the United States, where null and void, and no law, nor binding upon the State of South Carolina, its officers, or citizens. (52)
And not only was it obvious enough that this was South Carolina---and that its nullification attempts would permanently destroy the Union and thus could not be supported (53)---but that the South's economic dependence on slavery was at the root of this---which South Carolina had admitted.
The foundation of the complaints alleged by the South Carolina convention as the justifying cause of their extra-ordinary proceedings, is a collision of the sectional interests between the slaveholding and the exclusively free portions of the Union. The allegation is, that the protection extended to domestic industry, by the imposition of duties upon the productions of the like industry imported from abroad, necessarily operates to produce inequality in the burden of taxation upon the free and upon the slaveholding portions of the people, to the disadvantage and oppression of the latter … as the labor of slaves cannot be applied to manufactures, and as the agricultural products of the South derive no benefits from this protection, the ultimate result of the impost system is to make it at once a tax upon the slaveholder of the South, and a bounty to the free laborer of the North. (53)
Since thanks to a compromise with the Northern free states, the slaves are already counted in the representation of the popular assemblies, and thus have given the slave holding South the presidency and other key offices of the executive branch in the majority of the administrations (54), it strikes the subscribers as preposterous that the South Carolina assembly only now notices this imbalance. The imbalance at any rate was part of the compromise that settled the representation question in the first place.
[The compromise was, RCK] … that while the free States are represented only according to their numbers, the slaveholders are represented also for their property; and that the equivalent for this privilege is, that they shall bear in like manner a heavier burden of all direct taxation. That, by the ascendancy which their excess of representation gives them in the enactment of the laws, they have invariably, in times of peace, excluded all direct taxation [and rather resorted to duties and imposts, RCK], and thereby enjoyed their excess of representation, without any equivalence whatever. (55)
Thus, Vermont with 280,000 "free souls" has 5 representatives and 7 electors, while South Carolina with less than 260,000 has 9 representatives and 11 electors (55). What then is unfair about the uniform imposts?
All taxation is an assessment upon property---all just taxation bears some proportion to the property of the party taxed. If the rich pays a larger tax than the poor, it is not therefore a tax unequal and oppressive upon the rich. The unequal tax is that which exacts from the poor the same amount of contribution as from the rich. (57)
At two million slaves, at 300 US$ worth each, the slave-holding States are 600 million US$ richer than the free States (57), which give them 25 extra representatives and over 30 more electors.

Even the levying of imposts favors the South, as the duties are primarily on items that the Southern slaves, who from 60% of the community, neither do not receive or do not need:
Nine-tenths, at least, of all the revenue raised by impost duties are levied upon the articles of cotton, wool, and woolens, silks, flax, and hemp, iron, spirits, and molasses, wines, coffee, tea, and sugar. Now, the consumption, by any part of the slave population, of any of these articles, when imported, is exceedingly small; instead of being in the proportion of three to five in comparison with that of the free white population, it is certainly not in the proportion of one to ten. (58
If we analyze the articles upon which the great mass of revenue by impost is raised, we find it to be upon food and raiment; tea, coffee, sugar, wine, molasses, spirits, are of the first kind thus classified; wool, cotton, silk, flax, and leather, are of the second. Now, who does not know that the food and raiment of the slave are almost entirely of domestic growth and production? (58
The subscribers then explain how this report can be considered the product of the Committee on Manufacturing, and put the whole argument into a larger context of needs, protection and productivity.

A sound, uniform, and accredited currency; an inexhaustible and invaluable fund of common property in the public lands; an organized and effective application of the national energies and resources to the great undertakings of internal improvement; and a firm, efficient protection of commerce and navigation against the arm of foreign violence, and of manufacturers and agriculture against the indirect aggressions of foreign legislation and competition: these, the subscribers believe, are the cements which can alone render this Union prosperous and lasting. (59)
He [the Southern planter] is told that the tariff takes money from his pocket, and puts it into that of the Northern manufacturer. (59)
The myth dispelled, the subscribers remind their listeners that these protections are not in place for reasons of Governmental revenue.

The taxation of the country may be reduced to the wants of the Government, at whatever scale the standard of these wants may be fixed by the wisdom of Congress, without at all impairing the principle of protection. The two principles have no necessary connexion with each other; and all this bitter controversy has arisen from the blending of them improperly together. (60)
Jackson reacted to the situation in South Carolina with a statement reprinted here.

PS: Such messages of the president were accompanied by useful reports of other members of the government, such as the one by the US General post master on the total mail transported, categorized by means of transportation.

PPS: The whole issue of nullification is placed into a larger context in this digital history lesson from the University of Houston.

The Price Tags of Politics

In my ongoing search for prices to put a little meat on the financial dealings of the Mormons I have found some treasure troves too large to exploit in a single sitting.

For starters, there is the Congressional record itself, which in the debate records and in the journals of decisions mentions the odd price. The Statutes at Large, which record the actual decisions reached--e.g. duties levied on important goods in 1789---and contain records of the expenditures, such as annuities for the Indian tribes. The Journal of the Senate enumerates supporting actions---such as the elimination of navigational obstacles in the harbor of Mobile, Alabama in 1832.

Furthermore, the library of Congress has undertaken a massive project to digitize newspapers, called Chronicling America, which could use some further investigations. Many of theses newspapers came into being as part of the transformative process 1815-1848, and thus fall at the tail end of the Mormon period of investigation, but some earlier ones are present as well.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Turn Pikes, Toll Roads and Plank Roads

There is a general consensus that road construction was one of the contributing factors to the transportation transformation from the 1815 to 1848 (e.g. Daniel W. Howe, What hath God wrought, Oxford 2007, in: Introduction, loc194).

There is some good research on this:

Thursday, April 17, 2014

An Athenaeum criticism of the BoM from 1841

In this article from the Catholic English newspaper the Tablet, from April 17th, 1841, a longer article from the Athenaeum is abridged that raises some interesting criticisms of the Book of Mormon.

  • The description of the Catholic Church in 1 Nephi 13 is noted as anachronistic, paralleling Revelations 17,1-6 (which mentions scarlet). The idea is blamed on Maria Monk's forged confessions and the general Anti-Catholic sentiment this raised in 1825.
  • The mentioning of the compass in the Book of Mormon is explained by reference to the fact that the King James Version uses the expression "fetch a compass" to mean a "circuitous route" in Acts 28:13.
  • The article notes the language confusion in treating "Christ" as a name, though it is a Greek translation of the Hebrew title "Messiah".
  • Similarly, using the name of Jesus is again using the Greek form rather than then expected Hebrew form "Joshua" or "Jeshua".
  • The article notes the language confusion in Christ designating himself as the Alpha and the Omega (Revelations 1:8), which again presupposed a Greek alphabet, rather than a Hebrew one.

When Mormons were called Mormonites

In the earliest stratum of polemics against the church founded in Manchester, NY, in April of 1830 by the extended families of Joseph Smith Jr and David Whitmer, the movement was often labeled as the "Mormonites". Amongst the titles that give evidence of this are:
In the first decade of the 21st century, the term "Mormonites" has been used by Jamie A. Dennison in The Mormonites: Their Churches and Schisms (2006) to identify all sects that had splintered off the church founded in Manchester, NY, in the April of 1830. However, that approach has so far not shown any takers beyond Dennison.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

On historical statistics

Thanks to this Swedish website on historical statistics, I tracked down the Cambridge University Press published Historical Statistics of the United States (Millennial Edition Online), where I am now a member. The HSUS-MEO have good stuff, but they want $6 a table for a 48h window of usage, so I have to plan my uses carefully.

As an experiment, I looked into the monthly wages for farm laborers that received board (i.e. Table Ba4234-4234 Monthly earnings with board of farm laborers, by region: 1818-1948), and found the following information for the areas I am most interested in.

  • United States (Average?)
    • 1818: $9.45
    • 1826: $8.83
    • 1830: $8.85
  • New England
    • 1818: $11.90
    • 1826: $11.65
    • 1830: $11.60
  • East North Central
    • 1818: $8.86
    • 1826: $8.73
    • 1830: $8.73
  • West North Central
    • 1818: $10.15
    • 1826: $10.15
    • 1830: $10.15
(itself taken from Stanley Lebergott, Manpower in Economic Growth: The American Record since 1800, (McGraw-Hill) 1964, Tables A-23 and A-24, pp.257ff.)

Robert A. Margo, who contributed this information to the HSUS-MEO, writes that
For 1818, 1826 and 1830, estimates were made in 1832 by Senator John Holmes of Maine and reported by him in the Congressional Register of Debates. For certain states there are, in addition, the results of a survey in 1832-1834 on 1832 farm wages made by Secretary of State Edward Livingston, drawing on returns from many individual towns in these states (that is, 59 of 134 towns in Connecticut, 101 of 444 in Main, 109 of 230 in new Hampshire, and so forth). 
Margo used the Livingston series to compute the 1830 value, then used the Holmes series to extrapolate 1818 and 1826 values, using the census information of the 1820 census to compute weights.

The Holmes series should be either in the 1st Session or the 2nd Session of the Congressional Register of Debates.

Designing the conceptual backbone

The historical is that which is not universal and not singular. For it not to be universal, there must be a difference; for it not to be singular, it must be specific, it must be understood, for that sends us back to the plot. (p.59)  
-- from: Paul Veyne, Writing History: Essay on Epistemology, Manchester University Press, 1984
There are various parts to put together correctly when giving a historical exposition of a topic of interest, for example, the life of Joseph Smith Jr. The problem then becomes how to implement what Paul Veyne is describing. The events themselves, as drawn from the sources that have been collected and handed down, e.g. in collections such as Dan Vogel's Early Mormon Documents (5 vols), provide the record of singularities.

We have to figure out how to extract the specifics from these, to get to the "anonymous plots" (p.59), as Veyne puts it, by which he means "slavery, concubinage, intermarriages, sexual motivations in the choice of a wife" (p.59). These plots are anonymous, because the singularity that is an individual cannot be captured.
... he [i.e. the individual, RCK] will only have lost his singularity [when being separated out into plots, RCK], about which there is exactly nothing to say. (p.59)
The problem for historiography then becomes to make the plots visible that explain the historical sources---Veyne had used an epitaph to drive his example---and reconstruct them accurately. Since each event is just one bead in the necklace that is the plot, we need to come up with a story for constructing enough of the surrounding beads to make the bead in focus understandable.

While Fernand Braudel's social time, including its cyclic constructions of boom and bust, and its long duration time, with its climate and geography and natural resources, make a good start for how to get the surrounding beads in place, there are missing aspects. A specific type that is missing are long range transformation processes, such as the development of modernity itself; technical or scientific innovations; the expansion phase of an empire; etc.

Clearly these are more difficult to manage; the whole point of Braudel's temporal categories is that they can drive expectations for what to find. Rapid land transport before the rail road is the horse, for Joseph Smith Jr just as it had been for Alexander the Great (cf. David W. Howe, What God Hath Wrought: The Transformation of America 1815-1848, Prologue).

But the spread of the rail road is a transformative process, and now we need to know time and place of introduction, and we need to keep an eye on aspects such as speed, and price of transportation, and frequencies and other attributes, which develop rapidly. What to find is now difficult to answer without a lot more information about where and when. Transformation means that the line of beads is as if spliced; one line comes to its end, and another begins, though they are connected and correlated. It is the same type of bead, but there are attributes---or attribute values---that have changed, possibly for henceforth.

The connection point to Veyne's example is most easily explicable in the plot involving motivations. Transformations affect motivations, because new choices are added, old choices are eliminated, and some choices are reframed. If all slaves are freed, what does it mean to be a freedman or freedwoman? What are the new marriage options?

After-thought: In some sense, this is one of the most persistent problems of the Joseph Smith Jr apologetic or hagiographic history that comes out of BYU Studies publications and similar: They are trying to preserve the singularity. Thus, the context gets lost, and things that were common or shared become unique about JS Jr. JS Jr was lynched, like many people before the Federal level was strong enough to enforce public order pervasively. JS Jr's family was ripped off when leaving Vermont, like many people were fleeced who had been forced to accept IOYs and debt notes because of lack of cash. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Markus Buntfuss on Tillich's Aesthetic


Paul Tillich distinguishes himself by his qualities of theology, but also his ability to process his experiences and reading productively. By distinguishing between the church theologian and the cultural theologian Tillich basically described himself as hunting for traces of the Divine. Thus Tillich took material from other disciplines as heuristics for the analysis of the modern change of religion. His theory of art and perception are key for his theory of culture. The description of the problems of art and religion in the modern help each other. Art & Society (1952) asks how religious symbols could be expressed in art under the conditions of modernity. Dead symbols cannot be revived, and art cannot use forms that do not support the independent. Similar to the position of modernity in the 18th century, there is no solid tradition nor a solid form palette available. Thus a spontaneous synergy between creativity and religious sensibility can lead to new religious art. This inspirational topic, taken from the genius discussion, is coined as spiritual radicalism for Tillich. This constellation is not just illustrative, but a constitute functional role for Tillich. 

The analysis of religious modernity cannot be analyzed with the modern aesthetic. This line starts with Kloppstock in Pietismus, goes on via Herder and Schleiermacher and Lebrecht-Dewett, and Paul Tillich continues this line. But Tillich participates through rejections in this story, and thereby participates in the spirit of modernity. The avantgarde has to separate itself, esp from the bourgeois, but Tillich wants to understand how to aestheticize religion. Tillich's theory reaches back to Georg Simmel's sketches of an aesthetic religious approach. 

The aesthetic modernity and Protestant Christianity go together in the discussion. Modernity is what Tillich calls Expressionism, and begins at the End of the 19th century. Or one takes the macro-epoch, which can start with the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, or Romanticism. The terminology according to Habermas comes from the aesthetic discussion. The sense of time is modern, and there is a lost epoch and an unretrievable past; there is also an acceleration of the time experience, which are experienced as unstoppable. The claim that there is no alternative to modernity was especially an artistic claim. Only the Frontier of aesthetics is worth living at. Avantgard wanted to be ahead of the Times and prophetic leaders of society.

Tillich replicates this in the sense of rejection the bourgeois notions of art. He wanted an avantgard with a socialistic utopian streaks. The current moment, which Tillich was ready to call a kairos, was thus possibly theological. The only way of showing anything was therefore the holy emptiness. The accelerating time generated a sense for and search of alternate times; this lead to a revival of the eternity feeling. 

An expression of modern freedom is the character of the open, experimental and fragmentary work of art; because it emphasis the artistic genius. Reflexive self-consciousness permits spontaneity. This can be mapped onto the aesthetic effect, so that the receptive act becomes akin to a religious revelatory experience. Tillich calls this the Durchbruch and associates with the Boticelli painting in Berlin. The Durchbruch becomes a topos; the expressionism is tasked with fracturing the existing forms with new contents. This is indeed very modern aesthetically.

Modernity tosses out the kalistethic, so that the beauty is replaced with the investigations into the ugly, disgusting and troubling. The aesthetic of the ugly points to the experience of negativity of modernity. Alternatively, there are alternate modernities, where these contradictions are worked out and put into a relationship. The motive of aesthetic negative is found in Tillich's culture idea. This is coupled with the demonic, where the Schelling notion of Grauen blows up from the depths. There is a general ambivalence, which is prophetic-utopian and in the later works pneumatological, understood.

There is a sense of krisis, due to the radical subjectification, that points to another negativity of Modernity. The rapid changes is a complex field of structural modifications and ruptures. Simmel pointed out the identity threatening elements, and the Frankfurter Institute studied this; Adorno works out an aesthetic of this. But Tillich is anti-natural and anti-bourgeois in this context. 

Modernity is a complex dynamic of secularization and re-sacralization in aesthetics. Art and Religion as well as Kunstreligion were connected by Schleiermacher, but the Kunstreligion is also found in the modern art discourse. Is it is a replacement, or a reformulation of the confessional church into a private religion of aesthetics for the educated. Tillich rejects the Kunstreligion, because it is too 19th-century for him. The Arts have received a massive focus, so that the followers of Kant and Fichte replaced the Church with the Art. WW1 stopped this for Tillich, but that was a common historical narrative then. There were other people (Stefan George, Rainer Marie Rilke, etc ...) who saw this differently. Tillich sees Religion as the symbol for the depth structure of the Unbedingte.

Modern religion and modern aesthetic can be wrappers for Tillich's cultural religion. There is a specific affinity between them, as Schleiermacher noted. Religion loses its explanatory power for the world, and the expressions are transformed into symbolic forms, which hint toward transcendency. In the anthropological turn, the target is either the moral or the aesthetic form of the individual. Tillich worked this option out paradigmatically for the aesthetic. But under the acceleration of time, religion now needs to permanently re-actualize itself and replace its symbol palette; and the liturgical reform attempts underscore this issue. At the end is the holy emptiness, as Tillich noted.


  • FW had a moral and absolutist interpretation of Tillich; does this interact with the aesthetic approach, or are their overlaps, or do they exclude each other? The suggestion is to use a complementary explication of Tillich; take the second creator of Shaftsbury, which passes through Schelling and others through to Tillich.
  • Symbols have a dynamic, but they have a life, and they can end.
  • In the degeneration of the normative claims of dogmatics, especially when the sola scriptura breaks apart (e.g. Robert Laus (sp???) and the Psalms of the Hebrews), there is a reach for aesthetic terminology, while the autonomous art of the same time reaches for religious terminology. 


  • Markus Buntfuss, Paul Tillich und der ästhetische Diskurs der Moderne.

Erdmann Sturm Tillich and Politics


Politics as Science within the system of sciences, which for Tillich was a complex science. This means that it has a social-technical and a normative science. Social-technical are bureaucracy, diplomacy and sciences of war (all sciences of being); but the normative element is missing, and that's the input of politics and gets there from the human spirit. Politics is practical sense-founding; art is theoretical sense-founding. Social relationships are the foundation, and Tillich cites Law and Community. Community is closer to irrational and content-driven. Both are forms of the conditioned (Bedingte). The transcendending is toward the ethos, the unconditional form (Unbedingte); a Law lacking this link would oscillate between formalism and Willkür. Ethics is the science of the ethos. There is no theonomic Law or Community; but there is the possibility of a theonomic ethos. Law and Community can thus be founded in the theonomic ethos, if that possibility arises. This is squarely within the cultural theology and the sense theory (the conditional sense, here). All of this remains abstract, there are no concrete decisions.

Between 1919 and 1932 Tillich wrote on religious socialism, where he made concrete statements about the politics. Der Sozialismus als Kirchenfrage (1919) argues that Christian love rejects a society that is based on economic and political egoism; he wants a community-based society, and he glosses that as Socialism. Tillich hopes for a new world of unity; Christianity can achieve a new synthesis here by supporting this development. The Kairos circle around Tillich discussed the problem of the Utopia, since the Kingdom of God cannot be realized in this world. The Kairos is supposed to replace the Utopia, which means that a demand and an expectation appears in historical time of the Kingdom of God. The demonic is both good and bad, sense-fulfilled and sense-destroying. Within history the demonic cannot be destroyed, only identified and named and politically to be placed in check. Theonomy means that an autonomous form of sense is carried through the Unbedingte; but the autonomy term is here difficult to interpret. The socialism was no new economic system, but the Kairos explication of theonomy, the demanded and expected appearance. Tillich kept fighting against the bourgeois sentiment. Die Sozialistische Entscheidung ist the last statement, where Tillich tries to get the socialism to have a sensible notion of state and power. Democracy is a hiding place for the bourgeois; democratically it cannot be decided, who should rule. The democratic principle is not constitutive for Tillich, neither power nor social state aspects require it, but a corrective principle. Tillich thus rejected the Weimarer democratic republic. 

Reich Gottes und Geschichte is a study by Tillich presented in Oxford, where he as a Lutheran analyzes the political notion of the Kingdom of God of the Calvinistic Anglican tradition (see also Eschatologie und Geschichte of Dresden, and rejects thereby his Frankfurter socialism). The Kingdom of God is a symbol of the final sense of existence, including the final victory over the demonic powers of the Past and the Present. Christus is for Christianity the mid-point of history; he is the single kairos. There might be other kairoi, which actualize that one kairos. Tillich identifies three demons: capitalism, nationalism, totalitarianism. Totalinarism is tyranny and is judged by the union of Love and Power, which is symbolized by the Kingdom of God. Tillich attacks the religious worship for the dictator, the creation of martyrs in the strict sense; Christianity should defend liberty, autonomy, because every child is potentially a child of God. All three demons pursue the Western world into self-destruction; the kairos is the positive principle that makes sense of this development. The Church has to distinguish itself from these demons and prepare for a new existence; for the Hidden Church this means that she needs to realize the Kingdom of God---Autonomy against Capitalism, Unity against Nationalism, God-likeness against the Dictatorship. The new aspect here is it the criticism of the power, and the identification of justice as worth of humans.

"Man is finite freedom." and thus rejects all utopia. Man's freedom is connected to tragedy---a line that runs from the Greek writers to Augustine and Luther. Mensch und Gesellschaft im religiösen Sozialismus (1943) discusses whether personal creative freedom is also political freedom. Tillich wanders through literature and continents to find out that personal freedom does not coincide with political freedom. Tillich again argues against representative democracy, because there are other forms of political self-decision. These other forms, such as communes, Sowjets, societies and clans, provide potentially stronger venues for creative freedom, than democracy does. Justice demands through natural law via the essential structure of humanity that no accidental differentiator has a stronger weight than the essential nature of mankind. Tillich focuses on this justice even more ontologically in his later writing.

In his systematic writing, Tillich looks at Justice one more time, the correlation of live and divine spirit. The creative work includes the creation of society, and justice is its top-most principle. But justice has ambivalences, and these arise when justice is implemented: The Presence of the Divine Spirit and the Ambivalences of Everyday Life. The ambivalences are those of : membership, equality, leadership, and law. The injustice of ambivalence is tackled by the inclusiveness of the realization of the divine spirit in the Christian churches; no one is excluded. The exclusivity of family is overcome through friendship, and friendship through larger communities. The divine spirit fights against exclusion and against identity destruction of the community. Inequalities come into being continuously---family, school, political power struggle, discussions---but under the divine spirit all are equal. In the Divine Spirit community the equality and the inequality are united; but inequality is judged, because it cannot be used to permanently damage or obscure equality. Leadership and power are necessary to lead groups; true leadership respects the individual, but the leadership is a member of other social systems as well, and represents their interests in the present time. Within the Divine Spirit, leaders can overcome by making themselves an object of their own leadership. However, Tillich sees here only the democratic idea, not a special form of the democratic system. The civil and penal laws are also oriented toward justice, but often end in injustice; externally this is because of the authorities that create, interpret and apply the laws and express the socio-economic classes involved; the interior ambivalence is its abstractness of formulation, which makes its mapping to a concrete situation problematic. The Divine Spirit can help because it can bring theonomic quality to the justice process. Every judgement expresses the spirit of the judge. The abstractness can be overcome by the theonomic inspiration of the wisdom of the judge.

The ethos must be the basis of Law, which is a Neo-Kantian move. Theonomic law making is the working of the Divine Spirit who utilizes the prophetic self-criticism of those that are responsible for the Law. The Divine Spirit uses the Human Spirit and its power of Self-Criticism.


  • Even Bonhoeffer was unhappy with US democracy in 1939.
  • Tillich's focus on the wisdom of the judge would be replaced nowadays by the process.
  • Tillich was chief editor of a newspaper paid for the by SPD, had to be forced to be a member, and left as soon as he could.
  • The classical excuse for the intellectuals was that they would be above and outside of all parties and politics; there are studies for this for the German bourgeois by historians. Here Tillich was possibly a socio-economic reflex of Tillich's heritage.
  • Mass-democratic is an anti-hierarchical society. 


  • Erdmann Sturm, Tillichs Philosophie des Politischen
  • Prof Sturm's publication work has fronted the German and early Tillich by making all of the German Nachlass available, e.g. the lectures from Frankfurt, etc.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Angela Opel on Tillich's Aesthetic


[Image: Kandinsky, Improvisation 26, 1912, Munich, Lenbachhaus.] {{FN: Tillich used him and showed this picture, which belongs into the German expressionism, but not as much as one would have hoped.}}

Art is revelation of the last reality; art can be religious if it expresses the experience of last sense or last reality. This is handled via his notion of style. The artist makes it possible, to reveal to the observer things that were not understood, known or appreciated before. The interruption of the trusted view of the world is the goal. The aesthetic claim is that the observer needs to step into the work of art. 

Tillich's treatment of works, vocabulary and styles is ideosyncratic, which makes the reception of his take difficult for the art historians. 

In terms of language, Tillich reuses technical languages of the art historians but with a morphed sense. 

[Willem van de Velde, Ruhige See -- Holländische Schiffe gehen vor Anker, 1665-70]

Tillich couples style and motives, claiming that it expresses the theological stance of a time. Style for Tillich implies motives, but that is thinking about it the wrong way. 

[Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Straßenszene, 1913]

The expressive element is important for Tillich, which he enumerates in the styles that he was interested in, brings up the depth of the elements. He then has reasons for how this applies to each style. This differs from the art historical take on expressionism, where colors and line forms and closeness of composition. Sometimes his style claims end up being mannerisms. This skips the meaning that the distortions have. Tillich needed a religious contents which was independent of the picture contents, and chose the style. 

[Caspar David Friedrich, Der Mönch am Meer, 1810]

Only Expressionism in the sense of Tillich expresses the religious ground; but what about Caspar David Friedrich, who was looking for new ways of talking about religion, esp. the landscape. At the End of the 1910s and 1920s, there is such a plurality of geneses of styles that such approaches as Tillich's cannot succeed.

[Gustave Courbet, Steineklopfer, 1849/50]
[Louis-Robert Carrier-Belleuse, Mehlträger, 1885, Musée du Petit Palais]

Tillich has a similar problem with realism (e.g. Steineklopfer). But there is also Naturalism (Mehltäger). Idealism is an elimination of realism, by transcending the reality to improve its depiction.

[Rene Magritte, La trahison des images (Ceci n'est pas une pipe), 1929, Los Angeles, County Museum]
[Joseph Kosuth, One and three chairs, 1965, New York, Museum of Modern Art]

Tillich's work with symbol of the artist is either more or less differentiated than what the art historians do.

[Jacopo Pontormo, Kreuzabnahme, 1525, Florenz, Sta. Felicita, Cappela Capponi]
[Max Beckmann, Kreuzabnahme, 1917 New York, Museum of Modern Art]

Tillich seemed dependent on Georg Simmel, Hartlaubs und von Sydow, which saw in expressionism a restart of religion. 

[Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Strassenszene, 1913]
[Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Farbentanz I, 1930/32, Ingeborg Dr. Wolfgang Henze-Ketterer, Wichtrach/Bern.]
Tillich's approach also makes it impossible to see the development of the artists, as the comparison of Kirchner's works. 

[Paul Cezanne, Stilleben vor Kommode, 1883/1887, Munich, Neue Pinakothek]
[Fritz von Uhde, Lasset die Kindlein zu mir kommen, 1884, Leipzig, Museum der Bildenden Künste]
Tillich saw less Christian truth in von Uhde than in Cezanne, even if during his life von Uhde was a much awarded and rewarded artist, even receiving a doctorate in theology, h.c., from the University of Leipzig.

[Sandor Botticelli, Madonna mit Kund und singenden Engeln, sog. Raczynski-Tondo, 1646-1485, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Gemäldegalerie, SMPK]
This picture was very important to Tillich and had given him strength in WW1, and exposed to Tillich something akin to an revelation. 

However, a tondo must show something important (and not the kitchen); it is an devotional painting of the 16th century, since the private devotion requests these images. The fact that the Madonna shows the knees puts her very close, she looks over the audience to the distance, but the Christ child looks at the observer. The angels are in a turn-based song (left are quiet and look at observer, right are moving their lips). The look at the observer invites the observer in.

Tillich works both collage-like and fragmenting. His attempts of art theology cannot be fitted back into the art history. Thus he cannot participate in the art philosophy, and more background there would be necessary. Sometime Tillich simplifies, skips, or misunderstands, and thereby becomes ahistorical. 

[Der Deutsche Werkbund]

All art has a context. Tillich's theology of art has such a context as well. He saw pictures in the magazines in the trenches, as well as the reading of Simmel, Hartlaub und Eckart von Sydow. Already in Berlin up to 1924 does Tillich include art in his lectures.  

In the USA, Tillich lost a bit of the immediate contact to the art world, even though he lectured at the Museum of Modern Art. But there is a gap from 1936 to 1952 that Tillich basically misses, including Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Rauschenberg, etc.

Tillich helped with an exhibit of religious art at the Chicago Art Institute. He was a member of a commission in 1955 that chose 58 depictions of religious art 

[Sog. Hemstedter Crucifix, 1060, Essen Werden]

[Roy Lichtenstein, Engagement Ring, 1961.]
[Tom Wesselman, Still Life, 1963, New York Museum of Modern Art (?)] 
[Robert Rauschenberg, Inside-Out, 1962, Düsseldorf, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen]
These were some of the first times that Tillich got back into the art discussion.

[Willem de Kooning, Woman I, 1950-52]
[Willem de Kooning, Woman Accabonac, 1966]
Tillich wants depictions of something, and this is supposed to be the ungrounded.
Tillich also did not statues, because he could walk behind it, which he thought was not what happened in old Greek Temples.
Tillich did not want to see people objectified. 

[Naum Gabo, Spiral Theme, 1941, London, Tate Modern]
[Jackson Pollock, Number 1, 1948, New York, Museum of Modern Art]
Tillich never discussed abstract art, with the exception of this work by Gabo, which Tillich chose to explain some of his types. 

A synthesis of holy and profane is a helpful stance, even if Tillich was insufficiently versed as an art historian to participate in these discussions. 


  • The Werkbund noticed that the objects are neither useful nor aesthetic, which William Morris and the arts & crafts movement brought up after the first Weltausstellung. Design wants functional things that are aesthetically satisfying, which helps the person in their self-development, and they need to be affordable (esp. Morris). The Neue Sachlichkeit argues that ornamentation that is non-functional is ethically wrong.
  • Tillich saw his efforts as an integrative effort, because he wants to be pedagogical that show this spread across the disciplines. He knew that he was reaching across the boundaries, and it is effective and changes its perspectives; an approach that Tillich used for his systems.


Angela M. Opel, Von Botticelli zum Expressionismus ... und fast bis zur Pop Art: Paul Tillich, Bild-/Werk und Kontext.

Michael Murrmann-Kahl on Falk Wagner's Tillich Interpretation


Falk Wagner had tackled the Tillich Problem in his Munich Antrittsvorlesung of 1972 (= Absolute Positivität: Das Grundthema der Theologie Paul Tillichs), which is both an interpretative key for Tillich as well as for Falk Wagner. Both share a basic impulse to construct a cultural theology based on the notion of spirit.

FW felt close to Paul Tillich and he wants to give the key to the interpretation. Apparently there is a basic structure to Tillich's theology, and FW wants to present it. There is an asymmetric relation between the Unbedingt and Bedingt; there is not absolute form that can exhaust the contents of the independent. Tillich argued that theology cannot be a sister of Culture, but must be embedded into Culture. Tillich's idea of Sense and Autonomy is one that is final and wont turn itself infinite; theonomy is saving the individual from this. FW applies this matrix as modern cultural theology, and gets the pneumatology into the focus, because that is where relationships and society come in. The constitution of the self-reflexivity requires an absolute external. Tillich is trying to overcome the self-reflexive aporetic situation, because the self cannot presuppose itself for the explication. This explains the focus on the alienation, which tackles the self-setting of the self-constitution. Jesus as the New Being is a self-reflexive consciousness is capable of transcending the finality.

Tillich receives no criticism of Falk Wagner, which means that FW agrees. But 1.5 years later in the Religionsbuch tackles FW the intended divine ground as being independent of the dependent. However, all talk about the independent takes its departure from the human; and this tries Tillich to escape by focusing on the ontology. But the start from the independent can only succeed, if the infinite contents and final forms can be held. FW agrees with the start from independent, but sees Tillich accepting a unfounded focus on the ontological prior. The religious consciousness talks about the independence, but that does not constitute it. Religion is a transcending of the other cultural systems, but the ontological problem means that FW cannot follow Tillich here. The premise is never shown to be the case. FW felt that his work up to 1988, with its trinity conception, supported a better premise, even if the pneumatological work-out agrees. Here, FW puts out his Hegel against Tillich's Schlegel.

FW later tackles the problem of Tillich's creation theory, if sin and freedom coincide. Creation and Christological foundations to social ethics are impossible, as Tillich showed. Since the ground of being must be subjected to humanity, Jesus of Nazareth expresses in the Christ to the negotiated freedom that replaces the Titanic freedom of God vs Man. FW then agrees with Tillich, that the Christological freedom reconstitutes it for humanity. Religion cannot become a separate sphere; religion is rather supposed to be inside of moral and ethics, which checks the absolutism of human cultural shapes and efforts. FW interprets Tillich's pneumatology as working in the world. But Tillich cannot differentiate between successful versus unsuccessful cultural actions.

Now looking from Tillich at FW, there is the question of whether FW's approach is sufficient. To propose the theme for someone like Tillich who kept reworking his terms seems impossible; thus FW's approach is more friendly than the present can be. The increase of sources shows this even more (and were not available to FW). FW's Tillich interpretation requires the aporetic of the self-explication of the self-referential consciousness in the tradition of Fichte. Gunter Wenz for example denied such a connection. And Dieter Henrich's paper on Fichte on which FW based his work has been followed little since then. Thus, whether Fichte & Henrich can help explain Tillich must remain open.

Tillich's theory of sense is replaced by a logical-categorical speculations of Hegel. But this system of logic became questionable to FW during his Viennese time, and that torpedoes the Tillich criticism, and maybe the intention of the sense can be reconstituted.

Culture must transcend itself, and needs an internal criterium to separate the successful from unsuccessful cultural constructions.

Tillich's historical changes are lost under the FW reconstruction.

What are models where FW's or Tillich's can take place? Tillich has the model of a kairos-motivated avant garde. Wagner wants the model of the Protestant academy, where the reflexion of individuality and society can be done. In consequence, they want the special religious sphere of morale and ethics to go away. A realization of Christian religion without the churches seem impossible, thought, as the EKD Study #5 indicates. The walk outside the church skips the problem that religious communication needs to have its own place, in order to be applicable in non-Church contexts.


  • The fracturing of God into the three reasons--pure, practical and judgement--repeats with Habermas due to the criticism of the dialectic of Enlightenment, that the three reasons are no longer combinable.
  • Tillich's global theory of religion means that it cuts across all the transcendentials.
  • Ansbacher Anschlag and God using the NSDAP to pursue their purpose
  • Tillichs Ergriffensein vom Unbedingten is both wide to be applicable across the differentiated systems, but is not specific enough to distinguish success from failure. Just transcendending cannot be qualified.
  • Tillich in 1932 (right after the Preussenschlag) argues strictly against NSDAP for the mythology of foundation and blood & soil and the use of force. Unfortunately Tillich leaves the blood & soil rooted. Thus he calls the democracy of Weimar a pseudo-democracy. He wants mythology to be fractured, but not eliminated, by the prophetic stance. The Dresden kairos term could have been used to sort out the NSDAP reaction because the Christus as central point of history; the prophetic principle by itself could have also been utilized in this context.


Michael Murrmann-Kahl, Falk Wagners Tillich-Interpretation als Schlüssel zum Verständnis seines Werks.

  • Falk Wagner, Metamorphosen des Protestantismus (1999).

Martin Fritz on Tillich's anthropology


Apologetical effort of showing that Christian belief is plausible and sensible. With Kant the idea of the proof of existence of God was rejected; so Schleiermacher pointed toward religion as a sensible stance. Tillich turned to anthropology in the late 1920s, which caused theory structural adjustments.

Tillich always felt the apologetic aspects as very important, organized Vernunftabende to practice; after WW1 the spirit and sense religious philosophy. Cultural acts is a sense act; which presupposes meaningfulness; which points back to the sense of sense. This all is a "silent belief" (schweigende Glaube) that is religious belief or Religion. Contradictions or rejections of sense would make life impossible.

When Tillich then turns to anthropology in the 1920s, and starts small with the occasional showing up of the term "Mensch", then an investigation into the being of Man. By 1930 there is a lot of talking of humanity, human existence; "Mensch" is described as transcending the mere existence. The anthropology influences how law, economics, science and culture should be considered. In the USA, from 1934-35, Tillich worked in eight lectures about this issue.

1927/8 was the time Max Scheler's Stellung des Menschen im Kosmos & Helmut Plessner, started the new philosophical anthropology. Tillich however does not appear to have read Plessner. 1934 Tillich demanded a translation of Max Scheler's book into the English language. All empirical of Scheler is not interesting to Tillich, and he worries about their revocability. But there are other sources, for example Heidegger's Sein & Zeit, which seems to have impress Tillich heavily. Heidegger's ontology wants to find Being via the human being; but Tillich only took over some of the great lines at most. For Tillich Heidegger is part of the existence philosophy---Marx, Freud, Schelling, Kierkegaard, Dilthey, Simmel. Tillich had already included Schelling and Kirkegaard, thus often there is a relabeling, even if motives come across.

In the main, Tillich's anthropology has multiple motives. There is the idea of the krisis of the modernity, endangerment of humanity through technical processing of all living and dead, akin to the way Troeltsch worried about rescuing the soul from the mechanization. Here belongs the often-quoted Ludwig Klages, who saw an opposition between spirit and soul; Scheler had a more integrative tack here. There is a general Anti-Cartesianism, which is used to argue against the distinction of the dualism of soul and body. The In-der-Welt-Sein model couples across that dualism for Heidegger. A new human image what can fight dehumanization is worked out in terminology of the lectures in his 1930s. Tillich will write "Der Mensch ist endliche Freiheit." to avoid any labeling and dehumanization.

The attempt, to show the vital against the mechanization, causes in the end for Tillich an endangerment of spirit, because the union of the vital and the spirit is thus problematic (and Scheler and the Gestaltpsychology had offered solutions here). This will result in the combination of vitality and intentionality in the Systematic Theology. But Tillich seemed to grow unhappy with the cultural theology of his earlier years, because Religion is not restricted to sense, but also locatable in being; man is not just cultural, but also animal. Scheler and Heidegger allowed Tillich to excavate a deeper foundation, by analyzing the basal structures of the being of man, instead of just the analysis of the human spirit. The Religious is now locatable in all parts of existence, in "daily life", not just the sense-parts. 

How does Tillich put all of this together? The nucleus is "Im Menschsein erhebt sich das Sein über sich selbst." It is freedom from mere being. Which is taken from Scheler, in the term of the world-openess. The environment is transcended toward the world by the human being, by inserting it into the model of the world. This causes a separation of the self and the world, which the human can analyze. The human has an interest in the being, and is a pressing issue. But these questions can miss the world, which is the price of freedom. Humans are essentially freedom, but existentially it is alienation, subjection and force. This process allows the transformation of old terms of the Reformation into a new space of meaning. The essential term is an ideal, which we need to compare to the real. Especially noteworthy is the combination of philosophical and theological; the philosophical wants to rescue the spirit and the humane in the essence; but in the existence, all aporetic aspects of life are checked for their religious possibility. Thus, the idea of salvation becomes anthropologically understandable for all. Because the idea of the finality is essentially transcended with the idea of infinite, but existentially unavailable. This is very similar to the structure of meaningfulness and sense earlier. This stretches the worry from the non-sense, to the non-existence, in its expressiveness. All these worries express the finality of humanity.
The scheme of existential questions and Christian answers is a pattern that Tillich began working with at the beginning of the US exile. 

The widening and restructuring of the approach is clear in its apologetic structure, its Anschlussrationalität. This is generated by intuitive introspection---this is the phenomenological inheritance. By iterating through the aporetic conditions, Tillich identifies the plurality of needs for salvation, which the symbols can then be used to respond to (with the correspondence approach). Thus, Christianity can answer questions that have actually been asked, not such that no one wants to hear about. This allows inner religious evidence as well.
The problems with the correlation approach are serious, however.
  • The phenomenological inheritance is too problematic. 
  • There is a laziness of explanation of Tillich does not help; even though it is supposed to be concrete, the vocabulary remains abstract. The elder Tillich is even less interested in explication.
  • There are also traces of systematic destruction, where Tillich brings the old terms without integration; especially the question-answer scheme remains external.
Tillich's anthropology needs but deserves explication (such as the book of Martin Fritz, as the speaker notes), and can open up new vistas on the Systematic Theology. The aporetic approach is helpful, without pinning the human onto a sinful state (as Adorno argued), but rather accepting the problems that life brings. The hermeneutic circle of correlation is admitted by Tillich, but the plurality of sources from the history of philosophy lessens the Christian dependency. Clearly, if Christianity is about salvation, then the sketches of the need for salvation must be plural and multi-focal.  


  • There is a question of whether Tillich finds integration in Scheler, who might also be more dualistic; and whether Tillich is not closer to Jaspers than to Heidegger, and criticizes Heidegger from the position of Jaspers. But that would require more detailed analysis.
  • Maybe Tillich is more experimental, so that dimensions of the finality can be probed and analyzed. However, the Symbol comes from the Sense part of the phase; and there are indeed analyses of finality, as a theory of finality eventually.


Martin Fritz, Hier muss vollkommen umgelernt werden: Paul Tillichs Hinwendung zur Anthropologie.

Jan Rohls on Tillich and Dialectic Theology


Tillich in WW1 was shocked by the social gaps between the officers and the soldiers. He thus became a socialist in the political sense afterwards; he referenced his Christentum und Socialismus talk. He did not equate socialism with the existing parties, but was looking for the best current expression. Capitalism and Nationalism need to be overcome.

1919 in Berlin he was working on a theology of culture, which he presented at the Kant Society. How do the religions functions relate to cultural functions. The cultural functions have a religious sub-element, which caused fractures of the form. From this religious socialism position, Tillich could only reject the Tambacher talk of Karl Barth ("the Swiss guys")---the concept of God being the biggest problem. Tillich gave a counter-talk in Berlin later, which argued that Christianity and Socialists need to be shown to be coupled in a conceptual way. The Swiss approach was for Tillich to Calvinistic as powerful might and world-destroying appearance of God. This was too much like Cromwell for Tillich. Either, the Predestination or the Justification needs to be the contact for the Unbedingte. The justification as a yes-and-no supercedes for Tillich the majesty-approach of the Swiss cavinists.

Tillich visited Hirsch and Barth and Göttingen. Barth was not consistent but religious, Tillich consistent but pagan. 1923 discussion with Barth and Gogarten, were Tillich wants the position of negation to be seen. Tillich agrees with the dialectical approach. Theology of crisis a la Barth, but misses an element of crisis, because the line of revolutions is itself not revolutionized. The dialectic has found a positive spot to reconstruct the dialectical process--which is a trick. The critical paradox points back to a dialectical paradox. The dialectical position is itself subsumable of the "no", thus requires a "yes-and-no" for his position, which puts him into the requirement of Justification. Grace without judgement is impossible, other than Barth has it. Neither nature nor the spirit can be seen as completely negative (which is against Hirsch' ethical position). Neither can autonomy per se be problematic, as the dialectic requires for its explication the autonomy of the theologian.

The dialectic attack on the objective absolute is completely acceptable and to be supported; but there still remains a position that has to be taken to launch that attack. Similar is true for history; because the dialectical "revelation of the krisis" is historical as well. Thus only Jesus of Nazareth is one historical position that is permitted; which gives a positive paradox. The empirical fact is thus only a reference. The dialetical theology is thus a moment, a necessary moment, but not as the final statement of theology.

Barth sees Christ as the positive paradox; for Tillich, says Barth, this is not so.

1924 Tillich goes to Marburg, where he encounters the "New Orthodoxy" as he later called it. In Marburg was it Bultmann and Heidegger, who represented it. Tillich and Bultmann discussed Tillich's talks Zweifel und Rechtfertigung. The dialetical theology is still praised by Tillich, esp. the Commentary of Romans. Tillich ties Barth back to the Blumhardts and Ragaz and Swiss Socialism. But Barth and Gogarten put all movements of the judgement, the permanent "No" of God to all human doing.  Barth preserves the majesty of God which cannot be filled; only the separation of the Sin is available to the creature. Autonomy is always objectionable, whether with Goethe, Idealism or Romanticism---the krisis eats them all. History is all human. The revelation replaces the religion with Barth, because it is unexpected, and God breaks into the world across the separation. Even faith is impossible for the human and comes from the revelation.

Tillich rejects the solo-No, because the truth of that "no" is "yes" to that truth. Single-sided negation is impossible, thus each dialectical position requires some small acceptance. The revelation does not be isolated, otherwise it is temporally contingent. This would eventually play into the hands of orthodoxy.

1929 Tillich replaced Max Scheler. 1933 Barth and Tillich discussed the SDP in letters. Tillich supported the Bekennende Kirche, but still rejected Barth's and the dialectical theology. Tillich had a hard time to show that he was neither orthodox nor dialectic to the Americans. In order to be dialectic, Barth would have to be yes and no; the paradox is good, but the supranatural is weakening it and unhelpful. The independence of God in Barth's theology prevents a dialectic. The mystic is wrong, because it postulates a commonality of the divine spirit; the liberal theology,  a commonality of _______. Barth rejects all other forms of theology as well and all religious philosophy. Humanity means the separation, not a possibility of seeing God; Barth plays down the historical importance of New Testament research work.

Tillich sees that the safe-keeping of the majesty God as supra-natural torpedoes the dialectical effort. The safe-keeping itself should be dialectic, then. This explains to Tillich why the old friends of Barth---Gogarten, Brunner, Bultmann---all went elsewhere with their efforts. Barth must be nominalist, and he must focus on the contingency of the double-predestination. Bultmann and Brunner go for anthropological constants, with Brunner either dogmatically (with Gogarten), or Bultmann with Heidegger. Tillich goes farther and attributes the asking for God as a base-revelation of God.

Tillich focuses on Barth in his analysis of the dialectical theology, which he eventually called pseudo-dialectical. Tillich saw a turn in 1940, when Austria was annexed and the fight against the NS had become necessary. Barth was now fighting against the NS directly, not against the Gleichschaltung der Deutschen Kirche. This revokes the rejection of religious socialism.

By 1948, the victory of the neo-orthodoxy was obvious to Paul Tillich, when Tillich was visiting with Germany.


  • Bultmann and Brunner go for anthropological constants, with Brunner either dogmatically (with Gogarten), or Bultmann with Heidegger. Tillich goes farther and attributes the asking for God as a base-revelation of God.
  • The Barth of 1920 would have never agreed to a democratic state from a theological point of view; by 1940 that becomes obvious.



Jan Rohls, Paul Tillich und die dialektische Theologie.

Stefan Dienstbeck on Tillich's Late Work


The criticism of Tillich's late work was always that the earlier take on the sense was helpful, but the sense of the Being in the ontology seems like a lapse back to before his own work; esp a re-metaphysical approach.

Early on Tillich had rejected the combination of truth and being. Truth is always correlated with thinking, which means recognition of truth. Truth can there not be objective, since concrete cannot be the absolute (an early and lasting distinction).

But the "Sein-Selbst" (Being as such) can come back in the 1960s in the Systematic Theology; this association with God in an unmediated form is not only a loss of symbolism, but rather comes across as a metaphysical Setzung. The Being of God is however not a subsumption among other forms of being; thus the relationship between Being and Being-as-such is necessary. Because an analogia entis would be problematic, while a word relationship would be ok.

Unfortunately Tillich allows both interpretations in his late writings. Tillich wants to cast God as a structure of being (I, 276) and supports the analogia entis (I, 278) directly. However, if one returns to the earlier phases of Tillich's thinking, then insights are possible.

Typologically there are other views of Tillich: 1919 he provides an idealistic stance, with thetical expressions and no doubtful statements. One principle of thinking should still allow difference; abstract and concrete need synthesis for its realization in absolute. The process is not visible in this way; there are only singular moments of stability. 

When writing to Emanuel Hirsch, however, doubt begins to tackle the unangefochtenen Wahrheitsbegriff, it is not removable from the life of the spirit (1917). Doubt must extend toward the idea of theology itself. The new starting position is the individual subject as the doubting person. The doubt is unstoppable and reaches all sense; doubt accompanies all individual actions, including belief and trust. Doubt becomes the mode of faith. Faith is no longer supported by an external absolute, and the individual has to describe the process of justification by themselves. Sense comes around by jumping into action in spite of doubt. 

After truth and sense as the basis of the systemic foundation, the modus of observation shifts. Tillich stays faithful by changing the perspective, but keeps the object constant. The perspective comes from the meta-theory of the system Tillich is designing. The theme does not change, it is always explication of the absolute and the concrete, under the perspective of the concrete. The target then is the possibility of theology at all; Tillich is a thinker of principles, even though he works it out in the context of concrete issues. If the topic is not clear and obvious, then a multi-faceted approach of perspectivity is necessary, since a perspective always focuses on some parts and does not show others. Only abstraction and complexity reduction can project the totality, with a loss of concreteness.

The idea of the moment is one way in which way the dynamicity is handled; the slice of reality gives an impression, but never catches the entirety of the process. The lack of objective capturing of the reality is implicated in this problem. The plurality of moments supports their relativity; but the individual moment is true, because the relativity is included and externally forwarding in its self-restriction. The principle is always visible in every form; truth is one view, an absolute one; sense is another, a concrete one. The aporetic tendencies however slosh along with the model. By seeing the systems as expression of these perspective moments pushes those aporetics out of the system analysis. Each system is relative, as is then to be expected, yea, unavoidable. (The issue of a meta-system does not arise, since that is not processable in relative form.)

Symbols are pictures of the absolute, but since these are tied to the systems, and thus relative. Systems are symbols in this sense too, because they are equally relative and attempts at depict the absolute. Since the Non-Depictable cannot be captured, the same modernization problems of temporary stability apply here as well. The absolute-per-se is not reachable; otherwise it would be a mere caricature.

In the third phase, which corresponds to the relationship between the abstract and the concrete, the Being-as-such and Being are related. The conditions of experience are apriori, and the ontological concepts belong here as well. However, apriori is just as relative as the other perspectives, and could be superceded. Kant was here looking for stable categories, Tillich wants to eliminate the absolute status of the ontological. 

Tillich wants a metaphysical theory of being, because he is concerned about extending the access patterns. The self-reflexive principle is to be universalized, so that the human concreteness is superceded, and extended to all being as such. The ontology brings the plan to include in the entirety of being. Again symbols are supposed to do the work, except for the Being-as-such.

Tillich is trying to synthesize the abstract and the concrete, then the Being-as-such must be an expression of the absolute (which differs from the absolute from the 1st system). The Being-as-such does two things: it is both abstract (see first system), but also the absoluteness (see the third system). Being-as-such also is now a symbol for itself, which may be what Tillich meant with saying it required no symbol. The oscillation comes from the systemic moments, even if not everything works out in the details.

Tillich is therefore pursuing transcendental theology; the Unbedingte is a non-grounded ground, the Being-as-such becomes an objective projection of the absolute via the symbol. The separation of absolute and the symbol allow relative but truthful expressions of the absolute. Thus there are moments of truth that make up the speech of religion.

Clearly this is a systematization, not a plan of Tillich; he may not have noticed this, and definitely did not do this consciously. 


  • Unlike Hegel, there is no absolute spirit anymore, only in perspectives; the flow of the system survives, but not the idealistic goal that has been reached. The system is a moment and an approximation, not expression itself. In that sense, he is more modern maybe then Hegel.
  • The three phases are very well understandable; but the explication of the absolute as the theme is too wide and too large, since any theologian would have claimed that. 
  • In Tillich's 1927 Eschatologie und Geschichte, the Being and the Sense are sibling terms; and this keeps recurring through-out the late work. But Tillich keeps old terms around, he just re-fills their contents, e.g. das Unbedingte from System #1. 


  • Could Tillich have saved himself System #3 if he had just chucked the creation? Is the extension to Being-as-such only there because he is not happy with the reduction to the relationship between the self-reflexive concrete.


Stefan Dienstbeck, Von der Sinntheorie zur Ontologie: Zum Verständnis des Spätwerks Paul Tillich.