View Full Version : Paul Johannes Tillich

Mac Seafraidh
Saturday, January 8th, 2005, 08:36 PM
© 1976 by German Information Center,
410 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10002 The Protestant theologian and philosopher, Paul Johannes Tillich (born August 20, 1886 in Starzeddel, Brandenburg) "holds a special position in American Protestant thought, due to the originality and depth of his theological thinking. He and the brothers, Richard and Reinhold Niebuhr, are mainly responsible for the renewal of interest in Christian thinking in America." (Laura Fermi, "illustrious Immigrants")

Tillich was an intellectual influence on two continents until the age of 80 and was even known in Japan. Time Magazine stressed that he was not only respected among his colleagues, but that "his name was better known among laymen than that of any other contemporary theologian. His lectures in America were oversubscribed, and his books (he wrote more than 20) were sold in paperback editions into the hundreds of thousands. . There was good reason for this, because Tillich was untiring in his efforts to relate theology to the issues of our time".

"In order to accomplish this, Tillich had to live on the boundary between the holy and the profane", Dean Jerald Brauer of the Divinity School of the University of Chicago explained. He was preoccupied for many years with coming to terms with the concept of boundary, which was the topic of his acceptance speech in the Paulskirche in Frankfurt on September 23 1962 on the occasion of winning the Peace Prize of the Association of German Publishers and Booksellers. He spoke on the border between religion and culture, between theology and philosophy and, in a personal sense, between two continents.

Tillich was ordained in 1912 as pastor of the Lutheran Church in Halle, having completed his degree a year before in Breslau. During World War I, he served as a field chaplain. Among the dying soldiers, he often asked himself whether the God of the Bible still existed.

After the war, he taught at the universities of Berlin, Marburg, Dresden, and Leipzig. In Berlin he met the woman who was to become his second wife, Hannah Werner, who later described her life with Tillich from Berlin to Chicago in her autobiography, "From Time to Time." In 1933, while on the faculty of Frankfurt University, he published the book, "The Socialist Decision". He later remarked with a certain pride, "I had the honor of being the first non-Jewish professor to be expelled from a German university."

Tillich came to America with his family at the invitation of Reinhold Niebuhr, who was intellectually close to him. His first position was as a member of faculty of Union Theological Seminary in New York. In 1954, he received a call from Harvard, which honored him by conferring upon him the unusual title of University Professor. After 1962, he taught at the University of Chicago.

He subsequently also taught at the New School for Social Research in New York, where he met many friends from Germany. He counseled his classes, "Preserve your integrity and have the courage to say no, even when society exerts strong pressure on you..." Tillich repeatedly demonstrated his courage to say no, and he had the intellectual equipment for convincingly substantiating his reasons for saying no. Tillich died on October 22, 1965, in Chicago. At funeral services held at the University of Frankfurt, Max Horkheimer said, "Whoever associated with Paul Tillich experienced true friendship. Those who had anything to do with him knew that the coloration of his voice and his gestures, reminding one of theology or of a pastor, knew it was not superficiality or routine but was the true expression of this thinking and aspirations."


Mac Seafraidh
Saturday, January 8th, 2005, 08:41 PM



TILLICH, Paul Johannes (1886-1965), German-American philosopher and theologian. Tillich was born in Starzeddel, Brandenburg, Germany, on Aug. 20, 1886. He was the son of a Lutheran pastor. Tillich studied theology at the universities of Berlin, Tubingen, and Halle. In 1912 he was ordained a minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church and served as chaplain in the German army during World War I. From 1919 to 1933 he taught at several universities, including the university at Frankfurt am Main, from which he was dismissed because of his opposition to the Hitler regime. In 1933 Tillich accepted an appointment to teach at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. In 1955 he went to the Divinity School of Harvard University and in 1962, to the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. He became an American citizen in 1940. In his many books, Tillich developed ideas concerning the religious basis of life, including The Religious Situation (1932), The Interpretation of History (1936), The Protestant Era (1948), and Dynamics of Faith (1957). In The Courage to Be (1952), he discussed the alienation of the individual in society and argued that existence is rooted in God as the ground of all being. Tillich believed that Protestant theology may incorporate the critical posture and scientific concepts of contemporary thought without endangering its Christian faith. Thus, he was quick to utilize the insights of depth psychology and existential philosophy in his attempts to renew the relevance of theology for modern secular society. His Systematic Theology (3 vol., 1951-63) was the major instrument of this reformulation. Tillich died in Chicago on Oct. 22, 1965.

Neurosis is the way of avoiding non-being by avoiding being.

http://www.germanheritage.com/biographies/mtoz/tillich.html (http://www.germanheritage.com/biographies/mtoz/tillich.html)

Tuesday, January 11th, 2005, 06:20 AM
Neurosis is the way of avoiding non-being by avoiding being.
With all respect, I read Tillich when I was younger but could never get beyond his surrender to French existentialialism as a world view. It is curious that his religion was not enough to innoculate him against what he perceived as the meaninglessness of life, that he felt the need to reconcile his religion with a secular philosophy that is notable for its explicit atheism. It is a testimony to the great power of Tillich's intellect that it did not simply fly apart from the tension of this inbuilt contradiction.

Here is a typical example (http://www.interchange.ubc.ca/cree/tillich.htm) of what I find, as a person with Idealist convictions, so unconvincing and repellent:

Existentialism Today
by Paul Tillich
from "The Courage To Be", (1952)

Existentialism as it appeared in the 20th century represents the most vivid and threatening meaning of “existential”. In it the whole development comes to a point beyond which it cannot go. It has become a reality in all the countries in the Western world. It is expressed in all the realms of man’s spiritual creativity, it penetrates all educated classes. It is not the invention of a Bohemian philosopher or a neurotic novelist; it is not a sensational exaggeration made for the sense of profit and fame; it is not a morbid play with negativities. Elements of all these have entered it, but it itself is something else. It is the expression of the anxiety of meaninglessness and of the attempt to take this anxiety into the courage to be as oneself.

Recent existentialism must be considered from these two points of view. It is not simply individualism of the rationalistic or romantic or naturalistic type. In distinction to these preparatory movements it has experienced the universal breakdown of meaning. Twentieth-century man has lost a meaningful world and self which lives in meanings out of a spiritual center. The man-created world of objects has drawn into itself him who created it and who now loses his subjectivity in it. He has sacrificed himself to his own productions. But man is still aware of what he has lost or is continuously losing. He is still man enough to experience his dehumanization as despair. He does not know a way out but he tries to save his humanity by expressing the situation as without an “exit”. He reacts with the courage of despair, the courage to take his despair upon himself and to resist the radical threat of non-being by the courage to be as oneself. Every analyst of present day Existentialist philosophy, art, and literature can show their ambiguous structure: the meaningless which drives to despair, a passionate denunciation of this situation, and the successful or unsuccessful attempt to take the anxiety of meaninglessness into the courage to be as oneself.
Note especially the classic existentialist oxymoron, the "courage of despair," which, while it may lack intellectual substance, perfectly summarizes the existentialist intellectual's self-perception as a heroic victim.