November 13, 2005

Paul Tillich, Teilhard, Radhakrishnan and Sri Aurobindo

Tilak, Samadanam John
Nature, history and spirit: a theological investigation on nature, history and spirit in trialogue among western secularism, hindu spiritualism and christian trinitarian faith
Degree: S.T.D.- 1977 / Lutheran School Of Theology; 0309 // DAI, VOL. 42-02A, Page 0749, 00214 Pages.
ABSTRACT: This dissertation is a comparative study of the Christian theologians Paul Tillich and Teilhard de Chardin and the Hindu philosophers Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan and Aurobindo Ghosh. The constructive proposal of this study assumes that the Holy Spirit as interpreted in the Christian dogma of the Trinity both relates nature and history and also transcends nature and history in a higher vision of reality. The particular thesis of this study is that "spirit" is the key which relates nature and history and thereby offers a unified concept of reality which integrates Hindu and Christian thought.
  • An initial chapter outlines the ideas of nature and history in the history of Western and Hindu thought. The idea of nature in Western thought is discussed in the Greek view, the Renaissance view, and the Modern view, following R. G. Collingwood. The Greek, Medieval, and Modern ideas of history in Western thought are then surveyed.
  • The idea of nature in Hindu thought focuses on the idea of "maya" in the classical and modern periods. The classical and modern idea of history in Hindu thought is then summarized.
  • The second chapter analyzes the positions of Tillich, Teilhard, Radhakrishnan, and Aurobindo on the ideas of nature and history.
  • The third chapter critically analyzes the attempts of the four thinkers to synthesize the ideas of nature and history in the idea of spirit.
  • First, Tillich and Radhakrishnan are compared. In Tillich spirit is conceived as appearing as life in nature and as creative presence in history. In Radhakrishnan spirit is conceived as the source of nature and as a cosmic presence in history. Points of agreement and disagreement between Tillich and Radhakrishnan on nature, history, and spirit are assessed.
  • Then, the positions of Teilhard and Aurobindo are brought into dialogue. In Teilhard spirit is conceived as the radial energy and personal power of love which relates nature and history. In Aurobindo spirit is conceived as the divine essence and activating cosmic force in the evolutionary process of nature and history. Points of agreement and disagreement between Teilhard and Aurobindo on nature, history, and spirit are assessed.
  • A final chapter discusses the the relation of nature, history, and spirit in western secularism, Hindu spiritualism, and Christian trinitarian faith. Previous chapters are summarized. The positions of Tillich and Teilhard are criticized from the viewpont of the dogma of the Trinity. Tillich interprets the doctrine of the Trinity too exclusively in ontological terms; Teilhard too exclusively in cosmological terms. Western secularism and Hindu spiritualism are characterized.

A constructive argument is made for the position that the view of spirit in the Christian dogma of the Trinity unifies and transform our understanding of nature and history. This position maintains both the immanent and the transcendent understanding of spirit as well as the interpersonal relation of nature and history.

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