Humanism and Religion: A Call for the Renewal of Western Culture

ISBN : 9780199697755

Jens Zimmermann
400 Pages
162 x 240 mm
Pub date
Feb 2012
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The question of who 'we' are and what vision of humanity 'we' assume in Western culture lies at the heart of hotly debated questions on the role of religion in education, politics, and culture in general. The need for recovering a greater purpose for social practices is indicated, for example, by the rapidly increasing number of publications on the demise of higher education, lamenting the fragmentation of knowledge and university culture's surrender to market-driven pragmatism. The West's cultural rootlessness and lack of cultural identity are also revealed by the failure of multiculturalism to integrate religiously vibrant immigrant cultures. A main cause of the West's cultural malaise is the long-standing separation of reason and faith. Jens Zimmermann suggests that the West can rearticulate its identity and renew its cultural purpose by recovering the humanistic ethos that originally shaped Western culture. In tracing the religious roots of humanism from patristic theology, through the Renaissance into modern philosophy, we find that humanism was originally based on the correlation of reason and faith. In this book, the author combines humanism, religion, and hermeneutic philosophy to re-imagine humanism for our current cultural and intellectual climate. The hope of this recovery is for humanism to become what Charles Taylor has called a 'social imaginary', an internalized vision of what it means to be human. This vision will encourage, once again, the correlation of reason and faith in order to overcome current cultural impasses, such as those posed, for example, by religious and secularist fundamentalisms.


1. Western Culture after Christendom
2. The Theological Origins of Humanism
3. Humanism from Vico to Dilthey
4. Martin Heidegger's Post-Metaphysical Hyper-Humanism
5. Levinas's Humanism of the Other
6. Hans-Georg Gadamer's Hermeneutic Humanism
7. Christian Responses: Maurice Blondel and Dietrich Bonhoeffer
8. Toward a Religious Humanism?

About the author: 

Jens Zimmermann was born and raised in Germany. He holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of British Columbia, Canada, and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany. He currently occupies the position of Canada Research Chair in Interpretation, Religion and Culture, and is Professor of English at Trinity Western University (TWU) in Langley, British Columbia, Canada. Zimmermann has published eight previous books in the areas of theology, philosophy, and literary theory. He is board member of the International Bonhoeffer Society (English Language Section), and co-editor of the IBI (International Bonhoeffer Interpretation) series. With two other colleagues, he also runs the Religion, Culture and Conflict group at TWU, shich organizes inter-faith conferences. The group recently published Politics and the Religious Imagination (Routledge 2010).

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