Next Article in Journal
Fighting Injustice and Intolerance: Re-Presentations of Race and Religion at the Muhammad Ali Center
Previous Article in Journal
The Religious and Spiritual Beliefs and Practices among Practitioners across Five Helping Professions
Previous Article in Special Issue
Do Not Despise the Discipline of the Almighty: God as Leather Daddy and Reading Job through Althaus-Reid
Article Menu

Export Article

Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Religions 2017, 8(11), 242; doi:10.3390/rel8110242

Theodicies as Failures of Recognition

1
Faculty of Communication Sciences, University of Tampere, Tampere 33014, Finland
2
Faculty of Theology, University of Helsinki, Helsinki 00014, Finland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 10 October 2017 / Revised: 26 October 2017 / Accepted: 28 October 2017 / Published: 1 November 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Theodicy)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [237 KB, uploaded 2 November 2017]

Abstract

This paper examines the ethical failure of theodicies by integrating the perspectives of philosophical argumentation and literary reading and analysis. The paper consists of two main parts. In the first part, we propose an ethical critique of metaphysical realism by analyzing its inability to recognize the perspectival plurality and diversity of suffering. As theodicies seek to explain how an omnipotent, omniscient, and absolutely benevolent God could allow the world to contain evil and suffering, it can be argued that metaphysical realism—i.e., the thesis that the world possesses its own fundamental structure independently of human perspectives of conceptualization and inquiry—is a problematic starting point of theodicism. We examine the failure of recognition of others’ suffering inherent in theodicies as a failure based on the search for an overall reductive and objectifying picture (a “God’s-Eye View”) that is constitutive of metaphysical realism. The second part of the paper shows why we should include insights from imaginative literature in our attempts to understand the recognition failures of theodicies. Emphasizing the literary, philosophical, and theological relevance of various modern rewritings of the Book of Job, which has been a crucially important sub-text for many later literary works in which the protagonists render a particular kind of human experience—unmerited suffering—we turn more closely to some literary examples, such as Joseph Roth’s novels Hiob and Die Rebellion. The tensions that are created around the moral controversy of the experiences of injustice and suffering and the human and religious reasoning and justification of violence are examined. The ambiguous ending of Hiob that adds an apparently hopeful and almost fairytale-like redemption to the story plays a crucial role in the interpretation provided in the paper. By analyzing some literary examples and their relation to the literary Job tradition, the recognition-failures of theodicist attempts to provide meaning into suffering—attempts based on metaphysical realism, as argued in the first part of the paper—are highlighted. Finally, we also critically consider the charge that theodicism could only be theoretically formulated and argue that a sharp distinction between theory and practice in this area is itself an act of non-recognition, or a failure to recognize suffering. View Full-Text
Keywords: suffering; theodicy; theodicism; antitheodicy; antitheodicism; realism; metaphysical realism; recognition; acknowledgment; literature; the Book of Job; Roth, Joseph suffering; theodicy; theodicism; antitheodicy; antitheodicism; realism; metaphysical realism; recognition; acknowledgment; literature; the Book of Job; Roth, Joseph
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

Scifeed alert for new publications

Never miss any articles matching your research from any publisher
  • Get alerts for new papers matching your research
  • Find out the new papers from selected authors
  • Updated daily for 49'000+ journals and 6000+ publishers
  • Define your Scifeed now

SciFeed Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Kivistö, S.; Pihlström, S. Theodicies as Failures of Recognition. Religions 2017, 8, 242.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics

1

Comments

[Return to top]
Religions EISSN 2077-1444 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert Logo copyright Steve Bridenbaugh/UUA
Back to Top