Prodigal Theology

I’ve been working on an argument about the necessity of theological reasoning for political philosophy. Read the following in The Beauty of the Infinite. It strikes a chord. I’m keen to try to articulate this section of my thesis as an appeal to a particular political philosophy for self-knowledge and home-coming. Wouldn’t it be beautiful to see within an intellection tradition the story of a lost son finding a prodigal father?

Modern Continental philosophy is very much the misbegotten child of theology, indeed a kind of secularized theology, even at present its governing themes everywhere declare its filiation—ontology is concerned with the being of beings, phenomenology with truth as manifestation and the unity of knowledge and being, hermeneutics with interpretation and the transmission of texts, the questions of transcendence and immanence, the moral law, the transcendentals, the meaning of being, substance and event, time and eternity, freedom and fate, and the logic of history remain the essential matter of Continental thought… [T]heology is always already involved in the Continental tradition—its longings and nostalgias, its rebellions and haunting memories, its interminable flight from the Christian rationality that gave it life—and so is responsible for and before it, modern philosophy was born of some failure and some anguish within the language of faith, and so even its most strident rejections of faith are determined by Christian tradition, and by the Christian West’s internal struggle against itself. This is the burden of consanguinity: theology cannot disown its history—or its children.

—David Bentley Hart, The Beauty of the Infinite: the Aesthetics of Christian Truth, (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2003), 30.

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