Tillich – The Courage to be

Meine Unterstreichungen aus dem empfehlenswerten Werk (nur 175 Seiten):


In the religious movements which centered around this idea the anxiety of fate and death was conquered by man’s participation in the divine being who had taken fate and death upon himself. Christianity, although adhering to a similar faith, was superior to syncretism in the individual character of the Saviour Jesus Christ and in its concrete-historical basis in the Old Testament. Therefore Christianity could assimilate many elements of religious-philosophical syncretism of the later ancient world without losing its historical foundation; but it could not assimilate the genuine Stoic attitude. (S. 11)

Here again it is remarkable that among the emperors it was not the willful tyrant of the Nero type or the fanatical reactionaries of the Julian type that were a serious danger to Christianity but the righteous Stoics of the types of Marcus Aurelius. The reason for this is that the Stoic has a social and personal courage which is a real alternative to Christian courage. (S. 12)

[The death of Socrates] showed a courage which could affirm life because it could affirm death. (S. 12)

The description of Stoic courage by a man like Seneca shows interdependence of the fear of death and the fear of life, as well as the interdependence of the courage to die and the courage to live. (S. 12f)

This shows that the Stoic recommendation of suicide is not directed to those who are conquered by life but to those who have conquered life, are able both to live and to die, and can choose freely between them. Suicide as an escape, dictated by fear, contradicts the Stoic courage to be. (S. 13)

And Epictetus says, “For it is not death or hardship that is a fearful thing, but the fear of death and hardship.” (S. 14)

But man’s distorted imagination transcends the objective needs (“When astray–your wanderings are limitless”) and with them any possible satisfaction. (S. 15, zitiert Seneca)

real joy is a “severe matter”; it is the happiness of a soul which is “lifted above every circumstance. (S. 15, zitiert Seneca)

The God who is indicated here is the divine Logos in unity with whom the courage of wisdom conquers fate and transcends the gods. It is the “God above God.” (S. 16)\

Why, [Spinoza] asks, is it that the way of salvation (salus) is being neglected by almost everyone? Because it is difficult and therefore rare, like everything sublime, he answers in the melancholy last sentence of his book. This is also the answer of the Stoics, but it is an answer not of salvation but of resignation. (S. 24)

Immediately seen, anxiety is the painful feeling of not being able to deal with the threat of a special situation. But a more exact analysis shows that in the anxiety about any special situation anxiety about the human situation is implied. (S. 37)

But ultimately the attempts to transform anxiety into fear are vain. The basic anxiety, the anxiety of a finite being about the threat of nonbeing, cannot be eliminated. It belongs to existence itself. (S. 38)

Fate would not produce inescapable anxiety without death behind it. (S. 43)

Fanaticism is the correlate to spiritual self-surrender: it shows the anxiety which it was supposed to conquer, by attacking with disproportionate violence those who disagree and who demonstrate by their disagreement elements in the spiritual life of the fanatic which he must suppress in himself. Because he must suppress them in himself he must suppress them in others. His anxiety forces him to persecute dissenters. The weakness of the fanatic is that those whom he fights have a secret hold upon him; and to this weakness he and his group finally succumb. (S. 47)

Neurosis is the way of avoiding nonbeing by avoiding being. (S. 61)

He who is not capable of a powerful self-affirmation in spite of the anxiety of nonbeing is forced into a weak, reduced self-affirmation. (S. 61)

Much courage to be, created by religion, is nothing else than the desire to limit one’s own being and to strengthen this limitation through the power of religion. (S. 67)

Pathological anxiety about fate and death impels toward a security which is comparable to the security of a prison. (S. 69)

Only in the continuous encounter with other persons does the person become and remain a person. (S. 83)

In reaction to the predominance of the courage to be as oneself in modern Western history, movement of neocollectivist character have arisen: fascism, nazis, and communism. (S. 89)

Doubt is the necessary tool of knowledge. And meaninglessness is no threat so long as enthusiasm for the universe and for man as its center is alive. (S. 112f)

Every analyst of present-day Existentialist philosophy, art, and literature can show their ambiguous structure: the meaninglessness 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. (S. 129)

They attack as morbid longing for negativity what in reality is courages acceptance of the negative. (S. 130)

The violent reactions against modern art in collectivist (Nazi, Communists) as well as conformist (American democratic) groups show that they feel seriously threatened by it. But one does not feel spiritually threatened by something which is not an element of oneself. (S. 130)

Nobody can give directions for the actions of the “resolute” individual–no God, no conventions, no laws of reason, no norms on principles. We must be ourselves, we must decide where to go. (S. 137, nach Heidegger)

Nothing is given to him to determine his creativity. The essence of his being–the “should-be,” “the ought-to-be”–is not something which he finds; he makes it. Man is what he makes of himself. And the courage to be as oneself is the courage to make of oneself what one wants to be. (S. 138, nach Existentialismus)

The cynics are lonely although they need company in order to show their loneliness. (S. 139)

Man can affirm himself only if he affirms not an empty shel, a mere possibility, but the structure of being in which he finds himself before action and nonaction. (S. 140)

It is a great tragedy of our time that Marxism, which had been conceived as a movement for liberation of everyone, has been transformed into a system of enslavement of everyone, even of those who enslave the others. (S. 141)

The ascetic and ecstatic mystic affirms his own essential being over against the element of nonbeing which are present in the finite world, the realm of Maya. It takes tremendous courage to resist the lure of appearances. The power of being which is manifest in such courage is so great that the gods tremble in fear of it. (S. 145, nach Hinduismus)

Non-being is no threat because finite being is, in the last analysis, nonbeing. (S. 146)

One could say that the courage to be is the courage to accept oneself as accepted in spite of being unacceptable. (S. 151)

A wall to which I confess cannot forgive me. (S. 153)

A self-affirmation of one’s death into itself tries to escape the test of courage, the facing of nonbeing in the most radical way. (S. 155)

He who is in the grip of doubt and meaninglessness cannot liberate himself from this grip; but he asks for an answer which is valid within and not outside the situation of his despair. (S. 161)

In this situation the meaning of life is reduced to despair about the meaning of life. […] Cynically speaking, one could say that it is true to life to cynical about it. […] The paradox of every radical negativity, as long as it is an active negativity, is that it must affirm itself in order to be able to negate itself. (S. 162)

The negative lives from the positive it negates. (S. 162)

The act of accepting meaninglessness is in itself a meaningful act. (S. 162)

The vitality that can stand the abyss of meaninglessness is aware of a hidden meaning within the destruction of meaning. (S. 162)

Even in the state of despair one has enough being to make despair possible. (S. 162)

The courage to be in its radical form is a key to an idea of God which transcends both mysticism and the person-to-person encounter. (S. 164)

There are no valid arguments for the “existence” of God, but there are acts of courage in which we affirm the power of being, whether we know it or not. If we know it, we accept acceptance consciously. If we do not know it, we nevertheless accept it and participate in it. (S. 167)

The content of absolute faith is the “God above God.” (S. 167)

On the highest level of this kind of theism the name God is used as a poetic or practical symbol, expressing a profound emotional state or the highest ethical idea. (S. 168)

He deprives me of my subjectivity because he is all-powerful and all-knowing. I revolt and try to make him into an object, but the revolt fails and becomes desperate. […] This is the God Nietzsche said had to be killed because nobody can tolerate being made into a mere object of absolute knowledge and absolute control. This is the deepest root of atheism. (S. 170)

The courage to be is rooted in the God who appears when God has disappeared in the anxiety of doubt. (S. 175)