Dragende grond. Pleidooi voor een religieuze levenskunst.
MetadataShow full item record
Modern life in our present society is not always that easy. Today’s individuals see themselves confronted with many existential issues to which there are no clear or direct answers because we no longer have a blueprint of ‘the good life’. In this thesis I look at four of these issues: liberty, meaning, loneliness and suffering. Liberty is a precious value nowadays, and people are expected to create their own lives without the influence of traditions, other people or any authority in general. For some people this is a great challenge, for many it is a threat. For what is the best choice to make? Which direction is the right one? The modern individual also is expected to give meaning to his own life. But is this possible? And how does one give meaning to the story of one’s life? Thirdly, research shows that many people in the present society to some extent feel lonely and isolated. How can we deal with this existential loneliness? And in a culture where pleasure en happiness are key values, how does one cope with the suffering and pain that human beings inevitably face in their lives? Contemporary philosophers like Joep Dohmen have developed a philosophy of the art of living that aims to help modern individuals in dealing with these life questions and issues. Through the wisdom and knowledge of ancient and modern philosophers the modern individual is offered help by certain exercises and attitudes, in order to live a good, beautiful and successful life. Here, individuals are fully responsible for the way they create their own lives. Religion is another player in this field of existential problems. In a Christian art of living the modern individual is helped by religious views, beliefs, rituals and exercises. The Christian view on the meaning of life has more focus on the transcendent and on self surrender. Here also, individuals are responsible for their own lives; however, they do not depend on themselves alone, but build on an existential ground that is already there. In this thesis I compare the secular philosophy of the art of living with the Christian view of life by looking at the answers and help they offer the modern individual. On the basis of five external functional criteria I argue that religious views of life are more helpful for modern individuals than secular philosophies of the art of living, because they fill the needs a view of life needs to fill more adequately. Furthermore I give a few additional arguments against some assumptions of the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche that are deceptive in the contemporary secular philosophy of the art of living. Obviously, these arguments are based on more ‘internal criteria’. I also offer a proposal for a model of a Christian art of living that I find to be very useful in our modern society. Finally, I address contemporary claims that religion will continue to grow less significant in our society of today and that in the nearby future secular philosophies of the art of living will take its place. I argue that this is unlikely, since empirical data show that influential contemporary thinkers on the art of living are religious. I also argue that in some respects, Christianity has more in common with ancient philosophy than contemporary secular philosophies of the art of living. Thirdly I argue that those who claim that the Christian religion will decline in favor of secular philosophies of the art of living, presuppose a now obsolete theory of secularization which predicts that religion, Christianity in particular, will play no role in the society of tomorrow. However, many reports show that religion in the modern world is not in a state of decline, but rather in a state of transformation. Modern individuals do not grow less religious, but rather practice their religion in different ways. Now if the premise of these modern philosophers that religion will slowly decline is false, as I argue, it is not necessarily the case that modern individuals in the future will massively turn to secular philosophies of the art of living.