Intuition and the Creation of a Better World

Armstrong, Karen

In 1799, the year after Wordsworth and Coleridge had published the Lyrical Ballads in England, Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768- 1834) published On Religion, Speeches to its Cultured Despisers, his own Romantic manifesto, in Germany. Dogmas were not divine facts but simply "accounts of the Christian religious affections set forth in speech." Religious faith could not be confined to the propositions of the creeds: it involved an emotional apprehension and an interior surrender. Thought and reason had their place, but they could only take us so far. When we had come to the limit of reason, feeling would complete the journey to the Absolute. When he spoke of "feeling," Schleiermacher did not mean a sloppy emotionalism but an intuition which drove men and women toward the infinite. Feeling was not opposed to human reason but an imaginative leap that takes us beyond the particular to an apprehension of the whole. The sense of God thus acquired arose from the depths of each individual rather than a collision with an objective Fact.

Karen Armstrong , A History of God. The 4000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam . New York , Ballantine Books, 1993, p. 350

… the whole of Western theology had been characterized by an inappropriate reliance upon reason alone, ever since the scientific revolution of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Rationalism had achieved such spectacular results that empirical reason came to be regarded as the sole path to truth, and Western people started to talk about God as an objective, demonstrable fact like any other. The more intuitive disciplines of mythology and mysticism were discredited. This was the cause of many of the religious problems of our day, including my own.

Karen Armstrong, The Spiral Staircase: My Climb out of Darkness. New York, Anchor Books, 2004. P. 294

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