By Arne Grøn

Arne Grøn, University of Copenhagen


I am not going to give a power point presentation. Thus I will not have the power to point to what I will be presenting. That is, I will not have the power to point to what you should see, to pictures that should come to your mind while listening to what I am talking about. I will have to rely on you imagining for yourself. If I were to give a power point presentation, I would face the problem of showing what I am talking about (I guess that is the point in making a power point presentation). If I were to talk about ‘the cartoons’ (in fact I am), I would have to show you some. That might offend someone, and I am not interested in offending anyone.

Almost before beginning my paper, then, I am caught up in what I am going to talk about: religion and in-visibility. Let me explain. The theme of this conference invites us to explore and to discuss the relation between religion and the public realm or public discourse. In both cases, religion and the public realm, visibility is not just an important, but also a critical issue; this is even more so when we consider their relation.

Visibility is of critical importance when it comes to the idea of the public realm. Following Hannah Arendt,1 let us take our point of departure in the idea that the public realm is about persons appearing as persons, in acting and in forming their own stance towards matters of public importance. The critical idea is: See for yourself! This can be taken as part of the Enlightenment heritage, though not without qualifications. The Enlightenment heritage itself is ambiguous. It is not only about seeing for oneself; it also tends to speak in the name of reason and freedom, defining what enlightenment is. Furthermore, seeing for oneself is not just an Enlightenment idea, but has a history which also includes religious traditions. What comes to the fore in the Enlightenment is the questioning of tradition as such. While seeing for oneself could draw upon traditions, it is now taken to be without or against tradition. Yet the Enlightenment turns out to form its own traditions. Tradition is not just something we can take over or not. It comes from behind, through what we are ourselves doing.

Still we should not just think as we are told to think. We must think for ourselves, which implies that we should see for ourselves what we are to form an opinion about. Of course there are constraints to this. If we were only to see for ourselves, and not to rely on the authority of others, we would never get to the point of taking a stance of our own.2 But the authority of others should then be a matter of our concern. We are the ones to take others as having the appropriate authority in question. In this sense also we should see for ourselves, even when we rely on others.

However public life is not going that easy. We do not simply see for ourselves and rely on the appropriate authority of others. Visibility is not only a critical, but also a complicated issue. This can be seen in the culture of visibility which seems to go together with globalization. We live in a culture of images. In a sense this is not something new. It would be difficult to imagine a culture that does not deal with the visible world in making images of the world. Humans orient themselves in the world in imagining what it means to be in this world. Pictures can remind us; they can affect us; they even seem to go into what it is to be affected. When we read or hear something important, pictures come to our mind. When we seek to communicate to others what is important to us, we are in need of an inherently metaphorical language. We are embodied beings, in our ways of relating to the world. In order to reach the other in her interiority, if it is possible, we need a detour: the visible world which is in this sense between us; it is where our interiorities are at stake. If we wish to make the other see things ‘our way’, we depend on the other imagining what the world is like.

Yet something has changed. We live in a culture of images which seems to change our sense of visibility. The culture of visibility is not just about visibility in the sense I have delineated. It is not only about people, including ourselves, appearing as persons and, as persons, seeing for themselves. When visibility is turned into a culture of visibility, our lives become a matter of making ourselves visible to others. It is not about making visible what is ignored, for example minorities. Rather it becomes a condition for being there or being someone. If you do not make yourself visible to others, if you are not successful in doing so, that is, if you are not seen by others, what are you then? Visibility becomes a matter of identity, or rather the other way round. If our identity is a matter of becoming visible, the implication seems to be that not only should we see each other – we also have a demand on others that they should make themselves visible to us, and vice versa.

If visibility is turned into a culture of visibility, that is, a culture of making ourselves visible to ‘others’ making themselves visible to us, then it is easy to lose the sense of limits to visibility. It becomes difficult to see that there is something we must not see, or even should not see. The notion that there are limits to what we should see is crucial in understanding the idea of humans as persons appearing to each other. The other human being as a person is visible – and yet in a crucial sense invisible. Let me very briefly indicate what I have in mind. Respecting another person requires that we recognize and embrace the fact that she is more than we see: she is the one appearing and yet still to appear. In appearing she is there as the one making herself appearing. In appearing she can relate to us and to a more or less shared world. The in-visibility of the other person thus already pertains to the very fact and act of appearing. It has to do with time: in appearing, the other is still to appear. We will have to wait and see what is implied in what she shows, and what she is still to show. The other person being visible and invisible does not mean that there are two sides to it, one visible and another invisible. Rather the invisible concerns what we see. Appearing in the public as persons implies to be recognized and to recognize. It is not simply about to see and to be seen, but about recognizing limits to what we see: the other is also other than the one we take her to be.

What has this to do with religion? Quite a lot, I think.


Religion is about the invisible – and the visible. You might object: religion is only about the invisible, not the visible. No one has seen God, even if people can claim to speak to God or even claim that God speaks to them (maybe claiming that God does not speak to others as well). Of course, in a crucial sense religion is about what we do not, cannot, and should not see. Something that is inherently invisible. Something that is holy, that is: not to be seen. Something that is not to be subsumed under our gaze mastering what we see. Yet the invisible is not an area next to what we see. Religion is about seeing, although not in a straightforward sense, but in the sense that it is about what we do not see in seeing. Once again, the invisible has to do with the visible. Religion concerns our very ways of seeing the world. One can see the world with the eyes of the faith (to use a Kierkegaardian phrase), as one can see the world with the eyes of trust, mistrust, hope, or despair. Even when religion speaks about the otherworldly, the other of this world, as another world, it is a way of talking about this world. Even if the claim is that this world is not the real one, it is this world that is not real. The question then is: how do we live in this world as a world that is not the real one?

Religion is about in-visibility. It is so in ambiguous ways which reflect human ambiguity. What is at stake is our understanding or sense of the visible and invisible. How does religion so understood reflect being human and human ambiguity? That is the question of religion and in- humanity I want to address in the following sections.

The Holy and the Human

The issue of visibility and invisibility, in between religion and public life, leads into the center of the problem that comes up when dealing with the themes of this conference. Recently religion has entered the public agenda in (at least some) Western countries to such a degree and in such ways that the very conditions for public discourse once more have become an issue of critical importance. That was in particular the case during and after the so-called ‘Mohammed’ or ‘cartoon crisis’ in 2006. Denmark – a country which many or probably most people in the world would find difficult to place on a world-map – suddenly came into focus and drew world-wide attention. Following the situation quite closely, I was haunted by questions, some of which I would like to share with you here. I will do so in a philosophical approach to religion, asking what is at stake in this situation. The questions we face point back to key issues in the philosophy of religion, issues that we should be challenged to rethink. One example is the question: how is re-introducing taboos in a public discussion possible? This leads us back to a pivotal question in the philosophy of religion: what does it mean that something is holy?

Without engaging in a long discussion, let me suggest the following answer. The holy concerns what is of ultimate concern – what ultimately matters – to humans. Yet it is not an ideal which we humans can choose; it is not a matter of ultimate priorities which we can make, but something that is inviolable. In a critical sense it withdraws itself from the power of humans. The holy is beyond our priorities, even beyond what we take to be ultimate priorities. It has a hold or demand on us before we make priorities. If something is holy to someone, it is not just something she chooses to be holy. One does not consider, back and forth, what is holy, and then make a choice. The holy does not simply mean that it is considered to be holy. Rather it is the other way round: the holy concerns humans, what they do and think, but in such a way that it questions the understanding and the power of humans.

However, the further critical point to be made, then, is that talking about the holy shows what humans can do. The inviolable is precisely something that can be violated. The holy points back to humans, to their capacity of transgressing the limits of the holy. The ‘deep’ claim in talking about the holy is that there are limits to being human, limits which humans can transgress, but only in turning inhuman. This means that the holy concerns humans as a question about what it is to be human: what can humans do?

Our first question was: what does it mean that something is holy? The answer just offered – the holy is inviolable, pointing to the power of humans to violate what is inviolable – leads to the second question: what is it then that can be violated? What is it that can be (seen as) holy? During the ‘cartoon-crisis’, religious symbols and feelings attached to these symbols were in focus. When religious symbols are not respected, the people to whom these symbols are holy might feel offended. What are the implications of respecting religious symbols of others? It is important to make the following distinction: it cannot mean that we should for ourselves regard that as holy which they take as holy, but that we should recognize that it is holy to them. This means that the respect one can demand from others does not imply that they themselves should deal with the holy (what one sees as holy) in the same way as one does. It is a respect for the person to whom it is holy. But is this enough? Does the holy not concern something we should share or have in common? Maybe that is where we will end, but first we will have to move in the opposite direction.

During the ‘cartoon-crisis’ it became once more manifest, yet not sufficiently noticed, that the holy is an issue within a religion. It is not an issue in the sense of an open debate, but in terms of the ways people identifying themselves with a religion deal with the holy – and deal with ways others are dealing with the holy. One way of putting the issue is to ask: is the holy the religious symbols as such (that is: the authority attached to these symbols) or is it that which these symbols point to (that is: what we should come to see through these symbols)? To put it in less distant terms: what is most violating – that some people express themselves in satire or maybe in caricatures about the religious symbols of others, or that people identifying themselves with a religion kill others in the name of that religion? This question and the standard it harbours are not introduced from outside. During the ‘cartoon-crisis’ the question was asked ‘from within’ by Muslims in Denmark and abroad. What is at stake then is how to interpret the holy. This is not something new. Rather, it shows that within a religion the holy becomes a matter of interpreting that religion itself. Although religious traditions can deal with the holy in ways that do not seem to leave room open for asking the question what the holy means, the very fact that they have to make claims about what it means shows that the holy is a question coming from within.

Religion is not something monolithic, even though some would like to have it that way. What is taken as foundational in a religion is also interpreted in interpreting the world: it is ‘made to speak’ in articulating what it means to see the world in the light of that foundation. That is what people identifying themselves with a religion do when they make claims as to what the holy means. That is why a religion seldom is stable, but tends to split in often conflicting traditions interpreting what this religion means.

To anticipate things a bit: if religion is a matter of interpreting the foundation of that religion in interpreting the world, the question is not simply how to deal with religion in the public sphere. Rather the question is also how religions themselves deal with the world which we as humans more or less share. In a sense, religions themselves are about sharing or not sharing a world.

One way of dealing with a world in common is to claim that one’s religion represents true humanity. People can make that claim while the same religion seems to be used to legitimate inhuman actions. Of course whether it is the same religion – that is the question; the fact however that it is the question confirms my point: what a religion means is at issue within that religion, among people identifying themselves with it. Again, it is probably not a matter of open and unbiased discussion (religion is not a matter of theoretical attitudes, but a matter of ultimate perspectives for leading a life), but it is at issue in the ways people deal with religion in dealing with the world. The model stating that either you are inside or you are outside a religion ignores the complex and dynamic character of religions. People can only be within a religion by interpreting what it means to be within. The dynamics of religion also manifest themselves in division and heresy. The fact that you cannot simply be inside a religion, just sharing a world-view that cannot be shared by people coming from outside, does not exclude the fact that a religion can be used to divide between those within and those outside.

What I have said so far seems to amount to two contrasting claims. First, I started out by arguing that the holy is not to be reduced to interpretations of what is holy; it cannot be turned into a matter of priorities. Second, I have just argued that people interpreting the world in the light of a religion interpret what this religion means; what is holy is at issue. But this second claim does not imply that the holy is reduced to human interpretations. Rather my point is the opposite. We cannot understand ourselves as humans if we do not have a notion of the holy as the inviolable. Why not? Because we would then not be able to understand what humans – ourselves included – are capable of doing: turning inhuman.

Does this imply that humans are religious beings? Of course that depends of what we mean by religion. If religion means that there is a binding to being human, the question is where religion ends and ethics begins, or vice versa. As my concern here is the question of religion and (in)humanity, let me just point to Kant’s ethical reformulation of the holy. What is important is the following double claim:3 First, as human we are not holy. We are capable of doing what we should not do, and our motives are most often mixed, often without us noticing. If we think ourselves to be pure in mind and motive, we are not – by that very act of presenting ourselves. Second, humanity should however be holy to us, the humanity of the other person, but also the humanity in our own person. Why? Precisely because we as humans can turn inhuman, I would argue. This double claim captures human ambiguity. The ambiguity in being human is what the notion of the holy points to. This opens up for a more complex understanding of religion. Let me briefly outline my suggestion.

Religion and Being Human

Religion is a human enterprise. This does not mean, however, that religion simply is what humans think and imagine. Rather if we reduce religion to human projections, we will not be taking religion seriously as a human concern. In religion, whether they like it or not, humans are interpreting, but what they interpret matters to them in terms of what ultimately binds them. What ultimately binds them they cannot just take as something they take to bind them. The holy is not a matter of priorities.

This means that we should focus on the character of interpretation taking place in religion. Human interpretations can be in a deep sense concerned if they are about what concerns ‘us’ (that is, those interpreting) as humans. In religion, humans can seek to come to terms with what it is like to be human. Religion is a human concern in the sense that it deals with limits to what is human. In encountering what exceeds them as human beings, humans can be ‘reflected’ or turned towards themselves. What is beyond human understanding and power is not simply beyond. It is beyond in such a way that human understanding and power are turned into a question for human beings that suffer and act, and try to understand their situation. Furthermore, what can be experienced as beyond understanding is also what humans can do: they can turn inhuman.

Thus, religion has a strange or even enigmatic character. It is about humans moving beyond the human, thereby coming to see – or maybe not coming to see – what it is to be human. Religion articulates a moving beyond this world, but a movement taking place in this world. In religion, humans can re-situate themselves in the world in which they are already situated. The question for a philosophical approach to religion then is: in the optics of religion, how do we as humans come to see the world of humans?

If one would object that religion leads us beyond the world, the answer would be that it does so in this world in which we are living and moving and thinking about this world. If in religion humans come to see this world as a world to be denied, religion is turned into ways of dealing with this world – as a world to be denied: the question is how to live in this world as a world in which one should not be at home. To live this life with the image of a beyond becomes precisely a way to live this life.

What is the implication? As I have already suggested, the question is not simply how to deal with religion in the public sphere, but also how religions themselves deal with the world which we as humans more or less share. How do religions themselves interpret the world they are part of? Are they able to recognize the world as a world of different perspectives? This brings the question of humanity and inhumanity into focus again.

Religion and Human Ambiguities

As a human enterprise religion bear witness to human ambiguities, but in and through religion human ambiguities can also be articulated and interpreted. I will argue that this in a critical sense is what humanity is about: acknowledging human ambiguities, the problem of humans in being human. It seems that we can only understand ourselves as humans if we take the possibility into account of humans turning inhuman. The complexity of religion has to do with the question of humanity and inhumanity.

In order to see this more clearly let us distinguish between the fact of interpretation and what I have just called the character of interpretation. First, religions are human enterprises: humans interpreting what the holy means. This is the fact of interpretation. Second, religions are ‘deep’ or even ‘deeply’ human enterprises in the sense that in religion, humans are dealing with limits to being human. This is the character of interpretation: in interpreting the holy, humans are trying to come to terms with what exceeds themselves, their understanding and power. Or to formulate the point in terms of the double approach to religion argued for above: in religion humans are interpreting what the holy means, but this does not imply that the holy simply is what humans take it to be. If we would claim this we would misunderstand the character of interpretation. Religious interpretation is about that which is beyond interpretation and yet calling for or demanding humans to respond. It can be about humans calling their own understanding into question.

Religions however are not just interpreting what it is to be human. They are also themselves marked by human ambiguities. Religions can be human, all-too-human. As they are dealing with what ultimately binds humans, they can be turned into means of human, all-too-human authority. Instead of acknowledging limits of being human, religion then is made into a vehicle of human desires to be more than human, or to be more human than other human beings. Idolization and idolatry are human possibilities.

Idolization and idolatry take place in a human world of vision and visibility. In this world interiorities are played out and at stake. Idolization deals with interiorities, one’s own and others. It is about seeing something or someone as more than human thereby depriving what is human (including oneself, as the one seeing) of intrinsic dignity. In idolization the demand put on humans that they are to see their own lives in the light of this ‘more than human’ or ‘more human than others’ also empties humans of the subjectivity demanded. They are to see that their own lives only are meaningful if seen in the light of these pictures or idols. In the idols they do not come to see themselves, rather they disappear.

Thus humans can turn religion into means to get hold on the interiority of humans. If we wish to ‘make’ others see the world in a certain way, we only succeed if they in fact, themselves, see the world in this way. The interiority in their ways of seeing escapes our grasp. Yet religion seems to provide some sort of access to the interiority of others, to the way they see their world and live their lives. This can give a sense of inner community, but whether such a community is real is a matter of interiority between us. This is reflected in religions in terms of the possibility of hypocrisy, for example.

In short, religions reflect or mirror human ambiguities, but this can also be reflected or questioned in religion. Within religion a critique of religion as human, all-too-human is possible. What I will advocate is reformulating a philosophical critique of religion that seeks to do justice to the complexity of religion as a deep human concern, including a critique of religion as human, all- too-human coming from within. Critiques of religion that reduce religion to human interpretations as projections do not take the human character of religion seriously. Furthermore they tend to create a new illusion: the idea that, once we have got rid of religion, we are free to unfold our true humanity. The inhumanity of humans then is ‘parked’ as it were in religion. How then are we to make sense of religion as a human undertaking? My suggestion is that reformulating a critique of religion by taking human ambiguity as the lead can make sense of religion in terms of human self- understanding.

How is religion human self-understanding? In line with the arguments presented, let me just indicate three elements of an answer. First, religion can articulate human ambiguities because it is about ultimate perspectives for being human: in religion humans relate to limits to being human; they can question what it is to be human. Second, a remarkable feature of religion is that it can turn the movement beyond (in asking about ultimate perspectives for being human) into a pointing back to the one asking, the one seeking to make the movement beyond. It can point out the one asking as the addressee for the question asked. This is captured in Augustine’s famous words in his Confessions, Book X, 33: “But thou, O Lord my God, look upon me, hearken, and behold, and pity, and heal me, thou in whose eyes I am now become a problem [quastio] to myself.”4 In art, literature, and film, we can also be turned into some sort of addressees, yet in more indirect ways, through experimenting and imagining. Religion is also calling for humans to imagine, but in the more direct way of addressing the one seeing and listening and acting. Third, what humans can do in a critical sense also exceeds what they understand. They can do something that changes the very character of their lives. In what they are doing, humans can turn inhuman, without setting out to do so, but they are also capable of unforeseen acts of goodness. Religion is about human self-understanding in this intensified mode of coming to terms with the enigma of ambiguities that humans represent to themselves. The ambiguity even pertains to religion itself. Religion is about binding and being addressees, but it can also be made instrumental.

What has this to do with public discourse? Quite a lot, I think.

Religion and Public Discourse

How can religion enter the public realm in such a way that the very conditions for public discourse are at issue? First, what is meant by conditions for public discourse? Public discourse is about sharing a world, but in order to understand this we should take our point of departure in our seeing the world differently, the world that we share. How we see the world affects our ways of living. How then can we live together in a society when we see the world we have in common differently? Maybe this way of putting the question is misleading. For what would it mean to see the world in the same way? What kind of life would we have in common? Maybe the point in question is not so much how to reconcile or harmonize different ways of seeing a world in common, but how to acknowledge, in our ways of seeing the world in common, the alterity of others.

Public discourse can easily deteriorate. This is the case, for example, when it is reduced to a question of visibility. Then public discourse becomes a matter of setting the agenda and getting in control – of public discourse. Although public discourse in a modern society needs institutions, it is difficult to institutionalize. Public discourse is precisely not decided beforehand, but is a space left open. Whether the space between us is actually left open as a space of appearance, however, depends on us taking part in public discourse: how we take public discourse. This means that public discourse depends on whether those participating recognize the public realm as a space of appearance to be left open. Is this not the only way of respecting the alterity of others in matters of (what is taken to be of) common interest?

The first condition for public discourse then is to take it as public discourse: as a space of appearance to be left open. What are the implications? If the public realm is about persons coming to appear in acting and in articulating a view of the world in common, it requires a sense of limits to what is public.5 Persons coming to appear in public have a life of their own. Public life requires a notion of interiority: others cannot see the world as I do, because I am the one seeing as I do. I am to see for myself. That is why we can and must seek to understand each other: what it is to see the world as others do. But if the notion of the public realm presupposes that persons appearing have a life of their own to live and that they are to see for themselves, it requires a sense of limits to visibility. The limit of interiority is implied in taking the public realm as a space of appearance.

Consequently, the public realm or discourse is not the same as a marketplace of ideas. The latter belongs to a culture of competition which on the one hand assumes that truth will prevail and on the other hand turns life into a matter of success. In contrast, public discourse is about recognizing both that there is a life in common already in the condition for public discourse, namely seeing each other as human, and that truth might not prevail. It is not about conquering a space of appearance between us, but rather about leaving it open. The idea of public discourse is a more modest one than that of a marketplace of ideas; it leaves the question open whether it is a discourse of truth. This has to do with the very condition for public discourse. The notion of public discourse is normative; it is about taking public discourse as a public discourse. It goes with the understanding that public discourse can easily deteriorate. Public discourse depends on people taking part in public discourse: whether they take it as a space left open for others to appear. As a space between them it is a matter of how they take it, but if they take it as a space to be taken into possession, the way they take others – each other – changes.

In so far as religion points to the interiority in each human being, it is not simply a private matter, but concerns the condition for public discourse. As persons appearing in acting and seeing the world in common we are also, each of us, ‘in ourselves’. That is what recognition is about. If there were not this limit to what is public, there would be no public realm. Religions can harbour a sense of interiority that concerns our life in common. Furthermore, religions are not first to enter public discourse, they are already part of public life. They are so in ambiguous ways as they are human, often all-too-human undertakings. Religion and interiority can even be made instrumental for certain forms of public life.

I have argued that religion not only is marked by, but can also articulate and point to human ambiguities. If offers resources for a human self-understanding that can also acknowledge human possibilities of inhumanity. But the idea of the public realm is also about human self-understanding. Public discourse is about how we deal with each other as humans, and how to deal with human ambiguities. Why is it of critical importance to understand the public realm as a space of appearance left open? If we do not, we cannot respect our own humanity, the humanity which is at stake between us, in acting and in understanding the world in common. This requires that we can acknowledge human ambiguities. But the implication is that in the public realm religions should be taken as ‘deep’ human concerns (in the sense of the double approach I have argued for above).

How can religions enter public discourse? The question is misleading in so far as religions are already ‘there’, both in more or less institutionalized practices and in ways of seeing the world. Yet the question makes sense as the relation of religions and public discourse is not without problems. First, in the public realm we are together with others that perhaps or maybe even probably do not share our ways of seeing the world (of course that depends on what is implied in sharing). Taking the public realm as a public realm is to recognize this (the fact that the world in common is a world of different perspectives on the world) by leaving it open in acting and articulating how we see the world. However, if one uses religious arguments in a public discourse, one places oneself at a different level than others. One is placed in a position backed up by divine authority. Second, this critical observation does not exclude religions from the public sphere. Rather the challenge is that people identifying themselves with a religious tradition (this also goes for people not identifying themselves with a religion) should attempt to explain their ways of seeing the world in common to others not sharing this interpretation. Religions are sources of inspiration and motivation, for example in criticizing a culture of visibility. Last, but not least, the condition for public discourse, i.e., taking it as public discourse, also applies to religions (traditions and communities). It is a matter of religions interpreting or even embracing the world as a world of different perspectives. Can they do so? What do they do about the fact that the world is already interpreted differently? Or, to put the question in other words, do religions themselves recognize the human character of religions, what I have called the ‘fact of interpretation’: that people identifying with a religion themselves interpret this religion in interpreting the world? This question is of critical importance. It is about recognizing ourselves and others as humans.6 But it also implies that the freedom ‘we’ (whoever that might be) grant ourselves in dealing with our religion or non-religion, that is, the freedom not only in expressing our beliefs, but also in interpreting their implications, we should grant others as well.

  1. Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition (Chicago & London: U of Chicago P, [1958] 1998).
  2. Both this observation and the notion of tradition as condition can be found in Hans-Georg Gadamer, Wahrheit und Methode: Grundzüge einer philosophischen Hermeneutik (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, [1960] 1975) / Truth and Method (Continuum International Publishing Group, 2005).
  3. Cf. the following quote: “A human being is indeed unholy enough but the humanity in his person must be holy to him” (Critique of Practical Reason, in Immanuel Kant, Practical Philosophy. The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant, translated and edited by Mary J. Gregor, Cambridge: Cambridge UP [1996] 2006, 210) / “Der Mensch ist zwar unheilig genug, aber die Menschheit in seiner Person muß ihm heilig sein” (Kritik der praktischen Vernunft, ed. Karl Vorländer, Hamburg: Felix Meiner, 1967, 102).
  4. “Tu autem, domine deus meus, exaudi et respice et vide et miserere et sana me, in cuius oculis mihi quastio factus sum.” St. Augustine’s Confessions, vol. II, translated by William Watts (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP / London: William Heinemann, 1970), 168-169.
  5. Cf. Hannah Arendt’s distinction between the public and the private realm (op. cit.).
  6. This study was funded by the Danish National Research Foundation.

Arne Grøn

Arne Grøn is Professor of Ethics and Philosophy of Religion at the University of Copenhagen, as well as co-founder of the Danish National Research Foundation’s Center for Subjectivity Research. Grøn is a member of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, and former co-editor of Kierkegaardiana, Studia Theologica and Danish Yearbook of Philosophy. Among his numerous publications on theory of subjectivity, ethics, philosophy of religion, hermeneutics, and history of philosophy, are Angst bei Søren Kierkegaard: Eine Einführung in sein Denken (1999) and Subjektivitet og negativitet: Kierkegaard (1997), the co-authored works Philosophie im 20. Jahrhundert. Band 1 (1992) and Philosophielexikon (1991), and the co-edited work Subjectivity and Transcendence (2007). [email protected]