Christian culture 基督教文化学刊

On the Essence of Aesthetic Liberation in Moltmann's Theology of Play: A Comparison with Herbert Marcuse

SONG Xuhong, Minzu University of China



The Theology of Play, which has been proposed originally in Die Ersten Freigelassenen der Schopfung (1971) by Jurgen Moltmann, can be intertextualized with such labels on Moltmann’s theology as ‘the Theology of Hope” or “the Theology of Liberation”, and thus also can be characterized by the concept of “Aesthetic Liberation”. As a result of the Moltmann’s participation of “the Dialogue between Christianity and Marxism” in 1960s, the Theology of Play, when compared with the thought of Herbert Marcuse, shares the same foundation with the latter: a criticism on Marxism as “a materialistic illusion” of “the changing of conditions without changing man” (Moltmann). However, in order to rectify the illusion, its way of “changing man” is not returning to the long tradition of “Aesthetic Liberation” in the history of modern German thought or reaffirming the value of sensibility and arts, but is reinterpreting some important concepts of aesthetics, such as liberty, play, pleasure and sensibility, into the Christian context by regarding the Creation and Incarnation as the play of God, and accordingly emphasizing the gratefulness and joy of the human beings. Through this the Theology of Play seems to be able to “liberate” the traditional theological anthropology which has been entangled deeply in the Original Sin on the one hand, and on the other, to “liberate” the aesthetics which has been burdened and thus failed the task of liberating the human beings. Although it may be another Aesthetic Utopia, we should, I think, confirm at least its value in providing a new answer for the human liberation.



Theology of Play, Aesthetic Liberation, Jorgen Moltmann, Herbert Marcuse


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