Christian culture 基督教文化学刊

From Autonomy back to Theonomy? On the Return of the Sacred in the Post-Enlightenment Era

Author: Jason LAM, Research Fellow, Hong Kong Institute of Sino-Christian Studies; Adjunct Professor of the Department of Philosophy, Tongji University



Autonomy is a core concept of the Enlightenment. It refers to an ideal status, in which an individual has the ability to make decisions independent of external authorities but relying on universal reason. But this concept has great intrinsic tension and is intertwined heavily with the entire western (Christian) religious tradition. Through a genealogical analysis, we discover the intrinsic dialogical structure of autonomy which can be traced back to the vocation narrative of the Hebrew prophets. There were numerous transformations in the path of western thought from the Hebrew prophets through to modern autonomy, but modern people are still struggling with its various shortcomings. Thus when Chinese scholars are now dealing with the issue of modernization, we cannot avoid dealing with the religious dimension of the western culture. In light of this, Christian studies should be taken as an essential research area when Chinese culture wants to develop its place in the modern world.



Autonomy, Theonomy, Enlightenment, Kant, Ricoeur


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