Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

The Return of the Religious in Postmodern Thought as a Challenge for Theology

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
6.11.00  Humanities  Theology   

Code Science Field
H002  Humanities  Theology 

Code Science Field
6.03  Humanities  Philosophy, Ethics and Religion 
contemporary theology, postmodern thought, philosophy of religion, political theology, post-secular, religious ethics
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (7)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  22368  PhD Nadja Furlan Štante  Theology  Researcher  2016 - 2018  255 
2.  18358  PhD Branko Klun  Philosophy  Head  2016 - 2018  386 
3.  18872  PhD Robert Petkovšek  Philosophy  Researcher  2016 - 2018  506 
4.  18054  PhD Lenart Škof  Philosophy  Researcher  2016 - 2018  511 
5.  50198  PhD Luka Trebežnik  Philosophy  Researcher  2017 - 2018  63 
6.  24684  PhD Janez Vodičar  Theology  Researcher  2016 - 2018  390 
7.  15057  PhD Bojan Žalec  Philosophy  Researcher  2017 - 2018  713 
Organisations (2)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0170  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Theology  Ljubljana  1627112  12,235 
2.  1510  Science and Research Centre Koper  Koper  7187416000  14,188 
In a time of a postmodern and post-secular return of the religious on both the individual and societal levels, this joint Slovenian-Austrian research project aims to be an original contribution towards building a new platform of dialogue between postmodern thinking and theology. Its goal is an identification and analysis of theologically relevant topoi, which this project intends to explore according to three venues of postmodern thought. The first venue includes representatives of French phenomenology (e.g. Levinas, Henry, Marion, Chrétien) who have undertaken within this field the so-called “theological turn,” and have thus revealed new possibilities for the means of relation between philosophy and theology. The second venue of inquiry relates more to hermeneutical thinkers (e.g. Ricoeur, Vattimo, Caputo) who have already initiated dialogue with the biblical religious tradition and thereby demonstrated the potential of postmodernism for theological reflection. The third venue consists of two alternative postmodern approaches, which embody two different orientations. Girard’s anthropological approach returns to Christianity and adopts an affirmative attitude toward it, while on the other hand, Luce Irigaray demands a critical reinterpretation of Christianity from the feminist point of view and calls for a broader notion of religiosity with new topoi of corporeal gestures of proximity and of cosmico-ethical elements. In the first phase of the project, the research will critically examine different notions of transcendence in relation to the aforementioned postmodern thinkers, who are of crucial importance for a dialogue with Christian theology. The second phase will engage in extrapolating theologically relevant topoi, which will serve as a horizontal connection between different postmodern approaches. Such topoi include, for example, the notions of gift and grace, event and narration, time and messianism, call and response, sensitivity and incarnation, weakness and kenosis, love (caritas) and hospitality. The main quality of this project consists, however, in combining two different approaches. The inquiry into postmodern thinking will not investigate only its relevance for theology (ad intra), but will also inquire into the presence of – often not reflected – religious elements on the societal level and to identify religious topoi in our post-secular society (ad extra). The Austrian partner will explore the potential of the theological turn in phenomenology for a post-secular political philosophy and thereby contribute to a better understanding of the postmodern status of religion in society. The synergy of both approaches (ad intra and ad extra) and the mutual relevance of the research results will provide a basis for new possibilities of dialogue between theology and secular thought, and between religion and society. Thus, it will contribute to overcoming the modern Enlightenment paradigm of separation between religion and society, which often amounts to an exclusion of religion from society, and will move toward a new culture of coexistence and mutual respect.
Significance for science
The added value of the project within the extensive international research of the "return of the religious" in contemporary society is an integrated approach that on the one hand brings together theology and contemporary philosophy of religion, and on the other hand combines the two perspectives (representing the Slovenian and Austrian part of the project): the relationship of postmodern religious topoi towards Christianity and theology (ad intra), and their relation towards secular political thought (ad extra). In contrast to frequent reductive approaches, this project is aiming at a constructive dialogue between these aspects, which is also reflected in the composition of the research group (theologians and philosophers). The project is expected to be an original contribution regarding the extrapolation of religious topoi within three interrelated directions of postmodern thought: phenomenological, hermeneutic and, thirdly, alternative approaches, which are expanding the field of research (in the direction of cosmic religiosity and feminism). The search for horizontal links, which will be identified as common characteristics or topoi, reflects the hope to prevent the risk of postmodern "fragmentation," which often hinders the reception of postmodern thought within theology, as well as within political philosophy. Common topoi will offer the basis for a dialogue with both theology and secular thought. Such a dialogue is extremely important for theology as a scientific discipline. In Christian theology there is a widely spread mistrust towards postmodern thinking because of a long tradition of (scholastic) metaphysics. Postmodernity is too often associated with the denial of transcendence, with relativism and even nihilism. Therefore one of the objectives of the project is to underline the positive potential in postmodern thought, which may help theological research towards a more authentic realization of its mission - namely to a comprehensive reflection on faith and Christian experience today. The importance of the project is also in the application of religious topoi in dialogue with secular political philosophy. The theological turn in phenomenological-hermeneutic thought has not yet found a true entry and application on the level of its social implications and political reflection. Therefore, the Austrian part of the project seeks to remedy these shortcomings and show new possibilities of understanding the religious phenomena (beyond traditional dichotomies and separations) in a social context. The key objective of this joint project is the synergy between the two approaches (ad intra and ad extra), which, on the one hand, establishes a basis for a better communication between theology (religion) and contemporary society, and on the other hand enriches theological (and other interdisciplinary) research that strives for a comprehensive understanding of religious phenomena in society.
Significance for the country
In Western societies, and especially in Slovenia, there is still a strong tendency to separation, or even exclusion of religion from the social sphere, evoking the ideals of secularism. In such a situation, religion and theology on the one hand find themselves in the temptation to close themselves off from contemporary society and withdraw themselves to a supposed security of traditionalism. On the other hand, secular society is unable to properly adopt and integrate the religious dimension not only on the individual, but also societal levels. For that reason a project that creates possibilities of a new communication and a new understanding of religion both within itself (ie in theology) as well as in its relationship to society is of exceptional social importance. By exploring new theoretical foundations that go beyond traditional divisions and social conflicts between religion and secular society, a path is paved in the direction of a greater social cohesion and acceptance of postmodern pluralism. However it is of equal importance that such projects are not limited solely to the national level, but are embedded in an international research environment, which gives adequate credibility to the research results and their greater acceptance in society. The project can therefore be an important representation of, and a direct contribution to a greater openness in Slovenian society: theology demonstrates its readiness for a dialogue with postmodern thought (whereby it will also have to face different “ad intra” prejudices) and together with domestic and foreign partners from the field of "secular "philosophy, it examines new theoretical models of how the religious dimension is at work in contemporary postmodern society. Among the direct impacts of the project, we can also count different events related to it (regular semi-annual research workshops in Slovenia and Austria, a smaller symposium and two scientific conferences, in which foreign experts will participate). The project will seek to ensure appropriate media coverage and adequate dissemination of research results.
Most important scientific results Interim report, final report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Interim report, final report
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