What does it mean to be human?
The traditional answers from the past remain only theoretical possibilities unless they come to mean something to today’s generation. Moreover, in light of new knowledge and circumstances, a new generation may call these old answers into question, and seek to reinterpret, or, indeed, provide alternatives to them.
In the 1960s, the Catholic Church’s Second Vatican Council attempted such a reinterpretation, an aggiornamento, for the post-war generation of the mid-twentieth century by proposing, in Gaudium et Spes, a theological anthropology founded upon the ideas of human dignity and the common good. Fifty years later is an appropriate time to revisit those answers, and to seek again to reinterpret or provide alternatives to them, in light of new knowledge for a new generation.
Taking the themes of Gaudium et Spes as its starting point, this book looks at developments in theology and philosophy in the latter half of the twentieth century that call some of these ‘old’ answers into question. It identifies some of the ‘new knowledge and circumstances’ that need to be taken into account for this generation’s answer to the question of what it means to be human.
In five parts, leading philosophers and theologians offer interpretive lenses for reading the theological anthropology of the twentieth century; address the challenges of anthropocentricism, alterity, incarnation, and post-modernity for the notion of the human subject,; tackle the important moral concepts of conscience, responsibility, evil and guilt; investigate the claims of atheism, fundamentalism, scientific naturalism, nihilism, and pluralism; and consider questions of the relationship between the individual and the community in the modern secular state. In so doing, this book prepares the ground for the development of a theological anthropology for the twenty-first century.
Kirchhoffer, Horner, and McArdle are the initiators of the Anthropos in the Antipodes Project in the Faculty of Theology and Philosophy at Australian Catholic University. The project aims to consider developments over the past sixty years, current issues and future scenarios concerning understandings of the human person in order to articulate a theological anthropology proper to the twenty-first century.
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