Guest Lecture and Workshop by Karlheinz Ruhstorfer “Productive Constellation. On the Dia-Lectics of Knowledge and Faith in Europe” [Orig.: „Produktive Konstellation. Zur Dia-Lektik von Wissen und Glauben in Europa“]

On 14.06.2022, Karlheinz Ruhstorfer, Professor for Dogmatics at the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, held a workshop and a guest lecture at the Research Centre Religion and Transformation entitled "Productive Constellation. On the Dia-Lectics of Knowledge and Faith in Europe." Ruhstorfer demonstrated that, after the dismissal of grand narratives in postmodernity, today there is a necessity to respond to a new need for orienting knowledge through comprehensive narratives ("big story"). Such a narrative should neither fall behind the insights achieved in postmodernism nor deny its own contingent point of view. Nonetheless, it could lead the presence into a pro-ductive – in the sense of "bringing forth something new" – constellation with the history of thought. According to Ruhstorfer, this approach requires not only a more precise historical contextualization of deconstruction and postmodernism, but above all a theology of history that considers the historicity of reason as well as the gradual revelation of God in history. The way in which history addresses itself to a certain presence is of great importance and demands that the respective version in which the absolute reveals itself in different epochs of knowledge and faith is seriously taken into account. Ruhstorfer analyzed different versions of the absolute and thus different constellations of knowledge and faith in the European history of thought, using the categories of identity and difference, which, however, were understood as only one possibility for theorizing amongst others, and thus not as exclusive. Different epochal versions of identity and difference from biblical and Greek thought of antiquity to modern times and deconstruction were traced in their essential figurations. In the course of this narrative, Ruhstorfer explained how all versions of identity and difference, including the radicalization of difference in modern philosophy, and even différance (in the mode of the trace of the disappearance of the trace) could still be read as echoes of the biblical narrative. The possibility of the Bible as a meta-narrative, however, does not lead to an all-encompassing synthesis; rather, the attention was drawn to constellations, understood as productive compilations of historical formations of knowledge and faith, which at the same time preserved the alterity of the respective other. A dia-lectic of knowledge and faith – understood more in the sense of "talking through" or narrating than in the sense of a fixed method – could contribute to a transition from a purely destructive attitude to history towards an attitude of a careful cultivation of the spiritual creation.