Daniel Krochmalnik: Experiment Human – On early concentration camp testimony
The atrocities that the prisoners in the concentration and extermination camps actually suffered in the 20th century can hardly be understood by outsiders like us today, especially if one takes a closer look at the experiences of the survivors, who offer cruel testimony on the human beast. This is also the case with the concentration camp testimonies in Daniel Krochmalnik’s contribution, which tell of the deadly experiments of the so-called ›Overman‹ and how he, inspired by the National Socialist master-race ideology, assumed an almost divine mission to exterminate everything human in his victims, so that death often seemed to be the only salvation. In view of such descriptions, which pervade the entire concentration camp literature, one inevitably has to ask oneself, as the author does, about the human condition and whether one can still place hope in people after all this – because the shocking experiences of the homo carceris in the concentration camps and gulags of the last century fundamentally shake the self-understanding of the human as a moral being, who can in fact transform into an angry beast at any time, especially under the influence of totalitarian systems of thought and rule as that Chapter »Homo homini lupus« shows. Nevertheless, in the end the author does not want to give up all hope in ›humanistic moral resources‹, even if the very existence of the »camp man« seems to contradict this.
Birgit Zweigle: The image of man in the creation narratives of the Bible
How self-images, the perceptions of others, and caricatures can fundamentally shape human existence and what role the image of man plays in the Bible are discussed by the author with her examination of the two creation narratives in Gen 1,1-2,4a and Gen 2,4b-3,24. After a brief introduction to the origins and the differences between the Priestly and Jahwist accounts of creation, she first analyzes the Priestly account, which focuses on the creation of the world as a whole. The idea expressed here of the human being as an ›image of God‹, which includes women and men equally, initially paints an exceedingly positive picture of people and the world, so that the author asks herself whether ultimately this story doesn’t seem almost naive, since there is no evil in it at all and everything is given the predicate ›good‹. With this question she goes into the analysis of the second account of creation, which focuses more on the creation of man and describes him as a kind of »in-between being made of divine breath and matter«. Here it becomes clear that it is man who gives existence to evil by reaching for the fruits of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil without authority, obeying the voice of Satan more than that of God. This turns his salvific state into an unsalvific one, which according to this idea continues to this day. Divided into a before and after, the author examines this biblical account of ›the Fall‹ in detail in order to summarize subsequently what constructive and destructive meanings can be read out of these two accounts of creation for our present image of man.
Ronen Pinkas: Animal rights – Jewish perspectives
This article raises the question why is it that, despite Jewish tradition devoting much thought to the status and treatment of animals and showing strict adherence to the notion of preventing their pain and suffering, ethical attitudes to animals are not dealt with systematically in the writings of Jewish philosophers and have not received sufficient attention in the context of moral monotheism. What has prevented the expansion of the golden rule: »Love your fellow as yourself: I am the LORD« (Lev 19,18) and »That which is hateful to you do not do to another« (BT Shabbat 31a:6; JT Nedarim 30b:1) to animals? Why is it that the moral responsibility for the fellow-man, the neighbor, or the other, has been understood as referring only to a human companion? Does the demand for absolute moral responsibility spoken from the face of the other, which Emmanuel Levinas emphasized in his ethics, not radiate from the face of the non-human other as well? Levinas’s ethics explicitly negates the principle of reciprocity and moral symmetry: The ›I‹ is committed to the other, regardless of the other’s attitude towards him. Does the affinity to the eternal Thou which Martin Buber also discovers in plants and animals not require a paradigmatic change in the attitude towards animals?
Liane Wobbe: Hindu worldviews
In Hinduism, animals are generally given great importance, which extends to religious worship; humans and animals have a special relationship to one another according to Hindu ideas, which is the subject of this treatise. To explain these in more detail, the author first offers an exemplary look into the understanding of the essence of humans and animals by explaining some important theological-philosophical foundations and terms of the Hindu religion and describing how the eternal divine, called brahman, relates to the world of matter, to humans and to animals. According to the idea, the divine self is the epitome of all living beings, so that the animals also have a soul which, out of respect for the divine, is to be treated with respect and dignity like humans. With this, Hinduism formulates a special animal ethic which, as the second chapter illustrates, considers humans and animals together, since both are, as it were, integrated into the rebirth cycle and subject to the principle of karma. Another aspect of the relationship between humans and animals is shown in the religious cult of the Hindus, which is the subject of the third and final chapter. Here the author goes into the numerous mythological and iconographic depictions of animals that are worshiped as symbols of the divine and that can ultimately also be understood as signs of the substantial bond between humans and animals.
Nora Schmidt: The known unknown: Revelation and the unconscious
With this essay, the author attempts a depth-psychological interpretation of knowledge of religious revelation by examining two narrative parables (amṯāl) from Koran on the ›subject level‹, which in Sura 36 and Sura 18 belong to the oldest Koranic examples listed under the generic term maṯal. Following in the footsteps of Eugen Drewermann, who with his work Tiefenpsychologie und Exegese opened the doors wide for a depth-psychological interpretation of the Bible and at the same time rejected the promise of salvation of historical-critical interpretations, the author also goes into the wide field of the unconscious to uncover mental images of individuation processes hidden behind the often allegorical Koranic ›experiences of revelation‹. In the context of psychoanalysis and with a view to the genre of the maṯal, she discusses the epistemic function of parables, as they also appear in the Old and New Testaments, and describes them as a special form of teaching that, due to its pictorial nature, always reveal an »abyss to not-knowing«. The aim of the parable is therefore not to convey a predetermined and teachable knowledge from the Koran on the ›subject level‹, which in Sura 36 and Sura 18 belong to the oldest Koranic examples listed under the generic term maṯal. Following in the footsteps of Eugen Drewermann, who with his work Tiefenpsychologie und Exegese opened the doors wide for a depth-psychological interpretation of the Bible and at the same time rejected the promise of salvation of historical-critical interpretations, the author also goes into the wide field of the unconscious to uncover mental images of individuation processes hidden behind the often allegorical Koranic ›experiences of revelation‹. In the context of psychoanalysis and with a view to the genre of the maṯal, she discusses the epistemic function of parables, as they also appear in the Old and New Testaments, and describes them as a special form of teaching that, due to its pictorial nature, always reveal an »abyss to not-knowing«. The aim of the parable is therefore not to convey a predetermined and teachable knowledge rather the intended act of understanding lies in not knowing or the unconscious, so that psychological developments can be set in motion on the basis of subjective human experiences and inner processes can be made recognizable. Using the example of the parable from Sura 36, she also shows that a depth-psychological interpretation is likewise a part of the Islamic exegesis tradition, especially if one takes into account the Sufi commentaries, which also contain interpretations on the subject level, as can be seen in the Tafsīr of Pseudo-Ibn ʿArabī from the 12th century.
Michael Nestler: Adam as vicegerent of God in the mystical doctrine of Ibn ʿArabī
Ibn ʿArabī is considered to be one of the best-known and most influential mystics within the Islamic tradition with an extremely extensive and complex oeuvre, which to this day has been the subject of numerous studies in both East and West. The present contribution is also dedicated to one of these writings, namely the work Fuṣūṣ al-ḥikam, and examines in the chapter on Adam his role as a vicegerent of God (ḫalīfat Allāh), who in Ibn ʿArabī’s mystical doctrine of being is ascribed the status of a »perfect human« (al-insān al-kāmil). Starting from Q 2:30-34, where Adam is presented as ḫalīfat Allāh, the author presents a precise textual analysis of this first chapter in Fuṣūṣ al-ḥikam based on three levels of relationship which Adam has to the world, to the angels and to God, showing how the perfection of Adam can be recognized and measured. In Ibn ʿArabī, Adam is by no means only considered to be the first man and forefather of mankind, as one could claim for the Koran and the Bible; first and foremost, he embodies the prototype of man or the essence of human being itself, which basically has the ability to manifest the attributes of God in such a way that it can attain the status of perfection and vicegerency. This fundamental potential testifies to a special human dignity, which is already expressed in the Koran using the figure of Adam and which is also the subject of this study.
Maassouma Dabbous: Adam – the first man or symbol of mankind?
Using the example of the Koranic Adam, this study investigates the extent to which the concept of evolution and the religious conception of human creation can be reconciled and what consequences such an encounter would have for theological perspectives. The focus is on the religious narrative of the creation of Adam, which, according to the Koran, arose from earth or clay, animated by the Spirit of God. The author subjects this narrative to a cultural-evolutionary interpretation that no longer understands Adam as the first human, but as a representative of a new type of human who, in the Neolithic age, followed the way from a previously nomadic to a sedentary way of life characterized by agriculture and cattle breeding. According to this interpretation, there must have been generations of people before Adam, an idea that is not fundamentally alien to the Islamic culture of thought, because the idea of a ›pre-Adamite‹ human being is the subject of individual writings and traditions, as the author makes clear. In addition, her comparison with the creation myths of other cultures shows that Adam can also be understood from the Koranic point of view as a generic term for primitive man.