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  • 1
    Language: English
    Year of publication: 2021
    Titel der Quelle: Journal of Religion
    Angaben zur Quelle: 101,4 (2021) 505-523
    Keywords: Buber, Martin, ; Eranos Foundation ; National socialism Philosophy ; Jewish philosophy 20th century
    Abstract: The annual Eranos conference in Ascona, Switzerland, contributed immensely to discourse about religion and spirituality from its inception in 1933. These gatherings, which revolved largely around the psychologist Carl Jung, investigated religious consciousness by way of spiritual “symbols” or “archetypes.” Such images were generally treated as timeless, autonomous phenomena that penetrate beyond historical particularities and social forms into the transcendent depths of the mystical Self. Discourse at Eranos thus portrayed the essence of religion as decontextualized and de-ethicized. The current article demonstrates that the German-Jewish philosopher Martin Buber was already sensitive to the sociopolitical dangers of this approach when he lectured at Eranos in 1934. The essay that emerged out of those talks, “Sinnbildliche und sakramentale Existenz im Judentum” (Symbolic and Sacramental Existence in Judaism), is widely read as a classic of Buber’s writings on Hasidism. And yet, the historical details surrounding Buber’s Eranos lectures, especially as evidenced in the unpublished letters between him and the conference organizer, Olga Fröbe-Kapteyn, as well as the stenographer’s typescript of Buber’s live orations, shed remarkable new light on the well-known essay. “Sinnbildliche und sakramentale Existenz” was, in fact, composed largely as a polemic against Jung and his followers at Eranos, a number of whom were aligned with National Socialism and other fascist movements. In an act of scholarly resistance, Buber challenged widespread perspectives at Eranos regarding symbolism, Gnosticism, and the nature of religion. In so doing, he anticipated later critiques of Eranos that took shape in the 1990s.
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