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Philosophy and Theology

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published on May 16, 2015

Jessica M. Murdoch

Contesting Foundations
Karl Rahner and Francis Schüssler Fiorenza's Nonfoundationalist Critique

One particularly serious criticism of Karl Rahner’s fundamental theology on postmodern grounds has been articulated by Francis Schüssler Fiorenza. Specifically, Fiorenza criticizes the mystagogical or “maieutic” aspect of Rahner’s method, its alleged progression from implicit experience to explicit historical concretions. This characteristic, in Fiorenza’s estimation, legitimates those who level a claim of tautology against the transcendental method. Furthermore, Fiorenza argues that the maieutic character of Rahner’s transcendental method undercuts truly historical questions. The key problem with assessing Fiorenza’s critique of Rahner is primarily Fiorenza’s imprecision with his use of terms. Two questions in particular remain unresolved. First, which foundationalism is the supposed foundationalism present in Rahner’s method? Second, whose conception of hermeneutics is included under the rubric of “hermeneutics"? In this paper I argue that Rahner executes a truly hermeneutical theological method that escapes Fiorenza’s foundationalist critique.

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