Volume 36, 1998
Philosophy of Religion
Principles for Cognizing the Sacred
Today we need a scientific analysis of basic world views which expresses genuine understanding of the sacred. Such world views hold the main principles for cognizing reality. A ‘substratum’ understanding of the Sacred is characteristic of mythology and magic, wherein all spiritual phenomena are closely connected with a material or corporeal bearer. Functional understanding of the Sacred is developed by the earliest civilizations in which the spiritual is separated from the material. For example, Plato, Aristotle, and Neoplatonism created European functional theology. Substantial understanding of the Sacred appears in Christianity. Here we find the synthesis of substratum and functional peculiarities which are looked upon as "creaturous," revealed by God to man and integrated in their fundamental unity as the basis for variety. It is only unity which avoids the mixing of the three images of an object-substratum, function, and substance-that allows us to cognize a true object. In reproducing the Sacred as such, we can show the Sacred as the unity of the mysterious and the obvious, the static and the dynamic, and the passive and the active.