Semestral academic expression of research done at Sophia University Institute, of which it carries the name – ‘Sophia’, Wisdom – and its subtitle – ‘Research on foundations and correlation of knowledge’ – wishes to express the specific slant characterizing it and it commits it: it is about thinking of the meaning and the contribution that scientific disciplines foresee in both the research and teaching of Sophia along the sapient plane of life and light and in interpersonal and interdisciplinary dialogue specifying both project and program.
The authors’ contribution goes from biblical theology to systematic theology, from political philosophy to political economy, from epistemology and cosmology to logic and mathematical foundations.
Piero Coda, Scientific Director
Michele Zanzucchi, Responsible Director
Composed of live-in professors and those entrusted with IUS lectures, the committee includes Antonio Maria Baggio (Political Philosophy), Luigino Bruni (Political Economy), Bernhard Callebaut (Social Sciences), Piero Coda (Systematic Theology), Judith Povilus (Logic and Mathematic Foundations), Sergio Rondinara (Epistemology and Cosmology), Daniela Ropelato (Political Science) and Gérard Rossé (Biblical Theology).
Trinitarian ontology is an expression that has to some extent become current in the last 30-40 years. A brief essay by Klaus Hemmerle, entitled Thesen zu einer trinitarischen Ontologie, brought it to the fore. But the expression itself, and fi rst of all what it means and implies, go much further back in time. In reality, the questions surrounding the expression are neither few nor trivial. They touch upon its usage and applicability and, still more, upon its plausibility, its effectiveness and its impact upon the cultural project it facilitates and seeks to promote. The purpose of this contribution, which is simply introductory in nature, is to look at some methodological suggestions that offer an illustration of the relevance of Trinitarian ontology and the project it inspires, and point to how it can be pursued with the greatest possible rigour, honesty and creativity.
What impact does the notion of God as Trinity have upon Christian society? The question was asked by Karl Rahner who saw that if the doctrine of the Trinity were excluded from Christianity it would, unfortunately, not change much in the practice of religious life. The author begins with the revelation of God in the Old Testament (focused upon the oneness and transcendence of God) and comes to Jesus and to the revelation of God who has “opened” to us his Being as communion. What is presented thus is an understanding of how Jesus lived out his relationship with God, which can become paradigmatic for the believer, showing in this way the importance of the revelation of God-communion for the fulfi lment of the human vocation.
Interdisciplinary and/or transdisciplinary dialogue calls for new methods and new instruments. Identifying forms of dynamic relationality typical of a trinitarian ontology and expressing these in a formal language can been seen as initial steps in developing a “conceptual lens” through which analogous patterns in varying fi elds come into focus and can be compared. The fi rst part of the article presents formal ontology as a neutral conceptual framework well suited for mediating scientifi c and humanistic disciplines. It then goes on to describe a particular axiomatic system designed to express in formal, non ambiguous terms the pattern of dynamic relationality perceived in the ontological foundations of the charism of unity (Chiara Lubich). The article concludes with specifi c examples which offer insight into the question of how this dynamic, open formal system (DIT) may serve as an instrument to evidence patterns of relationality common to other disciplines.
Using game theory, and in particular “trust games”, it is possible, with a vision of reciprocity rooted in the “trinitarian paradigm”, to unpack gratuitousness as it characterizes refl ection upon the category of gift in contemporary thought. In this way it is possible to come to a description of the dynamics of a “unconditional reciprocity”, in which the choice of giving is not conditioned by the expectation that the other will give back, but the result is inevitably conditioned by the response. This relational dimension differentiates between gift-reciprocity and pure altruism or philanthropy, and makes it always, at least potentially, wounding. The trinitarian paradigm seems, from this point of view, to be able to offer new frames for describing and understanding contemporary human behaviours, and in this way contributes to the creation of a new formal language, one that goes beyond the individualistic paradigm which characterizes game theory itself.
Presented here are the remarks made by the author as part of a formal discussion of the paper by Luigino Bruni also published in this volume. Its comments are on three levels: to do with method, language and the argument itself, as a “health warning” with regard to the use of a trinitarian ontology as a hermeneutic, critical and axiomatic reference point in all areas of human endeavour. What is said attempts to offer ways in which the trinitarian paradigm can avoid being exploited or trivialized. Furthermore, given that the use of “one-and-threeness” functions as the interpretative and descriptive key to the dynamics of interpersonal relationships capable of transforming society in a constructive, healthy and human manner, it attempts to suggest how not to make summary affi rmations or conclusions, take things for granted or at second hand.
The article tries to respond to the diffi culties in dialogue of representing a large group of people. The approach is deliberately interdisciplinary. It hopes to elucidate how refl ection upon problems drawn from life and developed in the light of revelation can be strengthened by the use of logical models. The problems of dialogue are compared with a gospel passage: Jn 1:19-27. This is followed by a mathematical form of argument. The gospel passage suggests the possibility of using a formal model that helps by giving an abstract representation of a text’s meaning. The chosen passage allows us to glimpse the beginning of a reciprocal and dialogical movement patterned upon the model of relationality described in the “non-standard identity” process of Obojska-Povilus. This would be ideal for bilateral group. What can be glimpsed, however, is the possibility of widening the model to a multilateral group, to say nothing of dialogues where each of the participants must start from the constituency he or she represents to achieve the widest acceptance of the dialogue’s outcomes.
The final term of metaphysics is a fact, which it is necessary to recognize and which calls for a renewed ontology, that gives an account of God’s absence from the world. This new ontology must be rooted in the trinitarian revelation that took place in Jesus. Indeed, as Klaus Hemmerle wrote, only Jesus in the moment of his forsakenness makes defi nitively clear the character of God’s Being. Abandoned by the Father, Jesus shows that God is manifested in what is contrary to God. God’s absence, therefore, can be seen as another modality of God’s presence. As Chiara Lubich writes, God is Being that contains “at its very heart non-being as the gift of self”; that is, God-Love revealed by the forsaken Jesus. Sharing in God’s absence, people can rediscover their unity, and generate again, in this way, the God’s presence in the world.
Heribert Mühlen is one of the most eminent fi gures of post Vatican II ecclesiological refl ection in the twentieth century. This paper presents his thought regarding the category of the ecclesial “we” in its Trinitarian and Christological dimensions. Starting from the key points of his “theo-logic”, which is followed by a discussion of its epistemological status, the article attempts, in constant dialogue with the author, to elicit the prospective systematic outlines of an ecclesiology of communion, highlighting its intrinsic Eucharistic dynamic.
This essay was originally delivered as a paper at a symposium on the topic of Translatio Imperii at the University of Hong Kong in February 2010. After the ideological horrors of the 20th century, participants were asked: ‘Can one still speak in any legitimate way of a divine providence in history?’ Piero Coda’s work, particularly his Evento Pasquale, Il negativo e la trinità, and Il logos e il nulla, could be read as a development of a humanism expanded to the dimensions of a participation in the Trinitarian kenosis. His grappling with Hegel shows the centrality of Jesus’ forsakenness and of the Trinity to contemporary culture, while his Il Logos e il nulla indicates how the intra-Trinitarian kenosis becomes the context for dialogue with the great oriental religions. Finally, his ‘Towards a Theological Foundation for a Political Category of Fraternity’ develops a Trinity-based understanding of fraternity as an experience overcoming religious, social, and anthropological divisions in contemporary culture. Shining through Coda’s work can be discerned a profound rethinking of divine providence in a history however deeply scarred by evils such as the Holocaust.
The evolution and the transformation of the reality of democracy, especially in relation to participation in it, opens up new possibilities for refl ection upon sectors that, until now, have been seen as exclusively within the competence of “experts”. Among these the Italian justice system appears to be evolving towards a new institutional arrangement that includes several different elements and characteristics. Internationally, as seen for example in the various Truth and Reconciliation ommissions and in developments such as the Chicago Principles, it appears that the justice system can give scope to participation and democracy, a transformation to which the principle of fraternity can offer a fundamental contribution.
The presidency of Jimmy Carter (1976- 1980) marked a turning point in US policy. Domestically, it was characterized by economic crisis, huge popular distrust in politics, the growth of neoconservatism and increasing bitterness between Democrats and Republicans. Internationally, Carter attempted to recover the path of “enlightened internationalism”, taking up the doctrines of his illustrious Democratic predecessors such as Wilson and Roosevelt and proposing a new model for foreign policy based on Human Rights and opposition to dictatorships. In the political model inspired by US constitutional ideals, which Carter drew from, can be found signs of the Principle of Fraternity which, in itself, leads to a specifi c kind of politics. This article seeks to analyse Jimmy Carter’s personality as a man and as a politician, emphasizing his values and trying to outline his mistakes. In particular it looks at the implications of his Human Rights policy in the concrete case of the period of Argentine dictatorship, highlighting the virtues and the limitations of this experience.
This article attempts to apply the poetry reading method developed by Walter Benjamin and José Guilherme Merquior to the interpretation of the life of St Francis painted by Giotto (or his assistants) in the frescos in the upper basilica of Assisi. This method considers not only aesthetic qualities to be important, but also any possible message; indeed, it attempts to draw the message from the aesthetics. The present exercise seeks to make a contribution to current theological thinking by discovering key permanent and practical elements in reading the Franciscan charism, using in this process instruments that the study of symbols employs to interpret the mixture of meanings deposited in culture across the centuries. It is thus useful to have the reconstruction of Francis’s life produced by the “Fonti Francescane” and associated scholars in the last few years in an attempt to rediscover a sense of imaginative continuity in Franciscanism that has direct infl uence upon the incarnation of Francis’s charism.