Religious Sense

Religious Sense

Translated by John Zucchi
Copyright Date: 1997
Pages: 184
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Religious Sense
    Book Description:

    Giussani challenges us to penetrate the deepest levels of experience to discover our essential selves, breaking through the layers of opinions and judgments that have obscured our true needs. Asserting that all the tools necessary for self-discovery are inherent within us, he focuses primarily on reason, not as narrowly defined by modern philosophers, but as an openness to existence, a capacity to comprehend and affirm reality in all of its dimensions.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6708-5
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-x)
    Jean Bethke Elshtain

    In this beautifully crafted work, Luigi Giussani draws us into a world of beauty and power by bringing us closer to life in all its shimmering intensity. We lose this world in an age of ideology as we manipulate, fabricate, and strive to master reality. We overvalue our own schemes. We forget that there is a world we are invited to know — to know and, yes, to love. The religious experience, for Giussani, is all about reality, especially that reality we call “human” which cannot be “studied as a geological or meteorological event.” Why? Because it “involves the person.” The...

  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xiv)

    With this present volume,The Religious Sense, McGill-Queen's University Press begins the publication of the fundamental works of Monsignor Luigi Giussani. To be published in three volumes, the text makes available in English the content of the courses presented by Morisignor Giussani in over forty years of teaching, first as a teacher of religion in a Milan high school, and later, beginning in 1964, as professor of Introduction to Theology at the Catholic University of the same city. Following this first volume, the next will be dedicated to the great personal self-revelation of God in the world in the person...

  5. Preface
    (pp. xv-2)
  6. 1 The First Premise: Realism
    (pp. 3-11)

    In order to examine the theme of the religious sense in a clear and, therefore, more efficacious manner, I shall base the method of this work on three premises. To introduce the first of these, I shall quote a passage from Alexis Carrel'sReflections on Life:

    In the soothing softness of the modern world, the mass of traditional rules which gave consistency to life broke up as the frozen surface of a stream breaks up in spring ... Thanks to the progress of technology, the greater part of the restraints imposed on us by the cosmos have disappeared and, along...

  7. 2 The Second Premise: Reasonableness
    (pp. 12-22)

    Our first premise, the need for realism, has pointed to the primacy of the object: we have concluded that the method by which something is approached is determined by the object; it is not imagined at the subject's whim.

    The second premise, on the other hand, singles out the acting subject, “man.” By reasonableness I mean what this word says about a common experience. Even philosophers must use reasonableness in their everyday relations. In this sense, reasonableness means the realization of the value of reason in action. But even the termreasonmight easily be called into question. By reason,...

  8. 3 The Third Premise: Impact of Morality on the Dynamic of Knowing
    (pp. 23-33)

    The first premise insisted on the necessity for realism; realism is imposed by the nature and the situation of the object. The second premise emphasized concern and love for rationality, and this was intended to bring to light the acting subject, and the manner of the subject’s movements. But, in facing a question such as, “How can one trust another person?” a problem still remains that does not depend upon the soundness of the reasoning process. Trusting another person introduces a new factor, namely, the attitude of the person - usually called “morality.” The third premise seeks then to address...

  9. 4 The Religious Sense: The Starting Point
    (pp. 34-44)

    All we have said until now has not been for the sake of pure analytical curiosity. We have discussed these matters in order to call our attention to the conditions which must be respected when one approaches the problem of our religious sense, and they can be summarized within a single phrase: one must be open to the demands imposed by the question itself.

    Let us now go to the heart of our argument, while at the same time keeping in mind a certain methodological consideration - we are made for truth, and truth is the correspondence between reality and...

  10. 5 The Religious Sense: Its Nature
    (pp. 45-58)

    We have already outlined why, from a methodological point of view, the starting point for the kind of inquiry which interests us here is one’s own experience, oneself-in-action. In addition, our initial reflections upon the matter revealed the factors in play in our experience, which have shown us the dual makeup of the human composite, the material and spiritual aspects of our lives. Now let us examine what is fundamental to the spiritual factor: the religious element.

    Let us draw closer to understanding the essence of this religious factor.

    The religious factor represents the nature of our “I” in as...

  11. 6 Unreasonable Positions Before the Ultimate Question: Emptying the Question
    (pp. 59-69)

    I would now like to list, even if in a summary fashion, what I would call “unreasonable” positions which individuals assume before the questions which constitute the religious sense. They also assume these positions in answering these questions.

    Now why do we use the word unreasonable? Because an unreasonable position is one which claims to explain a phenomenon, but does so in a way which does not consider adequatelyall of the factors. You simply cannot resolve a question while forgetting or denying some of the factors in play. We generalize upon this observation, and affirm that a position is...

  12. 7 Unreasonable Positions Before the Ultimate Question: Reduction of the Question
    (pp. 70-79)

    The first three positions we have listed - the theoretical denial, voluntaristic substitution with one’s own emotional ideals and the practical - are analogous to each other in that they all attempt to empty the questions of their content. The next three positions also have a common denominator: to one degree or another they take seriously the reality of the constitutive stimulus of reason, but they reduce it: the first one stops in midstride, the second self-destructs because of the difficulty of the answer, while the third - which is the most deceitful and cynical - turns these sacred questions,...

  13. 8 Consequences of the Unreasonable Positions Before the Ultimate Question
    (pp. 80-93)

    The six categories we have discussed all devalue the questions which we have recognized as expressing the human being’s specific originality. They strip them of their substance and weight. The concomitant loss of meaning carries with it grave cultural consequences. The individual loses control of himself, of all of the factors which constitute him. He becomes like a driver who loses control of his car, and the movement of the car takes over the driver, or better yet, sets itself on a course without direction, wide open to any collision.

    The following are the consequences of these positions: first, an...

  14. 9 Preconception, Ideology, Rationality, and the Religious Sense
    (pp. 94-99)

    If the consequences of negation are so contrary to nature, why do human beings abandon themselves to these positions? It seems to me that there is but one adequate answer: it is because of the domination ofpreconception, the tyranny of prejudice.

    It would not be useless to restate a few observations which have already been made. But, first of all, we must make distinctions.

    a) There is, as we have seen, a positive meaning of the word “preconception,” and this is to be found in its etymological sense. Indeed, when faced with any type of proposal, the human person...

  15. 10 How the Ultimate Questions Arise: The Way of the Religious Sense
    (pp. 100-109)

    A new perspective on the problem awaits us.

    If those ultimate questions are the very essence, the stuff of human consciousness, human reason, how do they arise? To answer such a question, we must identify how a person reacts to reality. If an individual dual becomes aware of his constitutive factors by observing himself in action, we need to observe this human dynamic in its impact with reality, an impact which sets in motion the mechanism revealing these factors. If an individual were to barely live the impact with reality, because, for example, he had not had to struggle, he...

  16. 11 The Experience of the Sign
    (pp. 110-119)

    The way reality strikes me demonstrates the existence of some other thing. But how? How does the phenomenon we described in the last chapter demonstrate this?

    First of all, it is clear that the awe which we have described constitutes anexperience of provocation. Upon gazing at reality, I have before me something which produces openness. Reality presents itself to me in a way that solicits me to pursue something else. I do not react to reality as a photographic film upon which reality “impresses” its image and that’s that. Not only does reality make an impression upon me, it...

  17. 12 The Adventure of Interpretation
    (pp. 120-124)

    No matter how obscure, enigmatic, nebulous, and veiled this “Other” may be, still it is undeniably the ultimate destination of the human impulse, the goal of the human dynamic.

    Let us summarize our itinerary. Reason, which is to comprehend existence, to be coherent with its very nature, must admit that something incomprehensible, Something (of aquid) structurallybeyondthe possibility of understanding and measuring (“transcendent”) exists:

    Everyone vaguely pictures in his mind

    A good the heart may rest on, and is driven

    By his desire to seek it and to find.

    Now, who art thou to be a judge, and...

  18. 13 An Education in Freedom
    (pp. 125-131)

    Demonstration through signs is the method that is adequate to the human being, it is characteristic of a personal life. The word, the gesture, what are they? They are signs. The love of a man and woman, friendship, and life together (convivenza) all use the sign as their instrument of communication. We have seen why: in this demonstrative method freedom plays itself out. It is respected. Freedom is played out in interpreting the sign.

    So here is the new step. The fundamental problem of the great adventure of this “sign” which is the world, is education in freedom because only...

  19. 14 Reason’s Energy Seeks to Penetrate the Unknown
    (pp. 132-140)

    Fundamentally, we have defined reason as a relationship with the infinite that reveals itself as the need for a total explanation. Reason's highest achievement is the intuition that an explanation exists exceeding the measure of reason itself. Using a prior play on words, reason, precisely as the need to comprehend existence, is forced by its very nature to admit the existence of something incomprehensible.

    Now, when reason becomes conscious of itself down to its core and discovers that it ultimately realizes its nature by intuiting the unreachable, the mystery, it does not cease to be a need for knowledge.


  20. 15 The Hypothesis of Revelation: Conditions For Its Acceptability
    (pp. 141-146)

    Our nature is need for truth and fulfilment, or, in other words, happiness. All human movement, whatever it might be, is dictated by this urgency that constitutes us. But this desire, having reached the extreme borders of our life experience, still does not find what it has been searching for: at the utmost frontier of its lived territory, this urgent need of ours still has not found its answer. And the apparent wall of death clearly testifies to the reality of this observation.

    It is here where the question springs up. Our reason, our humanity, by the force of its...

  21. Notes
    (pp. 147-154)
  22. Subject Index
    (pp. 155-162)
  23. Author Index
    (pp. 163-164)
  24. Permissions
    (pp. 165-166)