The Pauline Anthropology of Embodied Intersubjectivity
The interdisciplinary dialogue of the last years has shown that Pauline Anthropology is able to contribute to overcoming dualistic tensions between the conventional philosophical or theological anthropologies, which can also be described as “mentalistic”, and the more recent scientific approaches, which represent an – at times materialistic – scientism.
The richness of the anthropology of Paul has long been conveyed by the Pauline dualism of “spirit and flesh”. This dualism, which marks the tension between the inevitable limitedness of material self-preservation and the eternity of God and the spirit, must not result in overlooking the fruitful differentiation of sarx and soma inherent in Paul’s work. According to Paul, the body – in contrast to the flesh – is already marked by psyche and pneuma; it is characterized by a polyphonic interaction of its limbs and by functions manifoldly transcending the very self-preservation. It is through the body that man is integrated in supra-individual communication interdependencies (see Merleau-Ponty’s “Zwischenleiblichkeit”), which he as much constitutes through bodily articulation as he is himself shaped by them.
Applying more recent research approaches, which – following the positions of the North American pragmatism – try to develop “a both somatic-individual as well as cultural-historical anthropology”, the subproject aims to bring Pauline anthropology up for discussion again, aligning it with the results of the other subprojects. The Pauline concept of the heart (kardia), which is carnal, but also connects cognitive, emotional, and voluntative functions, seems particularly attractive to achieve a realistic relation of biology and anthropology. Additionally, the Pauline concept of the spirit, which hosts a large diversity of memories and imaginations and connects a variety of individuals with their energies, merits further and more detailed research.