Frasi di Reinhold Niebuhr

Reinhold Niebuhr photo
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Reinhold Niebuhr

Data di nascita: 21. Giugno 1892
Data di morte: 1. Giugno 1971

Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr è stato un teologo protestante statunitense. Figlio di immigrati tedeschi, si colloca inizialmente su posizioni liberali per approdare, nel secondo dopoguerra, ad un sistema intransigentemente anticomunista.

È conosciuto soprattutto per i suoi studi sulla possibilità di collegare la fede cristiana al realismo della politica e della diplomazia moderna. Ha contribuito in maniera importante al moderno concetto di "guerra giusta". La sua opera più importante è considerata "The Children of the Light and the Children of Darkness" del 1944. È anche noto per aver composto la "Preghiera della serenità" .

Frasi Reinhold Niebuhr

„The redemption of mankind, by whatever means, was assured for the future. It was, in fact, assured by the future.“

—  Reinhold Niebuhr

Faith and History: A Comparison of Christian and Modern Views of History (1949)
Contesto: The fact that the prevailing mood of modern culture was able to transmute the original pessimism of romanticism into an optimistic creed proves the power of this mood. Only occasionally the original pessimism erupts in full vigor, as in the thought of a Schopenhauer or Nietzsche. The subjugation of romantic pessimism, together with the transmutation of Marxist catastrophism establishes historical optimism far beyond the confines of modern rationalism. Though there are minor dissonances the whole chorus of modern culture learned to sing the new song of hope in remarkable harmony. The redemption of mankind, by whatever means, was assured for the future. It was, in fact, assured by the future.

„If the man of power were to take a message of absolute honesty and absolute love seriously he would lose his power, or would divest himself of it.“

—  Reinhold Niebuhr

Christianity and Power Politics (1936)
Contesto: In the simple and decadent individualism of the Oxford group movement there is no understanding of the fact that the man of power is always to a certain degree an anti-Christ. "All power," said Lord Acton with cynical realism, "corrupts; and absolute power corrupts absolutely." If the man of power were to take a message of absolute honesty and absolute love seriously he would lose his power, or would divest himself of it. This is not to imply that the world can get along without power and that it is not preferable that men of conscience should wield it rather than scoundrels. But if men of power had not only conscience but also something of the gospel's insight into the intricacies of social sin in the world, they would know that they could never extricate themselves completely from the sinfulness of power, even while they were wielding it ostensibly for the common good. (Chapter 29: "Hitler and Buchman")

„We don't properly discriminate.“

—  Reinhold Niebuhr

The Mike Wallace Interview (1958)
Contesto: We don't properly discriminate. We never discriminate properly when we're dealing with another group and one of the big problems about religion is that religious people don't know that they are probably as flagrant in these misjudgments as irreligious people.

„Every society will have to maintain methods of arbitrating conflicting needs to the end of history; and in that process those who are shrewder will gain some advantage over the simple, even if they should lack special instruments of power.“

—  Reinhold Niebuhr, libro Moral Man and Immoral Society

Origine: Moral Man and Immoral Society (1932), pp. 194-196
Contesto: The hope that the internal enemies will all be destroyed and that the new society will create only men who will be in perfect accord with the collective will of society, and will not seek personal advantage in the social process, is romantic in its interpretation of the possibilities of human nature and in its mystical glorification of the anticipated automatic mutuality in the communist society.... In all these prophecies pure sentimentality obscures the fact that there can never be a perfect mutuality of interest between individuals who perform different functions in society... Man will always be imaginative enough to enlarge his needs beyond minimum requirements and selfish enough to feel the pressure of his needs more than the needs of others. Every society will have to maintain methods of arbitrating conflicting needs to the end of history; and in that process those who are shrewder will gain some advantage over the simple, even if they should lack special instruments of power.

„The more complex the world situation becomes, the more scientific and rational analysis you have to have, the less you can do with simple good will and sentiment.“

—  Reinhold Niebuhr

The Mike Wallace Interview (1958)
Contesto: The more complex the world situation becomes, the more scientific and rational analysis you have to have, the less you can do with simple good will and sentiment. Nonetheless, the human situation is so, and this is why I think that the Christian faith is right as against simple forms of secularism. That it believes that there is in man a radical freedom, and this freedom is creative but it is also destructive — and there's nothing that prevents this from being both creative and destructive. That's why history is not an answer to our problem, because history complicates, enlarges every problem of human existence.

„Human existence is obviously distinguished from animal life by its qualified participation in creation. Within limits it breaks the forms of nature and creates new configurations of vitality.“

—  Reinhold Niebuhr

The Nature and Destiny of Man: A Christian Interpretation (1941)
Contesto: Human existence is obviously distinguished from animal life by its qualified participation in creation. Within limits it breaks the forms of nature and creates new configurations of vitality. Its transcendence over natural process offers it the opportunity of interfering with the established forms and unities of vitality as nature knows them.

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„Freedom is necessary for two reasons. It's necessary for the individual, because the individual, no matter how good the society is, every individual has hopes, fears, ambitions, creative urges, that transcend the purposes of his society.“

—  Reinhold Niebuhr

The Mike Wallace Interview (1958)
Contesto: Freedom is necessary for two reasons. It's necessary for the individual, because the individual, no matter how good the society is, every individual has hopes, fears, ambitions, creative urges, that transcend the purposes of his society. Therefore we have a long history of freedom, where people try to extricate themselves from tyranny for the sake of art, for the sake of science, for the sake of religion, for the sake of the conscience of the individual — this freedom is necessary for the individual.

„There were experiences in previous centuries which might well have challenged this unqualified optimism.“

—  Reinhold Niebuhr

Faith and History: A Comparison of Christian and Modern Views of History (1949)
Contesto: There were experiences in previous centuries which might well have challenged this unqualified optimism. But the expansion of man's power over nature proceeded at such a pace that all doubts were quieted, allowing the nineteenth century to become the “century of hope” and to express the modern mood in its most extravagant terms. History, refusing to move by the calendar, actually permitted the nineteenth century to indulge its illusions into the twentieth. Then came the deluge. Since 1914 one tragic experience has followed another, as if history had been designed to refute the vain delusions of modern man.

„The naïve faith of the proletarian is the faith of the man of action. Rationality belongs to the cool observers.“

—  Reinhold Niebuhr, libro Moral Man and Immoral Society

Origine: Moral Man and Immoral Society (1932), p.221
Contesto: The naïve faith of the proletarian is the faith of the man of action. Rationality belongs to the cool observers. There is of course an element of illusion in the faith of the proletarian, as there is in all faith. But it is a necessary illusion, without which some truth is obscured. The inertia of society is so stubborn that no one will move against it, if he cannot believe that it can be more easily overcome than is actually the case.

„I wouldn't judge a man by the presuppositions of his life, but only by the fruits of his life.“

—  Reinhold Niebuhr

The Mike Wallace Interview (1958)
Contesto: My personal attitude toward atheists is the same attitude that I have toward Christians, and would be governed by a very orthodox text: "By their fruits shall ye know them." I wouldn't judge a man by the presuppositions of his life, but only by the fruits of his life. And the fruits — the relevant fruits — are, I'd say, a sense of charity, a sense of proportion, a sense of justice. And whether the man is an atheist or a Christian, I would judge him by his fruits, and I have therefore many agnostic friends.

„A church has the right to set its own standards within its community. I don't think it has a right to prohibit birth control or to enforce upon a secular society its conception of divorce“

—  Reinhold Niebuhr

The Mike Wallace Interview (1958)
Contesto: The separation of church and state is necessary partly because if religion is good then the state shouldn't interfere with the religious vision or with the religious prophet. There must be a realm of truth beyond political competence, that's why there must be a separation of churches, but if religion is bad and a bad religion is one that gives an ultimate sanctity to some particular cause. Then religion mustn't interfere with the state — so one of the basic Democratic principles as we know it in America is the separation of church and state. … A church has the right to set its own standards within its community. I don't think it has a right to prohibit birth control or to enforce upon a secular society its conception of divorce and the indissolubility of the marriage tie.

„The inevitable hypocrisy, which is associated with the all the collective activities of the human race, springs chiefly from this source: that individuals have a moral code which makes the actions of collective man an outrage to their conscience.“

—  Reinhold Niebuhr, libro Moral Man and Immoral Society

Origine: Moral Man and Immoral Society (1932), pp. 8-9
Contesto: The inevitable hypocrisy, which is associated with the all the collective activities of the human race, springs chiefly from this source: that individuals have a moral code which makes the actions of collective man an outrage to their conscience. They therefore invent romantic and moral interpretations of the real facts, preferring to obscure rather than reveal the true character of their collective behavior. Sometimes they are as anxious to offer moral justifications for the brutalities from which they suffer as for those which they commit. The fact that the hypocrisy of man's group behavior... expresses itself not only in terms of self-justification but in terms of moral justification of human behavior in general, symbolizes one of the tragedies of the human spirit: its inability to conform its collective life to its individual ideals. As individuals, men believe they ought to love and serve each other and establish justice between each other. As racial, economic and national groups they take for themselves, whatever their power can command.

„The inertia of society is so stubborn that no one will move against it, if he cannot believe that it can be more easily overcome than is actually the case.“

—  Reinhold Niebuhr, libro Moral Man and Immoral Society

Origine: Moral Man and Immoral Society (1932), p.221
Contesto: The naïve faith of the proletarian is the faith of the man of action. Rationality belongs to the cool observers. There is of course an element of illusion in the faith of the proletarian, as there is in all faith. But it is a necessary illusion, without which some truth is obscured. The inertia of society is so stubborn that no one will move against it, if he cannot believe that it can be more easily overcome than is actually the case.

„Sometimes they are as anxious to offer moral justifications for the brutalities from which they suffer as for those which they commit.“

—  Reinhold Niebuhr, libro Moral Man and Immoral Society

Origine: Moral Man and Immoral Society (1932), pp. 8-9
Contesto: The inevitable hypocrisy, which is associated with the all the collective activities of the human race, springs chiefly from this source: that individuals have a moral code which makes the actions of collective man an outrage to their conscience. They therefore invent romantic and moral interpretations of the real facts, preferring to obscure rather than reveal the true character of their collective behavior. Sometimes they are as anxious to offer moral justifications for the brutalities from which they suffer as for those which they commit. The fact that the hypocrisy of man's group behavior... expresses itself not only in terms of self-justification but in terms of moral justification of human behavior in general, symbolizes one of the tragedies of the human spirit: its inability to conform its collective life to its individual ideals. As individuals, men believe they ought to love and serve each other and establish justice between each other. As racial, economic and national groups they take for themselves, whatever their power can command.

„The fact that the prevailing mood of modern culture was able to transmute the original pessimism of romanticism into an optimistic creed proves the power of this mood.“

—  Reinhold Niebuhr

Faith and History: A Comparison of Christian and Modern Views of History (1949)
Contesto: The fact that the prevailing mood of modern culture was able to transmute the original pessimism of romanticism into an optimistic creed proves the power of this mood. Only occasionally the original pessimism erupts in full vigor, as in the thought of a Schopenhauer or Nietzsche. The subjugation of romantic pessimism, together with the transmutation of Marxist catastrophism establishes historical optimism far beyond the confines of modern rationalism. Though there are minor dissonances the whole chorus of modern culture learned to sing the new song of hope in remarkable harmony. The redemption of mankind, by whatever means, was assured for the future. It was, in fact, assured by the future.

„The nuclear age has refuted the idea of progress and Marxism has been refuted by Stalinism. Therefore people have returned to the historic religion.“

—  Reinhold Niebuhr

The Mike Wallace Interview (1958)
Contesto: The people that weren't traditionally religious, conventionally religious, had a religion of their own in my youth. These were liberals who believed in the idea of progress or they were Marxists. Both of these secular religions have broken down. The nuclear age has refuted the idea of progress and Marxism has been refuted by Stalinism. Therefore people have returned to the historic religion. But now when the historic religions give trivial answers to these very tragic questions of our day, when an evangelist says, for instance, we mustn't hope for a summit meeting, we must hope in Christ without spelling out what this could mean in our particular nuclear age. This is the irrelevant answer, when another Evangelist says if America doesn't stop being selfish, it will be doomed. This is also a childish answer because nations are selfish and the question about America isn't whether we will be selfish or unselfish, but will we be sufficiently imaginative to pass the Reciprocal Trade Acts.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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