Lacoste on care and restlessness: or, the irreducible difference between phenomenology and theology
Jean-Yves Lacoste draws an analogy in several of his works–including both Note sur le temps and Experience and the Absolute–between Heideggerian “care” and Augustinian “restlessness.” The analogy identifies a similarity located within a greater dissimilarity. On the one hand, both care and restlessness express the unavoidable unease that comes with living in a temporal world of transience and death (the similarity). On the other hand, Heidegger’s concept of care presupposes that the meaning of being which is manifest in the structures of human experience is definitive, whereas Augustine’s account of restlessness aims at an ultimate horizon of divine freedom which subverts the hold of any supposedely manifest finality in the here-and-now (the greater dissimilarity).
This analogy might help to explain the attraction which Christian thinkers have had to Heidegger’s philosophy and other similarly rich descriptions of human-being-in-the-world which have emerged from the phenomenological tradition. For there is a common concern to acquire a more nuanced understanding of what might loosely be called the “human condition.” And yet, the analogy also demonstrates why these dialogues, these relationships, will always be strained. Ultimately, the relation between theology and phenomenology is more dissimilar than it is similar. The address to God, the hope in God, the existence lived before God–these primary theological practices have their final significance in things not-yet seen, in realities beyond manifestation, in a future without the apparent definitiveness of death. Theology’s concern are just different.
I realize that this point may be obvious to some, perhaps to most. But it is something which occurred to me with a sense of refreshing newness today.