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DOI 10.12887/32-2019-4-128-13

Gerald J. Beyer, Józef Tischner: Chaplain of Solidarność and Philosopher of Hope

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Józef Tischner’s deep commitment to pastoral ministry and his involvement with Solidarność make him an outstanding example of an engaged Christian philosopher who witnessed to the Gospel through rigorous academic work and actively promoting social change. Tischner’s description of the ethic of solidarity, which helped overturn the Communist regime in Poland, also provides insight into the moral foundations of democracy. This article focuses primarily on his theological anthropology and its connection to some of his integral ideas concerning social change and the virtue of hope. First, the article explores some of Tischner’s thinking on hope. Next it considers how Tischner’s views about hope and the nature of the human person led him to conclude that nonviolence can bring about meaningful and lasting social change. The article contrasts Tischner’s ideas with those of the twentieth century U.S. theologian Reinhold Niebuhr. Like Tischner, Niebuhr also had major influence in the public sphere. However, his more pessimistic view of human nature led him to conclude that nonviolence cannot be an effective tool in the struggle for justice. Thus, Niebuhr serves as an interesting counterpoint to Tischner, revealing more clearly the link between hope, the human person, and social change in Tischner’s thought.
Keywords: Józef Tischner, hope, social change, theological anthropology, solidarity, Reinhold Niebuhr
Contact: Department of Theology and Religious Studies, Villanova University, Saint Augustine Center 229, 800 Lancaster Avenue, Villanova, Pennsylvania 19085, USA
Email: gerald.beyer@villanova.edu
Phone: +1 610 5197696

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  1. ISSN 0860-8024
  2. e-ISSN 2720-5355
  3. The Republic of Poland Ministry of Science and Higher Education Value: 100.00
  4. Quarterly “Ethos” is indexed by the following databases: EBSCO, CEEOL, Index Copernicus (ICV 2017: 55.26), Philosopher’s Index, ERIH Plus.
  5. DOI Prefix 10.12887