One of the most important theologians of the modern era, Karl Rahner is best known for his efforts to make Christianity credible in light of the intellectual questions of modern culture. Stephen M. Fields, SJ, now explains how Rahner developed his metaphysics as a creative synthesis of Thomism and the modern philosophical tradition. Focusing on Rahner's core concept of the Realsymbol, which posits all beings as symbolic, Fields establishes the place of the Realsymbol in philosophical theories of the symbol. He particularly concentrates on those key aspects of Rahner's metaphysics - his theories of finite realities and language - that have received insufficient attention. By examining a wide range of Rahner's works in the context of twelve medieval, modern, and contemporary thinkers, Fields locates the origins of this seminal thinker's metaphysics to an extent never before attempted. He notes the correlations that exist between the Realsymbol and such work as Aquinas' theory of the sacraments, Goethe's and Hegel's dialectics, Moehler's view of religious language, and Heidegger's aesthetics.
Through this analysis, Fields reveals the structural core of Rahner's metaphysics and shows how art, language, knowledge, religious truth, and reality in general are all symbolic. "Being as Symbol" opens new perspectives on this important thinker and positions him in the broader spectrum of philosophical thought.
Stephen M. Fields, SJ, is an associate professor of theology at Georgetown University.
Preface IntroductionMethodConclusions Realsymbol as AnalogousAnalogy and Symbol in Neo-ThomismBlondelMarechalConclusions Realsymbol as SacramentalSacramental Theory in ThomismSacramental Theory in RahnerConclusions Realsymbol as Self-PerfectingMetaphysics of Becoming in RahnerSelf-Perfection in GoetheSelf-Perfection in HegelConclusions Realsymbol as Embodied ThoughtRealsymbol and MohlerRealsymbol and HeideggerConclusions AfterwordNotesBibliographyIndex