Historical Studies Concerning Orientation

This essay series investigates the history of the concept of ‘orientation’ as well as the phenomenon of orientation avant la lettre, i.e., before the term was coined. We welcome your questions and feedback and are open to publishing your contributions. Please contact: reinhard.mueller@hfpo.com


The Philosophical Concept of Orientation Compared with the History of Religious Orientation in the First Four Centuries of Christianity: An Interdisciplinary Study

by Jiří Hoblík

This paper compares the concept of religious orientation, especially as developed by Christianity in the first four centuries of its history, with the concepts of Immanuel Kant, Karl Jaspers and Ingolf U. Dalferth. Despite the uncertain connection between the history of religion and the history of philosophy, some analogies between the religious and philosophical concepts can be demonstrated. The idea of “orientation” in its everyday sense (“to be oriented in something/somewhere”) turns out to be historically secondary to religious orientation as conceived in terms of aiming towards a symbolic reference point, which is represented in Christianity by the sun phenomenon as a symbol of Christ/God. Thus far under-researched in the religious context, Kant’s idea of “orientation in thinking” can be applied in terms of the search for orientation in religious thinking.


This paper was first published in Communio Viattorum 3 (2020), pp. 281-303; we thank the journal for allowing us to re-publish it on our website.