s Immanence and God

Immanence and God:
Replacing God with Man


In this [deculturation] development which I have just characterized, you have certain outstanding milestones. You can, for instance, see the progress of this deculturation process in the change of the meaning of the term immanence from the nineteenth century to the twentieth. When you look at the authors in the first half of the nineteenth century, say, at men like De Quincey or Browning, or Matthew Arnold, who already worried about the problem of God disappearing from this world, the word immanence is always used in the sense that God somehow disappears and ceases to be immanent. (That he is transcendent anyway, and in addition should be immanent, is taken for granted.) But somehow he ceases to be immanent. The term immanence appears in that connection.

Today, if you read contemporary literature, you will find that immanence is not characterized as an absence of God, but as a presence of man; that is, man is the subject of whom immanence is predicated, man is very much immanent. That is the meaning in which the term is used now, while Browning or De Quincey or Matthew Arnold would say that God should be immanent and is unfortunately not immanent. In this shift in the meaning of the term immanence in common usage in literature, you can see how the accent has shifted from still a measure of consciousness where the problem lies—that some piece of reality is getting lost because it is no longer immanent—to, you might say, an unknowing acceptance of the loss and the statement that "man is the subject of immanence." You have an immanentist man now, and not a lack of an immanentist God.

CW VOL 33,
The Drama of Humanity
and Other Miscellaneous Papers, 1939-1985
The Drama of Humanity,
p 180.

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