from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Maria von Bethanien (left) and her sister Martha (center), traditional symbols of contemplation (Maria) and action (Martha), in the painting Christ with Maria and Martha by Jan Vermeer , around 1654/1655. Scottish National Gallery , Edinburgh

Contemplation (from the Latin contemplatio "to direct one's gaze towards something", "intuition", "[spiritual] contemplation") is the term used in philosophical and religious texts for concentrated viewing. This roughly corresponds to the term ϑεωρία (theōría) in Greek philosophy . First and foremost, it is about looking at a spiritual, non-representational object in which one immerses oneself in order to gain knowledge about it . In the religious context, the object is often a deity or its work. Contemplation presents itself as an intuitive alternative or further addition to the discursive effort to gain knowledge.

If contemplation plays a dominant role in human life, one speaks of a theoretical or contemplative form or phase of life (Latin vita contemplativa ) in contrast to the “practical” way of life, the “active” life oriented towards external activity ( vita activa ) . The tension and order of precedence between observation and activity has been one of the most intensely discussed topics in philosophical and religious ethics since ancient times . In antiquity and in the Middle Ages , the predominant opinion in intellectual circles was that tranquility was the best way of being, because it produced the most valuable fruits. However, this changed in modern times, especially in the modern ; the traditional belief that contemplative reflection offers privileged access to particularly important insights has met with increasing skepticism.

Concepts of contemplation were first worked out in ancient philosophical schools. In Christianity , contemplation has been valued, cultivated and thoroughly discussed in spiritual literature since the time of the Church Fathers as an orientation towards God . For large parts of the Christian world, contemplative contemplation of the works of God and contemplation directed towards God himself has traditionally been a core part of the religious life of the pious. This applies above all to Catholic and Orthodox hermits and monasticism, but also to a widespread lay piety . Often an experience of God's presence or even a divine vision is hoped for through contemplation. The spiritual authors have always emphasized that such a vision is a divine act of grace and cannot be brought about by humans on their own.

Contemplative practices are also common in Islam , Hinduism and Buddhism .

Etymology and conceptual history

The Latin feminine noun contemplatio is derived from the verb contemplari , which means "to look at", "to look at (near)", "to focus on something". It is a word formation from the prefix con- (“together”, “with”, “from all sides”) and the noun templum , a technical term from the augural system . The Roman augurs, officials charged with divination , were supposed to determine the will of the gods by observing and interpreting the flight of birds in a certain area of ​​the sky. In the technical jargon of the bird's eye view, the term templum was used to describe the observation hut in which the augur stayed during his work, and - secondarily - also the field of observation in the sky, which he observed from there. The term templum , which was originally used for every building, acquired a special sacred meaning (“sanctuary”, “consecrated district”) under the influence of its use in augural beings. It was then primarily used for cult buildings that were dedicated to a certain deity. The German word temple is derived from this. Contemplari , originally observing as the task of the augurs, could later denote any kind of attentive observation in the sensual as well as in the spiritual realm. Cicero , who as a mediator of Greek ideas significantly shaped the Latin philosophical terminology, reproduced the Greek expression ϑεωρία ( theōría, "spiritual view") with contemplatio .

As early as the Middle Ages, the word in the forms contemplâcie , contemplatiône and contemplacion was borrowed from Latin into the late Middle High German language. In German and Latin, it denotes the contemplative contemplation of religious content that is not connected with practical action, especially immersion in the works of God and in the deity himself.

Since the 18th century, the adjective contemplative (“looking at”, “tranquil”, “inactive”), derived from the Latin contemplativus , has been used in German. It is also used outside of religious contexts for immersing oneself in the contemplation of nature or a work of art or for a contemplative attitude and contemplative way of life. In educational language, the verb “contemplating” (surrender to contemplation) also occurs.


The concept of cognitive behavior, later called contemplation, and a corresponding attitude and way of life comes from Greek philosophy. The Greek technical term was theōría , a word that pre- and extra-philosophically referred to looking, especially watching at festivals, and the associated getting to know what was seen. In philosophy theōría received the special meaning of grasping fundamental spiritual contents. Later Christian thinkers who wanted to know God took over the term.



An appreciation of the contemplative, “theoretical” way of life as the best way of shaping one's existence, combined with massive devaluation of practical goals, was ascribed to the philosopher Pythagoras in the 6th century BC. Lived. According to a highly regarded anecdote, Pythagoras compared human life to a festival where competitions are held. Some come to the festival as competitors who want to win the prize, others as dealers, but the best as spectators. So be it in life: some are greedy for fame or profit, others - the philosophers - want to search for truth. The lust for fame or profit shows a slavish disposition that is in contrast to the philosophical attitude. The philosopher gives precedence to contemplation and knowledge over all other endeavors. If the anecdote has a historical core, Pythagoras has already made the comparison between active and contemplative life and represented the later common assessment that contemplation as a form of life is objectively superior to external activity. In the 5th century, the pre-Socratic Anaxagoras is also said to have seen the real meaning of human life in contemplation. He is credited with the view that life is worth living because it enables one to observe heaven and the order in the universe.


For Plato (428 / 427–348 / 347 BC) the superiority of the contemplative attitude was beyond doubt, but he did not associate it with a disdain for active life. His philosophy should lead to the "viewing" of the not sensually perceptible, only mentally comprehensible " ideas ". With great power of conviction he proclaimed the ideal of such a contemplation in which he saw the true destiny of man. Philosophical life is primarily devoted to the happy contemplation of purely spiritual beauty and excellence. For Plato this was the most rewarding goal, because he saw the actual, extremely attractive reality in the ideas. However, he also attached great importance to the action-guiding function of the knowledge gained contemplatively, which also means obligation. The philosopher should not limit himself to the exploration of the spiritual world. Rather, it is his task to return from there, because he has to make the understanding of the world order gained through contemplative insight fruitful for the well-being of his fellow citizens. With Plato, the spiritual contemplation does not lead away from social and political action, but ultimately again to activity in family, friends and the state.

According to Plato, the philosophical search for truth is an argument-based discursive process. In the process, a mere correct opinion turns into an understanding that can be accounted for. But this is only one of the aspects of knowledge; another is the show. Plato liked to use the metaphor of looking to characterize the philosopher's contact with reality - timeless being. From his point of view, such a vision is the perfect way of knowing because it focuses on the original, which underlies everything temporal and all becoming, and grasps this original as something that is present and present. Since Plato considered the soul to be the looking subject, he used the metaphor “eye of the soul”. According to his presentation, the eye of the soul is drawn out of the “barbaric morass” in which it was buried and directed upwards through dialectics , the discursive philosophical method of gaining knowledge. In this way it is enabled to fulfill its function of opening up the world of ideas - later called “platonic” - to the viewer. Dialectical training is therefore an indispensable prerequisite for seeing reality. The quality of perception when looking is graded, it depends on the respective abilities of the soul. The degree of perfection in the apprehension of reality determines the difference between gods and humans; it is the yardstick for Plato's hierarchy of valuations.

The contemplative preoccupation with ideas is - according to the Platonic doctrine - not only a source of greatest joy for the viewer, but also has far-reaching effects on his life, because it gives rise to a strong ethical impulse. What is revealed to the viewer in the show is not just an object of knowledge for him, but also a norm and pattern for his own way of life. The world of ideas offers him a divine model, which he wants to imitate. According to Plato's definition, the essence of the philosophical way of life consists in the approximation or "resemblance" to the deity, "as far as this is possible" (homoíōsis theṓ katá to dynatón) . Basically, this possibility is given because the immortal human soul is naturally related to the divine. When the philosopher turns to imitate the cosmos of ideas and strives for the most complete possession of the divine characteristics of virtue and knowledge, he himself is deified. The gods, too, owe their divinity to their devotion to ideas. The spiritual apprehension of ideas and the action guided by such knowledge lead man to likeness to God, insofar as the conditions of life in the sense world allow this. The philosopher approaches this goal primarily through his increasing familiarity with the ideas of justice and moderation , in which the divine emerges first and foremost.

In addition to the contemplative turn to ideas, Plato was also familiar with another kind of show that had a religious character. It refers to the “unspeakable”, an indescribable transcendent area beyond the world of ideas. It is true that dialectic forms the necessary prerequisite and preparation for this highest vision, but the experience of the inexpressible itself is completely undialectical.


Plato's student Aristotle was of the opinion that the highest form of life was the "contemplative life" (bíos theōrētikós) of the philosopher, which was later called vita contemplativa in Latin . It is superior to the - likewise valuable - practically active life (bíos Praktikós) , the gain of knowledge takes precedence over political and social activity. Aristotle justified this with a number of arguments. He asserted that spiritual contemplation (theōría) was the expression of the highest ability man possessed, and that it corresponded to the essence of the divine and was due to the work of a divine element in man. That is why the greatest happiness of man lies in philosophical observation. In addition, the superiority of the ría is also shown in the fact that it shows the greatest continuity, because it is easier to stay in it than in any outward activity. In addition, it has the advantage of independence, self-sufficiency (self-sufficiency); one could devote oneself to it alone, while one had to rely on the cooperation of others for external activity. The life of the philosopher is optimally ordered and he is most loved by the gods. However, in contrast to Plato, Aristotle did not understand “contemplation” as an intuitive “looking” in the sense of contemplation, but as a scientific activity that combines intuitive grasping of the foundations and starting points of science with discursive thinking for the purpose of forming judgments. He understood “looking at” as being active in the sense of active research, not in the sense of simply receiving knowledge, a passive contemplation. Thus, the translation of bíos Praktikós with “active life” (vita activa) does not do justice to his distinction between the two forms of life, because “viewing” was also activity for him, although he assigned it to leisure and not to work . His ideal of the contemplative, “theoretical” research life became the starting point of a discussion about the hierarchy and the relationship between action and cognition, which has continued up to the present day.

Aristotle did not establish a connection between contemplative and practical life. He understood the consideration as an activity completely separate from the social and ethical area, which was an end in itself and did not produce any profit for everyday life or politics. From a practical point of view it is useless. From Aristotle's point of view, this speaks in no way against them, but on the contrary for them: The very fact that the philosophical consideration serves no practical purpose shows their superiority and their special value. It is the occupation of free people who are not subject to material constraints. The theōría is carried out according to the Aristotelian as well as the Platonic concept by a special authority in the soul responsible for knowledge, the nous .


In the age of Hellenism , the schools of philosophy took different positions on contemplation. The academy founded by Plato and the Peripatos , the school of Aristotle, basically stuck to the view of their founders, according to which "theoretical" life is superior to all other forms of human existence. This principle was considered to be established and was therefore hardly discussed. However, there were factors that counteracted the traditional high esteem for contemplation: in the younger (“skeptical”) academy the possibility of a reliable knowledge of reality was denied, and in the Peripatos Theophrastus , Aristotle's successor, already problematized the concept of the “contemplative” life. Theophrastus emphasized the partly practical, partly fundamental obstacles that stand in the way of contemplation due to human nature. Later peripatetics admitted to a "mixed" way of life.

The other major schools - the Stoics , Epicureans , Cynics and Skeptics - shared neither the Platonic nor the Aristotelian ideal of life. The Stoics rejected the separation and different evaluation of knowledge and action. The Epicureans advocated a withdrawn, apolitical way of life and demanded a view of nature that led to insight, but they believed that theōría was not overriding practice, but had to serve it - that is, the desire for pleasure. The Cynics were entirely practice-oriented and rejected the theōría as useless. The skeptics, because of their epistemology, held the classic high esteem of theōría to be unfounded, since consideration does not lead to certain knowledge.

Cicero, who in the Hellenistic age was the most famous mediator of Greek philosophical ideas in the Latin-speaking world, introduced the expression contemplatio as the Latin equivalent of the Greek theōría . In his literary dialogue De natura deorum he put the statement in the mouth of the representative of the stoic doctrine that man was born to contemplate and imitate the universe. This is a divine being and in every respect appropriately arranged and perfect. Man is indeed imperfect, but he forms a particle of the perfect, by which he has to orient himself. This thought can also be found in Hermetic literature. There it is stated that man is destined to contemplate heaven and to know divine power. As a viewer of God's work, he could come to the knowledge of the Creator.

Roman Imperial Era

In the 1st century, the Jewish thinker Philo of Alexandria , who was strongly influenced by Platonism, was very determined in favor of the primacy of contemplation over action. He was convinced that the tasks of active life should not be neglected, but that all practice should be subordinated to the goal of seeing God. He regarded practical life as a necessary transitory stage of probation, without which one could not attain contemplation of God. Action - political activity as well as gainful employment - should serve to pave the way to the highest goal of knowledge under the onslaught of everyday stress.

Contemplation was of central importance for Plotinus (205–270), the founder of Neoplatonism , as well as in his circle of students and among the neo-Platonists of late antiquity . It was about a contemplative preoccupation with the “ intelligible world”, the realm of things that can only be grasped spiritually and that have been withdrawn from sensory perception. Plotinus called this occupation a "thinking". He did not mean, however, that the person turned towards the spiritual produces his own thoughts that are separate from the object of thought, in order to approach his object. Rather, according to Plotinus, the contemplative thinks by taking hold of its content through his participation ( methexis ) in the realm of the spirit. Such thinking is not a discursive inferring, but a direct mental apprehension of what is thought. What is thought is not a product of the thinking subject; it is found by him in the world of thought which the thinker enters. For the contemplating subject, this world of thought, the intelligible cosmos, is not an external world that can only be imperfectly grasped as such; Rather, it is present in the contemplator himself, and he turns to it by going into his own inner being. The consciousness concentrates entirely in itself. In this way a purely spiritual power of sight, which is inherent in human nature, is activated. With it, reality can be grasped intuitively in a single act of viewing. What is meant, however, is not a reality limited to the subject, only subjectively valid, but a comprehensive one, namely the only one that exists, because in the contemplative view the apparent separation of subject and object is abolished and wholeness is experienced. Thinking as conceived in this way is a single conscious act of seeing in which the unity of what is thinking and what is thought is shown. For Plotinus this view of reality, the contemplation of the beauty of the absolutely good , is the most sublime in human life and the only human destiny; through it one is saved (makários) , and whoever fails it is utterly failed.


Dealing with the philosophical tradition

A Christian examination of the Greek philosophical ideal of contemplation is attested as early as the 2nd century. Justin the Martyr , a well-known Doctor of the Church, said he had studied Platonic philosophy before he was converted to Christianity. He had turned to a withdrawn, contemplative way of life in the hope of attaining the direct philosophical vision of God and eudaimonia (happiness) in this way . Later he met an old man who converted him to Christianity. The old man held against him his worldly life: Justin loved the “word” instead of “deed” and “truth” and would rather be a sophist than a man of practice. In this dialogue, for the first time in early Christian literature, a direct Christian criticism of the seclusion and detachment from practice of the contemplative life of some philosophers appears. Justin became a Christian under the influence of the old man. He adopted the view that eudaimonia does not consist in contemplation and also not in a gracious gaze of God, but in the unity of theory and practice, belief and action realized in life.

Other early Christian apologists , Athenagoras of Athens and Theophilos of Antiocheia , also contrasted the moral quality of Christian life with the contemplative ideal of the philosophers. They accused the thinkers of leading an idle life and spreading melodious but impractical phrases instead of combining words and deeds. The usefulness of principles is to be demonstrated through good deeds.

The Alexandrian theologians Clemens of Alexandria and Origen brought a new impetus . They also placed great emphasis on the unity of theory and practice, but without generally rejecting the philosophical ideal of contemplation. Using the tools of Platonic terminology, they developed a Christian doctrine of contemplation. They viewed Christian life as a prerequisite for contemplation. Origen emphasized that there could be neither activity without contemplation nor contemplation without activity. Clemens adopted the Platonic concept of an adaptation to the deity that takes place in the contemplative life.

Theories of the vision of God

The ancient church fathers dealt with contemplation primarily from the point of view of seeing God. With their considerations, they tied in with the idea of ​​the pagan philosophers that, unlike animals, humans are created upright so that they can look up to heaven and gain knowledge of it. They said that God designed man to be the observer of the wondrous things in the world. But one should not be content with being amazed at these wonders and enjoying the beauty of what has been created, but rather grasp the religious significance of what is sensually perceptible. Then the contemplation of creation becomes an occasion to turn to the divine author of all these things.

Church writers of the patristic era who expressed themselves about contemplation grappled with the question of how far one can advance on a contemplative path to seeing God. There was unanimous agreement that a perfect vision of God in this world is impossible, but a limited contemplation of God is attainable in earthly life. The Greek church father, Gregor von Nyssa , who was heavily influenced by Platonism, taught that the human mind can advance to ever greater awareness. With that he comes ever closer to the view of God. If one leaves both the objects of sense perception and those of the power of thought behind on this path, one penetrates deeper and deeper into reality until one arrives at the invisible and incomprehensible and there in the metaphorical sense "sees" God, albeit in an imperfect way . According to Gregory, the contemplative striving for knowledge of God is a process that will never come to an end even in the blessed life in the future hereafter, because God is infinite. Hence, contemplation has no ultimate goal to achieve.

For the Latin-speaking Christians of Western and Central Europe, the teaching of the Church Father Augustine became groundbreaking. He took over the Platonic concept of spiritual vision by defining the rational activity as a direct contemplation of the truth not mediated by the body (veri contemplatio) . He determined the vision of God in the hereafter as the goal of all earthly activity; only with it one reaches the climax of contemplation (ad summitatem contemplationis) . "Eternal rest" can be found in this contemplation of God. The limited earthly vision of God and its relatively high rank is exemplified for Augustine - as it was for Origen - in the biblical story of the sisters Mary and Martha in the Gospel of Luke ( Lk 10.38-42  EU ). There Jesus establishes the primacy of Mary's purely contemplative attitude over Martha's busyness. According to the Latin translation of the Bible , Mary, who sits at the Lord's feet and only listens to him while Martha takes care of him as hostess, “chose the better part” and that should not be taken from her. Martha asks Jesus in vain to ask her idle sister to help her. In addition, Augustine commented that Martha's activities were transitory because they would no longer be needed in eternity; Mary's contemplation, on the other hand, anticipates eternal bliss in a certain way .

The contrast between the sisters Lea and Rachel , the two wives of Jacob's ancestor in the Bible, symbolizes for Augustine the relationship between action (Lea) and contemplation (Rachel). Jacob wanted the beautiful Rachel, but had to accept the unattractive Lea, the older of the two sisters, as his wife before he received Rachel. So you can only receive the blessing of contemplation after you have proven yourself in the action. Augustine left no doubt as to the superiority of contemplation, but also warned that no one should neglect his external duties for the sake of contemplation.

Monasticism and asceticism

In Eastern monasticism, contemplation directed towards God (theōría eis theón) was a main task of spiritual life from the earliest times, as can be seen from the Apophthegmata patrum . The monk had to keep his thoughts focused on God. In addition to strict asceticism, a prerequisite for this was "calm" (hēsychía) , that is, a state of freedom from all disturbing ideas and desires. Euagrios Pontikos († 399), who lived as a monk in the Egyptian desert, developed an influential theory of contemplation . His model of spiritual ascent to knowledge of God has three stages. In the first stage, “practice” is the order of the day, that is, asceticism, overcoming passions and practicing basic Christian virtues. With this one cleanses the soul and achieves a sovereign mastery of the instinctual life. At the next level up, nature is considered insofar as it is God's creation. One discovers their religious symbolic content, and so God's world appears in a new light. The third and highest level is the vision of God, a supra-rational recognition beyond all ideas and concepts. This experience occurs in peace and absolute calm, regardless of the labor of discursive thinking. It is only accessible to the “naked mind”.

The writer Johannes Cassianus , who brought the ideas and customs of Eastern monasticism to Western Europe in the early 5th century, emphasized the priority of the contemplation of God over all ascetic efforts of the monks. He found that the practice of asceticism only served as preparation for contemplation, which alone was the highest good (principale bonum) . Exemplary are the hermits, who first learned asceticism to perfection in the monastic community and then retired as hermits to the solitude of the desert and practiced contemplation there. To justify the superiority of the contemplative life, Cassianus cited the biblical story of Mary and Martha.

Julianus Pomerius , a late 5th century church writer, wrote a treatise entitled De vita contemplativa (On the contemplative life) . There he discussed the questions of what is the peculiarity of the observing way of life, what distinguishes it from the active one, and whether a church minister can acquire contemplative proficiency, although practical tasks take him up. According to Julian's view, the vita contemplativa is characterized by complete attachment to God and complete indifference or insensitivity to the temptations and needs of the world. In order to achieve such a state of mind, one must consistently distance oneself from the noise of worldly business. With this demand Julian took up the thought world of Cassianus. However, he did not see the contemplative way of life as the exclusive privilege of monks and hermits. Rather, he meant that a church official could also have the contemplative virtue if he had the ascetic disposition of a hermit. The writing De contemplative life was the first Christian treatment of the different ways of life. It was very well received in the Middle Ages.

The ascent model of Pseudo-Dionysius

An unknown late antique author who called himself Dionysius and was identified in the Middle Ages with Dionysius Areopagita , a disciple of the Apostle Paul mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles , achieved an extraordinarily strong aftereffect . Today he is known as pseudo-Dionysius . The mysterious church writer presented an elaborate concept of " negative (apophatic) theology ". This is a doctrine that restricts thinking and speaking about God by consistently criticizing and rejecting all "positive" statements as inappropriate. Positive statements are understood to be those that are intended to determine the nature of God, for example “God is good”. Here ideas that come from the realm of human experience are transferred to God. Negative theology turns against it. According to her, no name or designation can do justice to God's transcendence and therefore really belong to him. Thus positive statements about him are in principle inadmissible. Only negative statements are permissible, that is, the negations of the validity of positive ones. But the negations also turn out to be inadequate on closer examination. Therefore, they too must be denied. This does not mean, however, a return to positive statements, but a turn to "over-statements", for example God is "overly good" or "overly good". Ultimately, however, the over-statements are only aids and not factual assertions about the nature of God.

This is not just a line of reasoning to justify negative theology, not just an abstract theory of epistemology. Rather, Pseudo-Dionysius describes a contemplative process of knowledge that the God-seeker has to carry out. The goal is to connect the soul uplifted by the process with the divine. The path first leads from the sublime to the lowest by means of the positive approach and then in the opposite direction by means of the negative approach. It starts with the consideration of positive ("cataphatic") theology, which makes positive statements about God by assigning him attributes . In the first phase of the cognitive process, the various types of possible positive statements are made the subject of contemplation. For the observer this is a way of descent, leading down from what is most similar to God (terms such as “the high”, “the first”, “the outstanding”) to what is most alien to God and yet forms part of his creation: inanimate and vice. There, in the area of ​​greatest distance from God, the conversion takes place. Now the path of negation is taken. The viewer begins with the bottom and bottom (inanimate matter, lower emotions) by negating it with regard to God, and then proceeds upwards by rejecting all words and names up to the highest-ranking concepts such as life and goodness as statements about God . The “over-statements” seem to offer a way out, but they, too, cannot reveal God's nature and must therefore be negated. Only through the last negation, with which one transcends any kind of determinations, one takes the decisive step in the approach to the divine reality: One identifies the namelessness with the "ineffable name", which is the basis of all names and designations and as such all names united. Thus the consequent negation, the completion of the emptying, leads to the perfect fullness. Absolute emptiness and absolute abundance turn out to be identical to the viewer.

This contemplation process is perceived as an increasingly subtle process of gradual liberation from the obstacle. With the gradual fulfillment of the negations, the soul accomplishes an ascent that takes it away from the familiar world of thought and thus leads it to God. The one striving for knowledge comes to the insight into his own ignorance and ignorance. The contemplation of the inadequate leads him to a lack of words and thus to silence. His efforts to reach the goal by means of the ideas based on sensory perception and the discursive thought processes based thereon have failed. Such failure proves to be a prerequisite for attaining an authentic relationship with the transcendent God. Ultimately, the aim is the union (hénōsis) of man with God.

middle Ages

For the medieval understanding of contemplation, the view of Augustine became groundbreaking. His interpretation of the biblical story with Mary and Martha formed the theological basis for the conviction that the vita contemplativa , the life devoted to contemplation , is the best form of Christian existence. The vita activa was regarded as secondary at best, possibly even suspect or a wrong path. This attitude dominated in the Middle Ages. The 12th century was the heyday of the Augustinian doctrine of contemplation, which has now been further elaborated and sharply formulated.

In the Middle Ages it was common to determine the relationship between forms of life and virtues, which was already undertaken at the time of the Church Fathers. The active life was assigned the four cardinal virtues of justice , moderation , bravery and prudence , and the contemplative life was assigned the “ theological virtues ” of faith, hope and love.

Gregory the Great

In addition to Augustine, the Pope and church father Gregory the Great († 604) was the authoritative authority for assessing both ways of life in the Middle Ages. He often dealt with this topic in his writings, with the main question of how church officials and preachers should approach it. Gregor found that the active life had to precede the contemplative in time, but the contemplative was more meritorious. The hand symbolizes the action, the wing symbolizes contemplation. Both are gifts of grace: the activity of serving one's neighbor as an unavoidable fulfillment of duty and as bondage, contemplation oriented towards God as the fruit of a free decision and expression of freedom. Eternal bliss can also be attained without contemplation, but under no circumstances without dutiful action. Gregor advocated a change between the two modes of behavior; He recommended going from activity to contemplation, but then returning to activity for which one would be better equipped than before after the contemplative experience that ignites a flame in the heart.

Gregor saw the essence of contemplative contemplation in the fact that those who devote themselves to it rest from all external activity and surrender to the longing for the Creator. However, he did not regard such a rest as passive; rather, the contemplative life for him is full of inner activity. Gregor described the lamb as a symbol of the "innocence" of active life, and the goat as a symbol of contemplation, which often grazes "hanging" on the highest and outermost rock. He divided the ascent into three stages: first the spirit gathers itself, then it gains insight into its being gathered together and finally it rises above itself and arrives at the vision of God, in which the soul is torn out of the world. The divine show is only accessible to a few and only for a short time. Gregor took over the already established interpretation of the two female couples Lea / Rachel and Martha / Maria as embodiments of the vita activa and the vita contemplativa .


In the literature of the current, which was shaped by the spirituality of the Cistercian Bernhard von Clairvaux († 1153), the widespread contempt for a vita activa aimed at secularity found a striking expression. Any activity that did not ultimately serve to contemplate God was seen as a distraction from what is actually essential and as a preoccupation with inferior. From the point of view of this school, the status of the viewers who follow Maria's example is opposed to the status of the active. Among those active are the preachers devoted to spreading and consolidating the faith, those whose model is Martha. They deserve credit, even if their service is secondary. But the rest of the active, the employed, seek and love the worthless earthly. The opposite pole to such useless striving is the way of life of religious and hermit. The contemplative cognition of these ascetics is a blissful vision of the supernatural reality, to which they can only come because they have forgotten everything worldly and despise the world. For Bernhard von Clairvaux, contemplatio is the “true and pure vision of the spirit, related to any object”, an “unequivocal apprehension of the truth”. It creates immediate certainty, in contrast to the consideratio , the way of looking at things of the investigating, pondering researcher who wants to find out something by means of reason. The contemplative flights of fancy are limited in time. The ascent must inevitably be followed by a return to worldly existence, since man is an earthly being and as such also has earthly tasks. According to a sermon by Bernhard, contemplation and action necessarily belong together, just as Mary and Martha live together as sisters. But they are by no means equivalent. Their relationship is characterized by the fact that the contemplative ascent is happy and the return to the earthly is experienced as a fall. Contemplation is felt as a blessing, action is accepted as a necessity.

Victorians and Carthusians

The theologian Hugo von St. Viktor († 1141), who founded the Victorian school with his teaching and his writings , formulated the Victorine educational program in his "study book", the Didascalicon . He distinguished five degrees on which the life of the righteous rose to future perfection. The first stage is study or teaching, the second meditation, the third prayer, the fourth action and the fifth contemplation. In contemplation - as a kind of fruit of the preceding four stages - one has a foretaste of the future heavenly life already in this life.

Richard von St. Viktor († 1173), a student of Hugo and a leading theologian of the Victorine school, formulated a theory of contemplation, drawing on the thoughts of his teacher. Like Hugo, he distinguished three mental acts in the cognition: cogitatio (thinking), meditatio ("reflection", not meditation in today's sense) and contemplatio (contemplative viewing). By cogitatio , he understood spontaneous, disordered thinking out of curiosity that tends to wander. It is effortless but sterile. The meditatio , a goal-oriented research for the sake of finding the truth, is superior to such thinking . It requires concentration; the mind has to make an effort. Thus the meditatio represents a human achievement. It is laborious, but fruitful. Above it stands contemplation as a mode of knowledge of pure intuitive insight. It is effortless and at the same time fruitful, a "free flight" with which the cognizer grasps reality in astonishment and understanding. Thought crawls, contemplation walks or runs, contemplation flies around everything. These three spiritual acts are stages that are reached one after the other in an ascending order. The transition from one level to the next takes place in that the knower reaches the limits of what is attainable within the given framework and then intensifies his already existing cognitive ability so that it is transformed into a higher one. If one advances to the limit of what is possible on a level, self-abolition of that level occurs and with it, ascent.

Richard defined contemplation as the free (unenforceable), admirable insight of the spirit into the self-expression of wisdom, or - with reference to Hugo - as the clear and free gaze of the spirit that pours itself everywhere to the objects of knowledge. He stated that the terms contemplatio and speculatio are habitually used synonymously, but that it is more appropriate to distinguish them from one another: one speaks of speculatio when one perceives something as if in a mirror, of contemplatio when one sees the truth completely undisguised in its purity .

Within the contemplatio Richard differentiated six hierarchically ordered types of observation, which he delimited according to the classification of the mental “ cognitive faculties” (abilities to cognize). He understood the six ways of looking at things as successive steps of ascent on the path of knowledge. In his treatise Beniamin maior he described the path of ascent in detail and systematically .

According to this representation, the first form of contemplation is aimed at the sense objects and determined by their immediate impression. The impressions received are not ordered and analyzed, but only taken up affectively. What is perceived is traced back to the Creator, and from this the emotional attitude of admiration and amazement grows towards him. The cognitive faculty from which this form of contemplation arises is the power of imagination (imaginatio) . It is contemplation "in the imagination and according to the imagination". It is divided into seven sub-levels. The second stage has the same subject area as the first, but differs from it in the processing of the impressions received. These are now classified in their metaphysical context by means of discursive thinking . The viewer recognizes the correspondence between the rational structure of his or her knowledge and the rationality of beings, a correspondence based on the fact that both originate from the same absolute reason. This is contemplation "in the imagination and according to the mind". On the third level, the correspondence between the visible and the invisible is grasped by means of the mind. Here contemplation takes place "in the mind according to the imagination". This enables an ascent of knowledge from the visible to the invisible. The observer gains insights that can no longer be imagined. They form the starting point for the fourth form of contemplatio , which takes place “in the mind and according to the mind”. With the fourth type of approach to the truth, one arrives at conclusions that are completely detached from the empirical evidence that can be grasped by pictures . The human spirit relates to itself in a knowing way, and in this self-reference the human being reaches the most intensive fulfillment of his spiritual disposition. This mode of knowledge, the mode of pure thinking, is no longer based on ideas that are derived from the materiality of the visible, but on concepts. You always have to stick to the abstraction that has now been achieved. On the fifth level, the contemplation "above the understanding, but not beyond the understanding", insights are gained to which a person can not come through his reason, but only through divine grace. They do not contradict reason, but are in harmony with it. Richard describes the sixth level as an experience of enlightenment (irradiatio) , a contemplation “above the mind” that the mind can no longer comprehend. The knowledge gained in this way therefore finds no support in thinking and cannot be appropriately represented conceptually. But it is in continuity with the rational forms of knowledge that preceded it and is their consistent continuation. All six stages are part of a single process.

Similar to the Victorian model, the Carthusian Guigo II developed before the middle of the 12th century . He described it in the letter treatise Scala claustralium (leader for religious) , which is also known under the title Letter on the Contemplative Life and is one of the most widely read spiritual writings of the Middle Ages. Guigo divided the practice into the four stages of reading, meditation, prayer and contemplation. He viewed the four limbs as the steps of a ladder that monks and nuns were supposed to lead from earth to heaven, following the example of the biblical Jacob's ladder . Guigo defined contemplation as "the elevation of the spirit attached to God above himself, whereby he tastes the joys of eternal sweetness".


In the late Middle Ages , the traditional teachings about the contemplative life were essentially adopted unchanged, for example in the Luke commentary by Albert the Great († 1280), a very influential scholar. Albert interpreted the Maria Martha story of the Evangelist Luke broadly in the traditional sense. However, the importance of this concept of intuitive contemplation diminished, because the late medieval world of the spirit was strongly influenced by the discourse of scholastic thinkers who took a different approach. They said that reliable knowledge can be achieved “speculatively” with the means of Aristotelian logic . In this context, “contemplation” was understood to be a scientific endeavor to gain knowledge. Under the influence of the Latin translations of Aristotle, in addition to the conventional concept of intuitive contemplation, a discursive one that came from Aristotelian philosophy and penetrated philosophical and theological literature appeared. In presenting the "classic" Kontemplationslehre the scholastic authors labeled contemplatio indeed continue the vision of God, life to this show's sake, and the happiness that flows from it, but them was the Aristotelian concept of "consideration" as a scientific activity familiar . They knew that the Latin adjectives contemplativus and speculativus in the translations stand for the same Greek word (theōrētikós) and are therefore interchangeable, as are the verbs contemplari and speculari , which reflect the Greek theōreín . All these words were used in philosophy and also in theological writings to designate a “speculative” cognitive process in the Aristotelian sense, consisting of conclusions from reason. However, certain distinctions were also made. The leading scholastic Thomas Aquinas († 1274) used the term contemplativus where he was concerned with the affective side and the volitional aspect of knowledge, and speculativus where he only considered the purely intellectual aspect. In addition, Thomas differentiated between speculation and contemplation according to the object of knowledge. According to his definition, speculatio is to be understood as the act with which someone looks at the divine in created things "as in a mirror", and contemplatio the act with which God is viewed "in himself" by man.

Thomas was of the opinion that the human being, "insofar as he is contemplative", is given an almost superhuman quality. As a contemplative observer he is "something above man" and approaches the way of life of angels. Thomas compared this relationship between angel and human being with the relationship between the intelligently acting human being and an animal that, thanks to its "power of judgment", recognizes a situation and then reacts appropriately.


The Franciscan Bonaventure (1221–1274) divided in his Itinerarium mentis ad deum (pilgrimage of the spirit to God) the ascent of the soul to God in six stages, taking up and modifying Richard's concept of St. Viktor. According to Bonaventura's model, the first stage is the contemplation of God through his “traces” in the world of things perceptible to the senses, in which the power, wisdom and goodness of the Creator shine. On the second level, God is viewed in the mirror of things that can be experienced by the senses, not “through” them as if from traces, but “in” them, insofar as he is present in them. Here God is perceived in all creatures. On the third level, the viewer turns to his own mind, in which an image of God shines towards him. When he then reaches the fourth level, his spirit no longer steps through itself as on the third level, but looks at the divine original ground as it finds it in itself. This only succeeds when the soul has completely turned away from the sense objects and has come to contemplate itself and the eternal truth within itself. For this it is necessary that the “inner senses”, which have lost their functionality due to the turning of the soul towards the earthly, are restored with divine help. Those who have risen to the fifth level do not consider God in the external world or in themselves, but “above” themselves, that is, with regard to divine being. Here the oneness of God becomes the object of contemplation. At the sixth level, God is seen as the highest good.

Master Eckhart

Meister Eckhart († 1327/1328) interpreted the biblical story of the sisters Maria and Martha in Bethanien in an unconventional way, contrary to the prevailing doctrinal opinion. According to his interpretation, the active Martha is spiritually higher than the contemplative listening Mary. Martha was active in the midst of the worries of the world, but carefree, in a level-headed manner and without losing sight of God. In this way she combined the advantages of contemplation and action in her posture. Maria, on the other hand, limited herself to contemplation, since she had not yet learned how to act correctly. Martha was the older of the two sisters and was therefore able to gain more knowledge than the still inexperienced Maria, who was oriented towards contemplative enjoyment. Eckhart illustrated the priority of active engagement over consideration in a tract in which he referred to ecstasy , the "rapture" that had bestowed the apostle Paul . Anyone who is in such a state of ecstasy should - so Eckhart - let go of it when they know about a sick person who needs soup, because caring for the sick is more important.

Johannes Tauler

The Dominican Johannes Tauler († 1361), who was highly valued as a preacher and strongly influenced by Eckhart, refused to devalue the active life (wúrkent Leben) compared to the contemplative (schouwent Leben) . Tauler taught that the assumption of an objective hierarchy of the two "wise men" was an expression of a harmful self-will on the part of humans. It is a wrong path that leads away from God. Whoever determines himself in a certain “way” at his own discretion, which he considers to be superior, closes himself to the “wise less” work of God in his soul. No activity of piety is in itself less than another and contemplation is not tied to a particular form of life. External activity does not interfere with spiritual life; the real obstacle is rather the “disorder” in the works. Tauler emphasized the ethical and spiritual value of work, including ordinary employment. Everyone should follow the “call” of God and choose their way of life according to their disposition and ability. Tauler considered the contrast between action and contemplation to be apparent. According to his teaching, the two behaviors should form a unity that results from being one with God. When man is united with God, God himself works everything in him and therefore also determines when a work is to be completed and when the time is for contemplation. According to Tauler's interpretation of the incident with Mary and Martha, Christ praised Mary not because of her tranquility, but because of the depth of her humility, and he did not criticize Martha for being industrious, but for being concerned and also wanting to draw his attention to her concerned activity. From this it follows for Tauler that one should do a good and useful activity, as it turns out, unobtrusively and in silence; care should be left to God.

Jan van Ruusbroec

The theologian and contemplation teacher Jan van Ruusbroec († 1381) described in his work Brulocht a closed system of three forms of life, which he understood as the three stages of ascent to God and to union with him. According to his description, it is the working “beginning” life that everyone should lead, the “inner” life of the desiring search for God, for which many are capable, and the God-seeing life of contemplation that only a few achieve. The second stage, the inner life, was described in most detail by Ruusbroec. In this form of life he saw the fruit of a grace that penetrated the whole being of man from above. The prerequisite for such a working of divine grace is that one opens oneself to it and collects one's strength in order to enable them to enter the unity of the spirit.

Ruusbroec viewed the ascent as man's acceptance of what was already given in him, of his own being and his grace from God. From this point of view, walking the path is a growing understanding of what is laid out in human nature as the image of God, with the experience becoming more and more deepened and centralized. Grace is the mediating principle between God and man, it makes man godlike and ready for the goal of the path, the union with the archetype of the afterimage. At the highest level, in “seeing” life, the observer experiences the secret of divine nature in a process of consciously, co-experiencing and taking in the self-communication of God. In this way the viewer is drawn into the divine life. By means of the created light of God's graces, man is enabled to see the uncreated light that is God himself.

"Mixed life"

In late medieval theological discourse, the concept of a “mixed” life (vita mixta) , in which contemplation and action are mixed, was discussed. The vita mixta was praised as the prelates' particularly meritorious way of life . In this sense, Johannes Gerson († 1429) expressed himself , a critic of scholastic theology who preferred a "mystical theology". He distinguished between a purely active, a purely contemplative and a mixed way of life. A person who lives purely contemplatively is indeed very useful to the Church, since he serves God with his heart, but the mixed life according to the example of Moses and Christ is the most perfect.

Late medieval humanism

The late medieval Italian humanists took up the debate about the relationship between vita activa and vita contemplativa . In doing so, they tied in with the ancient discourse and usually endeavored to unite the two concepts. Some put activity above tranquility, others thought the opposite. By vita contemplativa they understood not only the life of the monks, which was entirely dedicated to contemplation, which some of them judged critically, but also the quiet, withdrawn existence of the scholar in contrast to the active life of the politically active citizen. In the 14th century, the traditional principle of the primacy of the contemplative way of life still dominated, which was a matter of course for Francesco Petrarca (1304–1374) and Giovanni Boccaccio (1313–1375). From around 1400, however, there was an appreciation of acting in the service of the community. The conviction was now emphatically asserted that the practice of social virtue is indispensable for successful self-realization and a “beautiful” way of life, and that a withdrawn life is inadequate. The harmonious combination of scholarship and civic engagement was considered ideal . In a paper written in 1399 on the relationship between law and medicine, the Florentine humanist and politician Coluccio Salutati (1331–1406) advocated the priority of active life. He contended that contemplation was also a form of action. Leonardo Bruni († 1444), a student of Salutati, demanded - with criticism of Boccaccio's view - an attitude towards the state. He believed that the popular belief that a true scholar should refrain from participating in public life was erroneous. As a role model, he presented his readers with the union of philosophy and politics in Cicero's life's work. Giannozzo Manetti (1396–1459), who glorified King Alfonso V of Aragon as the embodiment of the ideal of an active and contemplative life, expressed himself in this sense . Other spokesmen in this direction were Matteo Palmieri (1406–1475), who praised Leonardo Bruni as a role model, and Giovanni Pontano (1429–1503), who saw the union of public action and contemplation primarily as the ruler's task. In the second half of the 15th century, however, a more skeptical assessment of the possible results of political action led to a rethink. Disappointment with political developments, especially with the decline of the republican constitution in Florence , caused republican-minded intellectuals to turn away from public life. A peaceful, contemplative existence by being restricted to the private sphere now appeared again as attractive or even, if one lived under a tyranny, as without alternative.

The humanist Lorenzo Valla († 1457) believed that the distinction between an active and a contemplative life was fundamentally wrong. It is not about a pair of opposites, but about two complementary aspects of the same reality of life. With this position he turned against the most respected authorities; he opposed both the Aristotelian and the scholastic traditions and also rejected the positions of earlier and contemporary humanists. Against the traditional preference for the contemplative life, he objected that the reasons for this were not plausible. The claim that contemplation is the source of the highest happiness and makes people god-like is not correct. There is no purely spiritual joy that is fundamentally different from sensual pleasure and that is reserved for a few scholars and ascetics. Like all other objects and activities, contemplation is not loved and striven for for its own sake, but only for the sake of the pleasure one hopes for from it. There is nothing divine in this pleasure, it is purely human and of the same kind as sensual pleasure. All sources of pleasure are of equal importance. One can love and enjoy wine, a woman, education, fame or God, and that is in principle the same for all people in all cases, although the extent of enjoyment depends on the respective circumstances. The unshakable calmness of mind, insensitivity and dispassion that is promised to man as the bliss and fruit of contemplation is in reality not worth striving for, but illusory and contrary to nature. Valla also asserted that the philosophical and theological ideal of contemplation was incompatible with the biblical commandment to love one's neighbor .

The Platonist Marsilio Ficino (1433–1499), a staunch supporter of the primacy of the vita contemplativa , took up a thought put forward by the late antique mythographer Fabius Planciades Fulgentius : He related the myth of the judgment of Paris to the various ways of life. According to ancient myth, it was up to the young man Paris to judge which of the three goddesses Aphrodite ( Venus ), Athene ( Minerva ) and Hera ( Juno ) was the most beautiful, after which all three tried to bribe him with promises . According to the interpretation of Fulgentius and Ficinos, Juno depicts the vita activa , since it promised Paris the rule. Venus, who tempted him with the love of the beautiful Helena , stands for the vita voluptuosa , the life devoted to sensual pleasure. Minerva, who advertised herself with the gift of wisdom, is the symbol of the contemplative life. These mythological personifications of the three ways of life were common in the late Middle Ages. They are depicted in book illustrations from the 14th and 15th centuries.

Portrait of Duke Federico da Montefeltro, showing him as the embodiment of the ideal of the unity of vita activa and vita contemplativa . Urbino, Galleria Nazionale delle Marche

The politician and humanist Cristoforo Landino († 1498) wrote the dialogue Disputationes Camaldulenses , the first book of which is entitled De vita contemplativa et activa (On contemplative and active life) . He dedicated the work to the Duke of Urbino , Federico da Montefeltro , who was the only one of his contemporaries who united the two ways of life and who achieved the greatest fame in both. In the dialogue, Landino had scientists, artists, humanists and politicians discuss which of the two ways of life should be preferred, the service to society and the state or the search for truth in science. The result of the debate was that, while research - the real destiny of man - should be given priority, social and political activity should also be given appropriate space. Federico da Montefeltro apparently shared this assessment. He had a state portrait made of himself to illustrate the fulfillment of his double task. The painting shows the Duke reading in his study - he is sitting in an armchair and is absorbed in reading a large book - and at the same time ready to act: He wears heavy armor and is armed with a sword, which indicates his successful career as a condottiere . His helmet is on the ground. The union of humanistic studies and politico-military achievement in both a contemplative and active life corresponded to a notion of the ideal statesman widespread during the Renaissance. This ideal found expression in many ways in the fine arts.

With regard to the relationship between forms of life and virtues or abilities, the humanists adopted the traditional assignment of the "moral" virtues of justice, moderation and bravery to action, while contemplating the "intellectual" or "speculative" virtutes ("virtues" here in the sense of abilities ) assigned: the intellectual qualities required for success in the studia humanitatis - the humanistic educational program.

Nikolaus von Kues

The philosopher and theologian Nicholas of Cusa († 1464), usually Latinized Cusa is called, sat down with the question of the highest form of life apart and worked out a theory of contemplation from. In doing so, he followed the prevailing Aristotelian model and expanded it with his own considerations. The starting point was the finding that everyone strives for ultimate bliss ( ultima felicitas or beatitudo ), and that for man that is that which corresponds to his own human nature and consists in the highest realization of his own possibilities. According to the Cusan philosophy, bliss defined in this way is the ultimate, ultimate goal of man. This gives rise to the point of view from which the question of the highest form of life is to be asked and answered: It is the way of life that leads to the goal. The goal is reached when human life unites with the source from which it flows itself and from which bliss comes to it. This is a divine, eternal life in which man has a share. Thus it comes to the union (unio) of man with God and a life prison that aims.

For Cusanus, unification as a conscious act presupposes that man grasps the Creator as his origin and understands himself as his living image, which, like the archetype, is immortal. Self-knowledge means knowledge of the one absolute origin of all being and of one's own connection with it. The perfect form of such knowledge is the divine gaze, "because contemplation or contemplation or gazing is the most perfect act that makes our highest nature, namely the intellectual one, happy, as Aristotle also shows". Accordingly, contemplation is the most valuable human activity.

For Cusanus, the authority in the human being that makes the vision possible stands above the mind. With understanding (ratio) is meant the force which orders the sensory impressions by means of suitable terms. The mind creates order by classifying, including and excluding and thus also negating - an achievement that the senses are not capable of. He has to keep the infinite away from his contemplation because it exceeds his horizon. All intellectual knowledge is based on comparison and is therefore related to the relative. Hence, the human mind cannot grasp something absolute like the maximum or the infinite. The realm of the divine, which is characterized by infinity, remains closed to him. However, man has another ability, reason (intellectus) , which is far above understanding. She is able to arrive at the concept of infinity and infinite unity.

Thus reason can approach the divine reality. However, the paradoxical relationship between the divine and the opposing and contradicting is an obstacle to it. For Cusanus God is the “simple unity” in which - from a human point of view - all kinds of opposites (opposita) coincide (“coincide”), whereby the opposites are canceled. This principle of the coincidence of the opposing poles ( coincidentia oppositorum ) paradoxically also applies to the contradictory (contradicting) opposites which, according to the Aristotelian theorem, exclude each other from contradiction . This is absolutely unacceptable to the mind and a problem to the reason as well. Yet it is a necessity that thought arrives at. The coincidence stands - as Cusanus puts it - as a "wall" between the understanding insight and the divine original ground. God remains inaccessible if it is not possible to transcend the idea of ​​contradiction and to grasp the paradox as reality. God can only be found and seen undisguised behind the wall. Whoever wants to penetrate to divine truth must therefore pass through the gate through which he gets behind the wall. In principle, this is possible because two requirements are met: First, the human spirit is an image of God and is therefore in principle able not only to understand, but also to “see” that which precedes all understanding; secondly, God shows himself to the viewer in contemplation, that is, he realizes the possibility of being seen. But the seeker's own endeavors are essential; it consists in the intellectual movement towards the limits of conceptual knowledge. In order to make the vision of God possible, the spirit must transcend itself towards the absolute. Viewing is superior to grasping, but presupposes the cognitive process of the grasping intellect as a previously performed achievement.

Although Cusanus identified bliss as the ultimate goal of human endeavors, he viewed the process of approaching that goal as an intellectual process. He called contemplation an “intellectual vision” (visio intellectualis) . His philosophy did not lead to the abandonment of thought activity in favor of an affective experience. In addition, he remarked that one may rise to God “ignorantly”, but only the intellectual power is capable of doing this, not the affect. The affect is moved by love, but love presupposes that a knowledge related to its object is already present. You can only love something if you have recognized that it is good.

In his last work, De apice theoriae (On the summit of contemplation) , Cusanus defined the one “ability” as the simple, to which the totality of the varied and changeable things can be traced back. One should look to this presupposition.

Cusanus interpreted the story of Martha and Maria in accordance with his epistemology. He said Martha represented the mind, Mary the reason and Jesus was the truth. According to his interpretation, many things disturb Martha and worry about many things, as is the habit of the mind which is a consequence of its inadequacy. Because of this inadequacy, Martha complains to Jesus and asks him to call Mary for help. Mary, on the other hand, sits at the feet of the Lord, paying attention only to him and leaving all worries behind. This corresponds to the nature of the intellect, because reason is able to separate itself from the multiplicity, from the unstable and restless, and focus entirely on " the one " - the unified, unchangeable truth. This orientation is the “better” that Mary chose, as Jesus states.


A special form of contemplation is hesychasm, a spiritual practice that was developed by Orthodox Byzantine monks in the Middle Ages and is highly regarded in Orthodoxy up to the present day. According to the hesychastic literature, the goal of the practitioner, the hesychast, is to attain and maintain hesychia , an inner "calm" or "stillness" associated with complete peace of mind. This requires persistent, systematic efforts within the framework of a special prayer practice. The praying hesychasts repeat the Jesus prayer over long periods of time and use a breathing technique as an aid to promote concentration. The hesychia is a prerequisite for the experience of a special divine grace, the perception of the uncreated Tabor light in a vision . In uncreated light, God himself should be present and visible. Since the 14th century, the theological basis of hesychasm created by Gregorios Palamas , "palamism", has been part of the binding teaching of Greek orthodoxy.

The medieval Hesychastic movement had its center in the monasteries and skiing on Mount Athos . In its heyday in the late Middle Ages, it also spread to the northern Balkans and Russia. After the fall of the Byzantine Empire in the 15th century, Russian monks continued the Hesychastic tradition.

Modern Christianity

In modern Christianity, the term contemplation is often used roughly synonymous with meditation, although contemplation, as opposed to action, emphasizes the aspect of tranquility and seclusion. In addition, however , the distinction developed in the Middle Ages remained present in the early modern age , according to which the various soul forces remain active in meditation while they come to rest in contemplation.

Roman Catholic Church

In the Roman Catholic Church , a religious order is referred to as “contemplative” or “contemplative” if its members, who mostly live in the cloister of a monastery , devote themselves mainly to the church prayer and contemplation. Such communities differ from those of the vita activa through their orientation .

Among the tranquil orders are the Discalced Carmelites , a reform branch of the Order of the Carmelites brought about by the founding personalities Teresa of Ávila (1515–1582) and John of the Cross († 1591), who were later canonized . Teresa of Ávila understood contemplation as “work” (Spanish trabajo ), which for God was equivalent to service in active life. In the Carmelite contemplation the affective aspect is in the foreground, one cultivates the dialogue of the soul with God. The distinction between meditation and contemplation has been widespread in Carmelite literature since the 16th century, with contemplation being the higher level that follows meditation. Meditating should create an attitude that is considered a prerequisite for contemplation. The Carmelite authors understand contemplation as a mode of knowledge that consists in a simple act of looking at the truth or in a quiet lingering on the object of knowledge. They differentiate between an "acquired" and a "poured in" contemplation. The acquired one has an active character, it is an experience that can be attained through one's own efforts with the help of grace. The poured in is a passively received experience in which God acts from within in the soul. In addition, poured contemplation makes a distinction between a perfect and an imperfect form, and over time Carmelite authors have introduced other terms and subdivisions. In modern Carmel, the scholastic systematization of the doctrine of contemplation by the authors of the 17th and 18th centuries has been viewed rather critically since the 20th century; one prefers to orientate oneself to the origins, to the founding personalities Teresa von Ávila and Johannes von Kreuz.

The influential spiritual author and founder of the order Franz von Sales (1567–1622) also made a distinction between meditation and contemplation. He compared meditation to the bees flying around collecting nectar and contemplating to enjoying the honey in the beehive. Meditation is exhausting, contemplation effortless and joyful. Contemplation is not a matter for beginners, but requires practice in meditation. Franz taught a method of meditation and contemplation, the core elements of which also spread to wide lay circles. The idea of ​​the omnipresence of God, and especially his presence, was cultivated in the viewer's own heart. In the spiritual currents of the 17th and 18th centuries, the practice of the presence of God became very important. She was also valued outside the Catholic world.

Significant contemplative impulses also came from Ignatius von Loyola (1491–1556), the founder of the religious order of the Jesuits . Regulated spiritual exercises ( retreats ) play an important role in the Jesuits . The Exercitia spiritualia introduced by the founder of the order serve as a fundamental instrument for training memory, understanding and will. These exercises, determined by precise instructions, are intended to lead to perfect self-control and alignment with the will of God and thus also to enable efficient action in the service of the Order and the Church. If possible, they are carried out in temporary seclusion. The practitioner has to use his concentrated imagination to create fantasy images which, together with appropriate considerations, should bring him to a conscious decision to act.

A variant of the dispute about the value and rank of action and contemplation was the dispute over so-called quietism in the late 17th century. This term refers to spiritual ideas that were at that time spread by some Catholic personalities mainly in Italy, Spain and France, but also found favor in Protestant countries. The best-known representatives of this movement are Miguel de Molinos , Madame Guyon and François Fénelon , the temporarily influential Archbishop of Cambrai . What they had in common was the demand to love God for his own sake and not for the sake of a reward. This was combined with a devaluation of all human efforts and actions of one's own accord. It was taught that one should not strive for anything on one's own, but rather surrender to God's will and let him act. Molinos advocated an “inner path”, a contemplative, wordless “prayer of calm”. This allows one to acquire the desired passive, receptive attitude and achieve peace of mind. The inner way is open to all believers. Initially the Catholic Church approved of these ideas, but later it condemned "quietist" theses as false doctrines and the Inquisition persecuted people suspected of quietism. Molinos was arrested in 1685, his teaching was taught in 1687 by Pope Innocent XI. sentenced. He was found guilty of heresy and remained in custody until his death in 1696. In 1699, Pope Innocent XII condemned individual sentences of Fénelons . , but Fénelon was not classified as a heretic and was allowed to keep his ecclesiastical office. The controversy over quietism and its ecclesiastical condemnation led in the Catholic world to a general discrediting of forms of contemplative spirituality, which were now considered suspect. Outside of Catholicism, the Inquisition's actions damaged the reputation of the Catholic Church.

The Trappist and writer Thomas Merton published his work Seeds of Contemplation in 1949 , a collection of thoughts and reflections on inner life. The book received a strong response and was soon translated into thirteen languages. In 1961 Merton published a thoroughly revised version under the title New Seeds of Contemplation , which has since been considered a standard work. He described contemplation as the highest expression of the intellectual and spiritual life of man. It is "this life itself in its fully awakened, fully active, fully conscious of its vitality" and "a living perception of the fact that life and being in us come from an invisible, transcendent and infinitely overflowing source".

In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, Peter Dyckhoff , Emmanuel Jungclaussen , Willigis Jäger and Franz Jalics came out with writings on contemplation and offered introductions to courses, seminars and courses. Some practices from this movement, which is also influenced by zazen , have consolidated and have found an institutional framework in associations and meditation centers. In the English-speaking world, Thomas Keating played a key role in the development of the centering prayer (prayer of centering) . In this form of contemplation, the practitioner turns quietly and devotedly to a freely chosen word. This is supposed to bring about inner silence and "rest in God". According to Keating's concept, God dwells in the depths of the unconscious. The prayer of centering should make the person praying receptive to the unconscious and lead to union with the divine presence.

Evangelical area

Martin Luther rejected monasticism, the most important bearer of the contemplative tradition. Even John Calvin strongly criticized monks and hermits, whom he accused to leave the duties that God had instructed the Christians in the first place. A father of a family is more useful to the community than a monk. The monk, with his seclusion, is a bad example, he offers Christians a useless and dangerous example. This evaluation was accentuated even more sharply in later Calvinism, for example by the lawyer and state theorist Johannes Althusius († 1638). Althusius was of the opinion that human nature, which is the same for all, imperatively demands active life; this corresponds not to moral advice, but to a commandment. A contemplative way of life is antisocial and in principle impermissible, it can in no way be pleasing to God.

Since the monastic ideal of life ceased to exist in the Reformed churches, contemplation found no breeding ground there in the early days of the Reformation and could only develop little later. In the course of the early modern period, however, individual personalities tried to introduce contemplative elements into evangelical piety. Among them are the preacher and edifying writer Martin Moller (1547–1606), who called for piety to be practiced through meditative appropriation of beliefs, Johann Arndt (1555–1621) with his contemplative understanding of prayer, Johann Gerhard (1582–1637), who recommended daily meditation, and above all Gerhard Tersteegen (1697–1769), who took up suggestions from Catholic contemplation literature. However, evangelical spirituality usually lacks the concept of a gradual ascent, which is characteristic of the Catholic teachings of contemplation, and whose course can be systematically explained.

Orthodox area

In the Orthodox world, Mount Athos remained a center of hesychasm in modern times. The Athos monks maintained their traditional way of contemplation under the Turkish rule . In Russia, too, the hesychastic tradition lived on in some monasteries, but it was weakened by anti-monk measures taken by Tsar Peter the Great (1682–1725). Contemplation experienced a significant upswing from the late 18th century after the extensive collection of sources Philokalie was published in 1782 , a compilation of authoritative texts of Orthodox spirituality that became popular as spiritual guidance. This work also had a strong impact in Russian translation. A new trend emerged, the "neo-psychasm", whose characteristic is the stepping out of the seclusion of the monastic sphere; hesychastic contemplation should be made familiar to a wider public outside of monasticism.

Modern philosophy

In the early modern period, the traditional high esteem for contemplation was initially able to assert itself in some philosophical circles, but from the 18th century the reputation of the vita contemplativa declined both among those interested in philosophy and among the general public. In the mainstreams of modern intellectual life the preference for practical, active behavior dominates. Contemplation is often perceived as meaningless occupation with no profit. Not only is their priority over the accessing activity disputed, but also their claim to gain access to truth.

Early modern age

Michel de Montaigne

In the late 16th century, Michel de Montaigne took a position in favor of the contemplative way of life in a chapter of his essays that he dedicated to loneliness. He opposed the argument that man was born not only for himself but for the community. On the other hand, he asserted that behind the beautiful word hides the ambition and greed of those who urged themselves to dignity and offices and who strived for the "drudgery of the world" in order to make a profit. According to Montaigne, a wise man would prefer to live in seclusion if he has a choice. But it is an illusion to believe that loneliness already guarantees a successful life, because the evil resides in the soul, which cannot escape itself. It is therefore not a matter of external withdrawal, but of turning your gaze away from the world from which you have withdrawn. Life can only become enjoyable when the soul has freed itself from its restlessness and the burden of desires and contemplates itself. You should reserve a “back room” for yourself, in which you are undisturbed; there you can then set up your true seat of freedom. Montaigne commented with admiration about the way of life of the pious, who devote themselves entirely to contemplation: whoever possesses such lively faith and hope, builds himself a glorious, delicious life that is superior to all other forms of life. But he himself, Montaigne, found himself unable to do so. Therefore he confessed to the more modest goal of lingering and consolidating the soul in certain and limited considerations that enable it to feel well.

Giordano Bruno

Giordano Bruno , in his dialogue Spaccio della bestia trionfante , published in 1584, justified the necessity of both action and contemplation with the argument that no human ability should be useless. He put the statement in the mouth of Jupiter , the father of the gods , that Providence had so determined that man should be occupied in activity with his hands and in contemplation with the mind, in such a way that he does not contemplate without action and not without Consideration act. In the Golden Age , people could have indulged in idleness, and that is why they were no more virtuous than animals until today, and perhaps even more stupid than many animals. However, later they would have sharpened their minds, invented the crafts and discovered the arts. Day after day, new and wonderful inventions would be lured out from the depths of the human mind. Through active and urgent occupations, the human being is moving further and further away from animal existence and is approaching the divine.

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716) formulated his criticism of conventional doctrines of contemplation from the Catholic area in the context of his examination of quietism. He was opposed to the idea of ​​a complete rest to enter the contemplative soul. In addition, he remarked that such rest or inactivity was an animal dullness such as that produced by narcotics. Since the soul is a substance , it is impossible for it to cease to be active. Leibniz also rejected the idea of ​​a discontinuity between meditation and contemplation. Contemplation is nothing other than a clear vision of the infinitely perfect being. A deep contemplation is the result of a real meditation that culminates in the contemplation of the beauty and perfection of God. It is a clear and right view of the great truths and the consequences of them. You can only stay in this if you combine meditation with it and remember the premises . Leibniz understood contemplation as an activity based on discursive thinking, a dwelling on certain general consequences from the rational view of the world. The idea of ​​a supra-rational contemplative experience was alien to him, although he admitted its possibility in the case of supernatural grace.


Voltaire (1694–1778) dealt in his discussion with the Catholic thinker Blaise Pascal also with his demand that people should turn to their inwardness and stay with themselves in their resting place instead of fleeing to the outside world and constantly worried about the future Respectively. From Voltaire's point of view, such a contemplation is neither desirable nor possible: a person who does not act but only looks at it would not only be stupid and useless for society, but could not exist at all. If he is looking at his body and senses instead of making use of them, he is an idiot, and if he is looking at his thinking ability, he cannot do it without exercising it, i.e. being active. He will either think of nothing or of ideas, and he can only either get them from outside or create new ones from those he has already received from outside. But when he picks up and processes ideas, he does not, as Pascal demands, remain with himself inwardly and calmly, but is active, on the basis of an external relationship. One can just be either stupid or preoccupied with the outside world.

David Hume

David Hume (1711–1776), in his Inquiry concerning human understanding, distinguished two directions of moral philosophy or science of human nature. One of them, according to his presentation, regards humans mainly as born to act. She puts virtue before his eyes as the most valuable thing and wants to encourage him to be virtuous in an active life through the prospect of fame and happiness. The thinkers of the other direction do not look at man in terms of his activity, but in terms of his nature as rational beings. They would rather educate the mind than ennoble morals and make human nature the subject of speculative reflection. Your goal is to explore the principles of understanding, feeling, and evaluating.

Hume gave considerations in favor of focusing on relatively easy issues of active life and arguments in favor of the more difficult, more demanding route of speculative inquiry. He criticized the extremes and advocated a middle way, a mixed way of life for the philosopher. Nature itself exhorts to such a balance. As a rational being, man should research, but without neglecting active life. Deep-drilling research could lead to brooding, endless uncertainty and melancholy; the public also has no appreciation for it. Only a “human” science that is directly related to active life is natural.

Adam Smith

Adam Smith expressed himself critically in his work The Theory of Moral Sentiments published in 1759 . He thought that the idea of ​​a divine being, whose benevolence and wisdom had conceived the machine of the universe, was certainly the most sublime of all objects of human contemplation. A person who is believed to be chiefly preoccupied with this lofty contemplation usually receives the highest veneration. Even if his life's work is limited to such contemplation, he is often looked up to with a kind of religious respect that is far greater than respect for the most active and useful promoter of the common good. Smith disapproved of this as an inappropriate overestimation of contemplation. He argued, however, that the directing of the universe is the business of God and not that of men. The human being is assigned the task of looking after his own well-being and that of his surroundings and his country. The contemplation of something sublime can never be an excuse for neglecting one's own lower sphere of responsibility. Smith concluded with the verdict: "The most sublime speculation of the contemplative philosopher can hardly outweigh the neglect of the least active duty."

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Jean-Jacques Rousseau's last work , Les rêveries du Promeneur Solitaire , from 1776–1778 , contains his thoughts on his contemplative existence in the last years of his life. He described the hours of solitary contemplation on his walks as the only ones in which he was himself unimpaired - what nature had wanted. According to his description, reflecting on general and individual nature enabled him to be in harmony with his own nature and, moreover, had a formative effect by creating in him the habit of returning to himself. He owed his independence and the insight into the source of his happiness that he found within himself to the contemplation with himself. In this way he updated a particular ability of his nature and thus corresponded to the general nature. This made his life what it could be at best. Contemplation offered him inner delights (délices internes) .

According to Rousseau's description, in contemplation he experienced a state in which the soul found a sufficiently solid foundation to come to rest on it and to collect its whole being there. She then did not have to look back into the past or break out into the future. Time meant nothing to her, the present went on forever, but without showing its duration, without any trace of succession. The only feeling was that of one's own existence, and it completely filled the soul. That meant luck in the most demanding sense. As long as the state lasted, the bliss was perfect; there was no emptiness in the soul that could still be filled, no desire for another state could arise. As a prerequisite for such contemplation, Rousseau stated that although the heart was at peace, there was no complete rest; Rather, there should be a steady, moderate movement, without tremors or interruptions, either in the outside world or in one's own mind. Without any movement, life would be lethargic; absolute silence would lead to sadness and offer a picture of death.

Immanuel Kant

In his Critique of Judgment in 1790, Immanuel Kant distinguished a taste judgment that was "merely contemplative", since it only depends on the quality and not on the existence of the object, from the judgments about the pleasant and the moral good, which are made with a desire of the object and therefore linked to its existence. Only the contemplative pleasure of taste in the beautiful is uninterested and free. Kant distinguished the pleasure in the sublime of nature from the pleasure in the beautiful. This is a "pleasure of rational contemplation". It presupposed the feeling of a supersensible determination of the considered sublimity and thus had a moral basis. In and of itself, the "contemplation of the rough greatness of nature" is not suitable to bring about a pleasure in all people; rather, their sight is actually rather daunting. In the moral realm, Kant found contemplation necessary. In his work, Die Metaphysik der Sitten , published in 1797 , he stated that although humans are fundamentally capable of fulfilling their ethical duties and overcoming all “sensually counteracting impulses”, this ability must first be acquired as “strength”. This happens because the moral mainspring is raised “through contemplation (contemplatione) of the dignity of the pure law of reason in us, but at the same time also through exercise (exercitio) ”.

19th century

In 19th century philosophy, the term contemplation took a back seat. In the period around 1800 the question of the possibility and the limits of a spiritual vision in contrast to sensory perception was the subject of debates about perception . The concept of an “ intellectual intuition ” as a type of knowledge and access to direct knowledge of the absolute was judged controversially . Fichte and Schelling advocated different versions of this concept, but Hegel attacked it sharply in 1807 in his Phenomenology of Spirit . Hegel saw in intellectual intuition an arbitrary, subjective postulate that disregards the process of objective development of the spirit and wrongly presupposes immediate knowledge as a given.

In 1843, Søren Kierkegaard was critical of a one-sided contemplative turn to the eternal, since the associated disregard for temporality could have fatal consequences.

Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling

Schelling defined the first in philosophy as the idea of ​​the absolute. In 1804 he found that the knowledge of the absolute in reason was a very immediate one, and therefore necessarily one that was completely appropriate to and pervading its object. In doing so, "the knower and the known become one", there is no limitation of the knower by the known. So it is a contemplative type of knowledge. In general, every immediate knowledge and therefore all contemplation is intuition. In the present case it is an intellectual view. One could just as little convey this to another as one could convey reason to him. The intellectual view is "nothing special, but just the very general".

In his introduction to the philosophy of mythology , Schelling commented on the contemplative way of life. According to his explanations there, the ego can give itself up as something active, withdraw into itself and renounce its selfhood. It intends to escape the “unhappiness of doing” and “to take refuge in contemplative life”. With the step from the active into the contemplative life, it “simultaneously crosses over to God's side”. Without knowing about God, it seeks “a divine life in this ungodly world”. Thanks to the surrender of the selfhood that separates the ego from God, it actually comes to "touch itself again with the divine itself". The entry of the ego into the contemplative life thus becomes a "rediscovery (becoming objective again) of God", but "God only as an idea". This takes place in three stages. The first is the act of self-forgetfulness, in which man seeks to "destroy (not: to destroy)" himself and everything else coincidentally connected with him. The second stage is the art through which the ego makes itself similar to the divine, the third the contemplative science, in which it touches that which is for its own sake. The nous (mind) has the same relationship to its object, the purely intelligible , as the senses to the sensual. However, this state of affairs cannot be permanent, the giving up of action cannot be enforced; as soon as active life comes back, the ideal God turns out to be insufficient. There remains the longing for the “real God” that leads into the realm of religion.

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

Like Kant, Fichte and Schelling, Hegel saw intuition as an independent principle of knowledge, but considered the concepts presented so far to be inadequate. His system distinguishes the empirical from the transcendental view. The empirical intuition receives its object as given. In their approach, subject and object, reflection and intuition fall apart according to the understanding of the mind and remain separate. For transcendental intuition, on the other hand, the object is not given, but it produces it itself in the process of looking, which cannot be separated from the object. This process aims at the unity of everything separate and opposing. First, the transcendental intuition abstracts from all the manifoldness of empirical consciousness and makes itself an object. In this way it achieves a relative unity, but with the orientation towards itself and its opposition to the empirical it makes something conditional and subjective a principle. This means that it is not yet purely transcendental and therefore not suitable for grasping the absolute and being elevated to the absolute principle of a system. It only becomes a pure, absolute, transcendental intuition when it encompasses the relative opposition of subject and object and regards both as moments of absolute, self-contemplating reason. Then being and concept, reflection and perception are brought together to form a unity, all opposition is canceled and the identity of the subjective and the objective is brought into consciousness. There is also an overarching absolute identity between relative identity and non-identity. This is how a transcendental knowledge comes about. This is no different from transcendental looking; one expression serves to emphasize the ideal, the other that of the real aspect of one and the same reality.

In research, Hegel's philosophy is called contemplative. It is pointed out that he took up the traditional idea of ​​a contemplative understanding of reality and integrated it into his system.

Arthur Schopenhauer

Arthur Schopenhauer dealt extensively with contemplation in his major work, Die Welt als Will und Bild , published in 1819 . His main interest was the relationship between contemplation and will. According to his understanding, contemplation is based on the fact that one “lifted up by the power of the spirit, lets go of the usual way of looking at things”. This means that one no longer only looks at the relationships between things, "whose ultimate goal is always the relationship to one's own will". One no longer considers “the where, the when, the why and the for what”, but “solely the what”. This also means that the contemplator does not let abstract thinking take over the consciousness, but rather “surrenders the whole power of his mind to the perception, immersed himself completely in it and lets the whole consciousness fill out through the calm contemplation of the present natural object a landscape, a tree, a rock, a building or whatever ”. Then the meaning of the phrase becomes apparent, according to which one “loses oneself” in an object: One forgets “one's individual, one's will” and only remains as a “pure subject”, as a “clear mirror of the object”. When the subject has “stepped out of all relation to the will”, the state is as if the object were there without a perceiver. The perception and perception can no longer be separated, the whole consciousness is "completely filled and taken up by a single vivid image". The viewer is no longer an individual, but "pure, willless, painless, timeless subject of knowledge". In such contemplation, “the individual thing becomes the idea of ​​its species”. The individual as such only knows individual things, the pure subject of knowledge only knows ideas. Schopenhauer came to the conclusion that the moments in which such mindless contemplation takes place are "the most blissful we know".

Schopenhauer remarked that the transition to the “state of pure viewing” occurs most easily when the objects “meet the same” due to their nature, which is the case above all with beautiful nature. The plant world in particular imposes itself on aesthetic considerations. But art, such as a work of architecture, could also bring about this process. The pleasure of looking at a beautiful building lies predominantly in "the pure contemplation itself, freed from all suffering of will and individuality".

In the cases mentioned, according to Schopenhauer's account, it is only the beautiful that affects the viewer. The situation is different when an object invites pure contemplation, but has a hostile relationship against the human will, threatens it through its superiority or reduces it to nothing. If the viewer then does not direct his attention to this hostile relationship, but consciously turns away from it, tears himself away from his will and calmly contemplates the object that the will fears, then the feeling of the sublime fills him. Then that which brought him into that "state of exaltation" is called "exalted". The sublime differs from the merely beautiful in that when looking at it, the state of pure knowledge is not won without an inner struggle.

For Schopenhauer, the ability to look at things completely uninterested is a characteristic of genius. The opposite of contemplation is the ordinary person's “peeking”. He can only focus his attention on what is related to his will. Therefore, he does not dwell on the observation for long and does not fix his gaze on an object for long, but always searches quickly for the term under which something is to be brought, and then it does not interest him any further. Therefore, he quickly copes with works of art and beautiful nature. The genius, on the other hand, delves into the contemplation so much that he neglects his own path in life and follows it “mostly clumsily enough”.

Friedrich Nietzsche

Friedrich Nietzsche counted himself among the contemplative people. However, he was relentlessly critical of the widespread manifestations of contemplative life, above all of the “so-called religious natures” which, according to his findings, predominate among the contemplative living. Nietzsche considered it unquestionable that contemplation "appeared first on earth in a masked form", "with an evil heart and often with a frightened head". The “inactive, brooding, non-warlike” in the instincts of contemplative people have long been surrounded by a deep distrust. Hence the early contemplatives - priests, sorcerers, medicine men, fortune tellers, and even philosophers - developed the need to arouse fear. They - for example the Brahmins - succeeded in doing this mainly with the terrible means of an ascetic, inventive cruelty towards themselves. In doing so, they would have given the impression that they had unknown means of power. Therefore she was not expelled from the community; they were secretly despised, but publicly showered with superstitious reverence.

For the thinkers it is true that the contemplative state peculiar to them always follows the state of fear with some and that of desire for others. In the first case, tranquility is associated with the feeling of security, in the second with the feeling of satiety. The contemplative is subject to the delusion of being placed in front of the great drama and sound that is life as a spectator and listener, even if he is one of the “high people”. He overlooks the fact that “he himself is also the real poet and poet of life” and not a mere observer and guest in front of the stage. As a result of this error, he misunderstood his best power and the possible rank of man as the creator of everything valuable. Thus Nietzsche - including himself - came to the judgment of the contemplatives that they valued themselves too low: "[W] e are neither as proud nor as happy as we could be."

Nietzsche considered the question of the superior way of life to be wrong: “The wrong contrast between vita practica and contemplativa is Asian. The Greeks understood better. "

20th and 21st centuries

Wilhelm Dilthey

Wilhelm Dilthey , in a paper published in 1911, distinguished three main types of worldview in metaphysics. One of them, objective idealism , makes up the bulk of all metaphysics. The epistemological-methodical behavior of its representatives is based on the contemplative way of life of these thinkers. According to Dilthey's description, behavior is contemplative when the subject in it rests, as it were, from the work of scientific knowledge and action, which depends on needs and purposes. In contemplative behavior, the emotional life, in which the richness of life, value and happiness of existence are first personally experienced, expands to a kind of universal sympathy. Thanks to such an expansion of himself, the contemplative fills and enlivens the whole of reality through the values ​​he feels and the work in which he lives out. Your own attitude towards life becomes compassion for the world as a whole. The individual experiences his kinship with all appearances of the real, and accordingly his joie de vivre increases and the awareness of his power grows. In this way one comes into a “state of mind” in which one “feels one with the divine connection of things”. This state of mind "finds the resolution of all dissonances in life in a universal harmony of all things". It is always about "looking at the parts in a whole" and "ascertaining the context of life in the context of the world". For the contemplative, who, as it were, perceives them from within, the objects of sense perception have “a life context within them, which can be experienced in that of our own inner being”.

Karl Jaspers

In 1919, Karl Jaspers put forward a system of ideological attitudes in his study Psychology of Weltanschauung . He distinguished between “objective attitudes”, in which the consciousness is directed towards the outside world, and “self-reflective attitudes”, in which what becomes an object “what is called I, self, personality”. For each of the two groups he adopted an active and a contemplative form of behavior.

According to Jaspers' model, within the group of representational attitudes, the active manifestations are concerned with shaping temporal reality, while the contemplative ones are aimed at grasping timeless representations. In the active attitude, the willing person experiences the world on the one hand as a resistance, on the other hand as partially dependent on it. The active person wants to transform his environment in such a way that he can regard it as his. In doing so, however, he proceeds pragmatically from the given situation, not from an abstract ideal. He always chooses between possibilities, acts in the face of an “either - or” and is then responsible for his decision; the idea that one does not exclude the other is alien to him. The mind and all contemplation are only means to an end for him. In contrast to this, the contemplative objective attitude is “to look at, not to dominate, to see, not to acquire; Looking, not creating and doing; even in creation it is not experienced as such, but as growing and being given ”. The world of objects is only there to be known. Within this setting, Jaspers distinguishes three subspecies: the intuitive, the aesthetic and the rational. In the intuitive posture, one gazes devotedly, waits and accepts and experiences the exhilarating feeling of abundance and the limitless. One immerses oneself in the object, whereby there is an awareness of kinship to it; will, purpose and goal setting are perceived as disturbing. For the aesthetic setting, “isolation” is the decisive characteristic: The content of the experience is removed from the objective context and the experience itself from psychological contexts such as tasks, purposes and directions of will. This creates a “peculiar irresponsibility”. The rational attitude is that of inquiring contemplation, which organizes its objects through conceptual and system formation and thereby creates complete distance from them. In this way it brings clarity, but by fixing it also leads to paralysis and death, in contrast to the flowing "intuition" that stands for the living. It is negation in that it delimits and determines and thus always excludes something. Since it always moves in opposites, it can never grasp wholes.

The self-reflective attitudes can also be active or contemplative. Contemplative self-reflection is in its pure form, as long as it does not absolutize itself and its self-esteem, a calm contemplation that never has a finished self in front of it, since the self is a process and infinite. In active self-reflection, the human being is “not just the material of contemplation, but is material and creator at the same time”; he not only watches himself, he wants to.

Simone Weil

Contemplation plays an important role in the work of Simone Weil (1909–1943). Weil followed up on the Platonic theory of the soul and epistemology. When describing her understanding of contemplation, she usually used the term "attention" (French attention ). According to her description, attention is an attitude that one arrives at when one frees the mind from all temporal and object-related ties and detaches from all contents present in the mind. In particular, the focus on the future must be abandoned. Only the pure desire for the truth should remain, and one should endure in it without expectation. Under no circumstances should one attempt to anticipate the content of the truth in advance. One limits oneself to rejecting the inadequate. Thinking remains empty, suspended, it becomes receptive and permeable. In this way the attentive one moves away from the pseudo-reality, which is a product of his ideas and interpretations and is based on the transference of his own ego into things. He gets rid of the deceptive values ​​that normally determine his mind. The illusions of “substitute reality”, of the “things as values” to which he is attached, no longer apply. In this way he opens up to the actual reality of what is being viewed. Pure attention means being open to the current, concrete situation, to what is happening now, for example solving a school task or doing a craft job. Weil, who worked temporarily as a teacher, said that the main goal of school education was not to impart knowledge, but to practice attentiveness.

For Weil, the detachment from the obstructive thought-content is a discursive process, but afterwards the discursive part of the soul has to be switched off so that the soul can plunge into the position-free “ pure contemplation(la pure contemplation) . In the beginning, Weil considered such a border crossing to be an unattainable ideal, but later it came to an optimistic view.

Martin Heidegger

Martin Heidegger expressed himself in 1953 in the lecture Science and Reflection . He started from the etymology to develop the terms. According to his explanations, the Greek verb theōreín means "the appearance in which something shows what it is to look at", or in other words "to look at the sight in which what is present appears and to linger by seeing through such sight". Having seen this look is knowledge. The way of life that receives its determination from such “seeing” is called bíos theōrētikós , “the way of life of the viewer who looks into the pure appearance of what is present”. For the ancient Greeks, seeing life is the highest activity and vision is the perfect form of human existence, "the pure reference to the looks of what is present, which through their shining affect people by shining on the presence of the gods". With theōría is meant "the honoring observance of the unconcealedness of what is present".

The Latin translation chosen by the Romans of theōreín with contemplari and theōría with contemplatio , according to Heidegger's view, "makes the essence of what the Greek words say disappear in one fell swoop", because etymologically, contemplari means that something is fenced off in a section that has been cut out . "The character of the divided, intervening procedure against what is to be considered, asserts itself in the knowledge."

Josef Pieper

Josef Pieper presented his view in 1957 in the book Glück und Contemplation . His thesis is that the ultimate happiness of man lies in contemplation. This thought is part of a wisdom tradition, the origins of which reached beyond historical time. Pieper defined contemplation as "silent perception of reality" and "not thinking, but seeing knowledge". Seeing is “the perfect form of knowledge par excellence”, namely “the knowledge of what is present and present”. It is "a way of knowledge that does not first move towards its object, but rests in it". Thinking, on the other hand, is knowledge of what is absent or even just striving for such knowledge.

Hannah Arendt

In her work Vita activa or Vom aktivigen Leben, Hannah Arendt dealt with the traditional image of active and contemplative life as well as its modern change. The book was published in English in 1958 and in a revised German version in 1960. Arendt saw the main disadvantage of the ancient and medieval hierarchy of ways of life in the fact that contemplation was so preponderant that structures and fundamental differences within the vita activa were blurred or ignored. This deficiency - the lack of understanding of the diversity of the three basic activities of working, manufacturing and trading - has not changed significantly even after the modern break with tradition and the reversal of the hierarchy. Arendt is convinced that the basic concerns of the vita activa are different from those of the vita contemplativa and are neither superior nor inferior to them.

Critical theory

The main proponents of the older critical theory , Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno , turned against the ideal of a life devoted to pure contemplation in science or philosophy. They criticized such a separation of thinking from action, with which the social condition and the task of striving for knowledge are disregarded. They condemned the associated indifference to social and political reality as inhumane. According to Horkheimer's analysis, the idealistic identification of knowledge with fulfillment is meant as a reconciliation of spirit and nature. It “only elevates the ego in order to rob it of its content by isolating it from the outside world”. If a philosophy only aims at an internal process of eventual liberation, it ends up as an empty ideology. The concentration on pure inwardness allowed society to become a jungle of power interests, whereupon these interests would have undermined the material conditions of the possibility of contemplation. Adorno judged that the critical spirit was not able to cope with “absolute reification”, “as long as it remains with itself in self-sufficient contemplation”.

Regarding aesthetic contemplation, Adorno remarked that it was “as a remnant of fetishistic adoration at the same time a step in overcoming it”, because its object are the “light-up things” that were previously revered as magical, but which were disenchanted by the Enlightenment. The bliss of contemplation consists in “disenchanted magic”. Art is "magic, freed from the lie of being truth". Horkheimer was also ambivalent about contemplation; he accepted possibilities "through which the earth could become a place of contemplation and joy". Technological advances are approaching these possibilities, but they are being opposed by the “equalizers” who insist on the “deification of industrial activity”.

Martin Seel , a younger proponent of critical theory, published a collection of essays in 2004 entitled Adorno's Philosophy of Contemplation . In this volume, Seel justifies his thesis that Adorno's thinking is "in the heart a philosophy of contemplation"; contemplative experience is "the normative basis of his philosophizing". He propagates a contemplative consciousness that consists in a sense of the peculiarity of the existence of people and things. That is a "completely new understanding of contemplation". Seel takes this position himself.

Peter Sloterdijk

Peter Sloterdijk went into the classification of ways of life in his book You must change your life , published in 2009 , in which he described people as practitioners. He defined modernity as the age "which brought about the highest mobilization of human forces under the auspices of work and production", in contrast to the ancient and medieval world, in which this mobilization took place in the name of practice and perfection. Sloterdijk differentiated between two forms of practicing life, using the “radically divergent orientation of mobilizations” as a criterion. In one case the “effort program” aims at an object or product, in the other case “all forces flow into the intensification of the practicing subject”, which “unfolds to ever higher levels of a purely performative mode of being”. Sloterdijk equated the latter form of life with the vita contemplativa , which is actually a vita performativa . It is as active in its own way as the most active life. This activity is "assimilation to the never tired universal or divine being-nothing".

Soon after, Sloterdijk published the lecture Apparent Death in Thinking , in which he dealt with the contemplative (“theoretical”) life. There he criticized the “ingrained difference” between “active” and “contemplative”. They give the wrong impression that they are an exclusive and complete alternative. As a result, an extensive complex of human behavior disappears from view, the practicing life, which is neither merely active nor merely contemplative, but a mixed area. Sloterdijk asked about the “conditions of the possibility of theoretical behavior” and treated science and philosophy as “theoretical” forms of life. They are both - regardless of their differences - as "offspring of the old European culture of rationality" expressions of the bíos theōrētikós . This is a special form of the practicing life, the "human formation through practicing self-influence". Sloterdijk discussed the history of the process "by which the profane human being [...] is transformed into a theoretical human being".

Sociology of Religion

In his 1921/1922 posthumously published work Religious Communities, Max Weber examined the paths of salvation and their influence on the conduct of life. He distinguished two main types: self-redemption, which one achieves through one's own works, and redemption through divine action out of pure grace. He divided the first main type according to the type of works. According to Weber's typology, these are either purely ritual cult acts or social achievements for which reward is hoped for, or self-perfection using a method of salvation. From an evolutionary point of view, the purpose of the method of salvation is originally a "self-deification", which is aimed at the possession of the divine in this world. This should be achieved in archaic forms of religiosity through the induction of intoxicating ecstasies . In the religions, however, in which an omnipotent, transcendent God confronts the creatures, self-deification is frowned upon as presumption. There it can only be a matter of achieving the religious qualities required by God. There are two different ways of doing this, the active-ascetic and the passive-contemplative. The active ascetic sees himself as an instrument of God, as a participant in the divine work, and is active in this consciousness. Proof of fulfilling his earthly duties should bring him salvation. The contemplative, on the other hand, does not want to “do” anything; he sees himself as a vessel of the deity and strives for a "state of affairs", the most striking form of which is known as "mystical enlightenment". The contemplative path is only open to a minority of specifically qualified people.

According to Weber's presentation, the contemplative thinks he can only reach his goal if he succeeds in switching off everyday interests and in completely silencing the “creatures” in him. This requirement leads to an escape from all obstructive worldly entanglements. Weber made a strict distinction between the contemplatives' “escape from the world” and the active, combative “world rejection” of the ascetic path, although he called the opposite “fluid” and allowed transitions. He named a number of distinguishing features. The struggling ascetic has a negative inner relationship to the world, the enjoyment of which he denies himself, but in which he wants to be creative. The contemplative, on the other hand, wants to detach himself from everything worldly in order to come to rest in the divine. To this end, he minimizes all action. He tries to ward off disturbances from nature and his social environment. To the active ascetic, contemplation appears to be a sluggish, egotistical, reprehensible self-enjoyment, while the contemplative sees in the active's efforts to shape worldly relationships a wrong path, a distance from divine unity. The active-ascetic pious person does not ask about the meaning of the world and his actions, because he places this in the inscrutable will of God. The contemplative, on the other hand, wants to see the “meaning” of the world. For the ascetic, the success of his action is a success of God, to which he has contributed, and a sign of divine blessing for him, while for the contemplative, the success of inner-worldly action has no salvific significance. Weber emphasized that all contemplation has a negative effect on action. He also pointed to the “humble acceptance of the given social order” as a result of a contemplative attitude.

Following up on Weber's results, the sociologist Wolfgang Schluchter worked out the typology further. In contemplation, as in asceticism, he differentiates between an actively turned away from the world and an actively turned away from the world, as well as a passive and a passive turned away from the world. Schluchter has also presented a classification of cultural religions in which the criteria “ascetic”, “contemplative” and “ecstatic” are among the classification criteria.


In Judaism in antiquity and in the Middle Ages there was no tradition of a contemplative way of life in isolation. In the High and Late Middle Ages , Kabbalistic writings were written under Islamic influence , which recommended contemplative silence as a way to God, but this did not mean any externally recognizable special way of life and no separation from normal social life. The Hebrew expression hitbodedut (התבודדות "seclusion") received the special meaning of concentrated reflection in a contemplative process in some Kabbalistic texts from the 13th century.

The discussion of the religious value of hitbodedut began in the 11th century. Bachja ben Josef ibn Paquda dealt with this in his strongly lingering writing on the duties of the heart. A contemplative piety was cultivated around Abraham ben Moshe ben Maimon (1186–1237), son of the influential scholar Maimonides . In the second half of the 13th century, the highly controversial Kabbalist Abraham Abulafia , the founder of the "prophetic Kabbalah", developed a method of contemplative concentration on the name of God, which, according to his understanding, is not limited to special occasions, but is integrated into everyday life should. He described the "way of hitbodedut " as a means of attaining closeness to God and viewed it as preparation for attaining prophetic status. This path is open to all willing. Reading, writing, reciting and thinking should concentrate on the connection of the letters of God's name in a place of privacy.

Abulafia's concept of contemplation found considerable resonance in the Middle East with Kabbalists of the late Middle Ages and early modern times, while it was largely ignored in the West, where it was ostracized. The authors who took up his suggestions and developed them further included Mosche Cordovero (1522–1570) and Hayyim Vital (1542–1620). The Kabbalist Eleazar Azikri (1533–1600) advocated the most withdrawn, contemplative way of life.

In the late 18th century, Schneur Salman initiated the Chabad Hasidic Movement , in which the contemplation of the presence of God in creation is the focus of religious life. Followers of the Chabad doctrine practice hitbonenut (התבוננות), a contemplation that assigns an important role to the intellect. The intellectual contemplation of the finite and the infinite, of being and nothing, should pave the way to an understanding of the all-encompassing divine unity.


Contemplative practice in Islam is called “remembering” (ḏikr) or “remembering God”, “remembering God” (ḏikr Allah) . It is a non-ritual prayer, which consists in the constant repetition of a formula - a belief or a name of God. Ḏikr can be performed alone or in a group, in silence or aloud. The invocation of God with one of his glorious 99 names is widespread , each naming one of his properties. In addition to hadiths, the theological basis is provided by numerous passages in the Koran , including the command “Believers! Remember God incessantly and praise him morning and evening! ”, The instruction“ Remember your Lord, if you forget ”and the statement“ In the memory of God the heart finds rest ”associated with a beatitude for those who remember. The constant repetition of the prayer formula aims to concentrate on its content; the person praying should be aware of the presence of God as constantly as possible. From this the believers hope for protection in this world and reward in the hereafter. Individual prayer formulas are linked to the expectation of heavenly rewards according to the number of repetitions.

The Ḏikr is traditionally particularly cultivated in Sufism , where it plays a central role as an exercise. With the practice of concentration, the negligence (ġafla) is combated, which in Sufism is considered to be a major failure on the way to God and which should be pushed back further and further. Among the Sufis, the doctrine of contemplation has been systematically worked out and presented by authorities such as Abū Bakr Muhammad al-Kalābādhī (10th century), Muḥammad al-Ġazzālī (died 1111) and Ahmad ibn ʿAṭāʾ Allāh (died 1309). The different Sufi orders have developed different styles. Relevant manuals contain detailed rules that determine, among other things, the sitting posture and breathing technique. Religious students receive individual instructions from their masters. The ikr is supposed to bring about such a deep immersion in the object of contemplation, the Creator, that the praying person forgets everything that has been created - including himself. Some Sufi teachers describe a sequence of stages on the path of development on which one progresses to ever more advanced states of immersion. Light phenomena should appear. The loud Ḏikr is called “remembering with the tongue”, the silent, which is usually valued more, is called “remembering in the heart”. The silent contemplation is divided into several phases according to the different states and insights to which it is supposed to lead. In some Sufi traditions, the ḏikr as-sirr (remembrance of the innermost) described by ibn ʿAṭāʾ Allāh is considered to be the highest level , a state in which the separation of the praying subject and the object to be worshiped in the wordless Ḏikr is abolished. At the end of the ascent, the Ḏikr should also be forgotten and ultimately only God should be present.


In Hinduism used for three successive stages of the observation that the higher part of yoga constitute -Wegs, the Sanskrit designations dhāraṇā , dhyāna and samādhi . The first stage is dhāraṇā , the practice of concentration, which is a preliminary exercise for actual contemplation. What is meant is an alignment of the whole attention and all emotions on a certain inwardly looked object. When this practice is mastered, it passes into actual contemplation, dhyāna . Dhyāna means “meditating, immersing oneself in an inner object”. In addition to concentrating on the object, there is now the exploration and understanding of its essence. This happens in a show in which all soul forces are involved; what is required is not only the activity of the intellect, but also the ability to surrender to the object. The object takes possession of the viewer, so to speak, he exercises an absorbing force on him. This state is considered preparation for the highest level of contemplation called samādhi . Samādhi is “joining” or “ putting together” in which the unity of subject and object is experienced. The goal of the entire contemplation process is to gain a comprehensive understanding of the nature of the world order. The immersion that should lead to such insight enables, according to the yoga doctrine, liberation ( mokṣa ) from ignorance, which in Hinduism is considered to be the cause of human misery, and thus redemption from saṃsāra , wandering in a world marked by suffering.

A widespread method of contemplation is Japa , the constant recitation of a mantra , that is, a divine name, a sacred word or word or a religious saying , often over long periods of time . The mantra is spoken, mumbled, sung or just recited inwardly. The repetitions are counted with the help of a prayer chain ( mālā ) . Through this practice, the mind is to be brought to rest and, as far as possible, to be focused exclusively on the object of contemplation. Japa is already in Yogasutra of Patanjali , the classic yoga guide recommended. It is practiced by yoga students and tantrics according to the instructions of their guru . Often the users visually imagine the deity invoked during contemplation, whereby the corresponding feelings should arise. The affective side of the process is essential. The viewer hopes for a connection with the deity on which he is concentrating, and their gracious care. It is expected that the deity will show himself to his devotee if he does the Japa correctly.

Japa is of central importance in Bhakti Yoga , the practice of loving devotion to the highest deity, who is understood as a person. Practitioners ( bhaktas ) believe that God is present in his name, which they reverently repeat, and that it contains all of his power and might. However, only a bhakta, a true devotee, can pronounce the divine name in a pure manner. A religiously ignorant person bound by the Maya (illusion) only utters the "shadow of the name". The real name is not the acoustically audible sound shape, it is rather just its shell or its shadow. In the cult of Krishna and Vishnu in particular, Japa serves to generate and consolidate love for God (Bhakti) and an ever closer connection between God and his devotee. The goal of contemplation is permanent communion with the beloved God. It is pursued with such exclusivity that it even makes striving for freedom from suffering unnecessary.


A Buddhist woman with a prayer beads in Bhutan

In Buddhism, contemplation is referred to by the Pali word jhāna , which corresponds to the expression dhyāna in Sanskrit. According to the Buddhist tradition, jhāna is divided into a series of successive stages. It is a practice that is characterized by exclusive concentration on a single object, the respective object of contemplation. It is a prerequisite for insight into the true nature of phenomena. All sensory activity is stopped; the path leads from the realm of forms - material objects or ideas derived from them - to the formless. The objects of observation include impermanence, suffering, impersonality and emptiness. However, according to the Buddhist understanding, contemplation does not lead to the actual goal of all efforts, “ awakening ”, but only prepares for it. The states that are reached are ephemeral. They do not have a final character and are therefore of limited value or even questionable. Because of the Christian, in particular theistic, connotations of the expression “contemplation”, some research on Buddhism takes the view that this word is unsuitable as a designation for Buddhist practice. Therefore, one should rather leave jhāna untranslated.


Overview representations for contemplation

Overview of the relationship between contemplative and active life form

  • Niklaus Largier: Vita activa / vita contemplativa. In: Lexicon of the Middle Ages . Volume 8, LexMA, Munich 1997, ISBN 3-89659-908-9 , Sp. 1752-1754.
  • Aimé Solignac: vie active, vie contemplative, vie mixed. In: Dictionnaire de spiritualité. Volume 16, Beauchesne, Paris 1994, Sp. 592-623.
  • Christian Trottmann: Vita activa / vita contemplativa. In: Historical Dictionary of Philosophy. Volume 11, Schwabe, Basel 2001, Sp. 1071-1075.

Studies of antiquity

  • Thomas Bénatouïl, Mauro Bonazzi (eds.): Theoria, Praxis and the Contemplative Life after Plato and Aristotle. Brill, Leiden / Boston 2012, ISBN 978-90-04-22532-9 .
  • Andrea Wilson Nightingale: Spectacles of Truth in Classical Greek Philosophy. Theoria in its Cultural Context. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2004, ISBN 0-521-83825-8 .
  • Hannelore Rausch: Theoria. From their sacred to philosophical significance. Fink, Munich 1982, ISBN 3-7705-1661-3 .
  • Wolfgang Vogl: Action and Contemplation in Antiquity. The historical development of the practical and theoretical view of life up to Origen. Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main 2002, ISBN 3-631-39210-9 .

Studies on the Middle Ages

  • Marc-Aeilko Aris : Contemplatio. Philosophical studies on the treatise Benjamin Maior of Richard of St. Victor. Josef Knecht, Frankfurt am Main 1996, ISBN 3-7820-0703-4 .
  • Dietmar Mieth: The unity of vita activa and vita contemplativa in the German sermons and tracts of Meister Eckhart and Johannes Tauler. Studies on the structure of Christian life. Pustet, Regensburg 1969.

Investigations on the Modern Age

  • Karl Baier : Meditation and Modernity. On the genesis of a core area of ​​modern spirituality in the interaction between Western Europe, North America and Asia. 2 volumes. Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 2009, ISBN 978-3-8260-4021-4 . (also habilitation thesis, University of Vienna, 2008; also covers the early modern prehistory)

Modern introductions

Web links

Wiktionary: Contemplation  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


  1. For the ancient meanings see Thomas Baier (Ed.): Der neue Georges. Comprehensive Latin-German concise dictionary , Volume 1, Darmstadt 2013, Sp. 1231.
  2. ^ Stefan Weinstock : Templum . In: Paulys Realencyclopadie der classischen Antiquity Science (RE). Volume VA, 1, Stuttgart 1934, Sp. 480-485. Adolf Lumpe: Contemplation. In: Reallexikon für Antike und Christianentum , Vol. 21, Stuttgart 2006, Sp. 485–498, here: 486.
  3. Wolfgang Pfeifer (Ed.): Etymological Dictionary of German , Volume 1 (A – L), 2nd, reviewed edition, Berlin 1993, p. 711; Matthias Lexer : Middle High German Concise Dictionary , Vol. 1, Leipzig 1872, Sp. 1675.
  4. Wolfgang Pfeifer (Ed.): Etymological Dictionary of German , Volume 1 (A – L), 2nd, reviewed edition, Berlin 1993, p. 711; Ruth Klappenbach, Wolfgang Steinitz : Dictionary of contemporary German , vol. 3, Berlin 1969, p. 2181.
  5. ^ Adolf Lumpe: Contemplation. In: Reallexikon für Antike und Christianentum , Vol. 21, Stuttgart 2006, Sp. 485–498, here: 486 f., 492.
  6. Diogenes Laertios 8,1,8. Cf. Adolf Lumpe: Contemplation. In: Reallexikon für Antike und Christianentum , Vol. 21, Stuttgart 2006, Sp. 485–498, here: 486 f.
  7. Aristotle, Eudemian Ethics 1216a.
  8. Walter Mesch: theôrein / THEORIA. In: Christoph Horn , Christof Rapp (Ed.): Dictionary of ancient philosophy , Munich 2002, p. 436 f.
  9. Plato, Politeia 533c – d.
  10. ^ Hannelore Rausch: Theoria. From their sacred to philosophical significance , Munich 1982, pp. 55–96.
  11. Plato, Theaitetos 176b; see. Nomoi 716b-d.
  12. On the concept of approximation, see John M. Armstrong: After the Ascent: Plato on Becoming Like God. In: Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 26, 2004, pp. 171-183; Klaus Schöpsdau : Plato: Nomoi (laws). Translation and Commentary , Part 2, Göttingen 2003, pp. 204–212; Christian Tornau : similarity, similar / dissimilar, similarity. In: Christian Schäfer (Ed.): Platon-Lexikon , Darmstadt 2007, pp. 35–39, here: 38 f.
  13. Christina Schefer: Plato's untold experience. Another approach to Plato , Basel 2001, pp. 25 ff., 223–225.
  14. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 1177a – 1179a.
  15. ^ Adolf Lumpe: Contemplation. In: Reallexikon für Antike und Christianentum , Vol. 21, Stuttgart 2006, Sp. 485–498, here: 487 f .; Dietmar Mieth: The unity of vita activa and vita contemplativa in the German sermons and tracts of Meister Eckhart and in Johannes Tauler , Regensburg 1969, pp. 30–40.
  16. Andrea Wilson Nightingale: Spectacles of Truth in Classical Greek Philosophy provides a detailed examination of the Aristotelian position . Theoria in its Cultural Context , Cambridge 2004, pp. 187-235. Cf. Gerhard Huber : Bios theoretic and bios practicos in Aristotle and Plato. In: Brian Vickers (ed.): Arbeit, Musse, Meditation , 2nd, reviewed edition, Zurich / Stuttgart 1991, pp. 21–33, here: 22–26.
  17. Thomas Bénatouïl, Mauro Bonazzi: θεωρία and βίος θεωρητικός from the Presocratics to the End of Antiquity: An Overview. In: Thomas Bénatouïl, Mauro Bonazzi (ed.): Theoria, Praxis and the Contemplative Life after Plato and Aristotle , Leiden / Boston 2012, pp. 1–14, here: 5–7; Thomas Bénatouïl: Théophraste: les limites éthiques, psychologiques et cosmologiques de la contemplation. In: Thomas Bénatouïl, Mauro Bonazzi (eds.): Theoria, Praxis and the Contemplative Life after Plato and Aristotle , Leiden / Boston 2012, pp. 17–39.
  18. Michael Erler : ἀπλανής θεωρία. Some aspects of the Epicurean idea of ​​βίος θεωρητικός. In: Thomas Bénatouïl, Mauro Bonazzi (eds.): Theoria, Praxis and the Contemplative Life after Plato and Aristotle , Leiden / Boston 2012, pp. 41–55.
  19. Thomas Bénatouïl, Mauro Bonazzi: θεωρία and βίος θεωρητικός from the Presocratics to the End of Antiquity: An Overview. In: Thomas Bénatouïl, Mauro Bonazzi (ed.): Theoria, Praxis and the Contemplative Life after Plato and Aristotle , Leiden / Boston 2012, pp. 1–14, here: 5–9.
  20. Cicero, De natura deorum 2.37.
  21. ^ Adolf Lumpe: Contemplation. In: Reallexikon für Antike und Christianentum , Vol. 21, Stuttgart 2006, Sp. 485–498, here: 490.
  22. ^ Wolfgang Vogl: Action and Contemplation in the Ancient World , Frankfurt am Main 2002, pp. 207–250; David Winston: Philo and the Contemplative Life. In: Arthur Green (Ed.): Jewish Spirituality. From the Bible through the Middle Ages , London 1986, pp. 198-231, here: 219-222.
  23. Jens Halfwassen : Plotin and the Neo-Platonism , Munich 2004, pp. 50 f., 59–84.
  24. Plotinus, Enneads 1,6,7.
  25. ^ Wolfgang Vogl: Action and Contemplation in antiquity , Frankfurt am Main 2002, pp. 400–403; Niels Hyldahl: Philosophy and Christianity , Copenhagen 1966, p. 182 f .; Jacobus CM van Winden: An Early Christian Philosopher , Leiden 1971, pp. 54-57.
  26. Wolfgang Vogl: Action and Contemplation in the Ancient World , Frankfurt am Main 2002, pp. 404-410.
  27. ^ Wolfgang Vogl: Action and Contemplation in antiquity , Frankfurt am Main 2002, pp. 453–457, 505 f., 610 f .; Alois M. Haas : The assessment of the Vita contemplativa and activa in the Dominican mysticism of the 14th century. In: Brian Vickers (Ed.): Arbeit, Musse, Meditation , 2nd, reviewed edition, Zurich / Stuttgart 1991, pp. 109–131, here: 110 f.
  28. ^ Adolf Lumpe: Contemplation. In: Reallexikon für Antike und Christianentum , Vol. 21, Stuttgart 2006, Sp. 485–498, here: 494 f.
  29. ^ Adolf Lumpe: Contemplation. In: Reallexikon für Antike und Christianentum , Vol. 21, Stuttgart 2006, Sp. 485–498, here: 492 f.
  30. Augustine, De immortalitate animae 6.10.
  31. Augustine, De trinitate 1,8,17.
  32. Augustine, Epistulae 120,1,4.
  33. Augustine, De trinitate 1,10,20.
  34. See Adolf Lumpe: Contemplation. In: Reallexikon für Antike und Christianentum , Vol. 21, Stuttgart 2006, Sp. 485–498, here: 494.
  35. Giovanni Catapano: Leah and Rachel as Figures of the Active and the Contemplative Life in Augustine's Contra Faustum Manichaeum. In: Thomas Bénatouïl, Mauro Bonazzi (eds.): Theoria, Praxis and the Contemplative Life after Plato and Aristotle , Leiden / Boston 2012, pp. 215–228.
  36. Hans-Georg Beck : Theoria. A Byzantine dream? , Munich 1983, pp. 13-16, 22 f.
  37. ^ Adolf Lumpe: Contemplation. In: Reallexikon für Antike und Christianentum , Vol. 21, Stuttgart 2006, Sp. 485–498, here: 496 f.
  38. See also Fritz Schalk : Zur Vitenlehre und monastic literature (Cassian and Julian Pomerius). In: Hans Fromm et al. (Ed.): Verbum et signum , Vol. 2, Munich 1975, pp. 71-78.
  39. Dirk Westerkamp provides a brief overview: Via negativa. Language and method of negative theology , Munich 2006, pp. 23-25. The summary by Hella Theill-Wunder: Die archaische Verborgenheit , Munich 1970, pp. 148–165, is more detailed.
  40. Ralf Stolina: Nobody has ever seen God , Berlin 2000, pp. 11–23; Dirk Westerkamp: Via negativa. Language and method of negative theology , Munich 2006, p. 25 f .; Paul Rorem: The Ascension Spirituality of Pseudo-Dionysius. In: Bernard McGinn et al. (Ed.): History of Christian Spirituality , Vol. 1, Würzburg 1993, pp. 154-173.
  41. Ralf Stolina: Nobody has ever seen God , Berlin 2000, pp. 19-23.
  42. Ludwig Kerstiens: The doctrine of theoretical knowledge in the Latin tradition. In: Philosophisches Jahrbuch 66, 1958, pp. 375–424, here: 380 f.
  43. Florian Matzner : Vita activa et Vita contemplativa , Frankfurt 1994, p. 82 f.
  44. See Aimé Solignac: Vie active, vie contemplative, vie mixte. In: Dictionnaire de spiritualité , Vol. 16, Paris 1994, Col. 592-623, here: 602-604; Alois M. Haas: The assessment of the Vita contemplativa and activa in the Dominican mysticism of the 14th century. In: Brian Vickers (ed.): Arbeit, Musse, Meditation , 2nd, reviewed edition, Zurich / Stuttgart 1991, pp. 109-131, here: 113.
  45. ^ Suso Frank: Actio and Contemplatio with Gregory the Great. In: Trier Theologische Zeitschrift 78, 1969, pp. 283–295, here: 288–293.
  46. ^ Bernhard von Clairvaux, De consideratione 2,2,5.
  47. ^ Bernhard von Clairvaux, Sermones super cantica canticorum 51,1,2.
  48. Ludwig Kerstiens: The doctrine of theoretical knowledge in the Latin tradition. In: Philosophisches Jahrbuch 66, 1958, pp. 375–424, here: 380–383.
  49. ^ Hugo von St. Viktor, Didascalicon V 9.
  50. Marc-Aeilko Aris: Contemplatio , Frankfurt am Main 1996, pp. 48-55.
  51. ^ Richard von St. Viktor, Beniamin maior 1,4.
  52. Richard von St. Viktor, Beniamin maior 5:14.
  53. Marc-Aeilko Aris: Contemplatio , Frankfurt am Main 1996, p. 55 f.
  54. Marc-Aeilko Aris: Contemplatio , Frankfurt am Main 1996, pp. 56, 65-69.
  55. ^ Marc-Aeilko Aris: Contemplatio , Frankfurt am Main 1996, pp. 56, 69-73.
  56. Marc-Aeilko Aris: Contemplatio , Frankfurt am Main 1996, pp. 56, 73-83.
  57. Marc-Aeilko Aris: Contemplatio , Frankfurt am Main 1996, pp. 56 f., 83-96.
  58. Marc-Aeilko Aris: Contemplatio , Frankfurt am Main 1996, pp. 57-59, 96-120.
  59. Guigo II., Scala claustralium 2. See also Karl Baier: Meditation und Moderne , Vol. 1, Würzburg 2009, pp. 32–47.
  60. Albertus Magnus, Super Lucam 10: 39-42.
  61. Ludwig Kerstiens: The doctrine of theoretical knowledge in the Latin tradition. In: Philosophisches Jahrbuch 66, 1958, pp. 375–424, here: 391–402.
  62. ^ Thomas Aquinas, Scriptum super sententiis magistri Petri Lombardi , 3 sent. 35,1,2,3, solutio 3.
  63. ^ Thomas Aquinas, Scriptum super sententiis magistri Petri Lombardi , 3 sent. 35,1,2,3, solutio 2.
  64. For an examination of Bonaventura's epistemology, see Michelle Karnes: Imagination, Meditation, and Cognition in the Middle Ages , Chicago / London 2011, pp. 75–110.
  65. Bernard McGinn: Die Mystik im Abendland , Vol. 4, Freiburg 2008, pp. 334-340; Kurt Flasch : Meister Eckhart , 2nd edition, Munich 2010, pp. 255–264.
  66. Meister Eckhart, Tract 2, Die Deutschen Werke , Vol. 5, Stuttgart 1963, pp. 137–376, here: 221.
  67. ^ Louise Gnädinger: Johannes Tauler , Munich 1993, pp. 309-318; Gösta Wrede: Unio mystica , Stockholm 1974, pp. 108-111; Dietmar Mieth: The unity of vita activa and vita contemplativa in the German sermons and tracts of Meister Eckhart and in Johannes Tauler , Regensburg 1969, pp. 243–245.
  68. Bernhard Fraling: Man before the mystery of God. Studies on the spiritual teaching of Jan van Ruusbroec , Würzburg 1967, p. 39 f.
  69. Bernhard Fraling: Man before the mystery of God. Studies on the spiritual teaching of Jan van Ruusbroec , Würzburg 1967, pp. 37–44, 211, 214–218.
  70. ^ Aimé Solignac: Vie active, vie contemplative, vie mixed. In: Dictionnaire de spiritualité , Vol. 16, Paris 1994, Col. 592-623, here: 611-613.
  71. See Victoria Kahn: Coluccio Salutati on the active and contemplative lives. In: Brian Vickers (Ed.): Arbeit, Musse, Meditation , 2nd, reviewed edition, Zurich / Stuttgart 1991, pp. 153–179.
  72. ^ Paul-Ludwig Weinacht : Philosopher - Monk - Public Enemy. Praise and rejection of the vita contemplativa. In: Hans Maier et al. (Ed.): Politik, Philosophie, Praxis , Stuttgart 1988, pp. 331–346, here: 339–341; August Buck : The humanist tradition in Romania , Berlin 1968, pp. 253–270; Florian Matzner: Vita activa et Vita contemplativa , Frankfurt 1994, pp. 25-28, 52-58.
  73. ^ Letizia A. Panizza: Active and contemplative in Lorenzo Valla: the fusion of opposites. In: Brian Vickers (ed.): Arbeit, Musse, Meditation , 2nd, reviewed edition, Zurich / Stuttgart 1991, pp. 181–223.
  74. Florian Matzner: Vita activa et Vita contemplativa , Frankfurt 1994, p. 37 f., 233-239; David Kaldewey: Truth and Usefulness , Bielefeld 2013, pp. 234–236.
  75. Florian Matzner: Vita activa et Vita contemplativa , Frankfurt 1994, pp. 137-141.
  76. Florian Matzner: Vita activa et Vita contemplativa , Frankfurt 1994, pp. 141-143.
  77. Florian Matzner offers a detailed study: Vita activa et Vita contemplativa , Frankfurt 1994, pp. 67–182.
  78. Florian Matzner: Vita activa et Vita contemplativa , Frankfurt 1994, pp. 108-110.
  79. Isabelle Mandrella: Viva imago. The practical philosophy of Nicolaus Cusanus , Münster 2012, pp. 195–197.
  80. Nikolaus von Kues, Sermo 251,2,3–7.
  81. Isabelle Mandrella: Viva imago. The practical philosophy of Nicolaus Cusanus , Münster 2012, pp. 196–198.
  82. On the role of reason and understanding in the epistemology of Cusanus see Kurt Flasch: Nikolaus von Kues. History of a development , Frankfurt / Main 1998, pp. 47 f., 153–164, 302–306.
  83. ^ Gerhard Schneider: Gott - das nichtandere , Münster 1970, pp. 70–85; João Maria André: The metaphor of the "Wall of Paradise" and the cartography of recognition in Nikolaus von Kues . In: João Maria André et al. (Ed.): Intellectus and Imaginatio. Aspects of spiritual and sensual knowledge in Nicolaus Cusanus , Amsterdam 2006, pp. 31–42.
  84. ^ Theo van Velthoven: God show and human creativity. Studies on the epistemology of Nikolaus von Kues , Leiden 1977, pp. 33–43, 123–128.
  85. See Birgit H. Helander: Die visio intellectualis as a path and goal of knowledge of Nicolaus Cusanus , Uppsala 1988, pp. 1–13, 172–177.
  86. Walter Haug : The wall of paradise . In: Theologische Zeitschrift 45, 1989, pp. 216–230, here: 220; Jorge M. Machetta: Contemplative intellect in the Cusan formula "Sis tu tuus et ego ero tuus". In: João Maria André et al. (Ed.): Intellectus and Imaginatio. Aspects of spiritual and sensual knowledge in Nicolaus Cusanus , Amsterdam 2006, pp. 19–29, here: 20–22.
  87. ^ Kurt Flasch: Nikolaus von Kues. History of a development , Frankfurt / Main 1998, pp. 634–640.
  88. Isabelle Mandrella: Viva imago. The practical philosophy of Nicolaus Cusanus , Münster 2012, pp. 200–206.
  89. Fairy von Lilienfeld offers an overview : Hesychasmus. In: Theologische Realenzyklopädie , Vol. 15, Berlin / New York 1986, pp. 282–289.
  90. Karl Baier: Meditation und Moderne , Vol. 1, Würzburg 2009, p. 47.
  91. ^ Aimé Solignac: Vie active, vie contemplative, vie mixed. In: Dictionnaire de spiritualité , Vol. 16, Paris 1994, Col. 592-623, here: 617 f.
  92. Kieran Kavanaugh: Spain in the 16th Century: Carmel and Other Movements. In: Louis Dupré, Don E. Saliers (ed.): History of Christian Spirituality , Vol. 3, Würzburg 1997, pp. 93–116.
  93. Karl Baier: Meditation und Moderne , Vol. 1, Würzburg 2009, pp. 131–142; Martin Nicol: Meditation. II. In: Theologische Realenzyklopädie , Vol. 22, Berlin / New York 1992, pp. 337-353, here: 342 f.
  94. Martin Nicol : Meditation. II. In: Theologische Realenzyklopädie , Vol. 22, Berlin / New York 1992, pp. 337-353, here: 342; Karl Baier: Meditation und Moderne , Vol. 1, Würzburg 2009, pp. 81–96.
  95. An overview is provided by Hans Schneider : Quietismus. In: Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart , Vol. 6, Tübingen 2003, Sp. 1865–1868, an investigation by Peter Schallenberg : Love and Subjectivity , Münster 2003, pp. 95–169.
  96. Bernardin Schellenberger : For the introduction. In: Thomas Merton: Christliche Contemplation , Munich 2010, pp. 9–14, here: 10 f.
  97. Thomas Merton: Christliche Contemplation (German edition of New Seeds of Contemplation ), Munich 2010, p. 23.
  98. Karl Baier: Meditation und Moderne , Vol. 2, Würzburg 2009, p. 933.
  99. Karl Baier: Meditation und Moderne , Vol. 2, Würzburg 2009, p. 934 f.
  100. ^ Paul-Ludwig Weinacht: Philosopher - Monk - Public Enemy. Praise and rejection of the vita contemplativa. In: Hans Maier et al. (Ed.): Politik, Philosophie, Praxis , Stuttgart 1988, pp. 331–346, here: 341–344.
  101. Martin Nicol: Meditation. II. In: Theologische Realenzyklopädie , Vol. 22, Berlin / New York 1992, pp. 337–353, here: 345–347; Martin Nicol: Meditation / Contemplation. II. Christianity. In: Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart , Vol. 5, Tübingen 2002, Sp. 965–967, here: 966.
  102. An overview is provided by Philip Sherrard : The rebirth of hesychastic spirituality . In: Louis Dupré, Don E. Saliers (ed.): History of Christian Spirituality , Vol. 3, Würzburg 1997, pp. 439–451.
  103. ^ Christian Trottmann: Vita activa / vita contemplativa. In: Historical Dictionary of Philosophy , Vol. 11, Basel 2001, Sp. 1071-1075, here: 1074. Cf. Hannah Arendt: Vita activa or Vom aktivigen Leben , 8th edition, Munich / Zurich 1994, pp. 281– 287.
  104. Michel de Montaigne: Essais 1.39. See Jean Starobinski : Montaigne. Thinking and Existence , Munich / Vienna 1986, pp. 24–37.
  105. ^ Giordano Bruno: Dialoghi italiani. Dialoghi metafisici e dialoghi morali , 3rd edition, Firenze 1958, p. 732 f. On Bruno's use of the term contemplazione see Salvatore Carannante: Contemplazione. In: Michele Ciliberto (Ed.): Giordano Bruno. Parole, concetti, immagini , vol. 1, Pisa / Firenze 2014, pp. 385–389.
  106. ^ Robert Spaemann : Reflexion und Spontaneität , 2nd, extended edition, Stuttgart 1990, pp. 229–232.
  107. See also Kurt Flasch: Kampfplatz der Philosophie , Frankfurt am Main 2008, pp. 340–343.
  108. David Hume: An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding 1, 1–2.
  109. David Hume: An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding 1, 3–10. See Heiner F. Klemme: The practical meaning of metaphysical investigations. In: Jens Kulenkampff (Ed.): David Hume, An investigation on human understanding , Berlin 1997, pp. 3-35.
  110. ^ Adam Smith: The Theory of Moral Sentiments 6,2,3,5-6. Cf. François Dermange: Le Dieu du marché , Genève 2003, pp. 190 f .; Tom D. Campbell: Adam Smith's Science of Morals , London 1971, p. 46 f.
  111. ^ Heinrich Meier : "Les rêveries du Promeneur Solitaire". Rousseau on the philosophical life , Munich 2005, pp. 33–37.
  112. ^ Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Les rêveries du Promeneur Solitaire , Cinquième promenade. See Heinrich Meier: About the happiness of philosophical life , Munich 2011, pp. 156–177.
  113. Immanuel Kant: Critique of Judgment , Academy Edition (= Kant's Works , Vol. 5), Berlin 1913, pp. 209 f., 222.
  114. Immanuel Kant: Critique of Judgment , Academy Edition (= Kant's Works , Vol. 5), Berlin 1913, p. 292. Cf. Christel Fricke: Contemplation. In: Marcus Willaschek et al. (Ed.): Kant-Lexikon , Vol. 2, Berlin / Boston 2015, p. 1270.
  115. Immanuel Kant: Die Metaphysik der Sitten , Akademie edition (= Kant's works , vol. 6), Berlin 1914, p. 397.
  116. Xavier Tilliette : Intellectual view. In: Hans Jörg Sandkühler (Ed.): Enzyklopädie Philosophie , Vol. 2, Hamburg 2010, pp. 1118–1120; Ulrich Dierse, Rainer Kuhlen: intuition, intellectual. In: Historical Dictionary of Philosophy , Vol. 1, Basel 1971, Sp. 349–351.
  117. ^ Søren Kierkegaard: Either-Or , Cologne / Olten 1960 (first published in 1843), p. 792 f.
  118. ^ Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling: System of the entire philosophy. In: Schelling: Complete Works , Department 1, Vol. 6, Stuttgart / Augsburg 1860, pp. 131–576, here: 153–155.
  119. Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling: Introduction to the philosophy of mythology. In: Schelling: Complete Works , Department 2, Vol. 1, Stuttgart / Augsburg 1856, pp. 556–569. Cf. Markus Gabriel : Der Mensch im Mythos , Berlin 2006, pp. 347–363.
  120. Christoph Johannes Bauer: View. In: Paul Cobben et al. (Ed.): Hegel-Lexikon , Darmstadt 2006, pp. 128–130; Helmut Girndt: The difference between the Fichtean and Hegelian systems in the Hegelian "difference script" , Bonn 1965, pp. 35–39.
  121. Dieter Henrich : Contemplation and Knowledge. In: Henrich: Hegel in context , 5th, extended edition, Berlin 2010, pp. 209–216; Ingolf U. Dalferth : Philosophy is “your time captured in thoughts”. Hegel's theo-logical version of a contemplative philosophy. In: Andreas Arndt et al. (Hrsg.): Hegel und die Moderne , Part 2 (= Hegel-Jahrbuch 2013), Berlin 2013, pp. 36–50, here: 42, 49 f.
  122. Arthur Schopenhauer: Complete Works , ed. by Wolfgang Freiherr von Löhneysen , Vol. 1, Stuttgart / Frankfurt am Main 1960, p. 257.
  123. Arthur Schopenhauer: Complete Works , ed. by Wolfgang Freiherr von Löhneysen, Vol. 1, Stuttgart / Frankfurt am Main 1960, p. 258.
  124. Arthur Schopenhauer: Complete Works , ed. by Wolfgang Freiherr von Löhneysen, Vol. 1, Stuttgart / Frankfurt am Main 1960, p. 530. See generally on Schopenhauer's understanding of contemplation Daniel Schubbe: Philosophy des Zwischen , Würzburg 2010, pp. 155–174.
  125. Arthur Schopenhauer: Complete Works , ed. by Wolfgang Freiherr von Löhneysen, vol. 1, Stuttgart / Frankfurt am Main 1960, p. 286.
  126. Arthur Schopenhauer: Complete Works , ed. by Wolfgang Freiherr von Löhneysen, Vol. 1, Stuttgart / Frankfurt am Main 1960, pp. 265, 306.
  127. Arthur Schopenhauer: Complete Works , ed. by Wolfgang Freiherr von Löhneysen, Vol. 1, Stuttgart / Frankfurt am Main 1960, pp. 286–288.
  128. Arthur Schopenhauer: Complete Works , ed. by Wolfgang Freiherr von Löhneysen, vol. 1, Stuttgart / Frankfurt am Main 1960, p. 268 f.
  129. ^ Friedrich Nietzsche: Morgenröthe . In: Nietzsche: Gesammelte Werke , Vol. 10, Munich 1924, pp. 1–354, here: 43 f.
  130. ^ Friedrich Nietzsche: Morgenröthe . In: Nietzsche: Gesammelte Werke , Vol. 10, Munich 1924, pp. 1–354, here: 45 f .; On the genealogy of morals . In: Nietzsche: Gesammelte Werke , Vol. 15, Munich 1925, pp. 267–449, here: 392–394. A detailed description of Nietzsche's use of the term "consideration" in the sense of contemplation have Paul van Tongeren and others (eds.): Nietzsche-Dictionary , Volume 1, Berlin 2004, pp 313-322..
  131. ^ Friedrich Nietzsche: Morgenröthe . In: Nietzsche: Gesammelte Werke , Vol. 10, Munich 1924, pp. 1–354, here: 268.
  132. Friedrich Nietzsche: The happy science (= Collected Works , Vol. 12), Munich 1924, p. 221 f.
  133. ^ Friedrich Nietzsche: Preparatory work for a work on the philosopher . In: Nietzsche: Gesammelte Werke , Vol. 6, Munich 1922, pp. 1–119, here: 106.
  134. ^ Wilhelm Dilthey: The types of worldview and their training in the metaphysical systems. In: Dilthey: Gesammelte Schriften , Vol. 8, Stuttgart / Göttingen 1968, pp. 73–118, here: 112–117. Compare with Rudolf A. Makkreel: Dilthey. Philosopher of the Humanities , Frankfurt am Main 1991, pp. 396–405; Wolfgang Victor Ruttkowski : Types and layers for classifying people and their products , Bern / Munich 1978, pp. 130–132; critical Julia I. Mansour: Wilhelm Dilthey: Philosopher and / or Philolog? , Würzburg 2011, pp. 181-195.
  135. Karl Jaspers: Psychologie der Weltanschauungen , Berlin 1919, pp. 43 f., 78.
  136. Karl Jaspers: Psychology of Weltanschauungen , Berlin 1919, pp. 44–50.
  137. Karl Jaspers: Psychologie der Weltanschauungen , Berlin 1919, pp. 50–65.
  138. Karl Jaspers: Psychologie der Weltanschauungen , Berlin 1919, pp. 78–80.
  139. Maja Wicki-Vogt: Simone Weil. A logic of the absurd , Bern / Stuttgart 1983, pp. 50–53; Marie Schülert: The New Attention Simone Weils , Berlin 2012, pp. 96–99, 160–162; Elisabeth Thérèse Winter: Weltliebe in tense existence , Würzburg 2004, pp. 133–153.
  140. Maja Wicki-Vogt: Simone Weil. A logic of the absurd , Bern / Stuttgart 1983, pp. 50 f., 94–97. Cf. Rolf Kühn : Emptiness and Attention , Dresden 2014, pp. 23–28.
  141. ^ Martin Heidegger: Lectures and essays , 5th edition, Pfullingen 1985, p. 48 f.
  142. Martin Heidegger: Lectures and essays , 5th edition, Pfullingen 1985, p. 50 f. See Daniel Schubbe: Philosophy of Between , Würzburg 2010, p. 157.
  143. Josef Pieper: Glück und Contemplation , Munich 1957, p. 9 f.
  144. Josef Pieper: Glück und Contemplation , Munich 1957, p. 75 f. For more on Pieper's understanding of contemplation, see Henrik Holm: The Unfathomable of Creature Reality , Dresden 2011, pp. 49–58.
  145. Hannah Arendt: Vita activa or Vom aktivigen Leben , 8th edition, Munich / Zurich 1994, p. 22 f., 281–287. See Byung-Chul Han : Fragrance of Time , Bielefeld 2009, pp. 100–105.
  146. Max Horkheimer: On the concept of philosophy. In: Horkheimer: On the critique of instrumental reason , Frankfurt am Main 2007 (English first published in 1947), pp. 181–206, here: 202. Cf. Max Horkheimer: The social function of philosophy. In: Horkheimer: Critical Theory , Vol. 2, Frankfurt am Main 1968, pp. 292-312, here: 306 f. and on the relationship between ancient theōría and critical theory Michael Theunissen : Critical Theory of Society , Berlin 1981, pp. 4–20.
  147. ^ Theodor W. Adorno: Cultural Criticism and Society. In: Adorno: Gesammelte Schriften , Vol. 10.1, Frankfurt am Main 1977, pp. 11–30, here: 30. Cf. Martin Seel: Adornos Philosophie der Kontemplation , Frankfurt am Main 2004, pp. 9–13.
  148. ^ Theodor W. Adorno: Minima Moralia , Frankfurt am Main 1964, p. 298, 300 f.
  149. Max Horkheimer: On the Critique of Instrumental Reason , Frankfurt am Main 2007 (English first published in 1947), p. 171.
  150. Martin Seel: Adorno's Philosophy of Contemplation , Frankfurt am Main 2004, pp. 7 f., 13.
  151. Peter Sloterdijk: You must change your life , Frankfurt am Main 2009, pp. 329–331.
  152. Peter Sloterdijk: Apparent Death in Thinking , Berlin 2010, p. 16 f.
  153. Peter Sloterdijk: Apparent Death in Thinking , Berlin 2010, pp. 10 f., 24 f.
  154. Max Weber: Religious Communities (= Complete Edition , Department 1, Vol. 22-2), Tübingen 2001, pp. 305–323, 340. Cf. Wolfgang Schluchter: Religion and Lifestyle. Studies on Max Weber's sociology of religion and rule , Frankfurt am Main 1988, pp. 80–86.
  155. Max Weber: Religious Communities (= Complete Edition , Department 1, Vol. 22-2), Tübingen 2001, pp. 323-340. See Wolfgang Schluchter: Religion and Lifestyle. Studies on Max Weber's sociology of religion and rule , Frankfurt am Main 1988, pp. 86–96.
  156. Wolfgang Schluchter: Religion and lifestyle. Studies on Max Weber's sociology of religion and domination , Frankfurt am Main 1988, pp. 96-104.
  157. Moshe Idel : hitbodedut as concentration in Ecstatic Kabbalah. In: Arthur Green (Ed.): Jewish Spirituality. From the Bible through the Middle Ages , London 1986, pp. 405-438, here: 405-407.
  158. Moshe Idel: hitbodedut as concentration in Ecstatic Kabbalah. In: Arthur Green (Ed.): Jewish Spirituality. From the Bible through the Middle Ages , London 1986, pp. 405-438, here: 407-413.
  159. Moshe Idel: hitbodedut as concentration in Ecstatic Kabbalah. In: Arthur Green (Ed.): Jewish Spirituality. From the Bible through the Middle Ages , London 1986, pp. 405-438, here: 412-437.
  160. Rachel Elior: ḤaBaD: The Contemplative Ascent to God. In: Arthur Green (Ed.): Jewish Spirituality. From the Sixteenth-Century Revival to the Present , London 1987, pp. 157–205, here: 157–159, 181–191.
  161. Sura 33: 41-42.
  162. Sura 18:24.
  163. Sura 13:28.
  164. Annemarie Schimmel : Mystische Dimensions des Islam , Cologne 1985, pp. 238 f., 241, 251 f .; Louis Gardet: Dh ikr . In: The Encyclopaedia of Islam , 2nd edition, Vol. 2, Leiden / London 1965, pp. 223-227, here: 223; William C. Chittick : Dhikr. In: Lindsay Jones (Ed.): Encyclopedia of Religion , 2nd edition, Vol. 4, Detroit et al. 2005, pp. 2339-2342, here: 2339 f.
  165. ^ Annemarie Schimmel: Mystische Dimimen des Islam , Cologne 1985, pp. 238-253; Louis Gardet: Dh ikr . In: The Encyclopaedia of Islam , 2nd edition, Vol. 2, Leiden / London 1965, pp. 223-227; William C. Chittick: Dhikr. In: Lindsay Jones (Ed.): Encyclopedia of Religion , 2nd edition, Vol. 4, Detroit et al. 2005, pp. 2339-2342, here: 2340 f.
  166. An overview is provided in the article Dhyana (Meditation) in the Encyclopedia of Hinduism , edited by the India Heritage Research Foundation , Vol. 3, San Rafael 2013, pp. 471–474. See Jakob Wilhelm Hauer : Der Yoga , Stuttgart 1958, pp. 198 f., 319–342.
  167. Patañjali, Yogasutra 1: 27-29.
  168. See articles Japa , Japa Vidhi , Japamālā and Japa Yoga in the Encyclopedia of Hinduism , edited by the India Heritage Research Foundation , Vol. 5, San Rafael 2013, pp. 268-274. See Jakob Wilhelm Hauer: Der Yoga , Stuttgart 1958, p. 198 f.
  169. Walther Eidlitz : Die indische Gottesliebe , Olten / Freiburg 1955, pp. 161–190.
  170. David L. McMahan: Dhyana. In: Damien Keown, Charles S. Prebish (eds.): Encyclopedia of Buddhism , London / New York 2007, pp. 284 f .; Lance S. Cousins : Buddhist jhāna: its nature and attainment according to the Pali sources. In: Paul Williams (Ed.): Buddhism. Critical Concepts in Religious Studies , Vol. 2, London / New York 2005, pp. 34–51.
  171. ^ Lance S. Cousins: Buddhist jhāna: its nature and attainment according to the Pali sources. In: Paul Williams (Ed.): Buddhism. Critical Concepts in Religious Studies , Vol. 2, London / New York 2005, pp. 34–51, here: 35.
This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on August 30, 2016 .