Nygrens dilemma och isärhållandets logik

  • Catharina Stenqvist


This article focuses on the Swedish Professor of Systematic Theology, and Philosopher of Religion, Anders Nygren (1890-1978). The author argues that Nygren’s double function as a scholar and at the same time a leading representative of the Swedish church, placed him in an awkward and complicated epistemological position. It made him develop a dubious dichotomy and two kinds of truth-concepts. The interpretative context of this inconsistency, according to the article, may be twofold. First, in a psychological sense, it probably had to do with Nygren’s upbringing, which was characterised by another dichotomy: the presence of his father and the relative absence of his mother. Secondly it depends on the predominant scientific ideals of his time, neo-kantianism and positivism. These two aspects made Nygren blind to the contradictory and vulnerable character of his own methodological position. He believed that he was neutral and objective while he in fact suppressed the deep problem of what has been called «the logic of splitting up and keeping apart» the various parts of reality. It was as if he had no other choice than to split reality into two as if they did not have anything in common. To be able to uphold himself as a scholar and a bishop, at the same time, he worked with two concepts of truth and meaning. What was true in one context, was not true in the other, and vice versa. Thus, drawing on the analysis of Nygren, the article argues that there is a connection, although it is often neglected, between the life of a scholar and the kind of philosophy which he or she develops.