The current Professorship for Philosophy at the Faculty of Catholic Theology of the University of Würzburg was newly established in 2015. According to tender, it has a clear core objective: the broadest possible representation of the subject of philosophy and its disciplines in both teaching and research. Thus, there are neither any a priori restrictions in terms of content or epochs, nor are there any formal constrictions to philosophy of religion or basic philosophical questions of theology. Rather, the task is to take a look at the full range of topics in theoretical and practical philosophy, as unabridgedly as possible and across epochs, up to the latest debates. From this broad perspective, specific epistemological and systematic challenges presentend by theological reflexion are taken into account. As a matter of fact, the academic study of Catholic Theology includes philosophy as the only non-theological subject.
Therefore, Catholic Theology in university contexts has a need of, and a use for, a broad presence of philosophical knowledge and reflexion. This is true in two basic respects:
- firstly in the sense of a requirement for the greatest possible self-transparency of theological conceptualization and systematic development; both have rarely taken place without reception and adaptation of philosophical concepts and methods (even to the point of an early, now antiquated self-designation of some monastic Christian theology as "vera philosophia");
- secondly in the sense of connectivity and dialogue capability in view of ideologically neutral and pluralistic debates; based on its reason-oriented approach and methodology, philosophy is widely regarded as a classical paradigm for developing and clarifying general arguments.
On this account, philosophical education appears as an intrinsic part of academic theology, although it must not be confused with theological competence itself.
This does not mean that the relationship between philosophy and theology is free of tension. Despite similar lines of questioning, it happens regularly that quite different, sometimes even contrary and rival positions are developed in both subjects. Criticism of philosophy, for example, is a very early (partly already biblical) gesture of traditional religious discourse. Conversely, criticism of religion belongs to the early, likewise quite persistent subject areas of philosophy. Accordingly, the integration of a Professorship for Philosophy into a Faculty of Theology is a dynamic process rather that a static fact. However, the primary goal is a mutually constructive and critical support and enrichment of the work of both theology and philosophy.