Paper | An Introduction to Relational Ontology by Wesley J. Wildman

This paper argues that there is value in a systematic philosophical approach to relations and surveys some of the major issues in the philosophy of relations. Rather than siding withrelational ontology over substantivist ontology, however, the paper argues that the best philosophical approaches are causal theories of relation in which both relations and entities take their rise from an ontologically fundamental causal flux. The causal theories of relation and entities discussed here are Neoplatonist participation metaphysics, Buddhist pratītya-samutpāda metaphysics, Whitehead’s process metaphysics, Peirce’s semiotic metaphysics, and Bohm’s implicate-order metaphysics, all of which require an approach to causation that extends far beyond commonsense concepts of causation. The paper illustrates the explanatory virtues of causal theories of relation in relation to the realms of fundamental physics, ordinary life, and religious faith. read more

The Importance of Relational Ontology | A Quote from Zizioulas

When scientists and theologians agree that being is at all levels relational, they do not tell us only something about God and the world. They throw light also on our ordinary everyday life as human beings. If we live in a relational universe, not as external visitors to it but as parts of it, any individualistic approach to existence is bound to contradict not only the will of God but also the truth of our own being. A relational ontology, if it is ontology in the true sense of the word, cannot but cover all aspects, all areas, and all levels of existence: the divine, the cosmic, the social. Such an ontology acquires its full significance as it helps us understand that a relational existence, a transcendence of the boundaries of the self for the purpose of communion with the other, an existence of communion in otherness, is not a matter of our bene esse but of the very esse of ourselves and of the world in which we live. In engaging with relational ontology we encounter all that ultimately matters in existence.” (Zizioulas in Polkinghorne. The Trinity in an Entangled World. 156) read more

Book | The Social God and the Relational Self by Stanley Grenz

The Social God and the Relational SelfGrenz, Stanley J. The Social God and the Relational Self: A Trinitarian Theology of the Imago Dei. 1st ed. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001.

AuthorStanley Grenz

Grenz traces the historical backdrop of the concept of self in the West in order to warrant his proposal of the ecclesial self as the best response to the postmodern deconstruction of self.

The following sketch attempts to follow his logic.

William James to George Herbert Mead to Pannenberg.
William James to George Herbert Mead to Pannenberg.

In the final analysis, then, the imago dei is not merely relational; it is not simply the I-Thou relationship of two persons standing face-to-face. Instead, it is ultimately communal. It is the eschatological destiny of the new humanity as the representation of God within creation. The character of the triune God comes to expression through humans in community. Wherever community emerges, human sexuality understood in its foundational sense–the incompleteness endemic to embodied existence, together with the quest for completeness that draws humans out of isolation into bonded relationships–is at work. This sexuality gives rise to the primal male-female relationship–marriage. Yet more important is the role of sexuality in bringing humans into community with Christ and with his disciples in the fellowship of his church. This community forms the context for all humans, male and female, to come together in harmonious creative relationships of various types. But more important, it is this connection that will eternally draw humankind into participation in the very life of the triune God, as the Spirit molds humans into one great chorus of praise to the Father through the Son, which in turn will mark the Father’s eternal glorification of the new humanity in the son. (303) read more