The Heart of Rahner uses Andrew Tallon’s theory of triune consciousness, a phenomenological approach in which the affective, cognitive, and volitive intentionalities of consciousness are all understood to be distinct and equal without being separate faculties, as a means of reinterpreting the theology of Karl Rahner that escapes the inherent limitations of faculty psychology. Contemporary science and philosophy have questioned the presuppositions of the faculty psychology upon which Rahner himself relied, arguing both for the embodiment of intellect and will as well as for the equivalent role of affect in consciousness.
Karl Rahner calls heart a primordial word or an Ursymbol. One does not grasp the meaning of the word, but rather is grasped by the mystery of the word. Heart refers to the innermost depths of a person that can be touched by God in a way that goes beyond words or concepts, beyond the cognitive intentionality of consciousness. Reinterpreting Rahner’s theology through the theory of triune consciousness highlights the equal and distinct role of affectivity in one’s experience and understanding of God.
Restoring affectivity to a central place in human consciousness puts love at the center of theology and anthropology, allowing inter subjectivity to become the primary analogue for understanding the relationship between God and the human person. Ultimately this relationship is the heart of Karl Rahner’s theology.
Heidi Ann Russell, Ph.D., teaches at the Institute of Pastoral Studies at Loyola University in Chicago, Illinois. She received her doctorate from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and her masters degree from Washington Theological Union in Washington, D.C.