Jack Bonsor's essay as well as his interpretation of Karl Rahner and especially of Rahner's appropriation of Martin Heidegger's philosophy raises a central issue of theology today. His essay raises the issue of the relation between transcendental and hermeneutical approaches. Are they radically opposed? Or can they be synthesized into a unity?
This issue has become particularly acute within contemporary theology influenced by the contemporary philosophical scene. The American philosophical debates on relativity, realism, and pragmatism have challenged traditional transcendental approaches to philosophy. In addition, hermeneutics has taken a new turn. Previously hermeneutical theory underscored the authority and binding claims of classics. Now literary critical theory and post-structuralist French philosophy emphasize instead the deconstruction of classical texts. This shift entails a further turn away from metaphysics and transcendental philosophy to relativism—a turn exemplified in Richard Rorty's critique of transcendental and metaphysical philosophy. His critique appeals to the hermeneutical tradition of Heidegger and Gadamer, to the pragmatic philosophy of James and Dewey (neglecting Peirce), to the deconstructivism of Derrida, and to a literary theory influenced by Nietzsche.
Another move toward relativism is the emerging debate about modernity that contrasts post-modernity with what modernity represents. The critics of modernity argue that the universalism of transcendental philosophy is a relic of modernity. They label transcendental universality a false universality of a dominating and oppressive reason. They label it a repressive reason for it suppresses the particularities of ethnic, gender, social, and economic groups. Their criticisms of traditional metaphysics and transcendental rationality are often so trenchant that the title of a Richard Bernstein's recent essay seems deserved: “The Rage against Reason.”