Monday, April 11, 2011

Barth's Ethics: Week 3

Beginning the 3rd week of my Barth's Ethics seminar. Just finished David Clough's book on Barth's ethics where he argues there is a consistent thread of reading the ethics from Romans II to the Church Dogmatics as an ethics of crisis via dialectics. It is a pretty good read and I think it provided a good ground on where I think I would like to take Barth's thought. This week I begin to read CD III:4 on his ethics of creation.

So what is the aim of this reading?

1. I want to see how Barth's idea of ethics fits with his thoughts on dialectics and his theology of election (Barth's strongest point in my opinion). I like the openness of his ethics so far even thought he betrays this move sometimes. How does an ethic get formed in light of the Event of revelation for Barth?

2. To then see how his ethics fits into the realm of the 4 moves for social-political framework laid out by Ken Surin: 1)politics of identity, 2) politics of subjectivity (Levinas-Derrida), 3) politics of Event (Badiou and Zizek) and 4) politics of multitude (Deleuze and Negri). At this point he is somewhere between 2-3, I would guess, but Negri is a source of intrigue for me lately and I may ultimately use him to critique Barth's position.

3. Does Barth's ethics provide a way to resist the state of exception and biopolitics? I am beginning to read Barth's attack on the 19th century and WW1/WW2 as an attack on a form of biopolitics. If I can find the time to read Agamben along with Barth then I might try to make this connection. Agamben already did this himself by referencing Barth's "live 'as if'". Could Barth then advocate an ethic of Bartelby-"I prefer not to"? Or is his ethics of crisis line up with Zizek's more ethics that acts without a firm foundation of acting?

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