Tuesday, June 7, 2011

My Barth's Ethics paper: Ethics of Failure

First, the probably most important discovery of the research of this paper is the work of the Jewish/Christian philosopher Gillian Rose. Planning to read her almost exclusively this summer starting with her Hegel book.

Anyway, below is the outline of my paper-in-progress:

Thesis: I claim there is a certain element of the Hegelian dialectic in Barth's thought as especially seen in his ethics.

First, cover the secondary literature criticizing the Hegelian/Barth method (Hoff essay especially).

Second, cover the work of those who see links between Hegel and Barth (Ward, Shanks)

Third, cover the secondary literature that emphasize Barth's dialectical ethics (Cough, Haddorff, Nimmo vs Biggar)

Fourth, critique Barth's reading of Hegel with the non-totalizing Hegel of Slavoj Zizek and Gillian Rose

Finally, dive into Barth's ethics that emphasize act but always beginning again at the beginning (no synthesis)-so then we have a non-totalizing Barth

Conclusion-Barth is like the new reading of Hegel that emphasize the fallibility of human acts and the failures of the acts forward but the point is the journey is the important part for the movement of truth. Grace institutes action that struggles through the contradictions of "this" world but also keeps itself open to new possibilities without falling into the dual trap of conservatism or relativism. However, ethical agents cannot afford to escape this middle, dialectical area of the ethical decision because one cannot simply rely on law but also cannot rely on solipsism. The event opens up the critical points for faith to challenge the law to make a better, new way for the social-political setting.

So I have really tried to latch on the idea of "failure" in Barth as a way to caution the ethical agent in the reality of following the command of God. I'm thinking this might be a good idea to then eventually look at the same idea in a Hegel, Kierkegaard, Zizek or Rose in the future. I think the idea of "failure" prevents both systematization and relativism.

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