The use of reason in Karl Barth.

Title: The use of reason in Karl Barth.
Authors: Wilson, Gerry I.
Date: 2002
Abstract: Karl Barth is the foremost Protestant theologian of the twentieth century. He is often derided as a fideist, and an enemy of reason, and, by implication, of truth. The burden of this thesis is to overturn this assumption concerning Barth's thought, by exhibiting the rationality which sustains his enormous body of published writing. I claim that for Barth reason is most powerful when it is about the theological task of finding the limits of reason's reach. Reason shows us its own limits in attempting to think the origin of all things, and thus of itself. I argue that Barth boldly affirms the necessity and integrity of empirical rationality, but that this mode of reasoning is limited from outside of itself in the effort to think the ground of both empirical reality and its own power to understand that reality. The reality of God, in Barth's Christian understanding God, shows the necessity and insufficiency of reason. Reason is necessary as the principle of unity in human experience, but it is insufficient in that it cannot comprehend, and so rationally integrate, the reality which God is. God transcends and is different from all acts in which we claim to know God. The recognition of this is not the end of reason, but its beginning as wisdom. I argue this thesis by a study of the two works which mark the fundamental turning points of Barth's intellectual development: his Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans (1921) and his Anselm: fides quaerens intellectum (1931). I claim that the basic form of Barthian rationality is dialectical, and that the virtue of Barth's use of reason is in its power to transform external challenges to Christian belief into internal problems for its self understanding. Barth is not opposed to reason, but uses reason to fashion a coherent interpretation of reality.
CollectionTh├Ęses, 1910 - 2010 // Theses, 1910 - 2010
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