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Title: Dogmatics among the ruins : the relevance of German expressionism and the Enlightenment as contexts for Karl Barth's theological development
Author: Boyd, I. R.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1996
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The relevance of cultural history to the development of Karl Barth's theology has been greatly undervalued. Taking a short term view, Barth's development can be compared in detail with the modernist movements of the early twentieth century, and in particular with the history of German Expressionism; taking a longer view, Barth's theology can be seen as a response to the failure of the Enlightenment project. These two perspectives, moreover, yield complementary insights. Barth's earliest ventures into theological print coincided with the emergence of Expressionism; both were given direction by the First World War; both achieved success in the immediate post-War period, while simultaneously suffering significant disappointments; and in the early 1920s Expressionist writers and artists turned away from their previous forms in an effort to overcome their alienation from community, just as Barth turned away from dialectical method in favour of a discourse situated in and directed to the life of the Church. Barth's theology was effectively engaged in a dialogue with the central ideas embodied in modernist movements like Expressionism, and can be as a development towards the dialectical inversion of the core ideas of modernism. Taking a longer view, though, both modernist culture and Barth's theology can be illuminated by placing them against the history of the Enlightenment and its aftermath. This is a history which has been analysed usefully by Alasdair MacIntyre, particularly in After Virtue and subsequent publications. In the light of MacIntyre's work, Barth's inversion of modernism appears also to constitute an inversion of the ideas embodied in the social world which emerged from the failure of the Enlightenment project.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available