The Significance of Gefühl for the development of Karl Barth’s Theological Anthropology 1909–1938
AuthorsTempleton, Julian B.
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AbstractThis dissertation employs the work of late twentieth century and early twenty-first century affect theorists as a heuristic approach to Karl Barth’s theological anthropology. In Barth’s theology, Gefühl, usually translated as ‘feeling’, is the concept most like affect. From 1909 Barth’s earliest published theological writing and his early sermons show evidence of considerable alignment with Friedrich Schleiermacher’s approach in allocating a central place to experience and affection in the reception of divine revelation. However, Barth becomes aware of the conceptual weaknesses of the modernist appeal to experience. Then, the outbreak of war and the misguided fervor with which some of his theological teachers support Germany’s military aggression contributes to Barth’s gradual loss of confidence in the entire modernist theological approach. The critical view that Barth takes of Schleiermacher’s concept of Gefühl and its relationship to revelation is pivotal to the theological anthropology that Barth begins to develop in deliberate contradistinction to that of Schleiermacher. Barth constructs a theology of faith as the dialectical witness to the objective revelation of the Word of God. Barth proposes that the missions of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit can reorientate alienated subjectivity. However, at a deeper level Barth’s description of the missions of the Trinitarian persons do not penetrate the affective centre of the human being. What Barth needs is a pneumatological description of the way in which divine activity works with the human being’s receptivity and spontaneity. In Church Dogmatics I/1 and I/2 he rehabilitates Gefühl by de-coupling it from Schleiermacher’s ‘feeling of absolute dependence’. He formally reconceptualises Gefühl as an affective self-determination in response to God’s sovereign determination. The addition of the concept of ‘analogy’ enables Barth to affirm that human self-determination participates in Christ’s self-determination through the Spirit’s outpouring. As a result, Barth can affirm that thinking, willing, and Gefühl are in no sense diminished in the person who in faith corresponds analogically to grace. In addition, reconceiving human spontaneity as a response to and participation in God’s sovereign activity makes it possible to affirm that divine activity and human spontaneity belong together and are consistent with one another. However, Barth’s recognition of Gefühl remains at the formal level with little material development. Nonetheless, at the formal level the concept of analogical participation has enabled Gefühl to be rehabilitated. Therefore, I conclude that Gefühl is significant in the development of Barth’s theological anthropology.
CitationTempleton, J. B. (2021). The significance of Gefühl for the development of Karl Barth’s Theological Anthropology 1909–1938 [Unpublished doctoral thesis]. University of Chester.
PublisherUniversity of Chester
TypeThesis or dissertation
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