Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-7479d7b7d-8zxtt Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-07-14T04:53:36.365Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

11 - Dialectic and analogy: a theological legacy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 December 2013

Rowan Williams
Affiliation:
University of Cambridge
Nicholas Boyle
Affiliation:
University of Cambridge
Liz Disley
Affiliation:
University of Cambridge
Nicholas Adams
Affiliation:
University of Edinburgh
Get access

Summary

In his splendidly magisterial and opinionated lectures on Protestant Theology in the Nineteenth Century, Karl Barth picks up a throwaway parenthesis by Novalis on the concept of God:

Gott ist bald 1 × ∞ − bald 1/∞ − bald 0.

This gnomic formula is then used by Barth as the springboard for an eloquent reflection on the essence of the Romantic dilemma about the sacred: to say that God is the infinite multiplication or the infinite division of a ‘given quality of the ego or of life’ is to posit a divinity that is ultimately defined as a function of some pre-existing constant – infinite, we might say, but not finally different; but the characteristically Romantic sensibility constantly moves in the direction of an other not determined by the ego, an other that is the condition of possibility for the union of subject and object. So the divine may be figured as the ‘infinitisation’ of the ego's play, the ego's dance, the indefinite variety of the constant ego's relations to infinity; but this cannot be all. What then might it mean to say that God is ‘sometimes nought’? For Barth this is where we see a recognition of the irruption of an incalculable otherness into what had been merely a world of the immediate constant and a background indefiniteness – a recognition of the inescapable death of the ego. ‘For 0 is certainly not merely a harmless little point which is passed through between +1 and −1’: the God who is ‘sometimes 0’ is irreducibly opposed to the given life or ego presupposed in the first part of the formulation: this is a God who makes the entire dance of the ego either possible or impossible. And so the God who is an infinitising of something given and the God who both negates and affirms the entire system cannot be ‘God’ in the same sense.

Type
Chapter
Information
The Impact of Idealism
The Legacy of Post-Kantian German Thought
, pp. 274 - 292
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2013

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Barth, Karl, Protestant Theology in the Nineteenth Century: Its Background and History, Gunton, Colin (ed.), trans. Cozens, Brian and Bowden, John (London: SCM Press, 2001)Google Scholar
Die Protestantische Theologie im 19. Jahrhundert (Zurich: Zollikon, 1947)
Novalis Werke, ed. and with commentary by Schulz, Gerhard (Munich: C. H. Beck, 4th edn, 2001), 493
Barth, Church Dogmatics, vol. I.1, Bromiley, G. W. and Torrance, T. F. (eds.) (Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 2nd edn, 1975) [henceforth CD, I.1], 247Google Scholar
Cunningham, Conor, Genealogy of Nihilism: Philosophies of Nothing and the Difference of Theology (London and New York: Routledge, 2002), 100–30Google Scholar
Copleston, F. C., A History of Philosophy, vol.VII. Modern Philosophy, Part 1: Fichte to Hegel (New York: Image Books, 1965), 41Google Scholar
Hegel's Logic (Part one of the Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences, 1830), trans. Wallace, William (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975, 3rd edn), 174
Bernstein, Richard in his generally sympathetic essay ‘Why Hegel now?’, reprinted in his Philosophical Profiles (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1986), 141–75Google Scholar
Ricoeur, The Rule of Metaphor: Multi-Disciplinary Studies of the Creation of Meaning in Language, trans. Czerny, Robert with McLaughlin, Kathleen and Costello, SJ John (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1978)Google Scholar
Church Dogmatics, vol. I.2, Bromiley, G. W. and Torrance, T. F. (eds.), trans. Thomson, G. T. and Knight, Harold (Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1956), 559–72
McCormack, Bruce, ‘Karl Barth's version of an “analogy of being”: a dialectical No and Yes to Roman Catholicism’, in White, Thomas Joseph (ed.), The Analogy of Being: Invention of the Antichrist or the Wisdom of God? (Grand Rapids and Cambridge: Eerdmans, 2011), 88–144Google Scholar
Karl Barth's Critically Realistic Dialectical Theology: Its Genesis and Development, 1909–36 (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1995)
Barth, Karl, Church Dogmatics, vol. III. The Doctrine of Creation, Part 1, trans. Edwards, J. W., Bussey, O and Knight, Harold, Bromiley, G. W. and Torrance, T. F. (eds.) (Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1958) [henceforth CD III.1], §41Google Scholar
Milbank, John, The Suspended Middle:Henri de Lubac and the Debate Concerning the Supernatural (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005)Google Scholar
Williams, Rowan, ‘Balthasar, Rahner and the apprehension of being’, in Williams, Rowan, Wrestling with Angels. Conversations in Modern Theology, Higton, Mike (ed.) (London: SCM Press and Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007), 86–105Google Scholar
Kilby, Karen, ‘Balthasar and Karl Rahner’, in The Cambridge Companion to Hans Urs von Balthasar (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 256–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kosky, Jeffrey L, ‘The birth of the modern philosophy of religion and the death of transcendence’, in Schwartz, Regina (ed.), Transcendence. Philosophy, Literature, and Theology Approach the Beyond (New York and London: Routledge, 2004), 13–30Google Scholar
O’Meara, Thomas, Erich Przywara, S. J.: His Theology and his World (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2002)Google Scholar
Rose, Gillian, Hegel Contra Sociology (London: Athlone Press, 1981)Google Scholar
Shanks, Andrew, Hegel and Religious Faith: Divided Brain, Atoning Spirit (London: T. and T. Clark International, 2011)Google Scholar
Przywara, Erich, Analogia Entis. Ur-Struktur und All-Rhythmus (Einsiedeln: Johannes Verlag, 1962)Google Scholar
Quash, Ben, Theology and the Drama of History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gardner, Lucy, Moss, David, Quash, Ben and Ward, Graham (eds.), Balthasar at the End of Modernity (Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1999), 139–71
Mechels, Eberhard, Analogie bei Erich Przywara und Karl Barth. Das Verhältnis von Offenbarungstheologie und Metaphysik (Neukirchen: Neukirchener Verlag, 1974)Google Scholar
Johnson, Keith, Karl Barth and the Analogia Entis (London: T. and T. Clark International, 2010)Google Scholar
Gott als Geheimnis der Welt. Zur Begründung der Theologie des Gekreuzigten im Streit zwischen Theismus und Atheismus (Tübingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 1977) (356–8 and 385–9
Several of the essays collected in his Barth-Studien (Gütersloh: Benziger, 1982)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×