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date: 23 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter argues against the familiar consensus that Barth’s relationship to modern moral philosophy is oppositional. It demonstrates that Barth appropriates the central insights of his philosophical predecessors and incorporates them into his ethics, even as he anticipates one of the most fruitful developments in contemporary moral philosophy: Stephen Darwall’s ‘second-personal ethics’. Rather than casting autonomy as sin, he recasts obedience to the Word of God as a form of autonomy. Barth incorporates the rational form of Kantian self-legislation and the social form of Hegelian mutual recognition into his account of subjective reception of revelation. Because Barth does not separate the sovereignty of revelation from the sociality of the church’s interpretation of Scripture and confession of faith, we—Barth’s readers—must not separate his account of hearing the Word of God from his account of hearing the divine command. In fact, we should take his account of the subjective reception of revelation as his most fulsome and winsome account of practical reason.

Keywords: autonomy, confession, divine command, Hegel, Kant, practical reason, revelation, second-personality

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