Barth and Hegel

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Karl Barth was both appreciative and critical of G.W.F. Hegel. In this chapter, the author argues that Barth's theological instincts obstruct his appreciation for some of Hegel's key philosophical insights – insights to which Barth himself draws attention. Without defending Hegel's theological project, he also demonstrates that Hegel and Barth were in key respects asking different questions and indeed questions of quite different kinds. If one poses Barth's questions and gives Hegel's answers, one has indeed a monstrous theology; but equally to pose Hegel's questions and give Barth's answers yields an impoverished philosophy. Correcting Barth's errors may thus shed some light on the distinction between theology and philosophy. To read Barth on Hegel is, for the expert on Hegel, to experience an almost irresistible urge to dismiss the Swiss theologian for unsupported and insupportable claims about his German forebear.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Wiley Blackwell Companion to Karl Barth
EditorsGeorge Hunsinger, Keith L. Johnson
Place of PublicationOxford
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781119156598
ISBN (Print)9781119156567 , 9781119156611
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2019

Publication series

NameWiley Blackwell Companions to Religion
PublisherWiley Blackwell


  • G.W.F. Hegel
  • German forebear
  • Karl Barth
  • monstrous theology
  • philosophical insights
  • Swiss theologian
  • theological project


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