A Comparative Assessment of the Concept of Freedom in the Anthropologies of John Macmurray, John Zizioulas, and Karl Barthh
The concern of this thesis is to clarify a proper ontology of free persons. Three contemporary thinkers, John Macmurray, John Zizioulas, and Karl Barth, present understandings of the person that are relational in nature and which have been viewed as virtually synonymous with the other two. The central concern of this thesis is to compare and consequently to distinguish these three positions, especially by focusing on fulfilled personhood, which each writer believes to be critically related to freedom. In short, true freedom is actualized in Christ rather than achieved through human effort. Furthermore, while all three scholars propose alternative ontologies to modem individualistic notions of personhood, they do not escape completely the philosophical errors they criticize. The first chapter contextualizes each of the writers regarding his understanding of the nature of personal existence. Chapters two, three, and four articulate each writer's anthropology. Chapters five, six, and seven specifically explore the dimension of freedom as fulfilled personhood. It is at this pivotal point in the dialogue that diversity clearly evidences itself. Chapter eight criticizes each anthropology, first separately, and then comparatively, and concludes with a proposed synthesis which extracts from each thinker what I believe to be his most positive contribution to the conception of personhood. This study affirms the relational ontology of personhood and specifically illustrates that not all relational formulations provide actual human freedom. I conclude that Macmurray, Zizioulas, and Barth each provide helpful insights to free personhood, but that the superior partner in dialogue is clearly Karl Barth, who works from the fulfilled freedom provided by Jesus Christ and, therefore, pursues coherent, scientific theology which is grounded in actuality rather than in speculation.
Advisor: Campbell, Douglass; Torrance, Alan
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Theology
Publisher: University of Otago
Research Type: Thesis