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WONDERFULLY AND FEARFULLY MADE: Hans Urs von Balthasar on the Metaphysical Significance of the Wonder of a Child and the Fruitfulness of Human Sexual Difference

REID, ANGUS,DAVID,INGVAR (2019) WONDERFULLY AND FEARFULLY MADE: Hans Urs von Balthasar on the Metaphysical Significance of the Wonder of a Child and the Fruitfulness of Human Sexual Difference. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



Hans Urs von Balthasar promotes a concrete metaphysics whereby humans disclose the reality of being as a whole within their lives. Being’s superabundant mystery is encountered and manifested in the beauty, goodness and truth of human interactions. This receives its fullest articulation in interpersonal love wherein created being shines most brightly as a loving gift of participation in divine being. For Balthasar, the human capacity to grasp and share being as whole, and so the task of metaphysics, rests in childlike wonder at being’s radiant beauty. Against perspectives that laud the autonomous adult self, I develop this aspect of Balthasar’s vision to defend the abiding significance of the child-parent relationship and human sexual difference. In this, however, I also critique Balthasar’s views on the latter. I claim his univocal identification of the female with receptivity and the male with activity contravenes his metaphysics. Working critically within Balthasar’s thought, I extend what is implicit therein: the relationships between mother, father and child, and male and female humanity primordially and paradigmatically communicate created being's fruitful openness to, and difference from, divine being. I maintain these relationships carry a mantle at once fundamental, fragile and full of promise. They inscribe in human nature a predilection for gratuitous wonder at being's beauty. I argue the male-female difference and child-parent relationship serve as co-principles of being’s beauty. As such, they underpin the metaphysical expression of human fruitfulness which cannot, however, be limited to procreation and family, but is communicated in the richness of human creativity. Nevertheless, whenever these constitutive relationships are threatened so too is beauty and, therefore, being’s goodness and truth, and the human vocation to love to the fullest. Here metaphysics receives its concrete measure of truthfulness in its ability to celebrate, safeguard and pass on the wonder of a child.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2019
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:29 Aug 2019 10:46

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