Christian ways of encountering the other : an interpretation of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's ethic of the other / Hyun Soo Kim.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer's overall theology can be understood as the ethic of the other. This does not mean that Bonhoeffer develops a systematic view of how to encounter the other. Rather, he employs some overlapping ways of engaging the other according to his intellectual and socio-political contexts.Bonhoeffer's ethic of the other is first and foremost a critique of cor curvum in se [the heart turned in upon itself] by which humanity destroys the other (Chapter Two). For Bonhoeffer, cor curvum in se expresses the fallen nature of humanity as a whole and modern humanity in particular as manifest in German idealism. He also regards Nazi totalitarianism as the political manifestation of cor curvum in se.In Sanctorum Communio, Bonhoeffer initially attempts to overcome the other-destroying system of cor curvum in se, by appropriating Eberhard Grisebach's other-centered personalism (Chapter Three). He affirms that the other is the unsurpassable barrier to the I, and claims that the I has to take unlimited responsibility for the other.However, Bonhoeffer immediately recognizes that his other-centered personalism may absolutize the other. He thus posits Christ as the Mediator between the I and the other (Chapter Four). Therefore, the I cannot be in any immediate relationship to the other. Christ always mediates every relationship between each the I and each other. Nazi totalitarianism leads Bonhoeffer to a question: “Do we have to welcome benign others and malign others in the same manner?” As a result, Bonhoeffer employs the notion of the sufferer-centered engagement that makes him take responsible action on behalf of those suffering at the hands of the Nazi totalitarian regime (Chapter Five).Bonhoeffer's view of engaging the other can serve as a corrective to the contemporary debate about the status of the other (Chapter Six). From his perspective, for example, Jacques Derrida's radical hospitality to the other may bring about the problem of discernment by absolutizing the other. Nonetheless, Bonhoeffer's vicarious notion of “for others” does not seem to consider fully the potential power of others who struggle for their liberation by themselves. With this in mind, we suggest the notion of “of others” as an alternative to Bonhoeffer's “for others.”
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