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The Responsible Self: An Essay in Christian Moral Philosophy

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The Responsible Self was H. Richard Niebuhr's most important work in Christian ethics. In it he probes the most fundamental character of the moral life and it stands today as a landmark contribution to the field. The Library of Theological Ethics series focuses on what it means to think theologically and ethically. It presents a selection of important and otherwise unavaila The Responsible Self was H. Richard Niebuhr's most important work in Christian ethics. In it he probes the most fundamental character of the moral life and it stands today as a landmark contribution to the field. The Library of Theological Ethics series focuses on what it means to think theologically and ethically. It presents a selection of important and otherwise unavailable texts in easily accessible form. Volumes in this series will enable sustained dialogue with predecessors though reflection on classic works in the field.


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The Responsible Self was H. Richard Niebuhr's most important work in Christian ethics. In it he probes the most fundamental character of the moral life and it stands today as a landmark contribution to the field. The Library of Theological Ethics series focuses on what it means to think theologically and ethically. It presents a selection of important and otherwise unavaila The Responsible Self was H. Richard Niebuhr's most important work in Christian ethics. In it he probes the most fundamental character of the moral life and it stands today as a landmark contribution to the field. The Library of Theological Ethics series focuses on what it means to think theologically and ethically. It presents a selection of important and otherwise unavailable texts in easily accessible form. Volumes in this series will enable sustained dialogue with predecessors though reflection on classic works in the field.

30 review for The Responsible Self: An Essay in Christian Moral Philosophy

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jim Robles

    Four stars! This splendid work maps, at least for me, very well to "Engaging the "Race Question" - Accountability and Equity in U.S. Higher Education," by Alicia C. Dowd and Estela Mara Bensimon. At the first level we have "man-the-maker" (Homo faber) driven by his teleological goals: this corresponds to giving each individual equal access. At the second level we have "man the citizen" (Homo politicus) driven by law; this corresponds to applying equal resources to each individual. At the third l Four stars! This splendid work maps, at least for me, very well to "Engaging the "Race Question" - Accountability and Equity in U.S. Higher Education," by Alicia C. Dowd and Estela Mara Bensimon. At the first level we have "man-the-maker" (Homo faber) driven by his teleological goals: this corresponds to giving each individual equal access. At the second level we have "man the citizen" (Homo politicus) driven by law; this corresponds to applying equal resources to each individual. At the third level we have "the responsible citizen"; this corresponds to working with each individual to assure that they have the opportunity to achieve their potential. The treatment of Stoicism, on p. 170 - 172, is very good. "The responsible self or community apprehends others not as enemies but as fellow members of a comprehensive moral community as wide and deep as being itself" (p. xiii). William Schweiker (Forward) INTRODUCTION "But he was clear about what could and could not be expected from ethics as an intellectual discipline . . . . or for some assurance that the Christian community is by definition of its existence in Christ a community of superior responsibility. These things he will not find. . . . . There is no proof that the morals of the Christian community are finally any better than those of other communities, or even that the basic principles of the community are better" (p. 13 - 14). "The Christian community is as capable of false rationalizations, of perverted and distorted purposes, as any other community" (p. 24). "Indeed, his view of revelation did not permit him to divide God's activity along some dispensational time line; . . . ." (p. 29). I see Heiddeger on p. 32 - 33. "God acts redemptively, but there is no redemption until free men respond to the divine act" (p. 38). No. As with other Christian writers this is inconsistent with what precedes it. PROLOGUE: ON CHRISTIAN MORAL PHILOSOPHY THE MEANING OF RESPONSIBILITY RESPONSIBILITY IN SOCIETY "But no one is so independent of his social culture that he can meet and interpret the events we call nature without some the words, categories, and relations supplied by his society. . . . . My action takes place as responsive and responsible in the midst of these interpretations and anticipations of reaction from both society and nature" (p. 81 - 82). THE RESPONSIBLE SELF IN TIME AND HISTORY "The Epicurean with his ideal of a quiet, undisturbed life, devoid of the perturbations of extreme pleasure not less than of pain, presents to men a shrewd plan for an existence that must end with death" (p. 90). "They have found that if present relations of selves to others are to be reorganized, if the responses of selves to others and to themselves in interactions with others, are to be made constructive rather than destructive, if they are to fit better into the total process of interpersonal life, then the past must not be forgotten but remembered, accepted, and reinterpreted" (p. 104). RESPONSIBILITY IN ABSOLUTE DEPENDENCE ". . . . we are like Chanticleer attributing the sunrise to his crowing" (p. 114). "Responsibility affirms: "God is acting in all actions upon you. So respond to all actions upon youas to respond to his action"" (p. 126). RESPONSIBILITY IN SIN AND SALVATION "There is the similar paradox in the reflection that the action of the redeemed must be obedient to the will of another than the self, namely, God, and yet that if redeemed it be done in freedom, namely, the doing of one's own will" (p. 131) "The responsible self we see in Christ and which we believe is being elicited in all our race is a universally and eternally responsive I, answering in universal society and in time without end, in all actions upon it, to the action of the One who heals all our diseases, forgives all our iniquities, saves our lives from destruction, and drowns us with everlasting mercy" (p. 144 - 145). SELECTED PASSAGES FROM THE EARL LECTURES ON THE RESPONSIBLE SELF RESPONSIBILITY AND CHRIST "Thus man thinks of things anthropomorphically, or mechanomorphically, or mathematico-morphically, without always being aware that his patterns are not copies of the reality to which the reacts but products of an art of knowing in which subject and object interact" (p. 161) "Christians undertaking to act in some fashion in conformity with Christ find themselves doing something like what some others, conforming to other images, are doing" (p. 168).

  2. 5 out of 5

    Brett

    Provides the ethic of responsibility as another way of understanding Christian morality. As opposed to the dominant ethics, teleology, which understands right and wrong in comparison to ends (telos), and deontology, which sees right and wrong in terms of laws/commands, the ethic of responsibility sees right and wrong as the fitting response to the action--in community--of the One who reconciled us through his trust to the point of death and answered in the resurrection. It is an easier read than Provides the ethic of responsibility as another way of understanding Christian morality. As opposed to the dominant ethics, teleology, which understands right and wrong in comparison to ends (telos), and deontology, which sees right and wrong in terms of laws/commands, the ethic of responsibility sees right and wrong as the fitting response to the action--in community--of the One who reconciled us through his trust to the point of death and answered in the resurrection. It is an easier read than his older brother's, Reinhold, but is at times lofty and abstract. Nevertheless, there is much that is helpful here.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Austin Spence

    Haven’t been impressed with books more geared towards philosophy of religion/ in most cases Christianity specifically. Never really get much out of these books as I grasp on to anything I can and pray that I don’t lose grip. If you need a book supporting a theological studies thesis consider this, but not one for thinking differently about God.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Naomi

    In which Niebuhr pares moral concerns down to "What's happening?" and "Now what fits?" In which Niebuhr pares moral concerns down to "What's happening?" and "Now what fits?"

  5. 5 out of 5

    David Hunsicker

    Unclear that the "responsible" symbol accomplishes things that the "man as maker" or teleological approach cannot do. Especially with regards to Niebuhr's claim about the self as communal and historical - these seem like things that an Aristotelian / Teleological approach are also capable of embodying. Unclear that the "responsible" symbol accomplishes things that the "man as maker" or teleological approach cannot do. Especially with regards to Niebuhr's claim about the self as communal and historical - these seem like things that an Aristotelian / Teleological approach are also capable of embodying.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Wayne

    old hardback 1963Harper & Row

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    Bewildered Amazement

  8. 5 out of 5

    Teguh

    nothing

  9. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Brown

    Revolutionized the way I think about ethics. The Niebuhr's (either one of them) always impress. Revolutionized the way I think about ethics. The Niebuhr's (either one of them) always impress.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    I read this book a really long time ago. I want to reread to form a solid impression.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bob

    I think this is one of his better works, albeit ignored. Focuses on what responsibility means in our society and culture.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Liz

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jacob Hatfield

  14. 4 out of 5

    Stacey Douglas

  15. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Marineau

  16. 4 out of 5

    Travis Tyler

  17. 5 out of 5

    Dave/Maggie Bean

  18. 4 out of 5

    Charles David Edinger

  19. 5 out of 5

    Elisabeth

  20. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

  21. 4 out of 5

    Cal Popa

  22. 5 out of 5

    David

  23. 5 out of 5

    Leslie Lang

  24. 5 out of 5

    Linalinz

  25. 5 out of 5

    Katherine Willis Pershey

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Moon

  28. 5 out of 5

    Dorothy Hartley

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mike Elliott

  30. 5 out of 5

    Yi Shen

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