Aquinas according to the horizon of distance: Jean-Luc Marion's phenomenological reading of thomistic analogy

Ever since the publication of Dieu sans l’être in 1982, Jean-Luc Marion’s various (and varying) pronouncements on the status and meaning of esse in Aquinas have excited a good deal of interest and controversy among Thomists. Marion’s evolving understanding of Thomistic metaphysics in general, and of Thomistic analogy in particular, has been commended for its openness to correction even as it has been criticized for what many still regard as its residual deficiencies. All such criticisms, however, neglect to take account of the phenomenological provenance of Marion’s concerns, and to this extent they risk misunderstanding them. Ironically, Marion’s phenomenological approach to Aquinas intends to safeguard precisely what his Thomist critics think he has jettisoned: namely, our ability to speak about God in a way that says something meaningful—or perhaps better, reveals something meaningful—about God to us. The apophatic language Marionuses to make this point should be taken as a reminder to his fellow Christians (and especially to those who happen to be Thomists) who rightfully desire to speak of God about the danger that is involved in doing so. If we interpret Aquinas’s use of the divine names according to the phenomenological horizon of distance and thus think the various names of God “according to truly theological determinations,” Marion suggests, we can avoid the danger of lapsing into a conceptual idolatry of univocal predication that occludes their phenomenological disclosiveness
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DOI 10.5840/ipq200747158
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