Postmodernism and Negative Theology The A/Theology of the 'Open Narrative'

Bijdragen 58 (4):407-425 (1997)
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Abstract

To clarify our present-day postmodern context and to ascertain the critical consciousness of our time, we present a number of main lines of thought in the work of Wolfgang Welsh, Jean-François Lyotard and Richard Rorty. Each one of them has emphasized an aspect that perhaps is characteristic for the postmodern time. Welsh identifies the postmodern with the coming to consciousness of radicalised plurality, Lyotard with the attention for the moment of radical heterogeneity that shines in the midst of plurality, and Rorty with an insight into the radical particularity and contextuality of each narrative. A discussion of and with this threesome yields our model of the 'open narrative' as a possible form of the contemporary critical consciousness, which is to say as a possible authentic mode of existence in the postmodern context. In as much as 'negative theology', as a philosophical notion, in contemporary thinking stands for the attempt to leave behind metaphysics and ontotheology, it also functions as a background for the model of the 'open narrative': apophasis serves as ultimate, and at the same time, necessarily correction of what is narrated kataphatically. In this junction of contemporary philosophy and negative theology, the theologian not only can discover opportunities for rendering an account of his/her own apophatic tradition; at the same time, this junction may enable him/her to make both postmodern thought as well as negative theology fruitful for his/her own theologizing. We illustrate this by discussing the speaking about God in a christian theological 'open narrative'

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