Substance, relation, and identity

Sophia 43 (1):73-81 (2004)
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One of the great insights of postmodern thought is that our understanding is perspectival, and that we have the perspectives we do because we have privileged one element of certain important binaries over others. Western civilization, or our understanding of it, is based upon our privileging of the male perspective over the female, the rich over the poor, and the white over the black. If that order were reversed and we privileged the perspective of those who had been marginalized, we would see things very differently. Traditional attempts to understand both our own identity and the identity of God all hinge on Aristotle’s privileging of substance over relation. The distinction between substance and relation is another important binary that has shaped Western Civilization. This paper looks at both human and divine identity by privileging relation over substance and considering identity from that marginalized perspective.



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