Apophasis and the turn of philosophy to religion: From Neoplatonic negative theology to postmodern negation of theology

International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 60 (1-3):61-76 (2007)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

This essay represents part of an effort to rewrite the history metaphysics in terms of what philosophy never said, nor could say. It works from the Neoplatonic commentary tradition on Plato's Parmenides as the matrix for a distinctively apophatic thinking that takes the truth of metaphysical doctrines as something other than anything that can be logically articulated. It focuses on Damascius in the 5—6th century AD as the culmination of this tradition in the ancient world and emphasizes that Neoplatonism represents the crisis of Greek metaphysics on account of the inability to give a rational account of foundations for knowing and of the ultimate principle of beings. Neoplatonism discovered how all such ultimate principles were necessarily beyond the reach of reason and speech. This apophatic insight is drawn out with the help of contemporary criticism of Neoplatonic philosophy, defining also some points of divergence. The essay then discusses the motives for thinking the unsayable in postmodern times on the basis of this parallel with Neoplatonic thought. Discourse's becoming critical of itself to the point of self-subversion animates them both. However, the tendency in postmodern thought to totally reject theology, including negative theology, is a betrayal of its own deepest motivations. This tendency is debated through an examination of the thought of Jean-Luc Nancy. While any traditional discourse can be negated, the negating and self-negating capacity of discourse itself is infinite, and this is where a perennial negative theological philosophy of the unsayable is to be located. Language, eminently the language of philosophy, as infinitely open, points in a direction which becomes equally and ineluctably theological.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 92,197

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Proclus and the neoplatonic syllogistic.John N. Martin - 2001 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 30 (3):187-240.
A Philosophy of the Unsayable.William Franke - 2014 - Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press.
Aquinas and Continental Philosophy of Religion.Joseph G. Trabbic - 2002 - Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 76:211-228.
Open Secrets: Derrida and Negative Theology.David E. Klemm - 1992 - In Robert P. Scharlemann & David E. Klemm (eds.), Negation and Theology. University Press of Virginia. pp. 8--24.
Apophasis as the common root of radically secular and radically orthodox theologies.William Franke - 2013 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 73 (1):57-76.
Theology and Science in a Postmodern Context.Nancey Murphy - 2010 - In Melville Y. Stewart (ed.), Science and Religion in Dialogue. Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 721--731.

Analytics

Added to PP
2009-01-28

Downloads
92 (#187,012)

6 months
1 (#1,475,915)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

William Franke
Vanderbilt University

References found in this work

Tractatus logico-philosophicus.Ludwig Wittgenstein, G. C. M. Colombo & Bertrand Russell - 1990 - New York: Routledge. Edited by C. K. Ogden.
Exercices spirituels et philosophie antique.Pierre Hadot - 1972 - Paris: Etudes augustiniennes.
Corpus.Jean-Luc Nancy - 2008 - New York: Fordham University Press.
Sauf le nom.Jacques Derrida - 1993 - Editions Galilée.

View all 28 references / Add more references