Monday, September 24, 2012

Ontotheology* 101

S: "Do you believe that God 'exists'?"

L: "Of course."

S: "I mean, couldn't we say, with Prof. Jean-Luc Marion, that God transcends existence, that the one we call 'God' far exceeds the very category of being itself. That we can talk of God only as pure gift, absolute beneficence, pure self-giving love, utter agape beyond being? Just like some of the mystics of the past and some deconstructionist theologians today say?"

L: "I never bought into that."

S: (Voice rising) "You mean to tell me that we, mere creatures, share with the Creator of the universe the category of 'existence' as a predicate of our reality? Doesn't this subsume God within some overarching metaphysical schema?"

L: "Whatever."

S: "Well, I guess we could go the route of Thomism and say that God is self-subsistent esse, a pure unity of being and action, and that our creaturely existence is a finite participation in God's transcendent esse. But, again, that commits us to some sort of analogia entis -- some notion that there is within our existence as such something that links us existentially to God, by virtue of our very creaturehood and apart from Christ and  historic revelation. And I'm just not sure I'm ready to go there."

L: "I thought you were going to write about William Stringfellow. How's that going?"

S: "I really love this weather we've been having."

L: "Have you paid the phone bill yet?"

(* I haven't found online any clear, rough-and-ready definition of "ontotheology." I take the term generally to mean the attempt to relate the reality of God, the subject of theology, with a general metaphysical account of the cateory of "being" as such.)

1 comment:

  1. Tory: Mommy, does existence precede essence?

    Mommy: It's a sort of chicken and egg type thing.