Meeting Aquinas along the Via Negativa, Pt 3

Well my reading of Aquinas was put on hold for the past few days because I misplaced my copy (actually the university’s copy). And then I looked up and there it was on the shelf. Bizarre.

I am skipping ahead to article 7: “Can a created mind comprehend God’s essence?”

  • To begin with, Aquinas discusses the argument that proposes “that those who see the essence of God comprehend him.” (1a, 12, 7, 1)
    • Aquinas quotes Paul who speaks of his journey towards comprehending God. (cf. Phil 3.12, I Cor 9.26)
  • But this raises the question, what do we see when we comprehend God (if we can see and if we can comprehend God in his essence).
    • Augustine: “We say that something is comprehended when the whole of it is so visible that nothing of it is hidden.” (De Videndon Deum)
    • This would lead to the conclusion that to see God is to comprehend him in his totality since “nothing is hidden” because “God is altogether simple.” (1a, 12, 7, 2)
    • God is totally seen in his totality because “we shall see him just as he is.”
    • “Whoever, therefore, sees God in his essence sees him totally, and this is to comprehend.” (1a, 12, 7, 3)

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The God Who May Be – Pt 4

The God Who May Be – A Via Tertia (third way)

In contrast to the radically transcendent theologies of negative theology and mystical postmodernism, Kearney proposes his interpretation of God as the One who is not nor is, but may-be. Onto-theology and negative theology, that is, a theology of God as Being and a theology of God as non-being, are the two extremes that Kearney wants to avoid.

Kearney mentions that Philo’s translation of Exodus 3.14 is particularly important for in it “he insisted that God here reveals not his content (whatness-essence) but only that he exists…” (35) He then details Meister Eckhart’s commentary on Exodus 3.14 which postulates a God who is distant, yet present. This was a very muddy section for me, so I can’t really comment too much on it. Unfortunately this is where Kearney’s poetic writing style gets in the way of clarity (and for the most part, I really enjoy Kearney’s style and find it easier to understand that some other authors…this section being the exception).

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