Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Eckhart

from his Prologus generalis in opus tripartitum (recension L):

Advertendum autem est quod nunnulla in sequentibus propositionibus, quaestionibus et expositionibus primo aspectu monstruosa, dubia aut falsa apparebunt, secus autem si sollerter et studiosius pertractentur. Luculenter enim invenietur dictis attestari veritas et auctoritas ipsius sacra canonis seu alicuius sanctorum aut doctorum famosorum.

[...]

Esse est Deus. Patet haec propositio primo, quia si esse est aliud ab ipso Deo, Deus nec est nec Deus est. Quomodo enim est aut aliquid est, a quo esse aliud, alienum et distinctum est? Aut si est Deus, alio utique est, cum esse sit aliud ab ipso. Eus igitur et esse idem, aut Deus ab alio habet esse. Et sic non ipse Deus, ut praemissum est, sed aliud ab ipso, prius ipso, est et est sibi causa, ut sit.

Ontotheology? What would Marion, Boulnois or de Libera say about this?

5 comments:

Michael said...

What I don't get is how the Orthodox get around this kind of reasoning. What does it mean to be "beyond being"? Does God exist or doesn't he? If not, what does he do?

Stultus dixit in corde suo, Deus non est.

Lee Faber said...

this was just the first paragraph of an extended argument to the same effect.

Who knows, he says a lot of crazy crazy stuff in his german sermons 9such as, we have to get past the persons to the essence), maybe he gets rid of this idea too.

Anonymous said...

I think part of what it means to be 'beyond being' is that we can't know exactly what it means for such a thing to be; that God 'exists' in at least the one sense of being real, but does not 'exist' in the way that every finite being we can directly encounter in the world 'exists'. It isn't just the Orthodox who say this, as you scholastiphiles should know. Aquinas says much the same thing, and no matter how one interprets him, it is only by refusing to read what he writes that one misses what he says about our essential ignorance of what God is in himself and the necessity for us of saying what he is not. Of course, Aquinas is not quite the mysterian that some Orthodox are. But he's a long way from treating God like a special sort of being basically the same as every other being except unlimited in certain crucial respects.

Tolle lege.

Then again, you're a bunch of Scotists, so it's no surprise that you insist on making God comprehensible. ;-)

Lee Faber said...

There is a difference between discussions of the comprehensibility of the divine essence (which all the scholastics including scotus are agreed is never fully comprehensible by a finite intellect), and the suitability of the application of the term "being" to God.

My actual point with this post was not the eastern orthodox application but of french phenomenology; Boulnois and de Libera have written a book on Meister Eckhart as the first medieval critic of onto-theology or somesuch, which this passage flies in the face of.

Michael said...

God 'exists' in at least the one sense of being real, but does not 'exist' in the way that every finite being we can directly encounter in the world 'exists'.

Anonymous,

I have no problem with this formulation and have been saying something much like it for years as an acceptable meaning of "beyond being." But to say that God's being is unlike every other being still implies that God exists, and saying "beyond being" becomes unintelligible at the point where one attempts to deny this.

The being of God is not the being of creatures. Of course--every scholastic including Scotus agrees with this.

Faber and I are plenty familiar with Thomas' position on the matter. We both started out as more-or-less Thomists, like most other students of medieval theology and philosophy, before surveying more of the field and realizing that his is not the final word on every subject. But Thomas would never use the formulation "beyond being" without some serious qualifications, since of course for Thomas God simply isbeing in a way that nothing else is.

But he's a long way from treating God like a special sort of being basically the same as every other being except unlimited in certain crucial respects.

This is a caricature of Scotus.

it's no surprise that you insist on making God comprehensible

So is this. As Faber points out, Scotus as much as anyone would insist that the human mind never fully or exhaustively grasps the divine essence. At the same time, Aquinas as well of Scotus will speak of the beatified soul as a comprehensor; and of course for both God is preeminently comprehensible to himself.