via negationis

I wanted to share this series of post as I think they are really interesting: Existentialism and Christianity (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). One little quote from The Totalitarianism of “Reason” (Part 3):

Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard was a dissenter from the new totalitarianism of “reason” and the gnosticism of Enlightenment philosophy. For him, as for the ancient Christian mystics, God was grasped intuitively, by a love that is beyond mere reason, since caritas is greater than even the greatest human knowledge. Such a view is redolent of the “cloud of unknowing” or the via negationis – the doctrine of divine simplicity espoused by the medieval theologian, Thomas Aquinas. According to this “eliminative method” one can define God by what he is not, since it is so difficult for us to truly appreciate what he is.

One of the things I have learned from existentialism (read: Kierkegaard) is that every person carries their story into everything they do and say. We each have an individual view of everything but it is always nice when one story meets another. The author is maybe a Roman Catholic and hence the return to Aquinas.

I like the opening: Kierkegaard stands solidly within the mystical tradition of Christianity. Maybe even the neo-Platonism of Augustine and Anselm! But, as with all modern philosophers of note, he takes it one step further – he speaks to a modern context. And to make the point: Kierkegaard is not an existentialist as he both predates it and is solidly a writer within the Christian tradition. Kierkegaard is not part of any school of thought and that is why he is so interesting – he is the “single individual” of philosophy.

But I have gotten off-topic. David R. Law has written a number of books on Kierkegaard as a negative theologian and kenotic Christology. Law’s article on the Chirstology of Practice in Christianity is a very interesting read. I think Kierkegaard’s Christology, “who is Jesus for Søren?”, would be a very interesting topic to explore especially in light of his later writings, that is, the Communion Discourses. Also how pietism played a role in Kierkegaard’s thought.

Anyway, just wanted to share the quote.

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