How to avoid not speaking On the phenomenological possibility of theology

View Full Record
Description: This dissertation finds its origin in what could be described as the "problem of theology": if God is Infinite, and language is finite, then how will it be possible to speak of God, since speaking requires the employment of language, and theology requires the employment of concepts? Since there can be no such thing as an infinite concept, any speaking of God would seem to reduce God to finitude. And thus the theologian is faced with either violating God's transcendence and reducing God to immanence, or one must not speak of God, remaining silent. This theological problem points to a more formal problem: How can we speak of that which is incommensurate? How will it be possible to conceptualize that which is nonconceptual? Would this not be violent, in the sense that such conceptual description would force non-conceptual modes of being into the parameters of conceptual thought? It is here that we locate the contemporary French critique of phenomenology, articulated by Levinas and Marion, which raises the question of ethics at the heart of philosophical and theological method. The constructive task of this dissertation is to mark out a theological method which circumvents the problem outlined above. Required is a new account of the way in which transcendence is known (or "appears," phenomenologically speaking), and how one can then speak of transcendence. Here I develop an "incarnational phenomenology" which, drawing on Husserl, Heidegger, Augustine, and Derrida, considers the way in which transcendence manifests itself in immanence, without being reduced to such transcendence. I describe this as "incarnational" insofar as it bears analogy to the appearance of God within humanity, such that the Other appears within the sphere of immanence without giving up its transcendence. Correlatively, we can speak of "incarnational concepts" which function as icons insofar as they "point" or "indicate" that which exceeds them, without treating the referent as "present-at-hand." In other words, incarnational concepts, like Heidegger's "formal indications" ( formale Anzeigen ), are non-objectifying concepts which make it possible to speak of that which is transcendent without reducing such transcendence to the finitude of conceptual categories.
Language: English
Format: Degree Work