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Finitude and the Naming of God

How can one think and name an inconceivable and ineffable God? Christian mystics have approached the problem by speaking of God using "negative" language—devices such as grammatical negation and the rhetoric of "darkness" or "unknowing"—and their efforts have fascinated contemporary scholars. In this strikingly original work, Thomas A. Carlson reinterprets premodern approaches to God’s ineffability and postmodern approaches to the mystery of the human subject in light of one another. The recent interest in mystical theological traditions, Carlson argues, is best understood in relation to contemporary philosophy’s emphasis on the idea of human finitude and mortality.

Combining both historical research in theology (from Pseudo-Dionysius to Aquinas to Eckhart) and contemporary philosophical analysis (from Hegel and Nietzsche to Heidegger, Derrida, and Marion), Indiscretion will interest philosophers, theologians, and other scholars concerned with the possibilities and limits of language surrounding both God and human subjectivity.

Table of Contents

Abbreviations of Main Texts Cited
Introduction: Finitude and the Naming of God
1: The Deaths of God in Hegel: Overcoming Finitude and Religious Representation
2: The Temporal Experience of Consciousness: Hegel’s Difference of Consciousness and Heidegger’s Ontological Difference
3: The Naming of God in Hegel’s Speculative Proposition: The Circle of Language and Annulment of the Singular
4: The Mortal Difference: Death and the Possibility of Existence in Heidegger
5: Transcending Negation: The Causal Nothing and Ecstatic Being in Pseudo-Dionysius’s Theology
6: The Naming of God and the Possibility of Impossibility: Marion and Derrida between the Theology and Phenomenology of the Gift
Conclusion: The Apophatic Analogy

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