Negative theology

Negative theology

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Apophatic theology—also known as negative theology or via negativa (Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 for "negative way")—is a theology
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

 that attempts to describe God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

, the Divine Good, by negation
Negation
In logic and mathematics, negation, also called logical complement, is an operation on propositions, truth values, or semantic values more generally. Intuitively, the negation of a proposition is true when that proposition is false, and vice versa. In classical logic negation is normally identified...

, to speak only in terms of what may not be said about the perfect goodness that is God. It stands in contrast with cataphatic theology
Cataphatic theology
Cataphatic theology is the expressing of God or the divine through positive terminology. This is in contrast to defining God or the divine in what God is not, which is referred to as negative or apophatic theology.-Terminology:...

.

In brief, negative theology is an attempt to achieve unity with the Divine Good through discernment, gaining knowledge of what God is not (apophasis
Apophasis
Apophasis refers, in general, to "mention by not mentioning". Apophasis covers a wide variety of figures of speech.-Apophasis:...

), rather than by describing what God is. The apophatic tradition is often, though not always, allied with the approach of mysticism
Mysticism
Mysticism is the knowledge of, and especially the personal experience of, states of consciousness, i.e. levels of being, beyond normal human perception, including experience and even communion with a supreme being.-Classical origins:...

, which focuses on a spontaneous or cultivated individual experience of the divine reality beyond the realm of ordinary perception
Perception
Perception is the process of attaining awareness or understanding of the environment by organizing and interpreting sensory information. All perception involves signals in the nervous system, which in turn result from physical stimulation of the sense organs...

, an experience often unmediated by the structures of traditional organized religion or the conditioned role-playing and learned defensive behavior of the outer man.

Apophatic description of God


In negative theology, it is accepted that the Divine is ineffable, an abstract experience that can only be recognized or remembered—that is, human beings cannot describe in words the essence of the perfect good that is unique to the individual, nor can they define the Divine, in its immense complexity, related to the entire field of reality, and therefore all descriptions if attempted will be ultimately false and conceptualization should be avoided; in effect, it eludes definition by definition:
  • Neither existence
    Existence
    In common usage, existence is the world we are aware of through our senses, and that persists independently without them. In academic philosophy the word has a more specialized meaning, being contrasted with essence, which specifies different forms of existence as well as different identity...

     nor nonexistence
    Nothing
    Nothing is no thing, denoting the absence of something. Nothing is a pronoun associated with nothingness, is also an adjective, and an object as a concept in the Frege-Church ontology....

     as we understand it in the physical realm, applies to God; i.e., the Divine is abstract to the individual, beyond existing or not existing, and beyond conceptualization regarding the whole (one cannot say that God exists in the usual sense of the term; nor can we say that God is nonexistent).
  • God is divinely simple
    Divine simplicity
    In theology, the doctrine of divine simplicity says that God is without parts. The general idea of divine simplicity can be stated in this way: the being of God is identical to the "attributes" of God. In other words, such characteristics as omnipresence, goodness, truth, eternity, etc...

     (one should not claim that God is one, or three, or any type of being.)
  • God is not ignorant (one should not say that God is wise since that word arrogantly
    Pride
    Pride is an inwardly directed emotion that carries two common meanings. With a negative connotation, pride refers to an inflated sense of one's personal status or accomplishments, often used synonymously with hubris...

     implies we know what "wisdom
    Wisdom
    Wisdom is a deep understanding and realization of people, things, events or situations, resulting in the ability to apply perceptions, judgements and actions in keeping with this understanding. It often requires control of one's emotional reactions so that universal principles, reason and...

    " means on a divine scale, whereas we only know what wisdom is believed to mean in a confined cultural context).
  • Likewise, God is not evil
    Evil
    Evil is the violation of, or intent to violate, some moral code. Evil is usually seen as the dualistic opposite of good. Definitions of evil vary along with analysis of its root motive causes, however general actions commonly considered evil include: conscious and deliberate wrongdoing,...

     (to say that God can be described by the word 'good' limits God to what good behavior means to human beings individually and en masse).
  • God is not a creation (but beyond that we cannot define how God exists or operates in relation to the whole of humanity).
  • God is not conceptually defined in terms of space
    Space
    Space is the boundless, three-dimensional extent in which objects and events occur and have relative position and direction. Physical space is often conceived in three linear dimensions, although modern physicists usually consider it, with time, to be part of a boundless four-dimensional continuum...

     and location
    Location (geography)
    The terms location and place in geography are used to identify a point or an area on the Earth's surface or elsewhere. The term 'location' generally implies a higher degree of can certainty than "place" which often has an ambiguous boundary relying more on human/social attributes of place identity...

    .
  • God is not conceptually confined to assumptions based on time
    Time
    Time is a part of the measuring system used to sequence events, to compare the durations of events and the intervals between them, and to quantify rates of change such as the motions of objects....

    .


Even though the via negativa essentially rejects theological understanding as a path to God, some have sought to make it into an intellectual exercise, by describing God only in terms of what God is not. One problem noted with this approach, is that there seems to be no fixed basis on deciding what God is not, unless the Divine is understood as an abstract experience of full aliveness unique to each individual consciousness, and universally, the perfect goodness applicable to the whole field of reality. It should be noted that this is also a kind of definition, namely that the Divine is an experience, which - because of the very definition of apophatic theology - the then Divine cannot be.

In Greek philosophy



The ancient Greek poet Hesiod
Hesiod
Hesiod was a Greek oral poet generally thought by scholars to have been active between 750 and 650 BC, around the same time as Homer. His is the first European poetry in which the poet regards himself as a topic, an individual with a distinctive role to play. Ancient authors credited him and...

 has in his account of the birth of the gods and creation of the world (i.e., in his Theogony
Theogony
The Theogony is a poem by Hesiod describing the origins and genealogies of the gods of the ancient Greeks, composed circa 700 BC...

) that Chaos
Chaos (mythology)
Chaos refers to the formless or void state preceding the creation of the universe or cosmos in the Greek creation myths, more specifically the initial "gap" created by the original separation of heaven and earth....

 begot the Protogenoi
Protogenoi
In Greek mythology the Prôtogenoi are a genealogy of primordial Greek gods, the name literally means "first born" or "primeval" and are a group of deities born in the beginning of the universe....

: Eros, Gaia
Gaia (mythology)
Gaia was the primordial Earth-goddess in ancient Greek religion. Gaia was the great mother of all: the heavenly gods and Titans were descended from her union with Uranus , the sea-gods from her union with Pontus , the Giants from her mating with Tartarus and mortal creatures were sprung or born...

 (Earth) and Tartarus
Tartarus
In classic mythology, below Uranus , Gaia , and Pontus is Tartarus, or Tartaros . It is a deep, gloomy place, a pit, or an abyss used as a dungeon of torment and suffering that resides beneath the underworld. In the Gorgias, Plato In classic mythology, below Uranus (sky), Gaia (earth), and Pontus...

, who begot Erebus
Erebus
In Greek mythology, Erebus , also Erebos , was often conceived as a primordial deity, representing the personification of darkness; for instance, Hesiod's Theogony places him as the first five beings to come into existence from Chaos...

 (Darkness) and Nyx (Night), and Plato echoes this genealogy in the Timaeus
Timaeus (dialogue)
Timaeus is one of Plato's dialogues, mostly in the form of a long monologue given by the title character, written circa 360 BC. The work puts forward speculation on the nature of the physical world and human beings. It is followed by the dialogue Critias.Speakers of the dialogue are Socrates,...

40e, 41e where the familiar Titan and Olympian gods are sired by Heaven and Earth. Nevertheless, Plato is far from advocating a negative theology. His Form of the Good (identified by various commentators with the Form of Unity) is not unknowable, but rather the highest object of knowledge (The Republic 508d-e, 511b, 516b).

Plotinus
Plotinus
Plotinus was a major philosopher of the ancient world. In his system of theory there are the three principles: the One, the Intellect, and the Soul. His teacher was Ammonius Saccas and he is of the Platonic tradition...

 advocated negative theology in his strand of neoplatonism
Neoplatonism
Neoplatonism , is the modern term for a school of religious and mystical philosophy that took shape in the 3rd century AD, based on the teachings of Plato and earlier Platonists, with its earliest contributor believed to be Plotinus, and his teacher Ammonius Saccas...

 (although he may have had precursors in neopythagoreanism
Neopythagoreanism
Neopythagoreanism was a Graeco-Alexandrian school of philosophy, reviving Pythagorean doctrines, which became prominent in the 1st and 2nd centuries CE...

 and middle Platonism
Middle Platonism
Middle Platonism is the modern name given to a stage in the development of Plato's philosophy, lasting from about 90 BC, when Antiochus of Ascalon rejected the scepticism of the New Academy, until the development of Neoplatonism under Plotinus in the 3rd century. Middle Platonism absorbed many...

). In his writings he identifies the Good of the Republic (as the cause of the other Forms) with the One of the first hypothesis of the second part of the Parmenides (137c-142a), there concluded to be neither the object of knowledge, opinion or perception. In the Enneads
Enneads
The Six Enneads, sometimes abbreviated to The Enneads or Enneads , is the collection of writings of Plotinus, edited and compiled by his student Porphyry . Plotinus was a student of Ammonius Saccas and they were founders of Neoplatonism...

Plotinus writes: "Our thought cannot grasp the One as long as any other image remains active in the soul…To this end, you must set free your soul from all outward things and turn wholly within yourself, with no more leaning to what lies outside, and lay your mind bare of ideal forms, as before of the objects of sense, and forget even yourself, and so come within sight of that One."

In Islam


The Arabic term for "negative theology" is lahoot salbi, which is a "system of theology" or nizaam al lahoot in Arabic. Different traditions/doctrine schools in Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 called Kalam
Kalam
ʿIlm al-Kalām is the Islamic philosophical discipline of seeking theological principles through dialectic. Kalām in Islamic practice relates to the discipline of seeking theological knowledge through debate and argument. A scholar of kalām is referred to as a mutakallim...

 schools (see Islamic schools and branches
Islamic schools and branches
Muslims are basically divided in two major factions, Sunnis and Shias, that are further divided into various Schools of Jurisprudence and orders of Imamate. All other movements within such as Salafi, Modernists, the Mystical Sufi Orders, Deobandi and Barelvi are either Sunni or Shia or both...

) use different theological approaches or nizaam al lahoot in approaching God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 or the ultimate reality
Ultimate Reality
Ultimate reality is a term used in philosophy to indicate the underlying nature of reality, see:*Absolute *Reality*Brahman*God*Haqq*Dharmakaya*Mysticism...

. The lahoot salbi or "negative theology" involves the use of ta'til, which means "negation," and the followers of the Mu'tazili
Mu'tazili
' is an Islamic school of speculative theology that flourished in the cities of Basra and Baghdad, both in present-day Iraq, during the 8th–10th centuries. The adherents of the Mu'tazili school are best known for their having asserted that, because of the perfect unity and eternal nature of God,...

 school of Kalam
Kalam
ʿIlm al-Kalām is the Islamic philosophical discipline of seeking theological principles through dialectic. Kalām in Islamic practice relates to the discipline of seeking theological knowledge through debate and argument. A scholar of kalām is referred to as a mutakallim...

, founded by Imam Wasil ibn Ata
Wasil ibn Ata
Wasil ibn Ata was an important Muslim theologian and jurist of his time, and by many accounts is considered to be the founder of the Mutazilite school of Islamic thought....

, are often called the Mu'attili, because they are frequent users of the ta'til methodology.

Shia Islam is another sect that adopted "negative theology". Most Salafi
Salafi
A Salafi come from Sunni Islam is a follower of an Islamic movement, Salafiyyah, that is supposed to take the Salaf who lived during the patristic period of early Islam as model examples...

/Athari
Athari
Athari , or "textualism" is derived from the Arabic word athar, literally meaning "remnant", and also referring to "narrations". Their disciples are called the Atharis...

 adherents reject this methodology because they believe that the Attributes of God, as depicted in Islamic scriptures is to be literal. But most Sunnis, who are Ash'ari
Ash'ari
The Ashʿari theology is a school of early Muslim speculative theology founded by the theologian Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari...

 and Maturidi
Maturidi
In Islam, a Maturidi is one who follows Abu Mansur Al Maturidi's theology, which is a close variant of the Ash'ari theology . The Maturidis, Ash'aris and Atharis are all part of Sunni Islam, which makes up the overwhelming majority of Muslims...

 by Kalam use ta'til to some extent, if not completely. The Sufis greatly depend on the use of ta'til in their spirituality, though they often also use Cataphatic theology
Cataphatic theology
Cataphatic theology is the expressing of God or the divine through positive terminology. This is in contrast to defining God or the divine in what God is not, which is referred to as negative or apophatic theology.-Terminology:...

.

In Hinduism


Perhaps the most widespread use of negative theology occurs in the Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 scriptures, mainly the Upanishads, where Vedantic theologians
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

 speak of the nature of Brahman
Brahman
In Hinduism, Brahman is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being...

 - Supreme Cosmic Spirit as beyond human comprehension. “Whenever we deny something unreal, it is in reference to something real.” [Br. Sutra III.2.22].

The Taittiriya
Taittiriya
Taittirīya is a shaka of the Black Yajurveda*Taittiriya Samhita , see Black Yajurveda*Taittiriya Upanishad...

 hymn speak of Brahman as 'one where the mind does not reach'. Yet the scriptures themselves speak of Brahman's positive aspect also such as, "Brahman is Bliss". The idea of using these contradictory descriptions is to show that the attributes of Brahman
Brahman
In Hinduism, Brahman is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being...

 is "similar" to one experienced by mortals but not exactly the "same" in quality or quantity.

Negative theology figures in the Buddhist and Hindu polemics. The arguments go something like this - Is Brahman an object of experience? If so, how do you convey this experience to others who have not had a similar experience? The only way possible is to relate this "unique" experience to common experiences but explicitly negating their sameness.

The most famous expression of negative theology in Upanishads is found in the chant
Mantra
A mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation"...

, neti neti
Neti neti
In Hinduism, and in particular Jnana Yoga and Advaita Vedanta, neti neti may be a chant or mantra, meaning "not this, not this", or "neither this, nor that"...

, meaning "not this, not this", or "neither this, nor that". In Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
The Upanishad is one of the older, "primary" Upanishads. It is contained within the Shatapatha Brahmana, and its status as an independent Upanishad may be considered a secondary extraction of a portion of the Brahmana text. This makes it one of the oldest texts of the Upanishad corpus...

, Yajnavalkya is questioned by his students on the nature of God. He states, "It is not this and it is not that" (neti, neti
Neti neti
In Hinduism, and in particular Jnana Yoga and Advaita Vedanta, neti neti may be a chant or mantra, meaning "not this, not this", or "neither this, nor that"...

). Thus, God is not real as we are real, nor is He unreal. He is not living in the sense humans live, nor is he dead. He is not compassionate (as we use the term), nor is he uncompassionate. And so on. We can never truly define the Divine in words. In this sense, neti-neti is not a denial. Rather, it is an assertion that whatever the Divine may be, universally or personally, when we attempt to conceptualize or describe it, we limit our transcendent experience of "it."

In Buddhism


Buddhism deals with questions which may or may not be described as theological. Nevertheless, an apophatic approach is evident in much of Buddhist philosophy.

According to early Buddhist scripture, the Buddha refused to answer certain questions regarding metaphysical propositions, known as the fourteen unanswerable questions
Fourteen unanswerable questions
The phrase fourteen unanswerable questions , in Buddhism, refers to fourteen common philosophical questions that Buddha refused to answer, according to Buddhist Sanskrit texts...

 (the Pali Canon
Pāli Canon
The Pāli Canon is the standard collection of scriptures in the Theravada Buddhist tradition, as preserved in the Pāli language. It is the only completely surviving early Buddhist canon, and one of the first to be written down...

 only gives ten). These concern topics such as the existence of atta
Atta
Atta is a genus of New World ants of the subfamily Myrmicinae. It contains at least 16 known species.Leaf-cutter ants are relatively large, rusty red or brown in colour, and have a spiny body and long legs. There are three main castes within a nest: the queen, worker and soldier. Only the queens...

 (self/soul), the origin of the universe, and life after death. The Buddha explains that he does not answer certain questions because they have no bearing on the pursuit of nibanna
Nirvana
Nirvāṇa ; ) is a central concept in Indian religions. In sramanic thought, it is the state of being free from suffering. In Hindu philosophy, it is the union with the Supreme being through moksha...

, and he even goes so far as to say: "A 'position', Vaccha, is something that a tathagatha [i.e., a buddha] has done away with." On another occasion, he outlines four types of appropriate answers to questions: yes or no, analysis, a counter-question, and putting the question aside.

In his book The Silence of God: the Answer of the Buddha, Raimundo Panikkar analyzes the fourteen unanswerable questions in the context of Buddhist-Christian dialogue, and comes to the conclusion that the Buddha's position can best be described as "transcendental apophaticism," i.e., a position in which the transcendent (in this case, nirvana), is defined through negation.

In other Eastern traditions


Many other East Asian traditions present something very similar to the apophatic approach: for example, the Tao Te Ching
Tao Te Ching
The Tao Te Ching, Dao De Jing, or Daodejing , also simply referred to as the Laozi, whose authorship has been attributed to Laozi, is a Chinese classic text...

, the source book of the Chinese Tao
Tao
Dao or Tao is a Chinese word meaning 'way', 'path', 'route', or sometimes more loosely, 'doctrine' or 'principle'...

ist tradition, asserts in its first statement: the Tao ("way" or "truth") that can be described is not the constant/true Tao.

In the Christian tradition



Both Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

 and Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 are revelation
Revelation
In religion and theology, revelation is the revealing or disclosing, through active or passive communication with a supernatural or a divine entity...

-based models. God has certain attributes positively ascribed to Himself. The text is said to be inspired
Biblical inspiration
Biblical inspiration is the doctrine in Christian theology that the authors and editors of the Bible were led or influenced by God with the result that their writings many be designated in some sense the word of God.- Etymology :...

. Another way to say this is God represents Himself through the text. For example: Christianity teaches that the Logos
Logos
' is an important term in philosophy, psychology, rhetoric and religion. Originally a word meaning "a ground", "a plea", "an opinion", "an expectation", "word," "speech," "account," "reason," it became a technical term in philosophy, beginning with Heraclitus ' is an important term in...

 (the Second Person of the Trinity
Trinity
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons : the Father, the Son , and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial . Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of one being...

) became incarnate
Incarnation (Christianity)
The Incarnation in traditional Christianity is the belief that Jesus Christ the second person of the Trinity, also known as God the Son or the Logos , "became flesh" by being conceived in the womb of a woman, the Virgin Mary, also known as the Theotokos .The Incarnation is a fundamental theological...

. This type of reasoning is known as cataphatic theology
Cataphatic theology
Cataphatic theology is the expressing of God or the divine through positive terminology. This is in contrast to defining God or the divine in what God is not, which is referred to as negative or apophatic theology.-Terminology:...

.

Examples of apophatic theology are: God's appearance to Moses
Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

 in the Burning Bush
Burning bush
The burning bush is an object described by the Book of Exodus as being located on Mount Sinai; according to the narrative, the bush was on fire, but was not consumed by the flames, hence the name...

, and the ineffable Name of God
Tetragrammaton
The term Tetragrammaton refers to the name of the God of Israel YHWH used in the Hebrew Bible.-Hebrew Bible:...

 . Also the theophany
Theophany
Theophany, from the Ancient Greek , meaning "appearance of God"), refers to the appearance of a deity to a human or other being, or to a divine disclosure....

 to Elijah, where God reveals Himself in a "still, small voice" . And St. Paul's
Paul of Tarsus
Paul the Apostle , also known as Saul of Tarsus, is described in the Christian New Testament as one of the most influential early Christian missionaries, with the writings ascribed to him by the church forming a considerable portion of the New Testament...

 reference to the "Unknown God" in the Acts of the Apostles
Acts of the Apostles
The Acts of the Apostles , usually referred to simply as Acts, is the fifth book of the New Testament; Acts outlines the history of the Apostolic Age...

  is sometimes pointed to as an apophatic statement.

Tertullian
Tertullian
Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, anglicised as Tertullian , was a prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa. He is the first Christian author to produce an extensive corpus of Latin Christian literature. He also was a notable early Christian apologist and...

 says, “That which is infinite is known only to itself. This it is which gives some notion of God, while yet beyond all our conceptions—our very incapacity of fully grasping Him affords us the idea of what He really is. He is presented to our minds in His transcendent greatness, as at once known and unknown.”

Saint Cyril of Jerusalem
Cyril of Jerusalem
Cyril of Jerusalem was a distinguished theologian of the early Church . He is venerated as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Anglican Communion. In 1883, Cyril was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XIII...

, in his Catechetical Homilies
Homily
A homily is a commentary that follows a reading of scripture. In Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, and Eastern Orthodox Churches, a homily is usually given during Mass at the end of the Liturgy of the Word...

 says: "For we explain not what God is but candidly confess that we have not exact knowledge concerning Him. For in what concerns God to confess our ignorance is the best knowledge."

The Cappadocian Fathers
Cappadocian Fathers
The Cappadocian Fathers are Basil the Great , who was bishop of Caesarea; Basil's brother Gregory of Nyssa , who was bishop of Nyssa; and a close friend, Gregory of Nazianzus , who became Patriarch of Constantinople...

 of the 4th century said that they believed in God, but they did not believe that God exists in the same sense that everything else exists. That is to say, everything else that exists was created, but the Creator transcends
Transcendence (religion)
In religion transcendence refers to the aspect of God's nature which is wholly independent of the physical universe. This is contrasted with immanence where God is fully present in the physical world and thus accessible to creatures in various ways...

 even existence. The essence
Essence
In philosophy, essence is the attribute or set of attributes that make an object or substance what it fundamentally is, and which it has by necessity, and without which it loses its identity. Essence is contrasted with accident: a property that the object or substance has contingently, without...

 of God is completely unknowable; mankind can only know God through His energies.

Apophatic theology found its most influential expression in works such as those of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite
Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite
Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, also known as Pseudo-Denys, was a Christian theologian and philosopher of the late 5th to early 6th century, the author of the Corpus Areopagiticum . The author is identified as "Dionysos" in the corpus, which later incorrectly came to be attributed to Dionysius...

 and Maximus the Confessor
Maximus the Confessor
Maximus the Confessor was a Christian monk, theologian, and scholar. In his early life, he was a civil servant, and an aide to the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius...

 (Pseudo-Dionysius is quoted by Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas, O.P. , also Thomas of Aquin or Aquino, was an Italian Dominican priest of the Catholic Church, and an immensely influential philosopher and theologian in the tradition of scholasticism, known as Doctor Angelicus, Doctor Communis, or Doctor Universalis...

 1,760 times in his Summa Theologica
Summa Theologica
The Summa Theologiæ is the best-known work of Thomas Aquinas , and although unfinished, "one of the classics of the history of philosophy and one of the most influential works of Western literature." It is intended as a manual for beginners in theology and a compendium of all of the main...

).

In contrast, making positive statements about the nature of God, which occurs in most Western
Western Christianity
Western Christianity is a term used to include the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church and groups historically derivative thereof, including the churches of the Anglican and Protestant traditions, which share common attributes that can be traced back to their medieval heritage...

 forms of Christian theology, is sometimes called cataphatic theology
Cataphatic theology
Cataphatic theology is the expressing of God or the divine through positive terminology. This is in contrast to defining God or the divine in what God is not, which is referred to as negative or apophatic theology.-Terminology:...

. Eastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity comprises the Christian traditions and churches that developed in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, the Middle East, Northeastern Africa, India and parts of the Far East over several centuries of religious antiquity. The term is generally used in Western Christianity to...

 makes use of both apophatic and cataphatic theology. Adherents of the apophatic tradition in Christianity hold that, outside of directly-revealed knowledge through Scripture and Sacred Tradition
Sacred Tradition
Sacred Tradition or Holy Tradition is a theological term used in some Christian traditions, primarily in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox traditions, to refer to the fundamental basis of church authority....

 (such as the Trinitarian nature of God), God in His essence is beyond the limits of what human beings (or even angel
Angel
Angels are mythical beings often depicted as messengers of God in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles along with the Quran. The English word angel is derived from the Greek ἄγγελος, a translation of in the Hebrew Bible ; a similar term, ملائكة , is used in the Qur'an...

s) can understand; He is transcendent
Transcendence (religion)
In religion transcendence refers to the aspect of God's nature which is wholly independent of the physical universe. This is contrasted with immanence where God is fully present in the physical world and thus accessible to creatures in various ways...

 in essence (ousia
Ousia
Ousia is the Ancient Greek noun formed on the feminine present participle of ; it is analogous to the English participle being, and the modern philosophy adjectival ontic...

). Further knowledge must be sought in a direct experience of God or His indestructible energies through theoria
Theoria
For other uses of the term "contemplation", see Contemplation Theoria is Greek for contemplation. It corresponds to the Latin word contemplatio, "looking at", "gazing at", "being aware of".- Introduction :...

(vision of God). In Eastern Christianity, God is immanent
Immanence
Immanence refers to philosophical and metaphysical theories of divine presence, in which the divine is seen to be manifested in or encompassing of the material world. It is often contrasted with theories of transcendence, in which the divine is seen to be outside the material world...

 in his hypostasis or existences.

Negative theology played an important role early in the history of Christianity
History of Christianity
The history of Christianity concerns the Christian religion, its followers and the Church with its various denominations, from the first century to the present. Christianity was founded in the 1st century by the followers of Jesus of Nazareth who they believed to be the Christ or chosen one of God...

, for example, in the works of Clement of Alexandria
Clement of Alexandria
Titus Flavius Clemens , known as Clement of Alexandria , was a Christian theologian and the head of the noted Catechetical School of Alexandria. Clement is best remembered as the teacher of Origen...

. Three more theologians who emphasized the importance of negative theology to an orthodox understanding of God were Gregory of Nyssa
Gregory of Nyssa
St. Gregory of Nyssa was a Christian bishop and saint. He was a younger brother of Basil the Great and a good friend of Gregory of Nazianzus. His significance has long been recognized in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Catholic and Roman Catholic branches of Christianity...

, John Chrysostom
John Chrysostom
John Chrysostom , Archbishop of Constantinople, was an important Early Church Father. He is known for his eloquence in preaching and public speaking, his denunciation of abuse of authority by both ecclesiastical and political leaders, the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, and his ascetic...

, and Basil the Great. John of Damascus
John of Damascus
Saint John of Damascus was a Syrian monk and priest...

 employed it when he wrote that positive statements about God reveal "not the nature, but the things around the nature." It continues to be prominent in Eastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity comprises the Christian traditions and churches that developed in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, the Middle East, Northeastern Africa, India and parts of the Far East over several centuries of religious antiquity. The term is generally used in Western Christianity to...

 (see Gregory Palamas
Gregory Palamas
Gregory Palamas was a monk of Mount Athos in Greece and later the Archbishop of Thessaloniki known as a preeminent theologian of Hesychasm. The teachings embodied in his writings defending Hesychasm against the attack of Barlaam are sometimes referred to as Palamism, his followers as Palamites...

). Apophatic statements are crucial to much modern theologians in Orthodox Christianity
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 (see Vladimir Lossky
Vladimir Lossky
Vladimir Nikolayevich Lossky was an influential Eastern Orthodox theologian in exile from Russia. He emphasized theosis as the main principle of Orthodox Christianity....

, John Meyendorff
John Meyendorff
John Meyendorff was a modern Orthodox scholar, writer and teacher. He was born into the Russian nobility as Ivan Feofilovich Baron von Meyendorff , but was known as Jean Meyendorff during his life in France.Fr John Meyendorff retired as Dean of St Vladimir's Seminary on June 30, 1992...

, John S. Romanides
John S. Romanides
John Savvas Romanides was a Greek Orthodox priest, author and professor who, for a long time, represented the Greek Church to the World Council of Churches. He was born in Piraeus, Greece, on 2 March 1928 but his parents emigrated to the United States when he was only two months old. He grew up in...

 and Georges Florovsky
Georges Florovsky
Georges Vasilievich Florovsky was an Eastern Orthodox priest, theologian, historian and ecumenist. He was born in the Russian Empire, but spent his working life in Paris and New York...

).

In Orthodox theology, apophatic theology is taught as superior to cataphatic theology. While Aquinas felt positive and negative theology should be seen as dialetical correctives to each other, like thesis and antithesis producing a synthesis, Lossky argues, based on his reading of Dionysius and Maximus Confessor, that positive theology is always inferior to negative theology, a step along the way to the superior knowledge attained by negation. This is expressed in the idea that mysticism
Mysticism
Mysticism is the knowledge of, and especially the personal experience of, states of consciousness, i.e. levels of being, beyond normal human perception, including experience and even communion with a supreme being.-Classical origins:...

 is the expression of dogmatic theology par excellence.

Negative theology has a place in the Western Christian tradition as well, although it is definitely much more of a counter-current to the prevailing positive or cataphatic traditions central to Western Christianity. For example, theologians like Meister Eckhart
Meister Eckhart
Eckhart von Hochheim O.P. , commonly known as Meister Eckhart, was a German theologian, philosopher and mystic, born near Gotha, in the Landgraviate of Thuringia in the Holy Roman Empire. Meister is German for "Master", referring to the academic title Magister in theologia he obtained in Paris...

 and St. John of the Cross (San Juan de la Cruz), mentioned above, exemplify some aspects of or tendencies towards the apophatic tradition in the West. The medieval work, The Cloud of Unknowing
The Cloud of Unknowing
The Cloud of Unknowing is an anonymous work of Christian mysticism written in Middle English in the latter half of the 14th century. The text is a spiritual guide on contemplative prayer in the late Middle Ages.Manuscripts of the work are today at British Library and Cambridge University Library...

and St. John's Dark Night of the Soul
Dark Night of the Soul
Dark Night of the Soul is a treatise by Saint John of the Cross containing a commentary explaining his poem of the same name.-Poem and treatise by Saint John of the Cross:...

are particularly well-known in the West.

Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa , born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu , was a Roman Catholic nun of Albanian ethnicity and Indian citizenship, who founded the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India, in 1950...

's own spiritual struggles have correspondences in the apophatic tradition.)

C. S. Lewis
C. S. Lewis
Clive Staples Lewis , commonly referred to as C. S. Lewis and known to his friends and family as "Jack", was a novelist, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian and Christian apologist from Belfast, Ireland...

, in his book Miracles
Miracles (book)
Miracles is a book written by C. S. Lewis, originally published in 1947 and revised in 1960. Lewis argues that before one can learn from the study of history whether or not any miracles have ever occurred, one must first settle the philosophical question of whether it is logically possible that...

, advocates the use of negative theology when first thinking about God, in order to cleanse our minds of misconceptions. He goes on to say we must then refill our minds with the truth about God, untainted by mythology, bad analogies or false mind-pictures.

The mid-twentieth century Dutch philosopher, Herman Dooyeweerd
Herman Dooyeweerd
Herman Dooyeweerd was a Dutch juridical scholar by training, who by vocation was a philosopher and the founder of the philosophy of the cosmonomic idea. He received early support for his work from his brother-in-law D. H. Th. Vollenhoven...

, who is often associated with a neo-Calvinistic tradition, provides a philosophical foundation for understanding why we can never absolutely know God, and yet, paradoxically, truly know something of God. Dooyeweerd made a sharp distinction between theoretical and pre-theoretical attitudes of thought; it might be noticed that most of the discussion of knowledge of God presupposes theoretical knowledge, in which we reflect and try to define and discuss. Pre-theoretical knowing, on the other hand, is intimate engagement, and exhibits a diverse range of aspects. Theoretical knowing, by its very nature, is never absolute, always depends on religious presuppositions, and cannot grasp either God or the law side. Pre-theoretical intuition, on the other hand, can grasp at least the law side. Knowledge of God, as God wishes to reveal it, is pre-theoretical, immediate and intuitive, never theoretical in nature. The Bible, for example, should be treated as pre-theoretical (everyday) rather than theoretical in what it contains.

Karen Armstrong
Karen Armstrong
Karen Armstrong FRSL , is a British author and commentator who is the author of twelve books on comparative religion. A former Roman Catholic nun, she went from a conservative to a more liberal and mystical faith...

, in her book The Case for God
The Case for God
The Case for God is a 2009 book by Karen Armstrong. It is an answer to the recent atheism of Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett and focuses on the three Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam from the paleolithic age to the present day...

(2009), notices a recovery of apophatic theology in postmodern theology.

Ivan Illich
Ivan Illich
Ivan Illich was an Austrian philosopher, Roman Catholic priest, and "maverick social critic" of the institutions of contemporary western culture and their effects on the provenance and practice of education, medicine, work, energy use, transportation, and economic development.- Personal life...

, the historian and social critic, can be read as an apophatic theologian, according to a longtime collaborator, Lee Hoinacki, in a paper presented in memory of Illich, called "Why Philia?"

While negative theology is used in Christianity as a means of dispelling misconceptions
Misconceptions
Misconceptions is an American sitcom television series for The WB Network for the 2005-2006 season that never aired. It featured Jane Leeves and French Stewart. Six episodes were ordered at the time of the show's announcement...

 about God, and of approaching Him beyond the limits of human reasoning, most commonly Christian doctrine is taken to involve positive claims: that God exists and has certain positive attributes, even if those attributes are only partially comprehensible to us.

Gnosticism


In Gnosticism
Gnosticism
Gnosticism is a scholarly term for a set of religious beliefs and spiritual practices common to early Christianity, Hellenistic Judaism, Greco-Roman mystery religions, Zoroastrianism , and Neoplatonism.A common characteristic of some of these groups was the teaching that the realisation of Gnosis...

, the supreme being is thought of as lacking specific gender, qualities, or desire. See the Apocryphon of John
Apocryphon of John
The Secret Book of John is a 2nd-century AD Sethian Gnostic text of secret teachings. Since it was known to the church father Irenaeus, it must have been written before around AD 180. It describes Jesus Christ appearing and giving secret knowledge to the apostle John...

.

In the Jewish tradition



In Jewish belief
Jewish philosophy
Jewish philosophy , includes all philosophy carried out by Jews, or, in relation to the religion of Judaism. Jewish philosophy, until modern Enlightenment and Emancipation, was pre-occupied with attempts to reconcile coherent new ideas into the tradition of Rabbinic Judaism; thus organizing...

, God is defined as the Creator
Creationism
Creationism is the religious beliefthat humanity, life, the Earth, and the universe are the creation of a supernatural being, most often referring to the Abrahamic god. As science developed from the 18th century onwards, various views developed which aimed to reconcile science with the Genesis...

 of the universe: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" (Genesis 1:1); similarly, "I am God, I make all things" (Isaiah
Isaiah
Isaiah ; Greek: ', Ēsaïās ; "Yahu is salvation") was a prophet in the 8th-century BC Kingdom of Judah.Jews and Christians consider the Book of Isaiah a part of their Biblical canon; he is the first listed of the neviim akharonim, the later prophets. Many of the New Testament teachings of Jesus...

 44:24). God, as Creator, is by definition separate from the physical universe and thus exists outside of space and time
Philosophy of space and time
Philosophy of space and time is the branch of philosophy concerned with the issues surrounding the ontology, epistemology, and character of space and time. While such ideas have been central to philosophy from its inception, the philosophy of space and time was both an inspiration for and a...

. God is therefore absolutely different from anything else, and, as above, is in consequence held to be totally unknowable. It is for this reason that we cannot make any direct statements about God. (See Tzimtzum
Tzimtzum
Tzimtzum is a term used in the kabbalistic teaching of Isaac Luria, explaining his concept that God began the process of creation by "contracting" his infinite light in order to allow for a "conceptual space" in which a finite and seemingly independent world could exist...

(צמצום): the notion that God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 "contracted" his infinite and indescribable essence in order to allow for a "conceptual space" in which a finite, independent world
World
World is a common name for the whole of human civilization, specifically human experience, history, or the human condition in general, worldwide, i.e. anywhere on Earth....

 could exist.)

Bahya ibn Paquda
Bahya ibn Paquda
Bahya ben Joseph ibn Paquda was a Jewish philosopher and rabbi who lived at Zaragoza, Spain, in the first half of the eleventh century...

 shows that our inability to describe God is similarly related to the fact of His absolute unity. God, as the entity which is "truly One" (האחד האמת), must be free of properties and is thus unlike anything else and indescribable; see Divine simplicity
Divine simplicity
In theology, the doctrine of divine simplicity says that God is without parts. The general idea of divine simplicity can be stated in this way: the being of God is identical to the "attributes" of God. In other words, such characteristics as omnipresence, goodness, truth, eternity, etc...

. This idea is developed fully in later Jewish philosophy
Jewish philosophy
Jewish philosophy , includes all philosophy carried out by Jews, or, in relation to the religion of Judaism. Jewish philosophy, until modern Enlightenment and Emancipation, was pre-occupied with attempts to reconcile coherent new ideas into the tradition of Rabbinic Judaism; thus organizing...

, especially in the thought of the medieval rationalists such as Maimonides
Maimonides
Moses ben-Maimon, called Maimonides and also known as Mūsā ibn Maymūn in Arabic, or Rambam , was a preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher and one of the greatest Torah scholars and physicians of the Middle Ages...

 and Samuel ibn Tibbon.

It is understood that although we cannot describe God directly (מצד עצמו) it is possible to describe Him indirectly via His attributes (תארים). The “negative attributes” (תארים שוללים) relate to God Himself, and specify what He is not. The “attributes of action” (תארים מצד פעולותיו), on the other hand, do not describe God directly, rather His interaction with creation http://www.aish.com/literacy/concepts/Understanding_God.asp. Maimonides
Maimonides
Moses ben-Maimon, called Maimonides and also known as Mūsā ibn Maymūn in Arabic, or Rambam , was a preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher and one of the greatest Torah scholars and physicians of the Middle Ages...

 was perhaps the first Jewish Thinker to explicitly articulate this doctrine
Doctrine
Doctrine is a codification of beliefs or a body of teachings or instructions, taught principles or positions, as the body of teachings in a branch of knowledge or belief system...

 (see also Tanya
Tanya
The Tanya is an early work of Hasidic philosophy, by Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the founder of Chabad Hasidism, first published in 1797. Its formal title is Likkutei Amarim , but is more commonly known by its opening word, Tanya, which means "it was taught in a beraita"...

Shaar Hayichud Vehaemunah Ch. 8):
In line with this formulation, attributes commonly used in describing God in rabbinic literature
Rabbinic literature
Rabbinic literature, in its broadest sense, can mean the entire spectrum of rabbinic writings throughout Jewish history. However, the term often refers specifically to literature from the Talmudic era, as opposed to medieval and modern rabbinic writing, and thus corresponds with the Hebrew term...

, in fact refer to the "negative attributes" — omniscience
Omniscience
Omniscience omniscient point-of-view in writing) is the capacity to know everything infinitely, or at least everything that can be known about a character including thoughts, feelings, life and the universe, etc. In Latin, omnis means "all" and sciens means "knowing"...

, for example, refers to non-ignorance; omnipotence
Omnipotence
Omnipotence is unlimited power. Monotheistic religions generally attribute omnipotence to only the deity of whichever faith is being addressed...

 to non-impotence; unity to non-plurality, eternity to non-temporality. Examples of the “attributes of action” are God as creator, revealer, redeemer, mighty and merciful http://www.aish.com/literacy/concepts/Understanding_God.asp. Similarly, God’s perfection is generally considered an attribute of action. Joseph Albo
Joseph Albo
Joseph Albo was a Jewish philosopher and rabbi who lived in Spain during the fifteenth century, known chiefly as the author of Sefer ha-Ikkarim , the classic work on the fundamentals of Judaism.-Early life:Albo's birthplace is generally assumed to be Monreal, a town in Aragon...

 (Ikkarim 2:24) points out that there are a number of attributes that fall under both categories simultaneously. Note that the various Names of God in Judaism
Names of God in Judaism
In Judaism, the name of God is more than a distinguishing title; it represents the Jewish conception of the divine nature, and of the relationship of God to the Jewish people and to the world. To demonstrate the sacredness of the names of God, and as a means of showing respect and reverence for...

, generally, correspond to the “attributes of action” — in that they represent God as he is known. The exceptions are the Tetragrammaton
Tetragrammaton
The term Tetragrammaton refers to the name of the God of Israel YHWH used in the Hebrew Bible.-Hebrew Bible:...

 (Y-H-W-H) and the closely related "I Am the One I Am" (אהיה אשר אהיה — Exodus 3:13-14), both of which refer to God in his "negative attributes", as absolutely independent and uncreated; see "Names of God in Judaism".

Since two approaches are used to speak of God, there are times when these may conflict, giving rise to paradox
Paradox
Similar to Circular reasoning, A paradox is a seemingly true statement or group of statements that lead to a contradiction or a situation which seems to defy logic or intuition...

es in Jewish philosophy
Jewish philosophy
Jewish philosophy , includes all philosophy carried out by Jews, or, in relation to the religion of Judaism. Jewish philosophy, until modern Enlightenment and Emancipation, was pre-occupied with attempts to reconcile coherent new ideas into the tradition of Rabbinic Judaism; thus organizing...

. In these cases, two descriptions of the same phenomenon appear contradictory
Contradiction
In classical logic, a contradiction consists of a logical incompatibility between two or more propositions. It occurs when the propositions, taken together, yield two conclusions which form the logical, usually opposite inversions of each other...

, whereas, in fact, the difference is merely one of perspective: one description takes the viewpoint of the "attributes of action" and the other, of the "negative attributes". See the paradoxes described under free will, Divine simplicity
Divine simplicity
In theology, the doctrine of divine simplicity says that God is without parts. The general idea of divine simplicity can be stated in this way: the being of God is identical to the "attributes" of God. In other words, such characteristics as omnipresence, goodness, truth, eternity, etc...

 and Tzimtzum
Tzimtzum
Tzimtzum is a term used in the kabbalistic teaching of Isaac Luria, explaining his concept that God began the process of creation by "contracting" his infinite light in order to allow for a "conceptual space" in which a finite and seemingly independent world could exist...

.

See also

  • Anatta
    Anatta
    In Buddhism, anattā or anātman refers to the notion of "not-self." In the early texts, the Buddha commonly uses the word in the context of teaching that all things perceived by the senses are not really "I" or "mine," and for this reason one should not cling to them.In the same vein, the Pali...

  • Christian meditation
    Christian meditation
    Christian meditation is a form of prayer in which a structured attempt is made to get in touch with and deliberately reflect upon the revelations of God. The word meditation comes from the Latin word meditārī, which has a range of meanings including to reflect on, to study and to practice...

  • Conceptions of God
    Conceptions of God
    The God of monotheism, pantheism or panentheism, or the supreme deity of henotheistic religions, may be conceived of in various degrees of abstraction:...

  • Deconstruction-and-religion
    Deconstruction-and-religion
    Those that take a deconstructive approach to religion identify closely with the work of Jacques Derrida, especially his work later in life. According to Slavoj Žižek, in the mid-to-late 1980s Derrida's work shifted from constituting a radical negative theology to being a form of Kantian idealism....

  • Existence of God
    Existence of God
    Arguments for and against the existence of God have been proposed by philosophers, theologians, scientists, and others. In philosophical terms, arguments for and against the existence of God involve primarily the sub-disciplines of epistemology and ontology , but also of the theory of value, since...

  • Mysticism
    Mysticism
    Mysticism is the knowledge of, and especially the personal experience of, states of consciousness, i.e. levels of being, beyond normal human perception, including experience and even communion with a supreme being.-Classical origins:...

  • Names of God
    Names of God
    Names of God, or Holy Names, describe a form of addressing God present in liturgy or prayer of various world religions. Prayer involving the Holy Name or the Name of God has become established as common spiritual practice in both Western and Eastern spiritual practices...

  • neti neti
    Neti neti
    In Hinduism, and in particular Jnana Yoga and Advaita Vedanta, neti neti may be a chant or mantra, meaning "not this, not this", or "neither this, nor that"...

     ("not this, not that", in Hindu traditions)
  • Postmodern Christianity
    Postmodern Christianity
    Postmodern Christianity is an outlook of Christianity that is closely associated with the body of writings known as postmodern philosophy. Although it is a relatively recent development in the Christian religion, some Christian postmodernists assert that their style of thought has an affinity with...

  • Tzimtzum
    Tzimtzum
    Tzimtzum is a term used in the kabbalistic teaching of Isaac Luria, explaining his concept that God began the process of creation by "contracting" his infinite light in order to allow for a "conceptual space" in which a finite and seemingly independent world could exist...

     (Jewish tradition)
  • Tabor Light
    Tabor Light
    In Eastern Orthodox theology, the Tabor Light is the light revealed on Mount Tabor at the Transfiguration of Jesus, identified with the light seen by Paul at his conversion.As a theological doctrine, the uncreated nature of the Light of...


External links and resources



  • Jewish material
    • "Paradoxes", in "The Aryeh Kaplan Reader", Aryeh Kaplan
      Aryeh Kaplan
      Aryeh Moshe Eliyahu Kaplan was a noted American Orthodox rabbi and author known for his "intimate knowledge of both physics and kabbalah." He was lauded as an original thinker and prolific writer, from studies of the Torah, Talmud and mysticism to introductory pamphlets on Jewish beliefs and...

      , Artscroll 1983, ISBN 0-89906-174-5
    • Understanding God, Ch2. in "The Handbook of Jewish Thought", Aryeh Kaplan, Moznaim 1979, ISBN 0-940118-49-1
    • Chovot ha-Levavot
      Chovot ha-Levavot
      Chovot HaLevavot or Ḥovot HaLebabot, , is the primary work of the Jewish philosopher Bahya ibn Paquda, full name Bahya ben Joseph ibn Pakuda...

       1:8, Bahya ibn Paquda
      Bahya ibn Paquda
      Bahya ben Joseph ibn Paquda was a Jewish philosopher and rabbi who lived at Zaragoza, Spain, in the first half of the eleventh century...

       - Online class, Yaakov Feldman
    • Attributes, jewishencyclopedia.com

  • Modern material
    • Derrida
      Jacques Derrida
      Jacques Derrida was a French philosopher, born in French Algeria. He developed the critical theory known as deconstruction and his work has been labeled as post-structuralism and associated with postmodern philosophy...

      and Negative Theology, ed H. G Coward, SUNY 1992. ISBN 0-79140-964-3