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Eastern and Western Apophatic Paths between Pre-Modern Divinity and Post-Modern Secularity



In speaking to the topic "Between Humanity and Divinity: In Literature, Art, Religion and Culture," this paper places its emphasis especially on the "Between." Humanity and divinity can be experienced only in this "between." The vast traditions, humanistic and religious alike, in both Eastern and Western cultures, define images of humanity and divinity always only in at least implicit relation to one another. Humanity no less than divinity is indefinable and unknowable as such. This unknowability is fundamental to Socratic-but equally to Daoist-wisdom. Only the space between humanity and divinity allows for representation of either and indeed for the extremely rich forms of figuration produced with astonishing abundance by literature and the arts, as well as by religious rites and practices, throughout world cultures. The paper expounds something of the apophatic or negative logic underlying these fields of representation, moving between divinity and humanity, as seen through "apophatic" (or negative theological) lenses. It attempts to do so in a comparative spirit reaching across cultures from Classical, Medieval, and Renaissance studies in the West to ancient and venerated forms of philosophical, religious, and aesthetic thinking in the East, particularly in Chinese tradition. The paper also includes, in closing, a methodological reflection on philology as a speculative discipline. Such a theoretical perspective is solicited by the overall theme, since thinking the "between" of humanity and divinity entails suspension of all univocal, positive positionings and fosters a kind of thinking without defined objects, a thinking in and from the space between all definable fields.

Parallel abstracts


Parallel keywords

智慧 之間 未知 否定神學 推測語文學 推測


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