ontological thoughts

by Andrea Elizabeth

Wikipedia gives some pretty technical categories under “ontology”. My Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy uses it as an adjective with other terms like ontological commitment. For ontologism, it says “see Gioberti”.

Gioberti, Vincenzo (1801 – 52), Itialian philosopher and statesman. He was an ordained priest, was imprisoned and exiled for advocating Italian unification, and….

Gioberti’s philosophical theory, ontologism, in contrast to Hegel’s idealism, identifies the dialectics of Being with God’s creation. He condensed his theory in the formula: ‘Being creates the existent.’ The dialectics of Being, which is the only necessary substance, is a palingenesis, or a return to its origin, in which the existent first departs from and imitates its creator (mimesis), and then returns to its creator (methexis). By intuition, the human mind comes in contact with God and discovers truth by retracing the dialectics of Being. However, knowledge of supernatural truths is given only by God’s revelation. Geoberti criticized modern philosophers such as Descartes for their psychologism – seeking truth from the human subject instead of from Being itself and its revelation. His thought is still influential in Italy, especially in Christian spiritualism.

In his scheme human nature loses and has to mimic divine nature to get revelation (total depravity much?), but the revelation part is good.

I suppose I am seeking general philosophical language to describe contemplation of the nature of created and uncreated things. In the previous post on Ambiguum 10, St. Maximus contemplates nature, like bound bread, symbolically as our intellect being bound by the senses. St. Nikolai Velimirovich does this too in The Universe as Symbols and Signs. It’s a poetic rendering of nature. Learning from created, temporal things the nature of eternity. There is also a dying to our temporal, existential relationship with these created things. Such as seeing doors as Christ’s gateway to the Father, the upper corners of rooms as representing the Holy Trinity, the sun representing the Father and warmth and light as the Spirit and the Son, chairs representing the Theotokos as throne to Christ, etc.

Here’s a teaser, for “onto-theology. See Derrida” woohoo!

“…These aporias are largely associated with onto-theology, a term coined by Heidegger to characterize a manner of thinking abut being and truth that ultimately grounds itself in a conception of divinity. Deconstruction is the methodology of revelation: it typically involves seeking out binary oppositions defined interdependently by mutual exclusion, such as good and evil or true and false, which function as founding terms for modern thought. The ontotheological metaphysics underlying modernism is a metaphysics of presence: to be is to be present, finally to be absolutely present to the absolute, that is, to the divinity whose own being is conceived as presence to itself, as the coincidence of being and knowing in the Being that knows all things and knows itself as the reason for the being of all that is. Divinity thus functions as the measure of truth. The aporia here, revealed by deconstruction, is that this modernist measure of truth cannot meet its own measure: the coincidence of what is and what is known is an impossibility for finite intellects.”

Derrida is then described as critiquing Husserl’s “origin of geometry…as the guiding paradigm for Western thought.” Derrida argues that the origin “was a supratemporal ideal of perfect knowing that serves as the goal of human knowledge. Thus the origin of geometry is inseparable from its end or telos…. and cannot be realized in time.”

I don’t know what Derrida’s atheism has to do with it except that he sounds very apophatic to me. I wonder how much he was influenced also by the mysteries of quantum mechanics. Just when you think you understand something – bam. But knowing there’s more to know shouldn’t keep you from experiencing it in part. Nor does it negate or eliminate good and evil, or truth and falshood, as I suppose Derrida’s Buddhist supporters imagine.