Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Spooking from the Horizon of Love

Christian mediaeval theologians and their Church encountered God on the horizon of being. Aristotle's approach to understanding the world lent itself to illuminating that encounter in which his categories and overall project of achieving wisdom ignited the religious imagination. Metaphysics discovered all that was discoverable about God. Before Aristotle, Plato enlightened the mind and located the realm of the highest. Certainly between these philosophers rested the hearts and minds of theology, a faith seeking understanding. When wisdom and understanding became insufficient for faith, the seams of theology became threadbare, as explanation and pure reason pushed the encounter with God off the horizon of being, and wisdom and understanding under the bus.

Finding it increasingly difficult to locate God in the categories of being and causality, mediaeval metaphysics became inadequate to the task of illuminating anything about God. Metaphysical concepts became mere shadows, ghosts that could only limp against the backdrop of the new and improved categories adopted, of course, from an Aristotelian approach, but now a presiding hegemony of ideas. The new illumination, the Enlightenment, offered transcendental categories governing the disciplines of thought. No longer filed under science, theology found itself within the category of ethics, designed to keep it out of politics and the scientific disciplines.

The enlightened mind no longer conceived of a God with whom an encounter on the plane of being could occur. The analogical imagination continued to grope for metaphysical concepts that could no longer bear the weight of its tasks; yet the experience of and from God did not wither away in this new state of affairs. God was still there, but not as another being among beings. Metaphysics had to be put aside because it was now suppressing the reality of God. God insists that he make an appearance, and the response to that insisting call could not longer configure the onto-theological God that was understood in wisdom by the Schoolmen.

The shift from understanding and wisdom to explanations and knowledge grounded in a sense of certainty threw God out with the bath water. He was dead to scientific inquiry---the thought police of the new order. God could not be located in the new frame of existence. He did not exist. Yet his inexistence could not contain his insistence. The insistence of God calls from the horizon of the perhaps, peut-etre. What calls? It calls. Freud's es? No, not that 'it.' It. The it that spooks. What it spooks? Oh do not ask what is it; let us go and make our visit.

Caputo has provisionally located the calling it in the "space between memory and a promise." Is this poetry or theopoetics? The spectral it that has dominated/haunted Caputo's recent thought, the divine insistence that calls for the event to be released from the harbor of the name of God, cannot call from the horizon of being; yet the call from an insisting God is clarion. The aporia of Caputo's "space" plays out on the horizon of love, which we have seen in Marion's 3rd reduction through his work in Being Given, God without BeingThe Erotic Phenomenon, and In the Self's Place, defines love as more essential than being, and locates love anterior to being, which might very well be somewhere between memory and promise.

The hauntology of love, alternately the horizon of perhaps, or the horizon of love calls for a response as lovers call one another. For Marion, the  givenness of the divine as saturated phenomenon that calls with its pure call the emerging self, is purely self-given as that which loves before it is. For Caputo, the givenness of the divine is the insistence of God, calling unconditionally to be brought into existence. Either way, the it that loves an insistent and unconditional love, a love forgotten and forsaken, a haunting forgotten and forsaken love, loves the emerging self, a self insisted into relationality. What spooks is the love lost somewhere in the space between a memory and a promise. The it-love that loves to haunt our memories and our promises is the call, what Caputo has recently deemed an unheard call that nonetheless calls for a response, insists on the relationality that individuates the self in a constant creation of that self and its subjectivity which is always poised to make a space for it. That space is love and that love is God.


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    1. Actually I've been saying that the world of Jesus is not so terribly different from our own. I am all for deconstructing 'the distance of time and culture.' How have I introduced an unfortunate relativism into the discussion?

    2. Perhaps you deem my decontextualizing too liberal.

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    4. Joseph: I've been thinking how to respond to this formulation. How about this: what you're suggesting here is highly unlikely---the confusion of metaphysics with what is real. To me, this sounds like confusing signifieds with signifiers, the idea of a 'tree' with the english sound *tr-e-e*. I don't think such a thing is possible, and certainly Marion is incapable of that bizarre error. I think it's safe to say that metaphysics is simply one way to speak about the 'actually real.' What we are trying to do is speak about the 'real' without recourse to metaphysics. That might not be a sustainable strategy, but we really want to look at what real from another vantage point.

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    7. These remarks summarize your claims and argument fairly well. It is a restatement of the naturalist and positivist perspective, even though it appeals to theodicy and everything that entails. You have made the case that given the data God and *this* world cannot both be real because they contradict each other; that the claims made for "God" cannot be true given *this* world. This onto-theological God of the Omni's cannot be true essentially because this world is imperfect (if not dangerous and cruel) by a certain standard and approach to (our historical) reality.

      I can understand how my project can seem to split "thought into the horizon of being and love." I try very hard to prevent this kind of confusion, but I have not been as methodologically rigorous as the founders of phenomenology (e.g, Husserl, Heidegger) have been. Of course, Marion *is.* But he is not without his critics. I would ask you to imagine me a better phenomenologist (and better post-structuralist) who does not 'split' consciousness or being to put them before 2 horizons at once---in a single phenomenological gesture. I am trying to truly collapse the horizon of being---bracket it off (to present such splitting) in *epoche* to allow for the event---the presentation of something that really comes before the intentionality---the 'bullet' you noted in another comment---so that things can truly emerge in their phenomenality. Remember the old adage: no horizon, no phenomenology.

      In phenomenology God's love and the world can both be real, even though metaphysically this have proven to be a non-starter; but we must remind ourselves that for Aquinas and the Schoolmen, the conflicts we see are simply absent.

      In your formulation in the 7:44 comment, are you using 'coexist' in the causal and ontological sense (beings existing along side one another in the place of being) or simply as co-realities? We need not reject God/love/goodness if such does not exist as a being with our historical reality unless God is simply a being among other beings (in which case we reject that concept). So, I think the question before us is how can God and our world both be real: that question cannot be answered in metaphysics, logical positivism or naturalism where it is sheer nonsense. Where is that question not nonsense but in differance, deconstruction, phenomenology---within epistemic modes that are not have an a priori, axiomatic sense of 'reality?'

      I will be posting something soon about the hermeneutics undergirding the phenomenological gesture I am attempting here. It will not reinvent the wheel, but synthesis what the reduction is about in both Caputo and Marion, with respect to both Husserl and Heidegger. I will try to use scripture and the event harbored there to demonstrate (hopefully better than I've done so far---you seem to find it too tendentious to be useful) the kind of reduction that permits something to be real apart from the problematic metaphysical categories of causality and being: metaphysics prevents the release of the event. I will not be addressing theodicy even though I run the risk of seeming to give God and revelation a pass by bracketing off the horizon where theodicy has teeth. You'll just have to stipulate that such an approach is not theodical.

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    9. First, I must correct a typo in the 2nd paragraph of my 8/15 5:57 comment. I bracket off being to *prevent* splitting of consciousness; I think you made that correction for yourself. The *epoche* is the simplifying assumption of the phenomenological method. I try to use it. Certainly Marion uses it, and it is the method Caputo uses in _The Weakness of God_.

      If you asked me this question last year I might have responded that the differences are like night and day, but I cannot really say that anymore. But some things can be noted. Marion seems to me to be a rather conservative Catholic and points his method to obtain an even more authentic revelation, God, theology than already exists in Catholicism. True, he is committed to dissolving the conceptual idols within classical metaphysics, which tends to render saturated phenomena poorer in quality than they really are. Caputo has declared that the onto-theological God has had a good run and is no longer tenable and sits before our incredulity; yet he has no problem attempting the phenomenological reduction to the 'event.' He reads scripture as if metaphysics does not exist and locates the event in scripture on the horizon of metanoia. As I continue to consider this approach I wonder just how radically different Caputo's radical hermeneutics are from Marion's. Both of them collapse 'being' to allow something more essential than being to appear: for Caputo, metanoia is an existential transformation entangled in the release of the scriptural event. For Marion, the very self is recreated, created anew, forms more perfectly in relation to what is more essential than being. The similarity between the 2 thinkers is uncanny.

      Further, Caputo has every *hope* (what he might call the quintessential postmodern posture) that his religion without religion, his theopoetics is what is stirring within confessional religions like Catholicism. He does not want to destroy confessional religions, just deconstruct them, which is what he is about in _Weakness_ and _Insistence_.

      I am religiously and spiritually closer to Marion than Caputo, though I share in Caputo's edginess. Marion and I still belong to the Catholic Church. I honestly do not know anymore if Caputo does, despite his claims to 'pass for an atheist.'

      All 3 of us (ha, that sounds silly to me) share this: that God is not a supreme being among other beings, and that we use the name of God to speak about a profound response to being pointed at, being called from, a something that is without being, otherwise than being, calling an unconditional call that grasps us from the very ground of being itself, which is itself not being.

      Scripture, for us 3 (if I might be so bold) is the locus of an event. That event is metanoia, the formation of the self/consciousness/subject. This kind of event is itself grounded in a relationality to the pure call.

      If Caputo is different from Marion (and me), it is because he is ultimately and existentially a Hegelian, and as such sees the name of God play out on the plane of being and beings, as God himself pours out into the weakness of the Kingdom. This term is very important to Caputo. It has a logic all its own and is the locus of an event, not some reward in some crazy economy of the gift (the heaven of the onto-theological God), which in the Kingdom claims no return, no hold.

      In response to the givenness of the divine, Marion offers praise, a manner of worship as his restless heart rests in the divine. Caputo's response is a change of heart that now offers hospitality and forgiveness in a new openness and relation to the other. I embrace both of these.

      I think Marion and I (Caputo too????????????) remain in the Church because the event of and within Catholicism inculcates hope. That between every word and line of scripture and dogma an event waits to be released in what can only be called the truth---not the propositional truths of logic, symbolic or otherwise---the truth that liberates, forgives, aligns.

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    15. Excellent critique Joseph; thank you so much. I continue to read these comments and offer only preliminary remarks here.

      1. Though the divine does not appear in the senses, it can appear in the sense, or consciousness, as reality. Aristotelian substance does not appear in the senses either, but even philosophy admits substance to an experiencing consciousness.

      2. Phenomenology is a science and therefore has no power to command God to make an appearance: that would be the most heinous form of psychologism and perhaps even magic or divination. At that point, the science/method ceases to be phenomenology. Instead, we look to scripture, the Christ-event, theology to see what these are about, to see what event is harbored there. Phenomenology never proposes a 'proof' for God.

      3. Phenomenology is not prayer, even if saturated phenomena call for prayer or praise as response.

      4. Poor phenomena such as photons do indeed appear in the phenomenological reduction (quantum physics), and photon certainly can be studied. Saturated phenomena, such as the event, can be experienced but not studied as other objects (saturated phenomena are focus of theology, simple objects/less robust phenomena, the focus of philosophy (e.g. natural sciences).

      5. #4 is not to be understood as contradicting #2.

      6. In the phenomenality of the divine (I am distinguishing the divine from the totality of the Godhead in its infinity to maintain an abiding respect for the saturation and incomprehensibility of these phenomena) one must commit to *epoche* the natural attitude, which is the inclination to the category. No Aristotelian, Kantian, etc. category can contain the event.

      7. The "object" I must bracket is anything that works against the relationality between my 'self' and what is making an appearance.

      8. The relationality is predicated of any and all of these familiar terms: lack, supernatural existentiell, potentia obedientialis, Vorgriff (Rahner), the place of the self, the pure call.

      9. Heb. 13:8.

      10. We must rescue God from the concept (Begriff) so that God can be God, whether that concept is theological or otherwise. This is the aporia of a concept without a concept. No concept can contain God, or else it is not God that is conceptualized.

      I hope to clarify these items as I think more on your comments.

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  5. Though I think these comments belongs to another blogpost, I would say that, in general, I am a proud shooter of angels on a pin. This is the stereotypic Western movie scene where the bad guy makes the town drunk dance in the street. Those bullets haunt the street, the drunk, the bad guy and the Western. Think of the bullets in the collider at CERN. They get stuff to appear.

    If that is just too clever and smug for you, then look at those texts in the Synoptics and see if the text permits an inside joke between Jesus and Peter.

    I must balk at the accusation of relativism: The gospels are in there own time already removed from the ministry of Jesus. I have a deep and abiding respect for the 3 part gospel tradition. In so many ways the evangelists are already light years beyond the very words and deed of Jesus. The evangelists have a clear agendae: their christologies are not identical to one another despite their claim to the one Jesus. Shooting angels on a head of a pin is like pulling on a thread running through the texts of the gospels. Something interesting is bound to happen.

    I am the last person to discuss angels on the pin. Such a discussion does not interest me. I am interested in what the texts will release: the impossible made visible.

    The question you are posing is simply this: would Meier, Brown, Fitzmyer et al find my reading of the coin of tribute completely foreign to the gospel tradition and the literary milieu of the evangelists?