Being incomprehensible

Being (esse), with which [Aquinas] is concerned and to which he attributes the modalities of the One, the True, the Good and the Beautiful, is the unlimited abundance of reality which is beyond all comprehension, as it, in its emergence from God, attains subsistence and self-possession within the finite entities.14

(Hans Urs von Balthasar)

We tend to consider that in knowing something we have increased our comprehension of what is known. But if we do not, in knowing something, comprehend any substantial forms and if the essential grounds always elude our comprehension then maybe we should reconsider our approach. Perhaps an increase in knowledge is inversely proportional to comprehension. The supreme example of this is the beatific vision in which we see all of God's essence, because God is simple, hence to see part must be to see all; but in knowing all of God's essence we do not comprehend that essence. It must be understood that our knowledge corresponds to our own limitations; a finite, created, being knows in a finite manner - a limitation that is appropriate to a particular nature. So although we know all of God's essence in the beatific vision, our finitude and, indeed, our limited charity provide the form of that knowledge. What can this mean for that which we know in this life, in via? It is common to consider that which we see as visible, as available to comprehension. But it may be more promising to consider visibility as invisible in terms of comprehension. As Gregory of Nyssa says: 'This is what it means to see: not to see.'15 Such in-visibility is perhaps better conceived as nubility, if it is remembered that nubility has an etymological connotation of veiling.16 Some, of a rather phenomenological persuasion, tend to speak of the 'invisible in the visible', in some sense relating this dichotomy to transcendence (for example, Merleau-Ponty, Jean-Luc Marion and Michel Henry). There is certainly something correct in this, but it is somewhat misleading. It is preferable, it seems, to speak of what we consider to be visible as in-visible, which is not meant to suggest a noumenality lurking behind appearance, but quite the reverse. As Alexander Duttmann argues: 'The imcommunicable does not hide any content, it has no meaning: it is communicability.'17 In the same way, the in-visible is visibility, which is being's nubility.

If we take the example of a visually impaired person, we can understand that this person is, in some sense, less aware of blindness than the correctly minded visually unimpaired; the more colour seen, the more detail that becomes apparent, the more I know that I do not comprehend that which I am beginning to know - I know I fail to comprehend the blue flower and the small black fly over there.18 If I did not know such rich detail it would be easier for me to pretend comprehension. Indeed, most violence, or violation, tends to stem from, or be encouraged by, a mistaken notion of comprehension. For any such idea employs a reductive knowledge which encourages, as Pieper puts it, 'a de-actualization and devaluation of the visible reality of creation'.19 If we believe an increase in knowledge to be accompanied by an increase in comprehension then we risk such disregard. As was said in the previous chapter, each being is a plenitude, for it is an imitable example of the divine essence. Any particular being does not provide an infinite example of the divine essence, yet its finitude does not exclude a certain infinity. Therefore the nature of this being - as this being - resists every reductive analysis; the very time of its being implicates eternity. We saw earlier that 'the measure of the reality of a thing is the measure of its light',20 and that 'the reality of things is itself their light'.21 God, meaning to see, is the 'abyss of light',22 within which the form of every creature rests. As Gregory of Nyssa expresses it: 'Veritably this constitutes the view of God: never to find satiety in desire. [For] God concedes the favour [of vision] by his very refusal.'23 For light is never seen! Furthermore, we saw earlier that it is the lover, the one who is the most intimate, who knows that the one he or she loves escapes every description. And God, who is love, is the truth of this excess. This is similar to Augustine's 'knowledge with love, or loved knowledge (amata notitia)';24 a notion already expressed beautifully in Plato's Phaedrus: '[B]y this madness he is called a lover . . . Then they are beside themselves, and their experience is beyond their comprehension because they cannot fully grasp what it is that they are seeing.'25

All that which exists is incomprehensible, for the only 'thing' which could be totally comprehensible is nothing. When we think we comprehend something because of our knowledge, we treat that something as if it were nothing. I cannot know nothing, or nothingness, hence I can comprehend it; in the sense that comprehension and noncomprehension are the same in reality with regard to nothing. The opacity of creaturely nubility gives way to transparency, viz., pure 'visibility'. But this visibility is that of the dark, not of the light. The preceding chapter showed us that we increase our understanding of a being the more we look to its divine source, and so to its open finality. The essence of any particular thing is itself specific - final - but this finality possesses an openness arising from the plenitude of the object, which is a reflection of its source. It is for this reason that Pieper considers man's existence in terms of knowledge as a condition of hope;26 a hope that expresses both limitations and excess.

A caveat must be served here: the disclosure of a being's plenitude must not be conceived in linear terms, for that would suggest a quantitive logic, which in turn implies a certain dubious gnosis 2 Instead of a linear progress, what must be remembered is the form of afuturial anamnesis, as manifested in the Eucharist; and an originary repetition that offers itself in such a manner that subsequent repetitions non-identically intensify its truth - a borrowed increase, which is the grace of given-ness displayed in a co-creative open finality.


Earlier the matter of divine causality was discussed in terms of God causing as an artist. It is from this understanding that the principle omne agens agit sibi simile follows. With this principle we can understand that God, who is incomprehensible, yet infinitely knowable, causes beings who are both knowable yet less than totally comprehensible. In this way, our knowledge of any particular being foreshadows the beatific vision. Furthermore, we must realise that creation is caused by the procession of the Divine Persons of the Trinity: 'The issuing forth of the Person in a unity of essence is the cause of the issuing forth of the creatures in a diversity of essence.'28 As a result, creation cannot be thought of as a change, for the 'temporal procession is not other than the eternal procession'.29 Indeed, Aquinas specifically says, 'Creation is not a change.'30 He further argues that 'Creation does not involve any passage into being, nor any transformation.'31 At one point Aquinas states that 'we cannot say that Being itself is'.32 Here Aquinas is ensuring that there is no univocity of being by according a certain pre-eminence to the Good as final cause;33 this allows us to know creation as having been created in the distinct absence of comprehension. What this disables is any ontic logic that would presume the ultimate legitimacy of certain formal logics. For example, it is tempting to think of creation as different, a difference involving a before and after, but this is to commit a rather Kantian theoretical sin. If we were to say 'creation is a change' then we must have already presumed or have in place, the concept of change - whereby the change literally takes place or occurs within something outside the change which is the transcendental possibility of change. However, only creation once established is the sphere of change, which is therefore a finite actuality, not a univocal possibility indifferent to finite and infinite. Not only this, but we also have, again in a quasi-Kantian manner, presumed without declaration the concept of time. The change which creation is thought to be has, as such, a before and after. Yet it must be asked 'where is the time of this time, from where does it issue forth'? The time of such a change would, in a sense, have to have been before the subsequent change. Such thinking usually elevates efficient causality above final causality. In so doing an implicit univocity remains, for what can it mean to cause something efficiently without a prior efficiency having already been there ad infinitum, and so again in indifference to finite and infinite. The fact that, for Aquinas, creation is not a change, but a way of understanding - a certain relationship - allows him to avoid such univocity. This is in line with Augustine who argued that time only arises with creation. More importantly it begins to allow a more adequate understanding of difference to arise: difference is prior to change, and so is different since change occurs only within the same framework of change. (By way of deviation, it may be beneficial to note that this balance between efficient and final causality can be compared to a balance that Hamann strikes between philosophy and history; 'Without philosophy there is no history'; 'Philosophy without history is a matter of fancies and verbiage'.)34

If creation is not a change, there being no passage into being, and creation is itself caused by the eternal processions of the Divine Persons, then we can tentatively argue that difference to be different requires that this difference arise from a unity, a oneness. For only in this way can any difference be real, and so resist reduction to a general concept. Neoplatonism makes a mistake on this count, for it argues that from one comes one effect, but this generates a dualism from which the originary One fails to escape. Indeed, it is this dualism which allows the One's self-articulation; we saw this earlier in Plotinus, where the One was constituted by the finite. Instead the One must already be different, or be difference. This we see in the Trinity: God as God is difference. The Son is the difference of the Father, while the Holy Spirit is the gift of this difference.35 The Spirit is essential as it is the 'second difference', to use John Milbank's phrase and, as a result, a reproduction of the aforementioned Neoplatonist dualism on a different plane is avoided.36 (See Chapter 10.) Such a dualism affords only negative differentiation. God as one substance is a relationality, an originary difference.37 Because God is difference, yet this difference is a unity, creation can be a result of this difference without having to speak of change. It is for this reason that we understand God to know creatures by knowing His own essence, and that creation is made by and through the eternal Word of God, being held together in that Word.38 Only in creation not being a change can it really be different from God, an absolute positing that presupposes nothing (no-thing). This seeming paradox is the crux of creation, and consequently it is the foundation of all knowledge.

The Son as the Father's difference brings forth creation. Creation is for the Word, and is through the Word. Because God is love, the loving difference of the Trinity, creation is within the difference of this love. This would seem to be an odd sort of difference; would not the alterity of creation be violated? Quite the reverse. We saw above that to know something the knower must become the known, and in so doing this other is not erased but discovered and protected, for in becoming this other, this other is known, but comprehended less. God, in an analogous sense, knows creation (though he 'becomes' it entirely within himself) and in so doing creation is not violated but actually created. In this sense God's knowledge is knowledge per se for knowledge is to do with creation, or creating, not epistemology. (Epistemology can never know knowledge. This be will elaborated on below.)

God becomes the other that God knows, but creates this other in knowing it. Since creation is through the Word and in the Word God becomes that which God knows, in that God allows that which is to be. We are, then, unable to locate a basic concept which would allow us to speak of creation as a change, and for just this reason creation can indeed be a real difference. For difference can but be a result of artistic intention, and cannot be just by nature as the Neoplatonists thought: since nature is the fatality of the univocal same. Creation rather arises from the intentional unity of the divine difference. Because God is in himself the Good that is love of difference, he can posit a genuine difference outside himself, which yet is not alongside him on the same ontic plane. Just because creation is a radical difference which God bears no relation to, and cannot absorb, it all the more declares only the glory of God.

From knowing the fly we the viator move towards God. In becoming this other, the fly, we proceed along the inside of a circle.39 We in becoming the other, which our intelligence knows, begin to understand the plenitude of that other. As our knowledge grows, our comprehension decreases. In so doing, knowledge of this other imitates, in an analogous manner, the difference given to a creature by divine thought, viz., being. We, in knowing, begin to inhabit a realisation of being, of difference. I know the other by becoming the other, just as God creates the other by knowing it through the divine essence. Also, in knowing this other without comprehension I anticipate the beatific vision; the proportion of my knowledge is correlated to the clarity, or intelligibility, of this particular other, and the limits of my own intelligibility, due to both nature and charity. Furthermore, I in knowing this other know my self. For I cannot think myself except through difference: a point already made in Plato's Sophist.40 As Aquinas says, 'Nobody perceives himself thinking unless he thinks something else.'41 Just as we equally know that other by discerning difference: 'To discern is to come to know a thing through its difference from others.'42 This means that every being relies on others to disclose its own being, a predicament which reflects the dependence of all not just on an other, but on an other other, namely the Wholly Other who is not other (as Nicholas of Cusa would put it).

Knowing me, knowing you: An aporetic heuristics

Because it is what it is (cardinal determination), a creature is also an element of universal order (ordinal determination). Thus a musical note, because it is itself, that is, such or such a specific note, simultaneously defines its place within the octave. By its very nature a creature is a nexus of relationships implying the entire universe.43

(Jean Borella)

Every being has an essence which is, of course, its identity - its quiddity - yet this essence is disclosed by otherness. An entity 'X' has an essence which makes it different from 'Y', but its articulation of this essence requires this other. In one sense 'X' is aliquid, something, or an 'other what' (aliud quid).44 This is the negative pole of a being's identity. However, every being also has a positive pole to its identity, otherwise a certain monism of mutual determination would arise. For this reason Aquinas says: 'The nature or essence of any thing is contained within that same thing. Whatever, therefore, bears a relationship to what is outside the thing, is not the thing's essence.'45 This positive pole is the being considered not as aliquid but as res. These two poles allow us to develop a better understanding of difference, avoiding the problems which plague a purely philosophical approach, as we shall see.

'X' is divided from 'Y' in being a res, while 'X' is undivided from itself, but this is not the end of the story. 'X' is also divided from this 'undivision', because of the real distinction between essence and being; 'X' is really distinct from 'Y', but 'X' is also really distinct in itself, for 'X's essence is not its being. This relates 'X' to God. Yet this has a somewhat strange consequence. 'X' in being related to God is divided from itself, rendering its essential subsistence somewhat aporetic. Furthermore, transcendence, which divides the undivided 'X', also directs 'X' horizontally, viz., towards 'Y', since 'X', which has but an aporetic subsistence, exists through the Word, but so also does 'Y'; again the oneness of divine difference forces us to reconsider our basic logics.

Aquinas, following Augustine, distinguished between a veritas rei and a veritas praedicationis.46 The truth of a thing resides in the Word ('morning knowledge'), while the predicational truth of a being lies within the ontic logics of signification ('evening knowledge').47 But this is not such a simple division as it may at first seem. The truth of a thing of course lies in the Word, for the Word is the very idea of that thing, its originary difference, so to speak. And the truth of a 'saloon car' certainly lies in its predicational order. But the Word, as said, became flesh. This means that the absolute location of the veritas rei is complicated, just as a complete discernment of a purely predicational order suffers insuperable difficulties. This is where we can understand the place of a proper pneumatology.

The Son as Word is final since it is God, but this finality is extremely sophisticated, just as the notion of divine difference is. The finality of the Word, while being in place, is open, and it is open because of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit as 'second difference', again to employ John Milbank's phrase, opens up the Word, just as it opens up every creature's essence. For the Spirit, in teaching us that the Son is in the Father and that the Father is in the Son, teaches us that we are in the Son.48 The Spirit in endlessly interceding for us opens up the finality of the Word, and our essences while maintaining both.49 We saw above that 'X' was divided from 'Y', and that 'X' as 'X' was undivided from itself, yet the real distinction between essence and existence divides 'X' from this lack of division. This directs 'X' to transcendence - vertical causality but also redirects 'X' towards 'Y'. It does so twice over because the Word has become flesh, offering us His body with which we are to become one. 'X' becomes one with the Word in sharing a unity with 'Y', in a sense becoming one with 'Y'. This means that the negative differentiation, in terms of 'X' as aliquid, becomes more constitutive. We realise the extent of this when we understand the role of the Holy Spirit. For the Spirit brings horizontal causality and mutual constitution within vertical determination as it takes us within the Trinity by teaching us the unity of the Word.50 Our predicational order cannot now be distinguished in an absolute manner from the Veritas rei, just as 'X' as res cannot be understood in an absolute manner apart from 'Y', with whom it is one in the Word before creation. Furthermore, I am now with 'Y' through creation, which is itself within the procession of the Trinity. To repeat a quotation used earlier: 'Essentially, the temporal procession is not other than the eternal procession.'51 The Spirit, as a 'second difference' is, in a sense, the time of eternity, as it is the 'Midrash' of the Word so to speak. Here we see the form of divine difference, for creation in its open difference actually occurs within the movement of divine difference. This is why creation is not a change, and for this reason univocity is precluded, since change would occur within a shared being common to finite and infinite. The difference of difference is the divine unity. In this way we become more ourselves, as particular essences, the more we realise that we are within the body of the Word. For in this way we become more Christlike, in that we understand creation in a proper manner, namely as not a change, but as God's thought. Aquinas, unlike Scotus and Ockham, argues that if there were no divine mind there would not be any truth. (See Part I, Chapter 1.) Furthermore, Aquinas calls time a co-inventor and it is possible to understand the work of the Spirit as just this co-invention.52 For every essence, which we understood to be but an aporetic subsistence in terms of vertical causality, is also within the horizontal pull of a plenitudinal heuristics. Each essence finds itself within the open finality of the Word as testified to by the work of the Holy Spirit.53 As Borella puts it: 'Creation . . . proceeds like a musical score: the staff and notes have been composed by the Logos, but it is the Holy Spirit who sings it.'54

The dynamics of identity witnessed in the movement and complication, in terms of location, of the two poles of differentiation, offer us a theological manner of understanding difference which is maybe the only way in which difference can be different. If negative differentiation, or determination, was the only mode of identity then a Heraclitean stasis would arise, which is in reality a monism - a univocity of non-being. This is true because such negative determination (as can be witnessed in Spinoza, Hegel, Saussure, Sartre, and Derrida), affords us only formal differences, which upon their first articulation coagulate as the one eternal moment of the system itself. What this means is that such a differentiation cannot but provide an immediate mediacy whereby the creature has, in a sense, no before or after. This means that this single difference becomes all differences. This is what I call 'Hume's problem'. Hume introduces a plurality into what is perceived and that which perceives, and this means that a single perception is immediately, by implication, all perceptions. There cannot, as a result, be any real difference between perceptions - one perception is all perceptions. In short, a purely negative determination occurs in the absence of vertical causality.

Yet a vertical causality without horizontal reference would produce the same result, but in an obverse manner. Instead of each being but the other, a singularity resides in ontological isolation. We see this in Ockham's absolute things which are pure singularities;55 in being isolated a singularity inhabits a dark world as a dark object, but this renders this singularity all there is. The Ockhamite pole gives us a monistic monad, while the Spinozistic pole provides a monadic monism. Without horizontal causation we arrive at Ockham, without vertical causation at Spinoza. Theology eludes this dilemma by not only having both a negative and a positive pole, but in avoiding a dualism. For there can be no absolute discernment of either pole, hence a true dynamic is generated. This dynamic understanding of identity - an aporetic subsistence within a plenitudinal heuristics complicated by divine procession - embodies divine difference. For exteriority of identity proceeds from the form of interiority.56

I know 'Y', I realise an-other is, but I become this other. Furthermore, this other allows me to think myself, yet the other and I are from the same Word, and are still within this Word; this is especially so when we realise that creation is not a change, and that we are, as the Church, the Body of Christ. Indeed, Christ on the Cross, in some sense, lifts the earth in to Heaven (the horizontal into the vertical, exacerbating its validity). I am a res and aliquid, both positive and negative. The negative horizontal aspect of my identity, or essence, signals the openness of that essence without reducing its positivity, while this negative determination is, in some sense, as open, positive. For the very negativity of horizontal causality is the result of a perpetual plenitude; the reason why I am open to constitutive determination by way of otherness, is that I and the other are from the Word; a Word which has become flesh, gifting creation with both the divinity and humanity of the Son. This precludes the immediate mediacy of purely negative determination, or Heraclitean stasis. The nature of the negative is, in a sense, transformed - transubstantiated -just as we saw with our understanding of difference outside the context of change. Creation is not absorbed as a result of not being a change, since difference is not something over and against an other; difference is, then, some-thing else - another thing. Difference is not ontic; rather we are distinct from God because of our ontological real distinction, in that we are as creatures distinct from ourselves.

We have seen that the negative pole drives us always on, because it stands within the openness of the Word's actual finality, as spoken by the Holy Spirit. This helps us understand the dynamism of the Trinity. For we understand that the Father and Son are not involved in the mere negativity of a dualism, as is the case with Neoplatonism. The positivity of such mutual determination is shown in the eternal gifting of the Word by the Spirit. This is the difference of divine sameness. For us creatures our essences remain open, in an analogous sense, for we inhabit the movement of a plenitudinal heuristics within an aporetic subsistence, which is our participation in divine difference, in that we are thought creatively by God. (Here Berkeley is certainly correct; indeed what I am advocating is a form of 'Berkeleyan realism'). If this negative development was not positive then the aforementioned monism would result, which would fail to provide any negative determination, being the immediate mediacy of a pure positivity. In the same way the redirection of 'X' to 'Y', because of vertical causality, prevents a similar monistic immediacy, one generated by a pure dualism of 'X' over and against God; a dualism which would risk a univocity of being, in that the difference which 'X' was would not resist absorption, for it would understand its difference as consisting in another thing -some-thing else.

So the dynamic identity of creation and every creature renders the positive pole somewhat negative and the negative pole positive. Thereby, the horizontal and the vertical causalities are inextricably intertwined. The aforementioned Humean problem of eternal moments, which results from an introduction of plurality into both subject and object, is avoided. Likewise, there is neither an Ockhamian nor a Spinozistic monism. Instead difference remains difference, every knowledge of which anticipates the beatific vision and remembers divine creativity.

Traditionally speaking

Tradition anticipates and illuminates the future and is disposed to do so by an effort which it makes to remain faithful to the past.57

(Maurice Blondel)

Tradition provides us with the the model and secret of spiritual resistance.58

(Jean Borella)

Tradition can be thought to embody a balance between the vertical and the horizontal, for it inhabits an aporetic subsistence within a plenitudinal heuristics. As a result, tradition provides a form of discourse that resists introducing a plurality into the 'subject' and 'object'. What is meant by this is that, for example, the Christian faith-tradition does not suffer the Humean problem of eternal moments consequent upon the ultimacy of the 'passage' of succession and sensation. This is a problem repeated by postmodernists when they espouse a grand methodology, that is, a univocity of non-being; Derrida's differance is such an example, for differance is always before and after all that is, being wholly transcendental.59 This renders all signification atextual, erasing all linguisticity, in so far as Derrida comprehends language.60 So any narrative about the importance of language, which Derrida appears to advocate, is a narrative to which he remains external and of which he remains in control: he is in control of the lack of control. Instead, faith-tradition enacts a narrative that narrates and re-narrates those who narrate. Therefore Christian faith-tradition forms and is formed by its narratives. Tradition, rather than differance, differentiates and unites without introducing a simultaneous plurality, and so precipitating a Heraclitean stasis, which is but a univocity of non-being.

Christian faith-tradition achieves this by being a 'religion' of the Book; although we must heed de Lubac when he reminds us that 'Christianity is not, properly speaking, a "religion of the book". It is a religion of "the Word".'61 Derrida castigates the idea of a Book, deeming a Book a self-contained, self-identical, immediacy, which violates difference. But this is to perpetrate an atemporal circumscription of difference and language. By contrast, the inhabiting and explicating of the faith-tradition of a Book upholds textuality because the dynamic repose required to prevent a simultaneous plurality, and so foundational sameness, is provided by the skills developed by such a tradition. We are made by the Book, yet we make the Book, and for this reason the Book is the lived resistance to reductive circumscription. This is an ontological plurality as opposed to an epistemic one, which Derrida appears to advocate. We say appears because we cannot be sure, a hesitation engendered by the Book; although if this hesitation is merely the banality of promiscuity then an atextuality is introduced, rather than the practised living of a tradition. The promiscuity of such an atextuality is what is here called a 'Protestant reserve'.62 This 'Protestant reserve' can be witnessed in those theologies which denigrate creation under the shadow of an omnipotent God, for this renders creation so little, so undivine, unmediating, that a residual certainty is generated. Furthermore, this residual certainty is an inverted onticity. Indeed, this residue is a result of its being so little, of creation being 'nothing'; the nothing as something. This 'Protestant reserve' is, of course, not simply Protestant, in terms of denomination: it can also be located in Roman Catholic Counter-Reformation thinking. On occasion the form of this type of reactive, and indeed reactionary, thinking enacts a similar inversion. We witness this when it fights against such notions as 'grace beyond the Roman Catholic Church', in terms of salvation, apostolic succession and so on. The problem with this is not the advocacy of tradition, but rather the foundational circumscription which sometimes accompanies and undergirds such extolling. The Roman Catholic Church can certainly locate itself. Yet the Roman Catholic Church is but the participation in, and partaking of, the body of Christ, so it too is consumed. Consequently, foundational location, or circumscription, appears somewhat heretical. (Since we do not comprehend all the truth of Christianity, we cannot exclude for sure 'other' religions. For that is to comprehend them as purely other, which is to presume the comprehension of both self and other.) Heresy in a sense stems from the possibility to choose, absolutely, between 'Christian' churches,63 as it is predicated on a foundational circumscription; circumscription which threatens to render the Body of Christ ontic, so to speak. In so doing, there is a loss of mediacy and a fall into an immediacy that threatens the ontological difference. This sort of onticity is that of a 'Book' which threatens to become atextual, for example the text which replaces the Book in the work of Derrida.

We suggested above that Derrida's differance enacted an atextuality, made manifest in the promiscuity of infinite difference and deferral, which is the same as the chastity of the self-certain, for both perpetrate an epistemic ossification as all is 'comprehended'. Those inside and outside are united by the univocity of such an epistemic self-certainty; by knowing yourself fully, absolutely, you know all difference as different, and so as the same difference. In other words, in knowing all as difference, in knowing all difference as different, all is the same. Instead, faith-tradition knows itself, but not all of itself. Furthermore, it knows difference, but it does not know all difference as absolutely different; faith-tradition, informed by a Trinitarian ontology, knows a different difference proceeding from the understanding that difference arises from divine interiority, and as a result is not a change.

Yet this same insight forces us to soften the critique of nihilism offered here. For we now find that this logic is not different from theology in an absolute sense; it could even be said that there is a strange analogy. Maybe such a discovery is a more interesting model for 'dialogue' than is usually proffered. This being the case Christian faith-tradition waits and welcomes, resists and desists, within the skilled practices of living which it develops, and which develop it.

What you have as heritage, take now as task; for thus you will make it your own.64

(Goethe, Faust)

The next chapter re-examines the logic of nihilism, re-presenting it in a more positive manner, arguing that its endeavour to have the nothing as something generates a strange analogy between nihilism and theology; for the nothing as something can be read as a notion of given-ness, one which any doctrine of creation ex nihilo would be pleased to advocate.

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