Sunday, August 07, 2005

Is God Impredicable?

Ancient Greek thinkers such as Anaximander and Xenophanes believed one must view the Absolute as ineffable or impredicable.[1] Anaximander seemingly referred to the Absolute as to apeiron (”the boundless” or “indeterminate”).[2] Of course, he apparently had in mind the primordial cosmic substrate and not the supreme deity per se. Nevertheless, Anaximander’s ambiguous description of that which grounds being simpliciter is quite applicable to some formulations of the “wholly other” approach for the Christian God. The deity, as Absolute and wholly other, is supposedly impredicable, ineffable and uncircumscribable. One problem with the to apeiron approach, however, is that it assumes human language (la langue) or speech (la parole) can define, circumscribe or delimit God. But John Sanders asks: “Does language have the capacity to limit the object, or is it merely our understanding that is limited?”[3]

Does human speech actually limit God? Is it even possible for creaturely essences such as ants or dogs to be limited by human categorizing? Donald Bloesch concedes that a finite creature cannot have genuine rapport with an (absolutely) infinite or unbounded God. Moreover, Ludwig Feuerbach argues that a thing about which one cannot speak—the ineffable—exemplifies no predicates. However, that which does not exemplify or instantiate any predicates evidently does not exist. Therefore, a God about whom one cannot speak or predicate possibly might not exist.

[1] John Sanders, The God Who Risks, 27.

[2] See Barry Sandwell, Presocratic Reflexivity, 138-140.

[3] The God Who Risks, 29.

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