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On What Cannot Be Said _ William Franke

On What Cannot Be Said _ William Franke

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Published by nidavan
Apophatic Discourses
in Philosophy, Religion, Literature,
and the Arts
Apophatic Discourses
in Philosophy, Religion, Literature,
and the Arts

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Published by: nidavan on Jan 22, 2014
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Apophatic Discourses in Philosophy,Religion,Literature,and the Arts 
 . 
Edited with Theoretical and Critical Essays by
William Franke
University ofNotre Dame Press Notre Dame,Indiana 
© 2007 University of Notre Dame Press
Copyright ©
by University ofNotre DameNotre Dame,Indiana
www.undpress.nd.eduAll Rights ReservedManufactured in the United States ofAmerica
Library ofCongress Cataloging-in-Publication Data 
On what cannot be said :apophatic discourses in philosophy,religion,literature,and the arts :vol.
Classic formulations / edited with theoretical and critical essays by William Franke.p.cm.Includes bibliographical references.
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: ---
.Negative theology.
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The paper in this book meets the guidelines for permanence and durability ofthe Committee on Production Guidelines for Book Longevity ofthe Council on Library Resources.
© 2007 University of Notre Dame Press
Apophasis as a Genre ofDiscours
This book brings into comparison some ofthe most enduringly significant ef-forts within Western culture to probe the limits oflanguage—and perhaps toexceed them.All tend to delineate regions ofinviolable silence.A certain coreofreadings is made up ofclassic expressions ofnegative theology—the denialofall descriptions and attributes as predicated ofGod.For negative theologies,it is possible to say only what God is
.These attempts to devise and,at thesame time,disqualify ways oftalking about God as an ultimate reality,orrather ultra-reality,beyond the reach oflanguage,are juxtaposed to (and in-terpenetrate with) philosophical meditations that exhibit infirmities endemictolanguagein its endeavor to comprehend and express all that is together withthe grounds ofall that is.Such philosophical reflections expose necessary fail-ures ofLogos that leave it gaping open toward what it cannot say.Likewise,poetryand poetics ofthe ine
able drivelanguageintoimpasses,stretching itsexpressive powers to their furthest limits—and sometimes even beyond.All these discourses are in various ways languages for what cannot besaid—languages that cancel,interrupt,or undo discourse,languages that op-erate,paradoxically,by annulling or
saying themselves.They manage to in-timateor enact,by stumbling,stuttering,and becoming dumb—sometimeswith uncanny eloquence—what they cannot as such say.The traditional termfor this sort ofself-negating discourse—as well as for the condition ofnomorediscourse at all,upon which it converges—is “apophasis.In fact,a totalcessation ofdiscourse may be considered the purest meaning ofthe term,butin practice this state is approachable only through some deficient mode
that attenuates and takes back or cancels itselfout.Thus apophasis canactually be apprehended only in discourse—in language insofar as it negatesitselfand tends to disappear as language.The many di
erent sorts ofdis-courses that do this may be considered together generically as “apophatic dis-course.”In its original employment,“apophasisis simply the Greek word for“negation.It is used by Plato and Aristotle to mean a negative proposition,adenial.Neoplatonists,followed by monotheistic writers,extend the term to
© 2007 University of Notre Dame Press

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