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Caputo (MEHT:xviii-xxi) – Eckhart - desconstrução da onto-teo-logia

quinta-feira 22 de setembro de 2022

    

In Eckhart  , one finds a powerful deconstructive effort aimed at undoing the onto-theo-logical God  , an unrelenting drive to free us, to free God, from the constructs and idols of metaphysics  . Eckhart is always looking for ways to get beyond “God,” that is to say, what men call God, whether on the basis of metaphysical theology or even of revealed faith. That is why he even rejects the adequacy of speaking of God in terms of the Trinity of persons, for whatever one can say of God even if one says it on the basis of divine revelation cannot be God, cannot be what God is. Whatever we know about God is not God, for that is God insofar as he has been brought under the sway of human knowledge. Whatever we want of God is not God, for that is God insofar as he has been brought under the sway of human willing. The only way to God that is, to the truly divine God, what Eckhart sometimes called the Godhead   beyond all God is to shut down the whole operation of knowing and willing, that is to say, to suspend the operations of subjectivity, to disconnect the ego cogito, and let God be, let God be God. And it was of course at that point that Eckhart invoked the word Ge-lassen-heit, letting-be. The highest rule which holds sway in that realm is Eckhart’s prayer, “I pray God to rid me of God.”

The “truly divine God” is precisely the God Who recedes behind everything which is said about Him. The one thing we can say about God which suits Him is that nothing we say about Him suits Him, that is, that He withdraws behind all names, that He has no master-name, no name which masters Him, no proper name which captures what are propria to Him. He is not even “God”neither the “Father   Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth” of the Creed nor the primum ens of metaphysics. God “is” (west) the self-withdrawing. Or, better, God: the self-withdrawing, that which always already remains behind, in lethe  , always deferring behind the signifier. And the highest work of the soul   is to let Him go, to let Him be, to remain open to the lethe, indeed to shelter Him from the fire of metaphysical conceptuality, to preserve Him in His withdrawal.

This argument, in turn, sheds light on the Heidegger   and Aquinas issue which I addressed in Heidegger and Aquinas: An Essay on Overcoming Metaphysics (which Fordham University Press published in 1982), a study which is best read in conjunction with The Mystical Element in Heidegger’s Thought  . For a long time the students of St. Thomas have been arguing that, by privileging esse over essentia, Aquinas alone among all the great metaphysicians is pre-eminently alert to the question of Being, pre-eminently free of Seinsvergessenheit. That, I argued, is false. For the metaphysics of esse, far from constituting an exception to metaphysics, is in many ways paradigmatic of what Heidegger means by metaphysics. While it distinguishes Being (esse) from beings (ens), the Open (Lichtung) in which such a distinction opens up remains withdrawn and out of view. Instead of thinking the groundlessness of this Open, it carries out within. it a sustained exercise in founding and grounding beings upon Being, organized around the grounding power of esse as actualitas.

But worse still, this Thomistic rallying around esse misses an important opportunity to respond to Heidegger. For it is systematically blind to the resources within Thomas for answering Heidegger in a different and suggestive way. It tries to meet Heidegger’s critique of metaphysics frontally, with a restated version of Thomistic metaphysics and hence plays right into Heidegger’s hands instead of seeing that there is a deep momentum within Thomas himself beyond metaphysics, a suggestive movement of transgression, excess, delimitation, of overcoming metaphysics. For there is a “mystical element” in Aquinas, too, a deep tendency within his texts in virtue of which metaphysical science gives way to an experience of divine things, a pati divina, which exposes the “debilitas” of reason and confesses the inexpressibility of esse. I argued that the mystical sermons of Meister Eckhart who held the same Dominican chair of theology at Paris held by “brother Thomas” a quarter of a century earlierwork out a possibility which is latent in Thomas, but with a more critical, more deconstructive vigilance about onto-theo-logical conceptuality, about claims to vision, a more resolute sense   of the self-withdrawing, recessive, “lethic’’ Godhead in God. Whence the argument of the first book comes home to roost in the second book as well  , that there is another, a rival, a religious way out of onto-theo-logic, of the sort found in the religious mysticism of Eckhart, and that insofar as this represents the retrieval of a genuine possibility within Thomas, this is the way to go about responding to Heidegger’s critique of St. Thomas.

This entire project about a religious way out of onto-theo-logic has been subjected to a welcome, thoughtful, and incisive line of criticism in reviews of both books by Thomas Sheehan  . 1 Even in the most deeply lethic mysticism of Eckhart, even in this Eckhartian Godhead, this abyss of withdrawal, Sheehan argues, there is a residual metaphysics of presence. For God is self-present to Himself, self-coincident, self-identical, stabilized, noesis   noeseos (what Rahner   calls Bei-sich-sein, self-presence). To that I make a series of dialectically ascending responses. To begin with, the work of Gelassenheit is to let God be God. We cannot prescribe what God is, nor do we have to find some way of breaking the bad news to Him that Heidegger and Derrida   have recently delimited Being as presence. That is, God might very well be self-present, if that is what He wants. What is God? Anything He wants to be.

Furthermore, and more soberly, what Neitzsche, Derrida, and Heidegger and the other masters of suspicion in what Derrida calls this era of différance have shown us is that we are not God, that our consciousness   is wounded, vulnerable, exposed to illusion and self-delusion, to the unconscious. They have shown that our contact with the world is not naked, but mediated by signs; that the world is an interpretation, a rendering. They have forcefully reminded us that we have no way of knowing that faith in God may not spring from guilt, sexual displacement, or hidden economic interests. We have no absolute point of view; we are not gods all of which seems to me a salutary exercise in the critique of philosophical idolatry. But that is not to say that God is not God, that the absolute does not have an absolute point of view. Are we to hold it against God that He is God? Is God refuted, are we to read Him out of existence, because of His perfection? Is that not a new version of the metaphysics of resentment?

Furthermore, and more soberly still, I think the point is to give up the notions of Being and presence in speaking of God, to pray God to rid us of the idolatrous God of presence. Eckhart himself is full of strategic reversals whose point is precisely to achieve that effect: if you call God “Being,” he will call Him Nothing (not even a little bit); if you call Him ground, he will call Him abyss. I think we learn from Heidegger, Nietzsche  , and Derrida to speak of God in terms of play and elusiveness, singing and dancing, the ludic and the choric. We require a God of the dithyrambic, not onto-theo-logic. We learn to think Him in terms of giving and withholding, sending and withdrawing, addressing and keeping silent.

But Sheehan will press on and ask whether the loving trust of the religious mystic does not spring from a hardline metaphysical dogma   that God is reliable because He is self-present, and hence whether Eckhart is not a closet metaphysician after all. I would say decidedly not, that he trusts God because God is love and he asks you to leave your metaphysics in the antechamber, if you please. If you insist on calling God presence, he will call Him absence; but if you call God love, he will concede that you are getting warm. But he will insist that “love” is not some onto-theo-logical predicate, but something you “understand” only if you do it. Ultimately, the only way you really get warm is to stop calling Him anything and to let Him call you, to stop calling Him anything and start doing something. Eckhart’s delimitation of onto-theo-logic lands Him in an abyss, as does every critique of foundations, a point where things are “without why.’’ But the highest case of life without why is love. Love is without why, groundless, without reason. The lack of foundations is the way of love, which does not proceed by a calculus of profits and debits, rules and violations. Dilige, et fac quod vis.


Ver online : John Caputo