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God after Metaphysics

A Theological Aesthetic

John Panteleimon Manoussakis

Publication Year: 2007

While philosophy believes it is impossible to have an experience of God without the senses, theology claims that such an experience is possible, though potentially idolatrous. In this engagingly creative book, John Panteleimon Manoussakis ends the impasse by proposing an aesthetic allowing for a sensuous experience of God that is not subordinated to imposed categories or concepts. Manoussakis draws upon the theological traditions of the Eastern Church, including patristic and liturgical resources, to build a theological aesthetic founded on the inverted gaze of icons, the augmented language of hymns, and the reciprocity of touch. Manoussakis explores how a relational interpretation of being develops a fuller and more meaningful view of the phenomenology of religious experience beyond metaphysics and onto-theology.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Series: Indiana Series in the Philosophy of Religion


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pp. xi

List of Abbreviations

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pp. xiii

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pp. 1-6

The guiding question of this work is “How can we think God after metaphysics?” I would like, however, to add immediately a caveat: the word “after” here does not necessarily mean “against” or “without.” I take “after” in the following three senses: (a) as posterior (post) in order, chronological or otherwise, (b) as accordance...


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pp. 7

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pp. 9-11

The “key,” so to speak, in the three allegorical paintings by Brueghel lies invariably in those paintings depicted within each painting. In order to unlock their meaning the viewer needs to look for those “privileged” paintings that Brueghel “hides” within his works. This is, furthermore, the case with every allegory: it invites us to read it (and understand it) on its own terms—from within, we could say, and not...

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1. The Metaphysical Chiasm

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pp. 13-34

This field where philosophical thinking runs the greatest risk of losing itself (but also the field where it receives the greatest promise to regain itself) is that which concerns the question of God. The thought of God is, par excellence, that which does not belong to thought:1 the “idea” of God goes beyond the horizon of thinking...

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2. The Existential Chiasm

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pp. 35-56

This is how the story has come down to us: we are in the middle of a funeral procession in a small town; the dead body is being carried outside the city, where the cemetery is customarily located, to be buried. The only relative of the dead follows the coffin. There are no siblings for he was the only son. There is no...

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3. The Aesthetical Chiasm

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pp. 57-70

It is time now to develop a fuller treatment of the punctum caecum of time and visibility as mentioned in passim in the previous two chapters. There, and at certain instances that we have identifi ed by the Greek term exaiphnes (ἐξαίφνης), a moment of negativity made itself apparent: to be sure, not as a concrete phenomenon...


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pp. 71

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Allegory 2

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pp. 73-74

Keeping in mind everything already said here regarding the principle of reading Brueghel’s allegories—how, in other words, the key of deciphering them lies in the paintings within the painting in question—let us note down some initial observations about the allegorical representation of the sense of hearing. As was...

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4. Prelude: Figures of Silence

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pp. 75-92

The twentieth century’s so-called “linguistic turn” in both the analytic and continental traditions made language the predominant concern around which most of the philosophical production on both sides of the great divide evolved and still continues to evolve. To be sure, human logos (in its numerous transformations...

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5. Interlude: Language beyond Difference and Otherness

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pp. 93-108

Our study turns now to an exploration of Christian apophaticism, represented here by two Eastern Fathers, Gregory of Nyssa and Dionysius the Aeropagite. The choice of these two authors is rather obvious: they both have exercised a long and lasting influence on the theological and philosophical production of the West, through a number of distinguished translators and commentators, such as...

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6. Postlude: The Interrupted Self

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pp. 109-116

If we wish to understand what Adorno says when he admits that music attempts “to name the Name” and in doing so it is “simultaneously revealed and concealed,” we will need to turn to one of the most famous—and for our discussion, crucial—passages of Dionysius’s...


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pp. 117

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Allegory 3

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pp. 119-121

If the enigma of the first allegory was unlocked by means of an anagogy and the mysteries of the second were revealed thanks to connotation and typology, the third allegory is organized by the rules of a threefold antithesis. It is an antithesis that vertically splits the painting into two...

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7. Touch Me, Touch Me Not

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pp. 123-142

“There is nothing that man fears more than the touch of the unknown.” With these words Nobel laureate Elias Canetti opens his phenomenological study of social behavior. His observations on the fear of being touched are so revealing and pertinent...

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8. The Sabbath of Experience

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pp. 143-157

This brief passage from the ninth book of the Confessions marks the culmination of Augustine’s beatific vision in the garden of Ostia—the third and last garden that would play an eminent role in the development of his narration. Augustine’s story is structured as an ascent—from “the bodily pleasure” to “the whole compass of material things in their various degrees” and from there to “the heavens” and...


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pp. 159-197


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pp. 199-210


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pp. 211-213

E-ISBN-13: 9780253116949
E-ISBN-10: 0253116945
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253348807

Page Count: 232
Illustrations: 3 b&w photos
Publication Year: 2007

Series Title: Indiana Series in the Philosophy of Religion