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Between Chora and the Good

Metaphor's Metaphysical Neighborhood

Charles Bigger

Publication Year: 2005

Plato's chora as developed in the Timaeus is a creative matrix in which things arise and stand out in response to the lure of the Good. Chora is paired with the Good, its polar opposite; both are beyond beingand the metaphors hitherto thought to disclose the transcendent. They underlie Plato's distinction of a procreative gap between being and becoming. The chiasmus between the Good and chora makes possible their mutual participation in one another. This gap makes possible both phenomenological and cosmological interpretations of Plato. Metaphor is restricted to beings as they appear in this gap through the crossing of metaphor's terms, terms that dwell with, rather than subulate, one another. Hermeneutically, through its iswe can see something being engendered or determined by that crossing.Bigger's larger goal is to align the primacy of the Good in Plato and Christian Neoplatonism with the creator God of Genesis and the God of love in the New Testament.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page

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pp. ix-xi

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pp. xiii-xix

I advance the controversial thesis that the scientists, philosophers, theologians, and poets who have best defined our metaphysical situation have found in metaphor—which is to see something in another, such as harmony in number, the beloved in a rose, electricity in the flow of a fluid, and even God ...

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pp. xxi-xxiii

How did I get to this strange place? This journey began in the spring of 1996 when, in response to an invitation by Carlos Steele, President of the Institute for Philosophy at the Catholic University of Louven, I gave several lectures on chora and presented a paper on metaphor to Professor William Desmond’s seminar. ...

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pp. 1-20

In with a bang and out with a bust? Isn’t that how last century was? It announced itself in Futurism and Ezra Pound’s “Make It New”; but, having eliminated transcendent moral and spiritual orientations, it left us bewildered. Levinas recalls how, as a young student, he welcomed Bergson’s “prospects for renewal”; ...

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Chapter 1: The Place of Metaphor

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pp. 21-50

Metaphor, that old, anarchical alchemist, transmutes belief into truth, illusion into reality, ignorance into knowledge—only then to turn around and do the opposite. How? She lets unsociable differences cross over to dwell with and interpret one another in order to reveal unsuspected identities—fictional, real, and virtual.1 ...

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Chapter 2: The Matrix

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pp. 51-82

E. V. Walters’s Placeways chronicles his journey along the sacred path to Plato’s Academy and the matrix. He calls attention to Ptolemy’s distinction between topos, the space of geography—and Descartes’s extension or Aristotle’s innermost container—and chora, a qualitative, phenomenological place ...

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Chapter 3: Plato’s Idea Theory

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pp. 83-120

Since we are in for a heavy dose of my idiosyncratic Plato, some preliminaries are in order. Even among Platonists, the theory of ideas, whatever that means, is often suspect; others find it bizarre. This is especially true of those who work within my Continental tradition but who often take Nietzsche far too seriously; ...

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Chapter 4: To Feel and to Know

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pp. 121-151

Thanks to Whitehead’s rather elliptical mention of the consequent nature of God and recent discussions in quantum mechanics, the Holy Spirit now may have a relevancy it has not enjoyed since Joachim of Fiore, Hegel, or Karl Rahner. The way beyond being is dual; there is first the rather uranian Good ...

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Chapter 5: Deictic Metaphor

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pp. 152-181

Plato’s metaphors tend toward the transcendent, but now the matrix must have its due. Deictic images seek out the factical uniqueness that condemns us to live in both truth and untruth, in openness and in concealment. How can this be if, as it is said, Plato is unable to accommodate the todi ti, the individual? ...

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Chatper 6: Truth and Metaphor

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pp. 182-207

The movement away from predication toward an apprehensive of “the thing itself,” metaphor’s phenomenological task, was begun by Plato in the Seventh Epistle and as Leibniz saw, is the point of dialectic. This deictic movement was nipped in the bud by Aristotle’s De Categoria (1a 16–1b 9), ...

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Chapter 7: Aristotle: Poetry and the Proper

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pp. 208-221

In the Gorgias, Plato proposed that sophistry be purged from rhetoric, which could then be fashioned into a dialectical instrument (499A ff) that would incorporate the monstrative and persuasive potentials of metaphor and mythos.1 In the Republic (510B), however, he eliminated appeals to sense and its images ...

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Chaper 8: “To the Things Themselves”

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pp. 222-236

We hope to transport metaphor from its usual Aristotelian setting into a Platonic context where the Good, not Being, is supreme. If we are to displace being, what are we displacing? Aside from its vitalistic, durative, and fact-stating senses, einai (to be) has a locative power, a presence in the present. ...

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Chapter 9: The Hypostasis: Its Thisness and Its There

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pp. 237-262

Interpreting Plato’s “living creature” (Tim., 30B–D) as a hypostasis goes beyond his letter, if not his spirit; it takes us a long way toward unraveling something of the mystery of incarnation. Plato saw that the separationist account in the Phaedo defined soul through its relation to the ideas, ...

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Chapter 10: Elementals

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pp. 263-275

If Rilke, Hölderlin, George, and Trakl are among the poets who set truth to work for Heidegger, something like this happened for me through an obscure Byzantine icon representing the Virgin Mary as the Zoodochus Pege and another calling her “the place of the placeless.” ...

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Chapter 11: Time’s Arrow

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pp. 276-297

In 1910s and early 1920s Whitehead provided a phenomenological basis for the principles of natural knowledge and an alternative to Einstein;1 but in his cosmology, process is being and the phenomenological concern seemingly disappeared. What appears for the first time in the later work, ...

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Chatper 12: The Originary

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pp. 298-324

Let’s begin by asking ourselves, what do we mean by time? No doubt, many different things, but chief among these is that time is mine, what I am in my innermost self. What is it? We share Augustine’s dilemma; he knew what time was until asked. What is this time that is mine and yours alone, ...

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Chapter 13: Otherwise than Metaphor

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pp. 325-342

Thanks to the gifts of the instant that is beyond beings, beings can enter into the rubrics of metaphor, hermeneutics, and participation, all of which share a reflexive structure. In perception, the paradigm case of participation, a form is engendered when the “subject” crosses over and interprets what is actively received. ...

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Chapter 14: Saying Something

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pp. 343-361

Plato thought that light was the medium of seeing (Rep., 407E). The sun, which causes both light and life (509B), is “the child whom the good begat in its own likeness” (508B). Thought the cause of vision and generation, the sun “is not himself generation” nor can it be seen directly through an excess of light, ...

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Chapter 15: The Receptacle

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pp. 362-380

In “How to Avoid Speaking: Denials,” Jacques Derrida approaches chora from the perspective of apophatic theologies in which every attributive predicate is said to be “inadequate to the essence, in truth the hyperessentuality (the being beyond Being) of God.” Only a negative attribution can claim to approach ...

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Chapter 16: À Dieu

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pp. 381-400

What is left to language were the said peeled away from the saying? A primal fecundity awaiting the word. When saying is propositioned by erotic reason, it is as if the said hypothesizes, stands out, and is substantial through the other. If haecceitas and its ties to alterity individuate the hypostasis, establishes ...


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pp. 401-470


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pp. 471-490


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pp. 491-495

Other Books in Fordham's Perspectives in Continental Philosophy Series

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E-ISBN-13: 9780823247493
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823223503
Print-ISBN-10: 0823223507

Page Count: 576
Publication Year: 2005