Someone recently bought our

students are currently browsing our notes.


Onto Theology And Difference Notes

Theology Notes > Modern Theology Notes

This is an extract of our Onto Theology And Difference Notes document, which we sell as part of our Modern Theology Notes collection written by the top tier of University Of Oxford students.

The following is a more accessble plain text extract of the PDF sample above, taken from our Modern Theology Notes. Due to the challenges of extracting text from PDFs, it will have odd formatting:

Discuss the question 'how different is God?', with reference to recent debates on onto-theology. Complete meaning is always postponed in language, since there is never a moment at which meaning is total or completed. For example: the word 'house' derives its meaning as a function of how it differs from 'shed', 'mansion', 'building', 'hotel' etc., rather than how the word 'house' might be tied to a mental image of a traditional house. The second meaning of 'differance': deferral - the words following the word 'house' in this example sentence will undoubtedly affect the meaning of that word, sometimes dramatically. Thus meaning is deferred. Barthes: if we look up any simple word in the dictionary to establish its meaning, we will have to proceed to look up the words involved in that definition, then the words involved in those definitions, etc. The process is unending. Language is a self-contained relationship between various signifiers. Thus a symbol or token is defined by its relation to other symbols, but those symbols are only different from it inasmuch as they have a different relation to each other than the original symbol does. There is no 'meaning' in which all symbols or words terminate!
Language is a 'web' laid down by tradition and permanently developing and changing. There exists some sort of similarity between the God of apophatic theology and the concept of differance - the God of apophatic theology, however, operates as a higher, ultimate reality in a way that differance does not. Differance is a 'non-concept', but makes possible the concept of language as an interplay of signifiers. Differance is an attempt to do away with the logic 'transcendental signifiers' - hierarchical or metaphysical principles which are deemed to determine which constructions of signifiers is 'proper' or 'natural' (such as God). Denys Turner - Faith, Reason and the Existence of God (ch.8) 'difference' - what, specifically, is the difference between God and creatures? What is the gap that constitutes this difference, and can it be crossed by inference, or are such inferences prima facie untenable. Paradox of grammar - language is inherent to thought as its structure, but language fragments experience and thought into grammatical elements, and paradoxically it is this dividing element which also generates the prospect of unity and coherence of ideas and experience - the coherence that language promises us it by its very structure inherently cannot provide. This problem is not unique to grammar, but also to language in a wider context, as representational. Language promises a similar coherence and completeness with regard to relationships of truth and falsity with what it describes, and with determinable and specific relationships with different objects, but cannot deliver this. Indeed it is only because of language that there are 'objects', since it is only through language that a distinction between speaker and object can be made. For Nietzsche, the route to a secure and grounded grammar demands an external foundational (namely, God). This foundation must be self-confirming and absolute, requiring no further guarantees, so as to end the regress of definition detailed above. This demand for foundation makes an important point about language - it cannot be founded upon anything describable, since to be founded upon something describable in language is to be founded upon some element of itself, and thus not founded upon anything self-confirming and independent of language. Will this eventually suggest that God is indescribable?
In a situation without absolute meaning determined by absoluteness and completeness of language,

Buy the full version of these notes or essay plans and more in our Modern Theology Notes.