A LOVE SUPREME

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Abstract Thoughts About God's Thoughts


It would seem that perfect adequacy is achieved only in the immediate, pre-linguistic presence of my thought to itself. But Derrida argues that there is no such pure presence of thoughts to the self. All thought is mediated through language and can never attain the total clarity of pure presence to the self. There is always a difference between what is thought (or experienced or said or written) and the ideal of pure, self-identical meaning.

Page 868 of The Blackwell Companion to Philosophy 2nd Edition Gary Gutting

Is God “pure presence to the self”? Is he “pure, self-identical meaning”?

Does God think in language? If God does not think in language, then does God “think,” at all?

7 comments:

John said...

God uses language in Genesis 1, right from the beginning. Or is that just myth?

Jonathan Erdman said...

Is it possible that the description in Genesis 1 is an anthropomorphism?

Doing the best we can to describe God by using human terms?

If God did actually use language to say "Let there be light," did he say it in English or in a Semitic tongue? (Those are the only two choices.)

ktismatics said...

(1) & (2) Possibly, but I don't think so. Neither does our friend Smith, by the way -- because the creation is good, because man is created incarnate, because language is a necessary means of communication among incarnate (and therefore separate) beings, therefore language too is good and not just a consequence of separation caused by the Fall.

(3) Semitic. Read the exegesis of Gen. 1:3 on my blog some day. All this stuff about language and the creation of reality is encapsulated in Gen. 1:3.

samlcarr said...

Your first two questions don't make any sense to me (not surprising as I am no philosopher) but the third and fourth are fascinating. I would guess that the answers are yes to both.

The implication of God not thinking in language is that He has to use some sort of translator in order to communicate with humans who do use language to think.

That would lead to a sort of gnostic idea of the non-presence of God in the material creation.

Besides, revelation as a concept demands language. So, if you are taking a poll, I vote for God thinking in language, if God thinks at all!

stacy barton said...

logos right? word made flesh? perhaps god is language.

one time, when i was struggling to feel any connection to the sacrificial act of christ on the cross, i imagined - rather than a gruesome death - the idea that christ left his fullness of life outside time to squeeze himself into the words on a printed page. that he was willing, out of love for me, to go from the writer of the story, to the inky letters pressed into the paper he once formed as trees.

Jonathan Erdman said...

Samlcarr said...
The implication of God not thinking in language is that He has to use some sort of translator in order to communicate with humans who do use language to think.

Interesting thought about translation. This goes to the whole idea of revelation: If God is going to reveal himself to humanity he must do so through language.

Although, I also believe that in some way God communicates (or communes) with us on a non-linguistic level. A direct encounter that would be somewhat similar to the encounters we have with each other. When I sit down to lunch with someone I hear their words and communicate with them via language, but there is also something non-linguistic that happens - and I don't just mean in terms of glances or body language. When two people are in love there seems to be all kinds of non-linguistic communication going on.

But this whole idea of revelation also goes to Stacy's point about the Word being made flesh:

...christ left his fullness of life outside time to squeeze himself into the words on a printed page. that he was willing, out of love for me, to go from the writer of the story, to the inky letters pressed into the paper he once formed as trees.

Very poetic!

God's communication took on the personal form in order for humanity to interact with God as humanity. Humanity recorded this revelation on the written page and passed it down through the community and tradition as Scripture....A fascinating concept. Equally fascinating is the description of "In the beginning was the Word."

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