Beyond Disjunction

In many places Dionysus the Areopagite hands down to us a theology by disjunction, that is, we approach God either affirmatively or negatively. But in this little book [Mystical Theology], where he wants to show mystical and secret theology in a likely way, he leaps beyond the disjunction up to combination and coincidence, that is, to the most simple union that is not one-sided, but directly above all remotion and positing. Here remotion coincides with positing and negation with affirmation. This is the most secret theology to which no philosopher had access nor could have, as long as the principle common to all philosophy is in force, that is, that two contradictories do not coincide. And so it is necessary that someone doing theology in the mystical manner place himself in the darkness beyond all reason and intellect, even leaving self behind. He will discover how what reason judges impossible, i.e., that being and not-being are one and the same, is actually necessary. Indeed, unless such a great darkness and obscurity are seen, the highest form of necessity that does not contradict what is impossible to reason would not be found. Impossibility is the very necessity itself.”

– Nicholas of Cusa, Letter to the Monks of Tegernsee September 14, 1453]

 

Cusa goes on to point out that “ascending” in this way ought not be in the “manner of the Carthusian desires,” that is, “the affectivity that leaves understanding behind.” Nonetheless the understanding wants to rise up “unknowingly.” – Unknowingly to the fountainhead of necessity that is not a created being but Absolute Infinity itself – the coincidence of contradictories, “the end without end.”

 

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