Saturday, June 12, 2010

Not other

Perhaps my previous post was a bit sibylline. Let me add some gloss, hopefully less sibylline.

I'll start from this:

An eminent philosopher theologian of the XV century, by the name of Nicholas of Kues or Cusanus, wrote a book entitled Non Aliud, "The not other": meaning God.

Interesting, considering that we tend rather to speak of Him as "The wholly other" – actually so other, that we are tempted to consider Him inaccessible to us, to the point of falling into agnosticism.

A Jesuit friend of mine once gave me a clue to understanding Cusanus with this maxim:

I am other than God; God, is not other than me.

Whao. Then all my being is in God, is God's being!

The same exclamation came from a student of mine, lost after Nieztsche, but with enough esteem of me to ask me what I thought about it.

I tried to explain to him, against the grain of our current culture, that we are "social animals", and what this implies. I used to do it, the set theory today widely used to teach mathematics. Society, I said, isn't anything empirical. Empirical are the subsets of society, all the different definable groups to which we happen to belong; while society, well, is the most encompassing set, that we can name but not define (there is nothing in fact to which we could oppose it, so to define it): like being.

My student got the point, and exclaimed: you mean then that we are in God?!

Well, yes.

Not just us, but everything. Of which we have knowledge because in society we transcend anything definable, hence corporeal.

A corollary concerning science:

There are sciences of bodily things, but what makes them sciences is our capability to look at things defined in the light of the indefinable – shed on us, I repeat, because we enter the world in society.

Here you have the science I asked for (without which there is no science): the science capable of accounting for the knowledge professed by, and in favor of, the practitioners of all other subordinate sciences, so called; as well as, moreover, for the knowledge professed by all peoples who equally bear witness of what knowing means.

Because of the kind of evidence you could call it cultural anthropology.

Because it concerns noantri (literally "us other"), they would say here in Rome, meaning who we are in comparison we all the rest of us, so as to be able to give each his due, you could call it political science, or, more classically, episteme politike.

Because it involves the Non Aliud, call it simply theology.


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