The via negativa

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  • Created by: Abitracey
  • Created on: 15-02-13 17:10
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  • The via negativa
    • Weaknesses
      • The via negativa is not a true reflectionof how religious people speak of God.
      • It could be argued that the result is a very limited understanding of God at best. The method does not even work for everday objects, let alone all-powerful, transcendent God.
      • The via negativa claims that no positive statement about God can be made. However, if we are saying something negative then surely we are implying the positive.
    • Where did the idea come from?
      • Pseudo-Dionysius used this method. God is beyond our ability to describe. Making positive statements about God results in an anthropomorphic idea of God.
      • Plotinus used this method to describe the form of the good. He argued that good is seperate to the world and is unknowable.
      • Moses Maimonides emphasised the importance of the via negativa. To make positive statements about God is improper and disrespectful as it brings him down to a human level. The only positive statement that can be made is that he exists.
      • Followers of Plato
    • Strengths
      • It prevents anthropomorphic statements being made about God. We are not left with an inadequate idea of God formed using our limited language.
      • Supports the view that God is beyond description and that experience of him is ineffable that limit God from being made.
      • More respectful.
      • It can be argued that only the via negativa adequately conveys the transcendence of God.
    • The benefits of saying nothing
      • It accepts that statements about God cannot be accurately made as God is utterly different and greater than anything we can comprehend.
      • Rather than having no possible knowlege of God, it is argued that negative statements can be made; in other words, we can say what God is not.
      • We can make some statements about what God is not. By making a number of such statements we may arrive at knowlege , albeit limited, of what God is.


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