Via Negativa

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  • Via Negativa
    • General Points
      • People can only talk about God in negative terms
      • God is transcendant so you cannot say what God is
      • Means - 'Negative way'
        • You can say what God is not
          • God is not Human therefore he cannot have a body
      • From Plotinus is 2nd Century
        • This renewed interest of Platos philosophy
      • Plotinus says God is linked with Platos form of the good (highest good)
    • Strengths
      • It comes the closest to meeting the challenge of the falsification principle
        • e.g. if we found God's body then it would falsify the statement that God is immortal
      • It reminds us that language is unstable when applied to God
    • weaknesses
      • Christians can say that God is good but can never actually know what this means as they can only ever know that God is not evil
      • Language cannot describe God - beyond human comprehension (Via negativa doesn't help with this)
      • God is ‘Beyond assertion’ and ‘beyond denial’ meaning that whatever you say about God ultimately does not tell people about God – you cannot say absolutely what God is not


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