Apophatic Measures: Toward a Theology of Irreducible Particularity
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CitationBannon, R. Brad. 2015. Apophatic Measures: Toward a Theology of Irreducible Particularity. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Divinity School.
AbstractApophatic Measures: Toward a Theology of Irreducible Particularity is a work of constructive comparative theology examining select writings of Śaṅkara (Eighth Century, India) and Nicholas of Cusa (Fifteenth Century, Germany). It argues that, for Śaṅkara and Cusa, apophasis does not culminate in what Michael Sells calls a “semantic event,” but instead in a sensual event. For each, negation removes intellectual distractions, awakening one to a heightened state of sensual attentiveness. For Śaṅkara, this is observed in the embodied encounter wherein a teacher incarnates Vedānta scripture to reveal “This Self is Brahman” (Māṇḍūkya Upaniṣad 2). For Cusa, the intimate encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well (John 4) is paradigmatic of true, attentive sensuality. Employing a heuristic device termed “apophatic measure” in its trifold meanings of method, sensuality, and particularity, this dissertation contributes to contemporary discourses on the ontology of difference, the theo-ethical valuation of diversity, and the singularity of unique bodies. Rather than reducing individuals to ethnic, gendered, or other essentializing measures, persons are regarded as unique disclosures of ultimate reality. Each person is re/cognized as an unprecedented imago Dei or particular manifestation of Ātman-Brahman. Through the pedagogy and performance of apophatic theology, one progressively removes epistemic universals and thereby cultivates a phenomenology of irreducible particularity as a vision of God. Awakened to an attentive sensuality, one re/cognizes this Self, incarnate before one’s very eyes, as an apophatic measure of the immeasurable divine.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:15821959