Thursday, June 10, 2010
Lieven Boeve explains ontotheology.
Broadly speaking, the ontotheological endeavour seeks an ultimate reason that can account for the totality of beings. Its point of departure - beings - forbids that ontotheology encounters anything other, at the end of the chain of beings, than a being. Ontotheology proclaims that a being is what it is only insofar as its contingent mode of being corresponds, and is thereby grounded by, the essence of this particular being. This essence of a being, however, stands itself in need of a foundation, since the essence of a being, in one way or another, is dependent upon the (material) existence of the being of which it is the essence (in the same way as one abstracts a unified essence from diverse empirical tables ). For this, ontotheology has recourse to God as the one who supposedly un-founded or founded in and through Godself, grounds the essence of beings, by simply thinking them or by creating these (imperfect) beings of which God is said to have the perfect idea eternally. ‘God’ can thus only appear here in the light of a correspondence theory, as that being, be it the highest, who assures a perfect fit between the essence or the ‘being’ of a being and the empirical being itself. Ontotheology’s obsession with objects decides in advance how God will enter philosophical discourse; historically, God is that infinite instance that grounds and accounts for the contingency of particular beings. This ‘God’, then, is often modelled after causal and mathematical theories - as much as each house requires an architect as its cause, the totality and diversity of beings requires a ‘prima causa’, a First Being. God is an instrument used, by philosophy, to ground finitude and to give reasons for it. God must be a foundation. God cannot be anything else than that instance that saves the finite system from its own contingency and incoherency.
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