The Negative Theology of Matter in Calcidius

Andrea Le Moli


After the Fall of the Roman Empire, where it covered prominently many aspects of a cultivated citizen's life, the platonic philosophical Tradition was practically dismissed from the centre of european spiritual life and survived only in restricted corners of the new scenario designed by the barbaric invasions. This lack was deepened after 1000 A. D. when the importance of Plato's thought in Theology was replaced by the new spiritualized access which could be granted via the arabic culture to the texts of Aristotle. In many cases, the parts of the platonic tradition which persisted as a stable component of the late medieval theological Thought were those more strictly connected to the problem of the relation among the various principles which Plato posed at the basis of his cosmo-theological construction in dialectical Dialogues such as Parmenides, Philebus, Sophist and Timaeus. Trinitarian Thought as well as Christian notion of Transcendence were always been dependent on concepts which could scarcely doubted to be of platonic origin. Yet the platonic source remained for many years as well as hidden in the developing of the doctrinal System of Christianity. In particular the notion of “Transcendence” held by the so-called via negativa was never accepted as the official version of the dogma, never ceasing to encounter new opposition. This paper aims at reconstructing the reasons for that kind of incompatibility which has always been sensed by theologians between some radical metaphysical thesis developed in Platonism and the theoretical structure of Christian Thought. The perspective drafted in this paper suggests that some answers could be found in the very sense of “Tradition” (diadoche) adopted by Platonists as a movement of approaching to a Truth in which Christianity and Platonism are only provisional moments and in the logical structure of the via negativa as a device to conquer the (theo)logical space by removing every transcendental determination including those which should define Christian God: The One, The Good, The True. This paper's main focus is the analysis of the role of Latin Authors (both writers and thinkers) of Late Antiquity in shaping the general matrix of via negativa by comparing their intuitions and terminological innovations to those introduced during the same period by authors who wrote in Greek.

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ISSN: 2281-3209                DOI Prefix: 10.7408

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