Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Erich Przywara's Dialectical Analogy


The analogy of being had traditionally been defined as a mode of grammar by which one predicate term was signified in two or more ways, each of which participates in the perfect paradigm of that predicate. In Analogia Entis, the Polish Jesuit Erich Przywara re-defined the analogy of being (analogia entis) as “a dynamic back-and-forth between the above-and-beyond (of a transcending immanence) and the from-above-into (of an indwelling transcendence).” (216) His decisive innovation is to have recast it as, no longer merely a static mode of grammatical predication, but as a living dialectical oscillation of ‘dynamic back-and-forth’ of contrary opposites between the ascending participative and descending imparticipative analogies that is sempiternally suspended by the free gift of the divine creative act of being. Where Aristotle had found predication, analogy, and contraries in linguistic discourse, Przywara finds contrary predications suspended by analogy in the beating heart of being itself. This ‘suspended middle’ of contrary opposites is the keystone in the ontology of Przywara’s analogy of being.

Przywara observes that previous thinkers have mistakenly placed some ‘third’ “predetermined” “formal principle” between “the act of cognition” and “the object of cognition.” But in so doing these theories of ‘objective idealism’ had usurped the divine middle with the formal middle of creaturely cognition. (120) Przywara, to the contrary, describes how the genuinely mediating ground that “remains strictly neutral is the duality [of] the act of knowledge and the act of being, understood as the object of the act of knowledge.” (120) Since this neutral mediator is completely independent and indifferent to the suspended contraries, it cannot be reduced to any concept of the unity of contrary opposites, but is “the mystery becomes a concept” and the “concept is overcome in the mystery.” (181) For the purpose of defending the overcoming mystery of this concept from the post-Reformation philosophical theologians, and especially Hegel, Przywara proposes to phenomenologically interrogate his “act of consciousness” (120) to excavate a “series of intensifications” between God and creatures” (175) from the "primordial womb of the All." (229)

Przywara interrogates the phenomenal presence of questions that present themselves as an ‘ultimate impasse’ of ‘objective aporetics’ so that he may ‘breaks through’ towards the hidden concept that is overcome by mystery. (144, 156) He describes how the simple act of questioning “forces itself through this problem and beyond it” for the purpose of annulling and sublating each analytic division. (158) First, he presents an ‘ultimate impass’ aporia for interrogation; second, he divides the possible solutions; and third he reduces “the historical course of philosophical thought to an immanent objective dialectic of its problem.” (144) This procedure produces a baffling array of terminological distinctions and innovations: for example, he distinguishes meta-physics into meta-noetics and meta-ontics, which are double-annulled and sublated into their mutual ‘confluence’ and ‘co-belonging’ in the “most formal foundation of a ‘creaturely metaphysics’” (123-124); and then he distinguishes a priori deductive from a posteriori inductive metaphysics into an a priori a posteriori morphological metaphysics (135-136). This procedure of division, analysis, and dialectical sublation is meant to (i) divide a single generic category into its specific components; then (ii) successively subdivide and reduce these components to absurdity; so that (iii) the mutual annulled subdivisions may be rendered as “mutually interconditioning opposites” that simultaneously “point back towards” to “recapture what had gone before.” (123) This phenomenological reflection results in a “concrete Gestalt” (153) in which Przywara claims that the phenomena “show themselves [as a cycle] to have been contained within one another from the beginning” to disclose the “most formal foundation of a ‘creaturely metaphysics’” in “the suspended tension” between “consciousness and being” rather than “the absoluteness of the self-identity of either consciousness or being.” (124)

Przywara defines creaturely metaphysics as “that wherein physis is the "ground and end and definition in itself." (155) This ‘ground-end-definition’ of being is not the emptiest predicate, category, or determination of Aristotle, Kant, and Hegel, but the robustly pre-packaged being of later Schelling and early Heidegger. Przywara explains that “all being in fact carries within itself a ground-end-definition.” (155)  He contrasts his ‘realogical eidetics’ with Husserl’s irreal ‘eidetic science’ when he describes it as a ‘creaturely metaphysics’ that unfolds “precisely between a posteriori and a priori metaphysics.” (137) But Przywara insists that creaturely metaphysics is irreducible to the facts of existence because its “formally constitutive basic formula” is “essence in-and-beyond existence”, by which the ‘essence’ of creatures transcend their individual self-enclosed existence. (124) Heidegger had characterized ‘medieval ontology’ by the ‘transcendens’ of ‘being’ and attempted to circumvent and destroy the history of ontology from Plato to Hegel to interrogate anew the meaning of being in that-being, or ‘Dasein’. But Przywara responds by re-conceiving the meaning of ‘being’ as the suspended tension of a rhythmic inner contrariness in-being, or ‘In-Sein’: where, for Heidegger, ‘Dasein’ is that being which constitutes itself by reflecting upon the meaning of being; for Przywara, ‘In-Sein’ is the ground-end-definition of that being in-itself which constitutes its ground by its own definition and direction.

Przywara describes the “innermost rhythmic beat” between creaturely metaphysics and “God beyond the creature” as the dynamic tensions that discloses a “special sense of ‘God in the creature’.” (158) This ‘special sense’ is nothing less than a theophantic disclosure of the positive act of being, or the ‘positivum’, that actively suspends the inner contrariness of In-Sein. In double-response to Hegel and Heidegger, Przywara has re-formulated the traditional Thomistic act of being into “a back-and-forth relation” of dialectically cycling “suspended tension of the correlation” of opposites around the totally indifferent and simple divine unicity of Existence and Essence. (124) Przywara describes how the ‘positivum’ of In-Sein and the ‘negativum’ of its inner contrary opposition ‘coinhere’ in the “illimitable ‘suspended’ analogy.” (235-238) Where Aristotle had conceived of potentiality as primarily the passive reception of actuality, Przywara re-casts the negativity of Heidegger’s ‘productive nothingness’ as an ‘active potentiality’ that is always motivated by the inner tension at the “site of all contraries in one” and suspended by participation in “unlimited ‘service to God’.” (229) Przywara can claim that this ‘active potentiality’ of In-Sein is a proto-type for Heidegger’s ‘productive Nothing’ of Dasein because both are genealogically derived from the hypostatization of potentiality in the pre-determined beings of later Schelling. Like Schelling in the Freedom Essay, Przywara suggests that the ascending stages of dialectical oscillation In-Sein grants the creaturely freedom to “say No to God.” (230)

Przywara describes this freedom of God to give ‘knowing in unknowing’ as an “antecedent possibility” by which “God would reveal himself and thereby ground theology” in a positive revelation. He proposes to ‘open’ this “genuine philosophical positivity” to “the theological” by preserving the the “positive sense” of phenomenal being, or the ‘positivum’, in a mutual positive and negative limit. (178) Przywara defines positive theology when he writes: “Since, finally, according to its concept, theology is a movement of God into humanity, and thus a visible entrance into this visibility (otherwise it would remain a theologia archetypa: of God in himself), it must intrinsically- as having a divine subject to its act - be an act that is visibly divine. It is an ecclesial theology of revelation that, over the course of time, unfolds the fullness of the given word of revelation… its formal principle is represented by the positive verdict of the infallible magisterium.” (171) He reiterates that “theology, as clearly distinct from philosophy, is possible only on the basis of "God beyond the creature," understood as the fundamental relation between God and creature” and describes this as the “formal ground of the fundamental relation between God and creature within the absoluta of purely a priori and purely a posteriori metaphysics.” (164)

Przywara dismisses “a priori metaphysical thought” for going “from the ground, end, and definition” to “the grounded, directed, and determined” that reproduces “God’s own standpoint” and recommends the “distinct positivum of a posteriori metaphysics” in which “in” means a kind of active “potency” of the creature “towards God” in which the “creatures is able to measure out the expanse of being” to “its ultimate foundations.” (158) The ‘distinct positivum of a posteriori metaphysics’ is thus essentially linked to “a kind of active ‘potency’” that involves a teleological direction of the creature to God. He crucially claims that “attaining of this ultimate foundation of the formal configuration of metaphysics as such thus depends upon our preserving a double aspect within the formal configuration of the problem of the a priori and the a posteriori.” (159) To preserve this ‘double aspect’, Przywara must preserve the individuation of a posteriori metaphysics in the positivum of In-Sein that is that ground and end and definition of being-itself.

This phenomenology of In-Sein might suggest that the difference between God beyond being and creatures in being is effectively reduced to one common medium of phenomenal being. To pre-empt any suggestion of univocal reduction, Przywara describes the “ultimate commonality” as a paradoxical commonality without commonality and “the impossibility… of any derivation of one term from another.” (176) At the site of the univocal being of phenomenology, Przywara radically equivocates its ‘mutual alterity’ by rejecting any intelligible relation of quantity, quality, categories, and predication. (231) He instead affirms a double-transcendence, in which God first transcends relations with creature and then transcends this first transcending of relations to be re-related to creatures in the dynamic depths of In-Sein. God thus remains “freely independent” of creatures while creatures remain “necessarily dependent” upon him in a paradoxical and doubly-transcendent immanence of non-relational relations. (217)

This double-transcendence implies that God is interior to every propositional copula, ‘is’, and every analogy is, consequently, a grammatical participation in the ‘self-imparting-relation from above’ of the divine creative Ars. (214) Przywara declares the mysterious ‘otherness’ of this ‘suspended’ analogy to be an “analogy in the strictest Aristotelian sense: beyond any commonality of quantitative calculation… quantitative concept… [or] ultimate genera expressed in the categories, the forms of predication as such” but “strictly as a relation of mutual alterity.” (231) He recommends, instead, the dark theophantic illumination of a “genuinely Areopagitic ‘dazzling darkness’” of “ever greater dissimilarity.” Analogy of attribution reduces to analogy of proportion because it is no less suspended in a participative relation that “points beyond” its modes of “ontic and noetic, into the wholly other mode of God.” (233)

Against the formal middle of objective idealism, Przywara argues that “it is not identity that holds sway between them, but analogy itself.” (211) There is no ‘noetic-ontic’ principle of the identity of differences, but only the suspended middle of analogy that is thoroughly pervaded by the dialectical oscillation of contrary-opposition. He describes analogy as a “heavenly identity” of always inadequate asymptotic participation that is eternally suspended above “the sphere of creatureliness”: where the sphere of creatureliness is “the sphere of the principle of non-contradiction”, the ‘divine sphere’ suspends the laws and principles of logic. (212, 224) Przywara explains (fn.5) how “we are at once analogous to God… and infinitely different from God, and so he is thus at once in and beyond creaturely reality.” (160) He thus recommends that “"Essence in-and-beyond existence" is an "ultimate quality" – one at, in itself, is "a transcending relation because it is “transcended."” (159) The ultimate reality of ‘essence-in-and-beyond-existence’ doubly-transcends creatures by “transcending relation because it is transcended.”  (159)

Przywara describes how the positive emanation of complex creatures from simple ‘heavenly identity’  produces antinomies and “culminates in the threefold sense of the ‘antithetics’ that is peculiar to the Augustinian dynamic” but which stands directly opposed to Hegel (184): the (i) first antithetic is the intra-creaturely antithetic “revealed in such measure as creaturely thought touches upon the region of God”; the (ii) second antithetic is the creature-divine antithetic “between comprehension of God and his transcendence of all comprehension”; and the (iii) third antithetic is the intra-divine antithetic of God’s “ultimate depth” that penetrates to view “into the intra-divine vitality of the Father.” (185) Each of these antithetics are the consequence of the unresolved dialectical cycling opposition of contrary opposites, and each may be resolved only by suspending the contrary opposites by analogy.

Przywara introduces the analogy of being as the “totality of these potentialities” that “comprises the relation between the intra-creaturely analogy and the analogy between God and creature.” (219) He claims that these five ‘fundamental formal’ relations have “already demonstrated that the principle of metaphysics” in a creaturely metaphysics “must be called analogy.” (191) Przywara defines this fundamental formal relation of analogy, most generally, as “the connection between "ana-logia" and "ens" [that] reveals an intentional "ordering - an ordering that not only (intentionally) announces an objective "order of being", but that, in it-self (structurally as "principle"), is that wherein this "order of being" declares itself (the ontic law of the [Greek word] as the noetic law of the ana, and only thus as a fundamental law).” (192) Unlike the traditional Aristotelian-Thomistic analogy of being, Przywara describes how phenomenal being itself actively “reveals an intentional ‘ordering’” that intentionally “announces an objective ‘order of being’ according to the “fundamental law.” (192)

Przywara distinguishes an ascending participative analogy from below to above and a descending imparticipative analogy from above to below, and claims the dialectical oscillation of pre-determined In-Sein to reveal the ‘objective foundation’ that links the ascending participative and descending imparticipative analogy of being in the teleological analogy.  Pryzwara describes the commonality of both the ascending participative and descending imparticipative spans as “neither an identity nor a contradiction, but rather a coordinated relation, and thus an analogy. Consequently, the relation between the intra-creaturely analogy and the analogy between God and creature is itself an analogy.” (219) This coordinated relation is the ‘real relation’ between equivocally distinct terms (i.e. healthy drink and healthy person) of classical analogy, except Przywara has innovatively rendered this coordination as a dynamic equilibrium of the dialectically oscillating unity of opposites. This coordinated relation extends not only between creatures, in the horizontal intra-creaturely analogy, but also between “God and creature” in a vertical divine-creaturely analogy. But since the descending imparticipative analogy is prior to and pre-contains the ascending participative analogy (viz. Platonic paradigmatism), so is the vertical analogy prior to and pre-containing of the horizontal analogy.

Decades before William Desmond’s ‘metaxological’ metaphysics, Przywara proposed to investigate the “in between”, or metaxu, in opposition to dialectic that “takes place within the interval between possibilities that are antithetical.” (194) He describes this ‘in between’ as an “actuality and possibility” that “bears witness to an oscillating rhythm, back and forth, which Aristotle directly designates as analogy.” (208) The cycling back-and-forth motion of contrary opposites are meant to motivate the productive tension of the analogy of being. He names the principle of non-contradiction the “basic question” upon which the question of analogy and dialectics must be “fundamentally decided” (198) and entertains three contending opinions: first, the Aristotelian classical formulation of the principle of non-contradictions (cf. Metaphysics XI, 5, 1061b-1062b); second, Schelling’s dialectical re-formulation of contradiction as the dialectical oscillation of contrary opposites in an indifferent identity of differences (cf. Ages of the World, Bolman trans. 1967, 103-104); and third,  Hegel’s dialectical re-formulation of contradiction as the determination, annulling, and sublation of opposites into a synthetic identity of differences. (cf. Science of Logic, §§528 - 529)

Przywara rejects both the first Aristotelian and the third Hegelian principle of non-contradiction, but invokes the authority of Aristotle and Aquinas to support his revised Schellingian principle in opposition to the third Hegelian principle of non-contradiction. He rejects the Aristotelian principle of non-contradiction when he complains that it has been spuriously isolated, objectified, and “turned into a thing” by the Neo-Scholastics. Once the principle of non-contradiction is cast in the iron mould of a proposition (e.g. ¬(A&¬A)), it becomes phenomenologically “indistinguishable from the principle of identity” and the “Cartesian immediacy of truth in the cogito.” (201) Where for Aristotle the laws of logic were treated as self-evident axioms that regulated determinate thought and discourse, for Leibniz these principles became constitutive ideas of reason. (cf. Leibniz’s Monadology §31) But since any such idea is identical to itself, even the principle of non-contradiction must paradoxically appear self-identical (i.e. (¬(A&¬A)) = (¬(A&¬A))). He further suggests that Hegel’s ‘direct grasp’ of the intra-trinitarian life results in the Eleatic “hardening absoluteness” of the “flowing antithetics of the intra-creaturely” that supplants “the category of ‘opposition’ – which is the only category that is objectively warranted – with that of ‘contradiction’.” (185)

Przywara reiterates that dialectic bears within it the ‘dia’ of contradiction of ‘breaking apart’, whereas the Logos of analogy bears within it the “breakthrough.” (168) He recommends analogy over dialectic when he describes how “analogy says that thought, as a distanced obedience to the Logos” involves “the pervasive working of the Logos in all things” in “the most fundamental relation” of “pure logic” that is “identity from beginning to end” while “dialectic, on the other hand, is ‘identity in contradiction’” rather than the “self-ordering within a being-ordered” of analogy. (197) Dialectic is ‘breaking apart’ because it is defined as an ‘identity in contradiction’ and Przywara rejects the possibility of speculatively thinking through contradictions; while analogy may ‘breakthrough’ this contradiction precisely because of its humble ‘obedience to the Logos’, which is the graced reception of the free gift of a divinely illuminated intellectual intuition. (197) Since it is only this Logos that is self-identical (i.e. divine simplicity), Przywara turns the tables on Hegel by characterizing dialectic as non-identical because it is contradictory.

Dialectic, for Przywara, collapses into its own oscillating “night of antitheses” because he has already foreclosed any possibility of a positive dialectical mixture of differences in identity. (196) It represents the sublation of the antithesis between logic and dialectic: neither ‘logical dialectic’ (which with Hegel, makes dialectic into a logic of the divine), nor ‘dialectical logic’ (which, with Heidegger, knows all truth only as the being underway of the inherently autonomous creature), but only a ‘creaturely logic’, is an immanent (and most formal) method for ‘creaturely metaphysics’.” Analogy is mean to balance the confusion of dialectic by yielding to “loving self-surrender” to the heterotonomous free gift of God’s grace, which alone promises to sublate the antithetical opposition between logic and dialectic. (196) Przywara views dialectic as one-sidedly meta-noetic and apriorist in Hegel gnostic “logical dialectic”, and one-sidedly meta-ontic and aposteriorist in Heidegger’s “dialectical logic” of Dasein, and proposes his own Logic of analogy as the balancing dialectical analogy.

Pzywara blames Hegel for the reduction of “all objective being” or substances to “the predicative form of judgment” because of his alleged Parmenidean stasis of identity and difference. (194) He makes this interval between antithetical possibilities the ‘site’ of “the antithesis of differing possibilities” in an ‘objective dialectic’. (194) Przywara blames Hegelian dialectic for wrecking the unity of contrary opposites on the “the shipwreck of the absoluteness of pure logic” that dissolved the principle of non-contradiction into ‘pure contradiction’. (201) Przywara accuses Hegel of making “the noetic-ontic principle of identity… determinative in the background” of an “absolute contradiction”: “‘Contradiction’ is the form in which self-identical ‘ontic truth’ or self-identical ‘noetic being’ is immanent to the mutable world from above, so much so that the world is the rhythm of its dialectical unfolding.” (202) This noetic-ontic principle of identity determines all predicative concepts as either identity or non-identical, and thereby immanentizes contradiction in the mutable world. He criticizes Hegel’s such a self-enclosure of ‘pure being-given’ (rather than self-transcending participative In-Sein) that “ultimately leads to a nothing, albeit a nothing understood in the sense of the ‘away from and towards’ of the “into the infinite” and “not as the nothing of “pure possibility” , but as the nothing of a “pure transition” in the sense of a “passing-over”, in a shuttling of negative opposites unto nothingness, or nihilism. (218) Przywara rejects this Parmenidean-Cartesian noetic-ontic principle of identity because he affirms, to the contrary, that the world is created by and suspended from God who is totally unconditionable by any onto-noetic principles, beyond all being and thought.

Przywara contends that since both pure logic and dialectic merely transpose it by alternatively reducing everything to identity or contradiction, as an ‘identity in contradiction’, only analogy genuinely preserves the principle of non-contradiction.  For this purpose, Przywara uses a distinction between contrary opposition and contradictory annulling: contrary opposition involves a mutual interpenetration and interconditioning of correlative opposites that remain fixed in their own self-identity, while contradictory annulling involves the mutual contradiction that dissolves the fixed self-identity of each opposite. Przywara affirms the former and rejects the latter because he believes in the Aristotelian principle of non-contradiction, in which, since no contradiction can be thought, all thinking must navigate between contrary opposites around the contradiction of these opposites (cf. Metaphysics XI 1062b); but Hegel rejects the former and affirms the latter because he believes in the Platonic principle of non-contradiction in which, since every determination of thought may result in a contradiction, some contradictory differences must be re-thought as to participate in identity (cf. Sophist 256d and Parmenides 135a). Przywara contends that Hegel’s dialectic fails to preserve the differences the opposed antitheses and the synthetic concept because he believes, with Aristotle, that contradiction must annul every difference between contraries, but because he also rejects Aristotle’s principle of non-contradiction he cannot maintain his opposition to Hegel’s contradictory dialectic.

Przywara claims that Aristotle’s principle of non-contradiction is the only objectively warranted formulation. (185) But once he has rejected the Neo-Thomist principle of non-contradiction he can no longer maintain its exclusive warrant. According to Aristotle, any rejection of the principle of non-contradiction must tacitly presuppose the principle of non-contradiction, since to reject A and affirm not-A is requires the presupposition that A is not not A (e.g. ¬(A&¬A)). But Przywara equivocally accepts and rejects the principle of non-contradiction when he substitutes Aristotle’s principle of non-contradiction for Schelling’s unity of contrary opposites. The claim that only this Schellingian unity of contrary opposites can be objectively warranted must therefore presuppose the very principle of non-contradiction that he has rejected: for to say that only Schelling’s principle is true, and ipso facto Hegel’s principle is false, also presupposes that it is possible to reject A and affirm A to reject not-A and affirm not-A. But since this presupposition may only be warranted by the principle of non-contradiction, Przywara must either reduce Aristotle’s non-contradiction to Schelling’s unity of contrary opposites or vice versa. Przywara’s procedure of division, annulment, and sublation betrays his choice of Schelling over Aristotle. But since Schelling’s unity of contrary opposites unites rather than annuls contraries, Przywara cannot legitimately claim to annul, as unwarranted, Hegel’s radicalization of contradiction into a synthetic identity of differences.

Przywara appeals to Husserl’s pre-theoretical and non-consequential ‘logic of truth’ to recover the “authentic version of the principle of non-contradiction” that may be “realized from the standpoint of analogy.” (203) In Formal and Transcendental Logic, Husserl had described how, since the principle of non-contradiction is only true in “virtue of a connexion” between concepts and eidetic laws, “an opening remains for every material countersense and for every other untruth.” (Cairns trans., 1969 55, 64) Przywara exploits this opening to argue that the ‘minimum ground’ and ‘negative form’ of the principle of non-contradiction “stands or falls with this unity” of contrary opposites that are teleologically directed through the thinking cogito towards the analogy of being. (201) John Milbank has observed that “Scotus and Ockham rightly question whether analogy of attribution does not violate the principle of non-contradiction, since there is no third term between the univocal and the equivocal.” (Theology and Social Theory, 2nd Ed. xxvi) The fundamental question for any viable post-Scotistic analogy of being must thus be the question of how to formulate a third term that does not blatantly violate the principle of non-contradiction.

Przywara claims that the analogy of being is “decisively located in that foundation which is expressed by the principle of non-contradiction.” (235) He subtly re-defines the meaning of being (entis) to mean that positive being, or ‘positivum’, which coincides with the inner difference, or ‘negativum’, in a oscillating unity of contrary opposites. This ultimate and fundamental ontic and noetic structure is described as a mediating bridge by which every similarity is an ever greater dissimilarity but every dissimilarity is suspended by the free divine creative gift of in the positivum and negativum of or In-Sein. Przywara purports to suspend the principle of non-contradiction by linking this positive potentiality with theological positivism when he writes that the positivity of the creatures does not “sink back into nothingness” but “mysteriously merges with God’s own positivity.” (224) Where Aquinas denied and Scotus affirmed that God could violate the laws of logic, Przywara affirms that the God may omnipotently suspend the permanence of the principle of non-contradiction. But this suspension also betrays his Scotistic conception of the divine freedom to violate the laws of logic.  Przywara names this a-logical divine freedom the “true wonder of a potentiality that is so positive as to be the ‘possibility of not being possible’ or ‘the non-necessity of being necessary’.” (225)

Pryzwara argues that this participative suspended middle is decisive for the “culminating problem of the principle of non-contradiction” because it constitutes the “relation between the lowest pole of the intra-creaturely analogy” and the “highest pole of the analogy between God and creature” that “has its most extreme and comprehensive span” in the “unity of the two analogies.” (219) For the purpose of securing this possibility of theology, Przywara contends with Hegel by forthrightly rejecting the possibility of any formal middle ‘third’ in favour of an endless sea of possibility positivity. He writes “there is no tertium quid - no "third"; rather the theological is itself the sea into which the philosophical flows.” (179) Przywara writes that “Our theological metaphysics thus carries in itself the positively ecclesial as the determining ground of its life.” In contrast to the Hegelian mediating ‘third’, Przywara proposes that the only “other possibility of a "third" would then consist in the supposition of a "third" that could be attained beyond the theological” in an “incommutable truth.” (180)

Przywara observes that Hegel had described in his Lectures on the History of Philosophy how “modern philosophy bears in itself the form, specifically of Protestant theology” which “points to the whole unabbreviated spectrum of the problematic that flowed into Scholasticism.” But he recalls that “modern philosophy must trace its Protestant theological form back still further, to its origin” and “it must come to understand its Protestant form from the perspective of the entire undiminished spectrum of Catholic theology.” (150) Przywara criticizes “those modern philosophies that seek to be absolute “as “in fact theologies emptied of theological content” because they have “annulled the differences between God and creature.” (164) He applies these criticisms to non-Catholic theology when he writes: “the Reformation's theology of God alone working all things.” (164) Przywara rejects Hegel’s desire for a comprehensive metaphysics because “it would imply a standpoint not only outside the tradition's current, but one situated already at the end, at the very mouth of the stream, which is the standpoint is God's alone.” (151)

In a double-critique of both Hegel and Heidegger, Przywara opposes the concept of the Logos as “an active ‘ap-prehending’ of the ‘object’ in order to com-prehend it.” (193) He phenomenologically re-conceives of the Logos in as the conceptualization of In-Sein, and the fundamental form of relation in between the analogy of being. Przywara defines this Logos as “the ‘word’ which is practically ‘posited’ and which co-posits its ‘meaning’” in the “region of an ontology.” (193) Przywara narrates a line of descent of post-Reformation theology from Hegel to Heidegger, in which Hegel is alleged to have made the principle of identity into a super-determining principle of non-identity and contradiction in all predicative judgments, and Heidegger is alleged to have radicalized this pervasive contradiction into the auto-annihilating being of Dasein. He writes: “The Hegelian ‘contradiction’ has been radicalized in the Heideggarian ‘Nothing’” as a “‘productive Nothing’ that “utters the ontic-noetic “I am who I am” of the principle of identity.” (202)

Przywara contends that this line of post-Reformation philosophical theology anulls every difference between God and creatures, to either reduce creatures to God in ‘theopanism’ or God to creatures in ‘pantheism’. He writes: "Thee-pan-ism" means that, proceeding fundamentally "from above to below;' God becomes the all”; while "Pan-the-ism" then means that, proceeding fundamentally "from below to above;' the all becomes God.” (165) Where theopanism is the formal ground of purely a priori metaphysics that corresponds to a priorist devolution, and pantheism, the formal ground of purely a posteriori metaphysics that corresponds to apriorist evolution. Each, he argues, concludes in a confusion of “philosophy that is theology and a theology that is philosophy.” (165)

Hegel emerges as the primary target of post Reformation philosophical theology because he is alleged to have reduced theology to “philosophical dialectic.” (165) Przywara alleges that Hegel is guilty of annulling the distinction between God and creatures by converting the eternal truths of theology into an idol ‘eternal dialectics’. (144) Przywara proposes a ‘super-theological critique’ to explain how “the ambiguity of its inner dynamic” is irreducible to a concept. He affirms that this apophatic positive-negative delimitation of the concept involves “the relation between ‘concept’ and ‘mystery’” at “every point along the way” of thinking towards a “reduction in mysterium.” (189) Every concept is meant to lead to mystery and every mystery is meant to leads to a concept. Where Hegel’s concept is said to sublate the mystery so to erase the mysterium, Przywara’s concept cycles between mysterious closure and openness in the dialectical oscillation of every positive and negative limit.

Przywara alternatively claims to possess a ‘sense’ that the “entire meaning of [dialectic] points beyond itself” towards “the profound Augustinian sense of a self-revelation of the mind’s movement” and the “sheer mystical fusion with truth.” (196) Where Hegel had purported to resolve these antitheses, Przywara purports to ground the potency of the principle of non-contradiction in this ‘deepest antithesis’ for the purpose of disclosing the act of analogy. He describes how “analogy alone is a measured equilibrium” which “Aristotle will equate… with the middle.” (206) Where dialectic shuttles in a formal ‘back-and-forth’ between identity and non-identity, analogy is uniquely meant to preserve the measured ‘equilibrium’ of essence-in-and-beyond existence between the deepest antithesis of Parmenides and Heraclitus. Przywara means “to show how the principle of non-contradiction is decisively grounded in the minimum of the constantly renewed and counterbalanced debate between thought’s two deepest antitheses” of Heraclitus and Parmenides. The dynamic middle of analogy thus reaches all the way down to its deepest antithesis and pure potency in principle of non-contradiction. He writes “It is thus in the principle of non-contradiction – understood as the middle – that analogy establishes itself as the foundation of all thought.”

Przywara judges Hegel’s supplanting of the contrary opposition of the inner rhythmic oscillation of In-Sein being itself to be “diametrically opposed” to “the inner unity of philosophy and theology” expressed by the First Vatican Council in the document On Faith and Reason (Fides et Ratio). (185) Przywara recommends this “reductio in mysterium” as “precisely the church’s final word.” (189) In “response to Hegel’s attempt to grasp the mystery ‘as’ concept (in ‘absolute knowledge’)” he describes a “way into the mystery” that is both “‘in’ the concept and ‘beyond’ the concept” in the mysterium fide of the “‘self-concept’ of a Trinitarian-dialectical God.” (189) Przywara claims that this ‘divinity of pure thought’ is “directly contrary to the articles 5 and 6 of Questio 1 of Thomas Aquinas’ De Veritate.” (144) Later he will more emphatically affirm his anti-Hegelianism with the Vatican I document Fides Et Ratio. Przywara writes: “the one eternal truth of God reveals itself noetically in creaturely truth in the same way that divine being reveals itself ontically in creaturely being.” (144)

Contrary to Hegel, Przywara maintains that the antithetical spheres (i.e. intra-creaturely, creaturely-divine, and intra-divine) are not derived, but only the mystifying process by which the “the intra-creaturely might surmount itself by passing over into them” and let “itself be borne over into them.” (185) Przywara opposes his three antithetics to Hegel’s triadic syntheses when he writes: “Here the three spheres of dynamic antithetics not only remain separate, as we have seen; they also remain separate in such a way that, logically, our path commences strictly with the first sphere (the intra-creaturely) - not in order to derive the other spheres from the intracreaturely (which would lead to a new theological rationalism), but in order that the intra-creaturely might surmount itself by passing over into them - or, better yet, by letting itself be borne over into them.” (185) These metaphors of surmounting, ‘passing over’, and birth are all meant to indicate the ‘antecedent possibility’ of God’s free gift of emanation and participation that is not at all necessarily derived because it is utterly contingent upon God’s own divine freedom.

Where Hegel had purported to dialectically contradict, annul, and synthesize opposites in a way that purportedly compromises their independence, Przywara proposes to preserve their independence through the triple antithetics and mutual delimiting that participates in the intra-divine procession of the Trinity. Przywara describes the integrated ‘in-and-beyond’ structure as the “particular inner span between concept (theologia positive) and mystery (theologia negative)” in a “double-emphasis of its ‘in-and-beyond’ with regard to the creaturely realm” that is simultaneously “from the in to the beyond” of the philosophical and “from the beyond to the in” of the theological. (189) This particular inner span is, contrary to Hegel, not a third intermediating synthesis of difference in identity, but a ‘double-emphasis’ of the positive concept and the negative mystery in the dialectically oscillating cycle of beyond-to-in and in-to-beyond, which reflexively imitates the superdetermining dialectical cycles.

Przywara describes this “correlation proper to creaturely metaphysics” as the “coordination between two suspended equilibria” that does not “form a closed circle” and in which “neither of these equilibria in itself constitutes a closed circle” by “becoming a back-and-forth movement that is never completed” and which never finally “a neutral one” but is “the creaturely form of the act” that is “ever anew to the ‘in-and-beyond’ of “truth in-and-beyond history.” (154) Each of these correlations is characterized by the same Schellingian indifferent identity of differences, which are united by the mutual interpenetration and interconditioning of opposites in and beyond itself in a non-relational suspended relationality. But where the Thomistic act of being is related to beings through their paradigmatic cause in the divine creative act, Schelling’s pre-determined beings are unrelated by any conceivable notion of causation, because the category of causation is itself conditional while the abysmal unground of all grounded beings is absolutely unconditional. Przywara’s unwitting inheritance of Schelling’s unconditionally conditioned pre-determined beings thus sets him in conflict, not only with Hegel and the idealist tradition, but also with Neo-Platonic, Dionysian, and Thomistic tradition of paradigmatic causation and participation that he purports to defend.

Przywara suggests, however, that his creaturely metaphysics of essence-in-and-beyond existence is meant to exceed this ‘in between’ simply by questioning the ‘in-between’, viz. the division, annulment, and dialectical sublation of opposites. Each and every one of Przywara’s dialectical movements from the division, to the annulment, to the sublation of contrary opposites is only possible if the form of the form of the valid inference (i.e. disjunctive syllogism) is presupposed. But if it is supposed to operate as an indifferent identity of the differential opposites rather than as a mediating identity of identity and differential acts, viz. the medium of conscious being (e.g. Hegel and Brouwer), then his procedure of dialectical sublation may never succeed in mixing contrary opposites into a higher and richer dialectical synthesis of opposites. Przywara can, therefore, never resolve the paradox of unity and multiplicity because he cannot break through contrary oppositions to contradictions to produce genuine dialectical mixtures of opposites; but Hegel may, to the contrary, promise to dialectically resolve these contradictions and thereby preserves the Pythagorean model in which the transcendentals radiate throughout every triadic level of his system of philosophy.

Przywara consistently misrepresents Hegel, in the spirit as Schelling, for reducing positive being to negative a priori concepts. But in the Science of Logic, Hegel purports to preserves being at each stage of the dialectical development from pure indeterminate being to the absolute and supreme being of the Idea. Similarly, in Faith and Knowledge, Hegel describes how every judgment involves an act of faith (glauben) suspended by the ‘speculative good Friday’ over the mystery of faith.  Przywara’s proposal to answer to Hegel’s ‘reductio in conceptum’ with a reduction in mysterium no less misrepresents Hegel’s Logic as an a priori deductive metaphysics, and Hegel’s faithful judgments in a way that may – a best - only conclude in a theophantic ectasy that mystifyies the concept. Przywara’s deferral from cognition to supercognition remains an ineluctably cognitive act of deferring from the immanent to the transcendent, or from inside to outside the limits of the cognitive. Hence he can no more hope to escape from the noetic-ontic principle of identity than the ideal orbit of his own cognition.

Przywara presents the ‘concept is overcome in the mystery’ as a faithful Catholic defence of the mysteries of faith (e.g. the Trinity) against the idolatrous ‘theological rationalism’ of ‘objective idealism’. But he achieves this mystification by re-conceiving positive being, in the spirit of Schelling, as an unconditionally conditioned determination of an inscrutable divine will. He maintains that God is exceptionally situated in an a-logical realm that operates beyond the laws of logic. This divine a-logicality is linked to Przywara’s theological positivism because, as in later Schelling, the positive pre-determined beings (i.e. the dynamic activity of the postivum of In-Being) are un-related God by any further negative and logical determinations (i.e. identity and contradiction). His contention that double-transcendence implies a paradoxical non-relational relationality of divine immanence is no less a-logical that his concept of God beyond logic. This conceptual void of a-logical space threatens to deny the Trinity by not only be the positivum of In-Being, but also to any relationality between God and creatures. Such a rejection of the logical relationality between God and creatures would imply that Przywara’s Analogia Entis is, contrary to his earnest intentions, altogether non-analogical because every purportedly real relation would collapse into an a-logical void.

Przywara even seems to celebrate this a-logical nothingness when he describes the coinherence of the negativum and positivum of In-Sein as ‘pure possibility’ and ‘productive nothingness’. (218, 229) He illustrates the absolutization of this a-logical nothingness when he describes the ‘fundamental concept of the intra-creaturely ‘is’ as the ‘is in the not’ from which God created the world out of nothing. He writes: “What is ultimate and decisive is rather that it stands out as ‘nothing’ against the divine Is and herein has its authentic relation to Him” as “that of the ‘nothing’ to the ‘Creator out of nothing’.” (237) But because every analogy is defined as utterly dependent upon dialectical oscillation, he not only casts every divine-creature relation as a dialectical oscilation, he may even be taken to suggest that the pure act of God paradoxically contains the summation of all dialectical oscillations beyond dynamic movement. The suspension of all being beyond all thought of being suggests a totally voluntarist ‘pure possibility’ of divine action that threatens to demolish any intelligible inter-relationality of analogy. However, Przywara’s own principle of double-transcendence may also be taken to imply that any degree of dissimilarity (i.e. greater or lesser) should be transcended in some further similarity, so that just as similarity is transformed into dissimilarity so is dissimilarity transformed into similarity. This suggests that the radical alterity of the negativum should be resolved into a positivum that incorporates its dialectical oscilation of contrary differences without collapsing into any equivocal difference.  

To read more about Przywara and the analogy of being, see my essay Dialectical Analogy and Analogical Dialectics: Przywara and Hegel on the Analogy of Being

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