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Meister Eckhart: Analogy, Univocity and Unity PDF

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MEISTER ECKHART MEISTER ECKHART ANALOGY, UNIVOCITY AND UNITY BURKHARD MOJSISCH Ruhr- Universität Bochum Translated with a Preface and an Appendix by Orrin F. Summerell B.R. GRÜNER AMSTERDAM/PHILADELPHIA The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of Ameri can National Standard for Information Sciences — Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48-1984. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Mojsisch, Burkhard. [Meister Eckhart, English] Meister Eckhart : analogy, univocity, and unity / Burkhard Mojsisch ; translated with a preface and an Appendix by Orrin F. Summerell. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references (p.) and index. 1. Eckhart, Meister, d. 1327. 2. Mysticism-Germany-History-Middle Ages, 600-1500. I. Summerell, Orrin F. II. Title. BV5095.E3.M6513 2001 189'.5-dc21 2001042857 ISBN 90 6032 465 X (Eur.) © 2001 - John Benjamins B.V. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form, by print, photoprint, microfilm, or any other means, without written permission from the publisher. John Benjamins Publishing Co. • P.O.Box 36224 • 1020 ME Amsterdam • The Netherlands John Benjamins North America • P.O.Box 27519 • Philadelphia PA 19118-0519 • USA TABLE OF CONTENTS TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE IX ABBREVIATIONS XIII Abbreviations of Meister Eckhart's Works Other abbreviations 1. INTRODUCTION 1 1.1. Viewpoint - A methodological principle 1 1.2. Meister Eckhart's "nâch dem nemenne" 5 1.3. "Per rationes naturales philosophorum" - Eckhart's program 6 1.4. Design 20 2. REASON AND RATIONAL COGNITION OF GOD: THE NON-RELATIONALITY OF ABSOLUTE INTELLECTUALITY 25 2.1. The turning point 25 2.2. From Albert the Great to Meister Eckhart by way of Theodoric of Freiberg 27 2.2.1. Albert the Great: The agent intellect as a comparative instance for the divine reason 27 2.2.2. Theodoric of Freiberg: God as intellectivum and the theory of the causa essentialis 28 2.2.3. Meister Eckhart: causa essentialis and principium essentiale 31 2.3. The development of thought in the 'Quaestio Parisiensis I' 34 2.3.1. "Intelligere fundamentum ipsius esse" 34 2.3.2. The disjunction 'divine reason - created being' 35 2.3.3. Presuppositions 38 2.3.4. Progressing towards the goal: Divine reason in its non-relational separateness from everything which it is not 41 2.3.5. The essence of God as reason: Reason as the ground of divine being 43 2.4. The result of the 'Quaestio Parisiensis I' and an attendant misgiving 45 Table of Contents 3. ANALOGY 49 3.1. The terminus generalis 'being' and its connection with the causa essentialis theory 49 3.2. "Esse est deus": Arguments for the identity of being and God 51 3.3. Determinate being as determinate and as being 55 3.4. Analogy and being 59 4. UNIVOCITY 67 4.1. The difference between analogue relation and univocity 67 4.2. Univocal correlationality in the realm of nature 70 4.3. The structure of univocal correlationality in contrast to analogue relationality in the realms of nature and skill and in the divine-intellectual realm 72 4.3.1. The paradigm 'justice - the just' 76 4.3.2. The good - goodness and the just -justice in the 'Buoch der goetlîchen troestunge' and in German sermons 6 and 39 81 4.3.3. The paradigm 'archetype - image' 86 Eckhart and Johannes Picardi of Lichtenberg 86 Johannes Picardi of Lichtenberg's imago theory: Characterization and evaluation 88 Eckhart 's imago theory 91 5. UNITY 95 5.1. Negatio negationis 95 5.1.1. The unum in Theodoric of Freiberg 's theory of the transcendentals: privatio privationis as privatio - The uncancellability of the negative determinacy of the unum 96 5.1.2. The unum in Eckhart: The ground of being or unity 98 5.2. The objective paradox theory: The unum as indistinctum 100 5.2.1. The indistinctum arguments: The indistinct in its distinction and indistinction over against everything distinct 102 5.2.2. The reception of the indistinctum theory in Nicholas Cusanus 106 5.2.3. The combination of the theoretical components 'analogy', 'univocity' and 'unity' in Eckhart's indistinctum theory 109 5.2.4. Unity, essence, reason, being, nothing in their convergence and difference 110 The priority of the divine reason before that being identical with it: The transcendental principium as the unity of essence and being and the perspective of the independence of essence 110 VI Table of Contents Jakob von Metz: The duplicity of the concept of essence (essentia secundum se et absolute considerata as the origin of divine being and essentia qua attributum) and the identity of absolute essence and reason 113 'Isticheit' in Eckhart: That essence immanent in the transcendental principium 115 Unity, essence, being, reason: Their distinct perspectives 121 Nothing as the essentia divina or as transcendental being 122 The so-called 'Apologia' as a mirror of changing perspective: The identity of transcendental being and divine cognition and the priority of reason as the indistinct 124 6. THE THEORY OF THE SOUL 129 6.1. Eckhart on the edge between progressive orthodoxy and heresy: His aim of revolutionizing the self-understanding of man 129 6.2. The becoming of God through the I as causa sui 137 6.3. Eckhart's critique of Aristotle 140 6.4.1. The soul and its faculties 143 6.4.2. Letting go as having nothing in common with anything else: The possible intellect as the possibility of transcendental-univocal cognition 146 6.5.1. The ground or the spark of the soul in its analogue relationality and univocal correlationality 152 6.5.2. The univocal theorem of the birth of God in the ground of the soul: Its meaning and limit 157 6.5.3. The ground of the soul as unity: Leaving one's own and living out of one's own 162 CONCLUSION 169 APPENDIX: ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS OF LATIN AND MIDDLE HIGH GERMAN CITATIONS 171 LITERATURE 203 INDEX NOMINUM 217 VII TRANSLATOR' s PREFACE The past two decades have witnessed a torrent of consequential international re search on the life and work of Meister Eckhart, research which has pursued ever more specialized investigations into the historical late-medieval and even re gional context of this life and work and delivered important new information about its chronology, its sources and its influence.1 Without a doubt, and not sur prisingly, the standard of this research, which has resulted as well in critical edi tions of new texts of Eckhart and other associated thinkers, his predecessors and his epigoni, has been largely established in German-language studies, although other European continental research cannot be ignored. Likewise, these years have witnessed a surge in English-language studies and translations of Meister Eckhart: Meister Eckhart the theologian, the teacher, the preacher, the poet, the master of language, the spiritualist, the mystic - this, too, in conjunction with such varyingly proximate themes as, for example, the later Martin Heidegger's doctrine of being, orthodox Christian theology, medieval religiosity, existential ism or a Zen Buddhist apprehension of nothingness. This reflects the remarkable fact that hand-in-hand with the increasing specialization of and advancements in international Eckhart-scholarship, the thought of Meister Eckhart has attained a broad popularity, and this not just in the Anglo-Saxon realm. The work of this Dominican magister whose life spanned the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries has gained a new and pressing relevance. Against the background of this diverse reception of Eckhart's work, and for all of its justified appeal, the reason - indeed, the genuine necessity - for the pre sent translation of Burkhard Mojsisch, Meister Eckhart. Analogie, Univozität und Einheit (Hamburg 1983) is relatively straightforward: There simply is no compa rable book-length analysis in the English language approaching the thought of Meister Eckhart the philosopher within the rich and complex philosophical tradi tion in which this thought is embedded and from which it draws its authority. The scrupulously argued thesis of the present study is that the concepts of anal ogy, univocity and, finally, unity fundamentally define Eckhart's program of 1 For an overview of recent literature on Meister Eckhart see the bibliography and research reports by Nikiaus Largier: Bibliographie zu Meister Eckhart (Freiburg/Schweiz 1989). Meister Eckhart. Perspektiven der Forschung, 1980-1993, in: Zeitschrift für deutsche Philologie 114 (1995) 29-98. Recent Work on Meister Eckhart. Positions, Problems, New Perspectives, 1990-1997, in: Recherches de Théologie et Philosophie Médiévale 65 (1998) 147-167 . Translator's Preface thought as a theory of the relation of man and God, of man and man, of God and God, of self-relation. Only by setting Meister Eckhart the philosopher in philo sophical-historical relation to Albert the Great, Aristotle, Dionysius Pseudo- Areopagita, the Liber de causis and the Neoplatonic heritage, Theodoric of Frei berg and Thomas Aquinas as well as Eckhart of Gründig, Jakob of Metz and Jo hannes Picardi of Lichtenberg can both the genuine novelty and the profound continuity of Eckhart's thought be adequately comprehended; and it is only out of this setting that any further systematic comparisons can be fully developed. As Burkhard Mojsisch asserts in the preface to the German original of this study: "A new interpretation of Meister Eckhart deserves the title 'new' only when it suc ceeds in depriving Eckhart's thought of the appearance of unclarity, in displaying the constitutive significance of previously ignored philosophical-historical and systematic connections for this thought and so evoking a principle rethinking in reflecting about this thought". Letting Eckhart speak and be heard for himself means, first of all, allowing him to address us clearly out of the tradition in which he thinks. The present need compelling the remarkable turn in both academic scholarship and popular culture to Meister Eckhart, whose thought radically challenges the va lidity of intellectual, historical and cultural categories which would indiscriminately fix the content of its particular moments, can only be met - that is, it can be both assayed and eventually fulfilled - only when this thought is apprehended in its genuine lucidity. This translation of Burkhard Mojsisch's study aims at promoting a rethinking of Eckhart's thought in its philosophical-historical context by provid ing the English-speaking world with an interpretation of Meister Eckhart different in kind from the way in which he has hitherto been understood. It is the careful in terpretation of the metaphysical dimension of the return of the soul, by means of a certain detachment from or letting-go of the determinate otherness of all creatureli- ness, into its ground or spark, into that something in the soul congruent with the pure unity of the Godhead itself, into that conterminousness where, according to Meister Eckhart, God is above being and above distinction, where "God's ground is my ground and my ground is God's ground".2 Not I as creature nor God as creator, but the Godhead itself as this metaphysical ground - whereby one must not forget that for Eckhart Scripture is metaphysics3 - composes the - acknowledged or unac knowledged - hub of the many theological, pedagogical, linguistic and spiritual perspectives on Eckhart's thought, that is, insofar as they apprehend this thought at 2 Cf. Pr. 5b; DW I, 90, 8. 3 Cf. In Ioh. n. 160; LW III, 131, 13-132, 6. X

Trans. by Orrin F. Summerell The thought of Meister Eckhart ― the Dominican theologian, the preacher, the master of language, the mystic ― exudes a remarkable fascination on the modern mind, not the least due to its characteristic interplay of scholastic-academic and vernacular terminology. This
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