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On the Foundation of the Distinction Between Theology and Philosophy

JEAN-LUC MARION UNIVERSITY OF PARIS-SORBONNE (PARIS IV), FRANCE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO, U.S.A.

The Conflict of the Faculties

he question of philosophy and of its being taught in the university always leads to the question of the freedom of inquiry. Like any other discipline, philosophy can unfold only under the condition of its freedom; and even more so than any other discipline, because it does not dispose, like the other disciplines, of an object determined by a method that would constitute it, but must each time build a road on which to march. It remains that philosophy is taught and developed only within the framework of institutions, particularly of universities. How can such an institution allow, tolerate, even guarantee such an unconditional freedom as the condition of everything? How can philosophy demand this without putting into question the institution to which it nevertheless belongs and without entering into conflict with other disciplines? This danger appears clearly when philosophy comes into contactlike two tectonic plateswith theology, which not only cannot not admit a normative authority (that of the revealed datum and, only then, that of the ecclesial Magisterium) but which can hardly avoid the temptation (or the duty) to impose its own norms and results on other disciplines, and first of all on philosophy. What Kant called the conflict of the faculties (between theology, law, and medicine on the one hand and philosophy on the other) in fact goes back to the very foundation of the universities which immediately provoked a conflict between the faculty of theology and the faculty of arts and
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which cuts through the whole history of the university even to our day: one of the most decisive dividing lines among university systems in the world today passes between universities which have always had a faculty of theology and those which have suppressed it. Evidently, the conflict between faculties is noticeable above all in universities which have kept the two faculties alongside each other, and thus primarily in Catholic universities. Catholic universities paradoxically appear to be the privileged site of the conflict always possible between philosophy and theology. The popular interpretation of this conflict amounts to an opposition of the faculty of philosophy, which would defend the rights of reason (or at least that of rationality), against the faculty of theology, which would defend the rights of faith and indeed of the Revelation. There is an additional variable in that the frontline could pass even within the faculty of theology: between the so called scientific disciplines (exegesis, church history, etc) and the speculative disciplines. Moreover, the frontline can pass within the speculative disciplines themselves: between the conservative positions and the progressive avant-garde, etc. One can admit, following above all the authority of Kant, as a necessary evil, that the conflict between the superior faculties [here, theology] and the inferior faculty [philosophy] will first of all be inevitable, but, and secondly, that it will also be legal, and even that it cannot be stopped, because the faculty of philosophy can never lay down its arms in front of the danger that threatens truth, the protection of which is entrusted to philosophy, because the superior faculties will never abdicate their claim to dominate.1 Let us recognize that, more often than not and even in Catholic universities, once we discuss the freedom of inquiry before the authority of the Magisterium, we reason out like Kantians of the strict observance. Our argument, however, will not be to take one side or the other in this conflict and not even to attempt, after so many others, a mediation. It will be to interrogate ourselves on the very terms of the relation between philosophy and theology: it could in fact be the
Immanuel Kant, The Conflict of the Faculties (Der Streit der Fakultten), trans. with an introduction by Mary J. Gregor (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1979), I.1.4, pp. 53 and 55. [Translators note: In this instance, we have translated from the French translation cited by the author. The source for the English translation cited here is provided for the benefit of the reader who wishes to consult the full text.]
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case that the lack of precision of these concepts, indeed the confusion in the definitions, not only forbids any clarification of obscurities, but constitutes in fact the heart of the problem, nobody knowing exactly what he is defending and against what. For the conflict of the faculties supposes that one identifies, to begin with, what one opposes in order to then clearly determine the difference between the disciplines. Now, this difference, most of the time and first of all, is found supposedly known and presupposed without ambiguity. We will show on the contrary that this is no longer evident today because the contemporary situation of philosophythat of the end of metaphysics and the radical possibilities that it opens up to thought2renders problematic or even obsolete the criteria which up to now have been retained for rigorously distinguishing philosophy and theology, and then eventually for describing the supposed conflict. It could be that, with the loss of these usual criteria of their differentiation, the conflict itself becomes obsolete and a totally different relationship is sketched between them.

Brief Historical Remarks


Before any conceptual discussion, it is appropriate to recall two historical facts that underlie the question that we have just introduced. We must remember first of all that Christian thought, when it found itself charged with exposing, rendering credible, and therefore conceptualizing the Revelation of God in Jesus Christ, did not have recourse to the term theology. This term came from propositions concerning the divine proffered by poets and the first Greek thinkers, doubly mortgaged first of all by the indeterminate acceptance of the gods and of the divine, with which the designation of the one incommensurable God of the biblical Revelation absolutely broke off; and then of the uncritical assumption of being able to say anything whatsoever about God, whereas the God of Revelation not only proves to be unsayable and unnameable as such, but paradoxically exercises for himself the function of the and, in speaking of himself, thus imposes a theo-logy before the least theo-logy.3 It is in this sense that
2 Regarding this point, see our study on The End of Metaphysics as a Possibility, trans. Daryl Lee, in Religion after Metaphysics, ed. Mark A. Wrathall (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003), pp. 165-89. 3 To the theologia, quasi sermo de Deo theology, as it were, talk about God, (St.

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Dionysius will end up reintroducing the term when, in making use of affirmative and negative theologies, he refers to and repeats the names that God himself uses in his regard in the Scriptures (obviously in a manner different from any kind of Neoplatonism). We will have to wait until Abelard and even the constitution of theologia as a science by St. Thomas for the term to find itself definitively received by Christian usage. That for twelve centuries, and precisely during those centuries when it forged its most decisive concepts (concepts which underlie our discourse even today), Christian thought had almost ignored, that is to say did not really need, the term theologia, should at least surprise us and put us on guard against the assurance that the concept of theology is a matter of course. How can such a long absence of theologia in the history of theology not continue to determine its status today? The reticence with regard to the term theologia, for example on the part of St. Augustine, indeed leads us, if we examine the reasons, to another surprise: that of the equivalence between theology and philosophy. When in fact he mentions the minimalist definition: Theologiam pertinent, quo verbo grco significari intelligimus de divinitate rationem, sive sermonem Theology, a Greek term by which we understand to signify reasoning or discourse concerning divinity,4 it is not yet a
Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologi Ia, q.1, a.7, sed contra) one can contrast a more original sermo ab Deo whose ad nos revelatio divina processit divine revelation has come down to us. (Summa theologi Ia, q.1, a.2, ad 2) [English translation: Summa Theologi, vol. 1, Christian Theology (Ia.1), ed. and trans. Thomas Gilby, O.P. (Cambridge, UK: Blackfriars, 1964). [Translators note: in all quotations from St. Thomas Aquinas, all emphases are those of the author.] 4 St. Augustine, The City of God against the Pagans, ed. and trans. Robert W. Dyson (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998), VIII.1.34, p. 312 [translators note: as with the first footnote, the translation has been modified], echoing a definition of sapientia by Cicero: Sapientiam esse rerum divinarum et humanarum scientiam cognitionemque Wisdom is the knowledge of things divine and human in Tusculan Disputations, with an English translation by John Edward King (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996), IV.26.57, pp. 392-3 and: Illa autem sapientia, quam principem dixi, rerum est divinarum et humanarum scientia, in qua continetur deorum et hominum communitas et societas inter ipsos Again, that wisdom which I have given the foremost place is the knowledge of things human and divine, which is concerned also with the bonds of union between gods and men and the relations of man to man. in De Officiis, with an English translation by Walter Miller (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1975), I.43.153, pp. 156-7 or ibid., II.2.5, pp. 172-3. The catalogue of reference has been drawn up by Goulven Madec, Saint Augustin et la philosophie. Notes critiques (Paris: Institut dtudes augustiniennes, 1996), particularly chapter 2, which

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question here of what the moderns will name theologia in its double (even opposite) meanings: either the knowledge of Revelation or the other theologia rationalis, which, as one of the parts of the metaphysica specialis, is in turn framed by the metaphysica generalis (or ontologia).5 It is a question here of something much less than that. It only alludes to the usage in fact proposed by Varro: Tria genera theologi dicit esse, id est rationis qu de diis explicatur, eorumque unum mythicon appellari, alterum physicon, tertium civile He says that there are three classes of theology, that is to say of reason furnishing explanations concerning the gods: the one mythical, the other physical (and by this philosophers speaking of nature and the heavenly movements), and the third political,6 in other words the theologia of the poets narrating stories about the gods, that of the philosophi considering the movements of the stars, and that of the priests celebrating the cult of the city.7 St. Augustine does not accept to be the theologian of any of the first two theologi, that of the poets (whose ridiculous and immoral fables are a calumny of the divinity), and that of the city (purely political, for reflecting the ideological claims of the city). It therefore remains to consider only theologia naturalis, qu non huic tantum [sc. Varron], sed multis philosophis placuit the natural theology that was suitable not only to Varro, but to a number of philosophers.8 This privilege holds on to the fact that it is a question of this part of philosophy (physics, or more exactly cosmology) that defines what in nature, indeed in its regular heavenly movements, most closely approximates the divine immutability. And, therefore, since only philosophers reach this narrow but real rationality, Christian thought (what today we call theology) can only discuss with these philosophers and never with the other theologies (which are empty of all rationality) of the pagans:
we follow essentially. 5 See infra, note 13. 6 St. Augustine, City of God VI.5.1, p. 246. [translation modified] 7 Varro, Antiquitates rerum divinarum libri I-II fragmenta, ed. Augusta Germana Condemi (Bologna: Zanichelli, 1965), vol. 1, pp. 9, 10, 14, 16 and 17 (fragments 10, 14, 23, 28 and 29, respectively) reproducing City of God VIII.1, VII.6, VI.5 and VI.6. Even the formulation [theologia] naturali, qu philosophorum est natural theology which belongs to the philosophers (City of God VI.8.2, p. 256) refers to the discourse on divinity on the basis of nature, that is to say of cosmology such as Varro understands it, and evidently without anticipating in any way the metaphysica specialis. 8 St. Augustine, City of God VII.6, p. 276. [translation modified]

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Non cum quibuslibet hominibus; sed cum philosophis est habenda collatio. The confrontation must not take place with just about anybody but with philosophers.9 Thus, in a strict sense, that is to say in the sense in which he himself understood it, St. Augustine does not, except in a very marginal way, work as a theologian: strictly speaking, he would rather admit doing the work of a philosopher, in the strict sense of an amator Dei. Thus concludes the discussion: Verus philosophus est amator Dei. The true philosopher is the one who loves God.10 Obviously, this meaning of philosophy has nothing or very little in common with the contemporary use of the term. This nevertheless remains a fact, and a fact which has persisted as long as the use of philosophia christiana could designate the monastic life, and, more generally, the properly Christian way of life (that is to say at least until Erasmus).11 Thus, not only does the term theologia not always define the exercise of thinking out the Revelation, but philosophia can be substituted for it, by virtue of its obvious meaning of love of wisdom and, therefore, of the author and of the site of Wisdom. In this context, the conflict of the faculties is no longer a matter of course just as the very definitions of the opposing faculties are no longer a matter of course. Reciprocally, the antagonism between theologia and philosophia implies that a rivalry can make them oppose each other, a rivalry implying in turn a common ground of confrontation. Historically, these conditions were not obtained before the intellectual climate of his
Ibid., VIII.1, p. 312. [translation modified] This point has been strongly underlined by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, The Truth of Christianity? in Truth and Tolerance: Christian Belief and World Religions, trans. Henry Taylor (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), pp. 165-72. 10 St. Augustine, VIII.1, p. 312. [translation modified] This remains in profound harmony with a more ancient position, that of St. Justin: So, among the non-Hellenic peoples, those who are and those who seem to be wise all have the one common namethey are all named Christians. in Writings of Saint Justin Martyr, trans. Thomas B. Falls (New York: Christian Heritage, Inc., 1948), Apology I.7, p. 40; and also ibid., XXVI.6, p. 63. See Daniel Bourgeois, La sagesse des anciens dans le mystre du verbe. vangile et philosophie chez saint Justin, philosophe et martyr (Paris: Tqui, 1981). 11 tienne Gilson goes even all the way up to Calvin:the Christian philosophy of Calvin is a purely supernatural knowledge; in a word it is a theology. in Nature and Philosophy, in Christianity and Philosophy, trans. Ralph MacDonald, C.S.B. (New York: Sheed and Ward Inc., 1939), p. 18. On this syntagma, see Gustave Bardy, Philosophie et philosophe dans le vocabulaire chrtien des premiers sicles, Revue dasctique et de mystique 25 (1949), pp. 97-108.
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time led St. Thomas Aquinas to make two genial but very particular decisions. First of all, that of articulating together under the title of metaphysica three sciences left unconnected by Aristotle: first of all the prima philosophia which considers the first causes of things (thus in the end God), then the metaphysica in a narrower sense which considers ens (what is) and what follows from it, and finally the scientia divina sive theologia which considers the separated substances (thus in the first place God).12 These three sciences will culminate, in a fixed form from Suarez to Kant (and beyond), in what will reign under the title of the system of metaphysics: the metaphysica treating (first of all as metaphysica generalis and then under the later title of ontologia) of ens in quantum ens (what is insofar as it is, being as being); the prima philosophia unfolding in a triple metaphysica specialis which includes (beside cosmologia rationalis and psychologia rationalis) what will then take the name of theologia rationalis.13 It is this disciplines task to treat
12 St. Thomas Aquinas, Promium, in In duodecim libros Metaphysicorum Aristotelis Expositio. [English translation: Prologue, in Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle, trans. John P. Rowan (Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1961), vol. 1, pp. 1-2.] 13 On the contrary meanings of theology as metaphysica specialis in contrast with the theologia of Revelation, see our brief clarifications in Tho-logique, in Andr Jacob (ed.), Encyclopdie philosophique universelle, vol. 1, LUnivers philosophique, (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1989), pp. 17-25 and in Being Given: Toward a Phenomenology of Givenness (Stanford, CA.: Stanford University Press, 2002), pp. 71 ff., as well as Olivier Boulnois, Duns Scot: La rigueur de la charit (Paris: ditions du Cerf, 1998), chapter 3 . For a comprehensive history of the constitution of metaphysics in metaphysica generalis and metaphysica specialis (including theologia rationalis), see, in addition to On Descartess Metaphysical Prism: The Constitution and Limits of Onto-theo-logy in Cartesian Thought, trans. Jeffrey L. Kosky (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1999), chapter 1, and La science toujours recherche et toujours manquante, in La mtaphysique. Son histoire, sa critique, ses enjeux, ed. Jean-Marc Narbonne and Luc Langlois (Paris: J. Vrin, 1999), pp. 13-36, the dossier of Jean-Franois Courtine, Suarez et le systme de la mtaphysique (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1990), on the basis of the works of Hans Reiner, Die Enstehung und ursprngliche Bedeutung des Namens Metaphysik, Zeitschrift fr philosophische Forschung 8 (1954), pp. 210-37 and Ernst Vollrath, Die Gliederung der Metaphysik in eine Metaphysica generalis und eine Metaphysica specialis, Zeitschrift fr philosophische Forschung 16, no. 2 (April-June 1962), pp. 258-84, then in Die These der Metaphysik. Zur Gestalt der Metaphysik bei Aristoteles, Kant und Hegel (Wuppertal: Henn Verlag, 1969). The Heideggerian background of this question has been treated in God Without Being: Hors-Texte, trans. Thomas A. Carlson, with a foreword by David Tracy (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1991), chapters 2 and 3.

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of God, whatever he may be, by means of pure reason, that is to say to eventually demonstrate his existence (by way of proofs) and to define his essence (by defining his attributes). It is only in this framework that philosophy allows God to enter within its field, that is to say within the system of metaphysics. Without the erection of such a system, God, in particular the God of Revelation, would escape from philosophywhich does not signify that even with this system God as such becomes accessible to it. No one understood and emphasized this better than St. Thomas because he distinguishes as clearly as possible the two meanings of theologia (Sic ergo theologia sive scientia divina est duplex. Thus, theology or divine science is twofold.). On the one hand, the theology which philosophers developed (also called metaphysics) considers the divine things but uniquely as principles of their knowledge, and not as objects of this knowledge (res divin non tamquam subjectum scienti, sed tamquam principia subjecti). Revelation remains as the principle of their study without them being able, through pure reason, to reach it as the direct object of their study. On the other hand and by contrast, the divine things in themselves become a direct object of study only for the believing reason, which has access to it through faith in the Scriptures themselves as the direct object of understanding: Alia vero [theologia], qu ipsas res divinas considerat propter seipsas ut subjectum scienti, et hc est theologia, qu in sacra Sciptura traditur. But of another sort is that theology which considers divine things on their own account as the very subject matter of its science. This is the theology taught in sacred Scriptures.14 Thus must we distinguish and even oppose two theologies: the theologia philosophica indirectly connected to the revealed God (as the principle of its object), henceforth destined to be integrated as theologia rationalis in the system of metaphysics, against the theologia vero sacr Scriptur [true theology of sacred Scriptures], directly connected to the God of Revelation (as its object), henceforth maintaining its distance to the whole
14 St. Thomas Aquinas, Expositio super librum Boethii De Trinitate q.5, a.4, resp. [English translation: The Trinity and The Unicity of the Intellect, trans. Sr. Rose Emmanuella Brennan, S.H.N. (St. Louis, MO: B. Herder Book Co., 1946), p. 164. Translation modified.] See: Theologia qu ad sacram doctrinam pertinet differt secundum genus ab illa theologia qu pars philosophi ponitur. The theology of holy teaching differs in kind from that theology which is ranked as a part of philosophy. (Summa theologi Ia, q.1, a.1, ad 2) [English translation: ibid., vol. 1]

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system of metaphysics. In this context, and in this context alone, can the two instances be distinguished from, be opposed to, and eventually confront one another. This was rapidly the case with the Protestant Reformation. This was not the case before the medieval restoration, first of all Thomist, of Christian thought (as non-theology) of the first centuries and of the Patristic period, which ignored the twofold nature of the two theologi that supposedly had the same interest at stake. The question of the distinction between these two knowledges of God has a history. It is not eternal and is therefore not a matter of course.

Criteria for Distinguishing from the Point of View of Philosophy


We now reach the conceptual question: Which criteria are available to us for distinguishing (thus eventually opposing) what are today named under the titles philosophy and theology? We will try to examine them in assuming first of all the philosophical point of view, as it is only appropriate in a colloquium organized by a gathering of faculties of philosophy. A first criterion results directly from the establishment of the system of metaphysics. Every science depends on the metaphysica generalis, specifically ontologia, insofar as it treats of an object which, obviously, must first of all be, of a being, of ens. This claim is also valid for each of the special metaphysics, hence first of all for the God of theologia rationalis; thus metaphysics examines God from the angle of his existence (and their proofs) and then his essence. But this is also valid for what the theologia sacr Scriptur [theology of sacred Scriptures] can claim to say of God in its own way. The events of the biblical narrative must be: they must be validated following the claims of the science of history, they must be attested in the texts following the rules of philology (the literal sense always being preeminent), etc. The two theologies will therefore be subordinated to ontology, the difference being determined by the positivity, more or less accentuated, of the beings (des tants) concerned and, therefore, by the empirical character of ontic verifications. In fact, this differentiation by subordination, though stemming directly from the system of metaphysics, survives it and extends its effects in many ways. Without evoking the positivity of Revelation, following Schelling, one finds almost the same thing in
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Heidegger who, in 1928, still considered theology (non-philosophical as well as philosophical) as an entirely ontic autonomous science by virtue of its positivity, and, as such, as dependent on the analytic of Dasein, which, as fundamental ontology, assumes even more the primacy of ontologia.15 It can also be suggested that the whole enterprise of demythologization undertaken by Bultmann rests on the subordination of theology, even and above all revealed theology, to a narrow determination of modern rationality (in fact as technique) established as an uncritical substitute for ontologia. Fundamentally, this hardly differs from the contemporary assumptions of Carnap, who assumed the logical critique of language as a quasi ontologia (curiously meant to undo what he imagined under the title of metaphysics). All these attempts, undertaken since then, to rectify theology in the name of the supposed authority of each of the now defunct social sciences (linguistics, psychoanalysis, sociology, literary theory, gender studies, etc) are essentially limited to reproducing the same tactics, only with weaker and weaker substitutes and less and less critical substitutes of ontologia. This criterion of distinction by subordination is exercised so often and so much that one is not able to contest its power. It remains that this power rests on a serious and, therefore, fragile presupposition: the distinction between the ontological and ontical sciences obviously supposes an incontestable ontologia or at least a credible avatar of ens in quantum ens [being as being, what is insofar as it is]. Thenceforth, one can seriously doubt that a philosophy in a position to claim for itself the status of an ontology, of a universal science of being (ltant), can be found today. Certainly, we do not lack claims for mastering or restoring ontologyin particular within the analytical and neoThomistic traditionsbut without them being able to redefine being (ltant) (supposing that one can surpass its irreducible undefinability in metaphysics from Duns Scotus to Hegel), without them also being
15 Martin Heidegger, Phenomenology and Theology, trans. James G. Hart and John C. Maraldo, in Pathmarks, ed. William McNeill (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998), pp. 50-4. A text which Heidegger refers very logically back to Being and Time, which includes theology among biology, sociology, etc within the sciences of phenomena which phenomenology itself dominates and constitutes (ibid., p. 39). See Martin Heidegger, Being and Time: A Translation of Sein und Zeit, trans. Joan Stambaugh (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996), 7, pp. 24-5.

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able to resolve the contradiction of its final equivalence with a cogitabile [what-can-be-thought], or even mastering the primacy of the concept in the conceptus entis. If Heidegger himself had to renounce his project of maintaining ontology even under the figure of a Fundamentalontologie, if he ended up not only abandoning all use of the term metaphysica precisely in order to think to be (ltre) without what is (ltant), which signifies thinking to be (ltre) without consideration of all metaphysics,16 if he had, in a sense, even turned his back on being (ltre) in favor of Ereignis in which it disappears,17 which philosopher today can still, while thinking what he said, make a claim for ontology in order to subordinate to it the theology of Revelation or even a philosophical theology, if there is still one? Otherwise posited, an ontology (and therefore its primacy over any ontic science) has no meaning except in a metaphysical regime: what happens to it in a regime characterized by the end of metaphysics? If our thought finds itself henceforth in a non-metaphysical situation, can and must it make a claim for an ontological criterion in order to distinguish philosophy from a theology of Revelation? But there is also another argument that can be opposed to this distinction characterized by the contrast between the ontological and the ontical: it is not obvious that the theologia sive sacra Scriptura remains a purely and simply ontical science, under the pretext that it concerns only events of historical positivity. First of all because the phenomenology of the event that contemporary thought has only begun to consider seriouslywhereas metaphysics had obscured it under the cover of an ontology of the objectleads without a doubt beyond (or at least elsewhere and beside) what is (ltant) considered in its concept. The event is indeed not limited to render an essence first of all conceived and then effectuated in existence, but accomplishes in ef-

To think Being without beings means: to think Being without regard to metaphysics. in Martin Heidegger, On Time and Being, trans. with an introduction by Joan Stambaugh (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2002), p. 24. [Translators note: In this and the following footnote, the author translates from the original German, which he provides in the footnote: Sein ohne das Seiende denken, heit: Sein ohne Rcksicht auf die Metaphysik denken. As with the previous footnotes, we have translated from the authors own French translation and cite here a published English translation for those who wish to consult the text in full.] 17 Being vanishes in Appropriation. (ibid., p. 22) [Sein verschwindet im Ereignis.]
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fectivity what no essence has allowed to fore-see (pr-voir), such that the event imposes against the conceivable (metaphysical) possibility an inconceivable impossibility, at least before the arrival of what-is-tocome (lavnement de ladvenant). It thus opens the site of new possibilities inasmuch as and even while it remains inconceivable and thus metaphysically impossible. In fact, each event redefines what is possible for what is in its being (les possibles de ltant en son tre), and, in this sense, exercises a more inaugural rather than ontical function, indeed a more inaugural rather than tangentially ontological function. It follows that the more a phenomenon is accomplished according to the mode of appearing of the event, the more it corrects and criticizes the metaphysical mode of being (tre) in itself and for the beings (les tants) which it renders possible by its very effective impossibility. Now the biblical Revelation deals precisely with these impossible events which nevertheless attest by their effectivity that nothing is impossible to God (Gn. 18: 14 = Lk. 1: 37). In particular, the events of the creation of the world and the resurrection of the flesh contradict at the same time possibility as non-contradictory conceivability for a finite mind (in the metaphysical sense) and the identity of what is (ltant) to itself (according to the principle of non-contradiction), that is to say that these events contest ontology and its definition of what is (ltant) as such. Even better, creation and resurrection consist precisely in not respecting the laws of ontologia, because they allow that which is not to be, thus that which is not to be identical to itself, and that an existence contradict an essence or that an essence contradict itself because as a matter of fact and as a facteach time God calls those who are not (les non-tants) as if they were (des tants), (Rom. 4: 17).18 In this sense, the events par excellence accomplished by creation and resurrection take on an ontological status, or rather a meta-ontological one in that they contradict the laws of ontologia for themselves and for all other beings (tants) as well (creation and resurrection being brought to bear by definition on being [ltant] in its totality). Indeed, once the indifference of God to
It could even be translated calls non-beings as beings (appelle les non-tants en tant qutants), echoing being as being (ltant en tant qutant). See our reading concerning the theoretical bearing of this text in God Without Being: Hors-Texte, trans. Thomas A. Carlson, with a foreword by David Tracy (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1991), pp. 86-9, 93, and 127.
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the human (and therefore metaphysical) delimitation of the possible and the impossible is attested, therefore the indifference of God to the rules of ontologia, all that is (the world) finds itself reinterpreted on the basis of what gives it being or which allows it to be (donne dtre), even against the this-worldly determinations of the being of beings (ltre de ltant), since it receives being (reoit dtre) on the basis of an instance which surpasses all merely ontological determinations of what is (ltant). Created or re-created, what is (ltant) comes from, above all, the gift of God and no longer only from the laws which the thought of ontologia assigns to being (ltre). With this inversion of the relation between ontologia and the possible, the distinction between the theology of Revelation and the philosophy of metaphysics is inverted, and, henceforth the first determines the second. In rendering invalid the ontological criteria of the distinction between what we today call philosophy and theology, we have already put in question another criterion, that of the difference between the possible and the impossible (and thus between what can be experienced and what cannot be experienced). Whether it is a question of the distinction between the potentia ordinata [ordered power] and the potentia extraordinaria [extraordinary power] of God, between the laws of order and the miracles, or between sensible intuition and intellectual intuition, this division always supposes that one could determine a priori the limits of rationality. And this in turn supposes the finitude of this rationality established as a condition of possibility (and of impossibility). Through an exactly Copernican reversal, finitude, as a fact of reason, ends up determining (for Kant) the infinite (and not the other way around as for Descartes), such that it renders the infinite impossible for us, that is to say in principle absolutely. That finitude may define the limits of the possible and the impossible supposes that it would be qualified to fix the conditions of possibility of beings (des tants), in fact of beings (des tants) conceived as its objectsotherwise put, that finitude assumes a transcendental a priori function. If finitude does not have a transcendental status, no longer will it have the right to fix (of course a priori) the limits between the possible and the impossible. Therefore, this limit can differentiate what we today call philosophy and theology only by maintaining philosophy itself in a transcendental situation, that is to say in assuming a transcendental ego and an equally transcendental idealism. This position can be
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held. Husserl at least held it just as Heidegger himself prolonged it in a way in Being and Time. But which other philosophy, including and above all among those that today most noisily refuse the theoretical legitimacy of theology, can and would still like to pay the price of a distinction founded on the transcendental function of finite subjectivity? Not only does the distinction between the possible and the impossible find itself de jure refused by the theology of Revelation, according to the principle that to God nothing is impossible,19 but it could be that philosophy itself could in fact no longer guarantee the use of this distinction, once no subjectivity can no longer assure the transcendental function. The end of metaphysics is neither a slogan nor an optional hypothesis, for it in fact forbids us to support theses which were assured only by the arguments of metaphysics: without ontologia and the transcendental status of the ego, what we understand today by philosophy can no longer be distinguished from what philosophy understands to be theology, following the distinction between the ontological and the ontical, as well as the distinction between the possible and the impossible.

Criteria for Distinguishing from the Point of View of Theology


If, therefore, philosophy can no longer today formulate from its own point of view its difference with what it calls theology, it remains for us to ask theology itself if it can, from its own point of view, formulate this difference. Indeed it would seem that one could privilege the opposition perfectly formulated by Duns Scotus, in the name of many other theologians (medieval as well as modern ones): In this question we are faced with the controversy between the philosophers and theologians. The philosophers insist on the perfection of nature and deny supernatural perfection. The theologians, on the other hand, recognize the deficiency of nature and the need of grace and supernatural perfection.20
See a more detailed argument in Jean-Luc Marion, The Impossible for Man God, in Transcendence and Beyond: A Postmodern Inquiry, ed. John D. Caputo and Michael J. Scanlon (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2007), pp. 17-43. 20 John Duns Scotus, Prologue, in Ordinatio, paragraph no. 5. [English translation: Duns Scotus on the Necessity of Revealed Knowledge (Prologue of the Ordinatio
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Against the letter of meta-physics (understood as transphysica), but according to its concept, philosophy, constituted as a system of metaphysics, would therefore treat of every being (l tant) inasmuch as it admits of a nature, leaving to theology the consideration, if there would be one, of what does not have a nature or which surpasses it. This distinction can seem relatively clear if one confines oneself to the problem which, for the most part, has given rise to it: the opposition between the natural beatitude of man (that of the wise man through contemplation exemplified in Book X of the Nicomachean Ethics) and beatitude by divinization or the vision of God, obviously beyond the natural powers of man. This nevertheless soon becomes problematic once we explicitate the principle that underlies it: that nature does nothing in vain, that nothing can desire what it cannot reach through its own strength. This thesis (of an Aristotelian origin) is perhaps valid for the things of the world, at least for those for which a quidditative definition remains conceivable or possible following a restrictive ; but it becomes problematic for the things (beings [tants], or more radically creatures) whose quidditative definition remains inconceivable because it does not remain radically by itself nor in itself. But such is the case par excellence for man who, created in the image of God, bears his image and likeness up to and including the incomprehensibility proper to God. Man, in order to remain himself, must remain undefinable, because he carries in himself, for his essence, the image of the undefinable God.21 The impossibility and illegitimacy of defining human nature allows, in the case of his desire for beatitude or desire to see God, for a natural desire of a supernatural good; it even demands this as a consequence of the paradox that mans nature is to surpass his own nature by virtue of the substitution in him of the least essence with the image of God that renders this essence useless and that replaces it. St. Thomas Aquinas has perfectly formulated this paradox: Nobilioris conditionis est natura qu potest consequi perfectum bonum, licet indigeat exteriori auxilio ad hoc consequendum, quam natura qu non potest consequi perfectum bonum, sed consequitur quodof John Duns Scotus), trans. Allan Wolter, O.F.M., Franciscan Studies 11, nos. 3-4 (1951), pp. 231-72.] 21 On the incomprehensibility of man, defined by the very absence of definition, see our essay Mihi magna qustio factus sum: The Privilege of Unknowing, The Journal of Religion 85 (January 2005), pp. 1-24.

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dam bonum imperfectum, licet ad consecutionem ejus non indigeat exteriori auxilio. A nature which can attain the perfect good, although it needs outside help, is of a higher condition than a nature which can attain without such recourse only a lesser good.22 The distinction between nature and the supernatural has at least one exception: that of the nature (immediately supernatural) of man himself. The decision of Cajetan concerning the supernatural (and no longer natural) character of the desire for God (henceforth reduced to a so called obediential power) will later on define the terms of the debate de auxiliis, a quarrel with neither issue nor legitimacy because it maintains, without interrogating it, a distinction which is perhaps valid for each thing, but precisely not for the first thing which theology (which at this moment bears its name well) must take into consideration. Moreover, even if this distinction has governed theology for a long time, from the Reformation and the seventeenth century, Scholasticism or dogmatics was no longer but one of the three theologies in opposition to positive theology and to mystical (or spiritual) theology. And it seems clear today that the renewal of Christian theology (in particular of Catholic theology) owes its essential results to these two latter theologies, the first one (positive theology) remaining creative only through a returnceaselessly renewed and threatened outside the various neo-Thomismsto St. Thomas who, in retrospect, appears to be in the direct line of the Fathers, particularly of St. Augustine. Theology cannot remain what it must be, a comprehension of the world as creation and of man as image of God on the basis of the Revelation of God in Jesus Christ, except by developing a discourse where nature is precisely never found to be separated from the supernatural, because the gift of grace precedes everything: being (ltre), essences,
22 St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologi IaII, q.5, a.5, ad 2. [English translation: Summa Theologi, vol. 16, Purpose and Happiness (IaII. 1-5), ed. Thomas Gilby, O.P. (Cambridge, UK: Blackfriars, 1969)] On this doctrine see the works of Henri de Lubac, S.J., The Mystery of the Supernatural, trans. Rosemary Sheed, introduction by David L. Schindler (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1998) and Augustinianism and Modern Theology, trans. Lancelot Sheppard, introduction by Louis Dupr (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 2000). On the intrinsic link of this doctrine with metaphysics beginning from Suarez and Descartes, see our study What is the Ego Capable of? Divinization and Domination: Capable / Capax, in Cartesian Questions: Method and Metaphysics, foreword by Daniel Garber (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1999), pp. 67-95.

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nature, freedom, etc, all of which precisely constitute immediately the gifts of grace, before being defined by themselves as autonomous natures in the pure state of nature [in puris naturalibus]. In the theology of Revelation, nature [natura] is revealed as always already natured [naturata] and never pure, and natured by a naturing nature [natura naturans] which is itself originarily super-natural.23 Not only can theology not be opposed to philosophy as the knowledge of the supernatural confronting the knowledge of nature and of the natural (because what we today call philosophy and theology can no longer define, neither one nor the other, a precise concept of nature, thus, by opposition, of the supernatural) but this dichotomy would take away from theology itself all its seriousness and its specificity. A remark imposes itself here. As a matter of fact, contemporary philosophy is not only characterized by its critique of the different meanings of the supernatural (rejected under the title of the world behind [Hinterwelt] since Nietzsche) but also and coherently by its abandonment of the concept of natureabandonment or rather powerlessness to define it since, henceforth, the ontico-ontological foundation of metaphysica generalis has also (and first of all) been wrecked to the advantage of the entirely imprecise univocity of objectivity. Strangely, only a handful of theologians maintain, with no further arguments, the concept of nature, sometimes only to allow for the survival of the supernatural. This powerlessness as such is no serious damage because it is precisely not the role of theology to define or re-define an intrinsically philosophical concept. But this excusable powerlessness dissimulates the tasks proper to the theology of Revelation, tasks that philosophy as such can never and will never be able to accomplish.

The Shared Indeterminacy


Let us summarize the provisional negative result that we have arrived at in these analyses. Firstly, the distinction between theology and philosophy has nothing original about it, but arises from a late historiIt must not be forgotten that Spinoza takes up the formulations natura naturans/ natura naturata (Ethics, I, proposition 29) of St. Thomas Aquinas (in Summa theologi IaII, q.85, a.6, resp., among others), who himself follows John Scotus Erigena. [English translation: Summa Theologi, vol. 26, Original Sin (IaII. 81-85), ed. T. C. OBrien, O.P. (Cambridge, UK: Blackfriars, 1965)]
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cal conjuncture, without any necessity in principle as confirmed, on the one hand, by their marginal role (if not their absence) in the first twelve centuries of Christian thought and, on the other hand, by the difcult complexity of mutually putting them in place from the thirteenth century onwards. Secondly, philosophy cannot be conceptually distinguished from what is now named theology except by assuming the fundamental decisions of the system of metaphysics (ontologia as metaphysica generalis, theologia as simply one of the metaphysic speciales, determination of the possible and the impossible on the basis of the finitude of the ego henceforth understood to be transcendental). Thirdly, the clearest attempt of modern theology to delimit its own territory while admitting the metaphysical turn of philosophy, indeed the distinction between nature and the supernatural (from Cajetan to transcendental Thomism), dangerously compromises the naturally supernatural character of the nature of man, exactly as metaphysics misunderstood in principle the originally created, that is to say, the originally given character of what it restrictively called ontologia. Fourthly, what is today called philosophy can no longer (and, as a matter of fact, no longer claims to) assume the decisions of metaphysics and thus can no longer conceptually justify its right to exclude from the field of rationality what it calls theology. Reciprocally, what is today named theology no longer in fact invokes the distinction between nature and the supernatural in order to define its specificity with regard to philosophy, but precisely proceeds following other criteria that are in fact empirical and historical, and that are minimally connected (if at all) to the contemporary state of philosophy. From all this follows a provisional result: the debates concerning the relationship of the disciplines of theology and philosophy, and therefore, consequently, the conflict of their respective faculties, and finally on the equilibrium (or the contradiction) between what is commonly called the freedom of inquiry, etc and what is commonly called the fidelity to the deposit of the faith, to the Magisterium, in other words concerning all these silent tensions that, for more than two centuries, have not ceased to compromise the work of the indivisible Christian thought in all its disciplinesthese debates no longer have any conceptual justification. They certainly still trouble contemporary research, but on the basis of an opposition which has disappeared, for want of combatants who are really armed, since the period when the end of metaphysics began. It is now only a
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question of the dark light of already extinguished stars. We find a remarkable indicator of this common indecisive indeterminacy in the renunciation by what is today called theology and philosophy of their claims to the status of sciences. Philosophy, immediately confronted with the paradigmatic scientificity of mathematics (Plato) has not ceased, in spite of strong reservations (Aristotle, the new Academy, Thomas Aquinas, etc), building a system with the sciences within metaphysica, and then equaling them and surpassing their certitude (Descartes), or even defining itself directly as a Wissenschaft (Hegel), a Wissenschaftlehre (Fichte, Bolzano), until a banal Erkenntnistheorie (of the various neo-Kantian philosophies), and finally a rigorous science (Philosophie als strenge Wissenschaft, Husserl). The obsessional prestige of the paradigm of science has gone so far that Carnap and the Vienna Circle could only conceive of the so called overcoming of metaphysics by a recourse to a science, be it only approximative of the analysis of language (berwindung der Metaphysik durch logische Analyse der Sprache). But the conditions to justify this scientificity always end up, consciously or implicitly, requiring nothing less than a transcendental posture, thus by recognizing an a priori which is itself essentially finite. No figure of contemporary philosophy today can still assume this transcendental posture, at least in the sense that metaphysics had never hesitated to make a claim for it. Now it happens that what we today call theology did not impose itself as theologia of Revelation except through a certain resistance and mimetismat the same time towards philosophia and what was to become its theologia rationalisin claiming for itself, too, the title of science (obviously rigorous), thus accomplishing what a great historian has qualified as the most sensational episode of the entry of Aristotle in Christendom.24 This claim did not take for its paradigm the certitude and the evidence of mathematics but, being regulated by the decisions of Aristotle, took for its paradigm the model of logical formality and the hierarchization of the sciences. To the recurring question How can we establish the scientific character of the Christian

24 On this once so crucial question, we are following Marie-Dominique Chenu, O.P., La thologie comme science au XIIIe sicle, 3rd ed., rev. and enl. (Paris: J. Vrin, 1969), p. 13. It can evidently be understood in two opposing senses.

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faith whose materials (Revelation, Scriptures in the tradition, etc) are not immediately given in the experience of the world but indirectly through faith?, St. Thomas proposes to answer by the subalternation of the sciences or, more exactly, by a quasi-subalternation25: in the same way that mathematics establishes its truths as principles for physics (geometry for perspective or astronomy, arithmetic for music, etc), likewise, because the habitus fidei is almost [quasi] like a habitus of principles, theologia draws its principles from faith (which receives the Revelation, Scriptures in the tradition, etc) by a quasisubalternation and therefore formally fulfills the criteria of scientificity.26 The development of contemporary theology, in the renewal of Thomistic studies and the reappropriation of the Fathers, as well as in the various dialectical, kerygmatic, aesthetic, dramatic theologies (and even the theological theology in the sense of the last part of the triptych of Hans Urs von Balthasar) unfolds entirelyat least one can reasonably argue soon the basis of surpassing the ambition of subjecting the Christian thought of the Revelation to the paradigm of a science, whatever this paradigm may be, whatever this science may be. And this for an essential reason: contemporary rationality, dominated by the end of metaphysics, no longer has a univocal concept of science at its disposal, even and above all in the most fundamental scientific disciplines. The crisis of foundation, which characterizes the progress of physics in quantum physics, has even been made possible by the
Ibid., pp. 82-3. habitus fidei, qui est quasi habitus principiorum (Scriptum super libros Sententiarum Magistri Petri Lombardi Episcopi Parisiensis I, Prologus, q.1, a.3, sol.2, ad 3); or ipsa, qu fide tenemus, sint nobis quasi principia in hac scientia. those truths that we hold in the first place by faith are for us, as it were, first principles in this science. (Expositio super librum Boethii De Trinitate I, q.2, a.2, resp.) [English translation: ibid., p. 53] See: Et hoc modo sacra doctrina est scientia, quia procedit ex principiis notis lumine superioris scienti, qu scilicet est scientia Dei et beatorum. In this second manner is Christian theology a science, for it flows from founts recognized in the light of a higher science, namely Gods very own which he shares with the blessed. (Summa theologi Ia, q.1, a.2, resp.) [English translation: ibid., vol. 1] Let us emphasize that, in principle, it is not a matter of a strict subalternation between two sciences, because the science of God and the saints does not itself constitute a science in the Aristotelian sense; it is only a question of the givenness (or availability) of principles which are themselves non-scientific; it is therefore, at best, a question of a quasi-subalternation. Marie-Dominique Chenu, O.P. underlines this very honestly, despite his uncritical enthusiasm.
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renunciation of any unification of knowledge on the basis of univocal principles which are compatible among themselves. It is appropriate that what we call theology today accepts this state of affairs and, consequently, definitively gives up seeking, in the latest philosophical fashion or the latest fashion in the social sciences, an ultimate and illusory paradigm (supposedly scientific) to which it must conform at any price (even at the price of losing the least access to the Revelation). And yet the attempt of St. Thomas Aquinas to confer a scientific status to theology offers the more attentive reader an indication that could perhaps break through this aporia. Indeed the principles that the habitus fidei can assign to the sacra doctrina as scientific theology comes to it from the (quasi) scientia superior which comes from and is dispensed by God and the saints (qu scilicet est scientia Dei et beatorum).27 It is here a question of principles, if you wish, but of principles given in the knowledge of experience, given in a non-immediate empirical way (which is not universally available, which is not an a priori but an enigmatic a posteriori), and yet effectively given. The eventfor it is indeed an eventof the Revelation, in giving this absolutely unforeseeable experience, which in a sense is absolutely impossible according to the criteria of metaphysical scientificity (because it is without horizon, without transcendental ego, without repetition, without predictability, without a quidditative definition, therefore without being an object), paradoxically opens a space of new knowledge, a field of phenomena which would have otherwise remained invisible. And thus it gives the possibility (metaphysically impossible) of a comprehension, that is to say it offers an extension of the field of rationality. As always, the extension of the field of the struggle liberates theory, even theological theory. The only question for a theology aware of its origin and thus of its originality will then be to understand how the new given of Revelation can unfold in a rationality that corresponds to it. And this extension of the given also constitutesfor every philosophy that wants to overcome, one day if it can ever do so, the end of metaphysicsthe most serious challenge, but also the only one which can save it. And in this way we can have a glimpse of how only a god could still save us.
St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologi Ia, q.1, a.2, resp. [English translation: ibid., vol. 1]
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To Know in order to Love, to Love in order to Know


The criterion, which remains between what we today call philosophy and theology, does not depend or, more exactly, no longer depends on the delimitations imposed by metaphysics on the field of the conceivable (and thus of what can be experienced); it depends instead on a separation that, at Gods initiative, Revelation introduces there: the distinction concerns the revealed and the non-revealed, the kerygma received and the wisdom (or knowledge) constructed: The of God is alive, effective, and more cutting () than a two-edged sword; it penetrates until the very division of the soul and the spirit, between the joints and the marrow, discerning the intentions and the thoughts of the heart ( ) (Heb. 4: 12). Literally the Word, thus reason, introduces a division, establishing a critical criterion for distinguishing among the thoughts and conceptions of men those which come from God. Inevitably, one can raise an objection to this criterion literally fallen from heaven: it already supposes the fact of Revelation (otherwise said, it implies that the tradition transmitted by the biblical texts is trustworthy). Thus it has meaning only for believers, supposing that the difficulty is resolved even before examining ittheology is distinguished from philosophy if one immediately admits the fact that a given, specific to the theology of Revelation, can be found. But it is precisely a question of what this criterion implies: it depends on each thinker to decide on what he admits as being given to him, thus, of deciding for himself in the face of the critical word ( ), in deciding whether he adds a given to the field of the conceivable and of what can be experienced or not. Theology begins when thought considers the revealed given as a phenomenal given, in principle equal to all other givens, in deciding to satisfy the particular epistemological procedures that it nevertheless claims for its reception. These conditions can be formulated in various ways but they always come back to the same reversal on the basis of the interpretation of Isaiah 7: 9 (according to the Vetus latina) that St. Augustine never stopped meditating on: Nisi credideritis non intelligetis Unless you believe, you will not understand. To understand the revealed given as an equally rationalizable given (thus in order to integrate it to
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a univocal and universal rationality), it is necessary (contrary to the procedures common to the other fields of knowledge) to begin by believingaccepting, validating, assumingit as given. In a sense the quasi-subalternation of theologia to the scientia beatorum [science of the blessed] is inscribed, in St. Thomas, in this line of thought. Moreover, this is also the case among certain of his predecessors when they reverse the conjunction between reason and belief: On the side of Aristotle, the argument is that reason, knowing one doubtful thing, produces belief, but from the side of Christ, the argument is that it is belief that produces reason.28 It was Pascal who fully clarified the originary radicality of this reversal in retrieving a formula of St. Augustine (Non intratur in veritatem nisi per charitatem. One does not enter into the truth except through charity.)29 and in commenting on this perfectly: Hence when speaking of things human, we say that we should know them before loving thema saying which has become proverbial. Yet
28 Propter hoc bene dictum est a quodam, quoniam apud Aristotelem argumentum est ratio rei dubie faciens fidem; apud Christum autem argumentum est fides faciens rationem. (Guillaume dAuxerre, Summa aurea. Prologus, ed. Philippe Pigouchet, fol. 2 ra), cited by Marie-Dominique Chenu, O.P. (ibid., p. 35), who identifies Simon de Tournai as the originator of this formula: Doctrina Aristotelis est de his de quibus ratio facit fidem, sed Christi doctrina de his quorum fides facit rationem. in Expositio in Symbolum Quicumque, ms. Paris, Nat. lat. 14886, fol. 73a. See also Gilbert de la Porre, In librum (Boethii) de prdicatione trium personarum, PL 64, pp. 1303-4: In cteris facultatibus non ratio fidem, sed fides prvenit rationem. In his enim non cognoscentes credimus, sed credentes cognoscimus. 29 St. Augustine, Contra Faustum XXXII.18, PL 42, p. 507. One must not omit (as Heidegger does, Being and Time, 29, pp. 131 and 403-4) the conclusion: Probamus etiam ipsum [sc. Spiritum sanctum] inducere in omnem veritatem: quia non intratur in veritatem nisi per charitatem; charitas autem Dei, diffusa est, ait Apostolus, in cordibus nostris per Spiritum sanctum qui datus est nobis (Rom. v, 5). We also prove that he [the Holy Spirit] leads us into all truth because one does not enter into truth except through love. But the love of God has been poured out in our hearts, the apostle says, by the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us (Rom. 5: 5). [English translation: Answer to Faustus, a Manichean (Contra Faustum Manichum), trans. with an introduction and notes by Roland Teske, S.J. (New York: New City Press, 2007), p. 420.] The epistemological reversal consists well in recognizing the revealed given as a given on the basis of what the Holy Spirit gives to be loved (ce que le Saint Esprit donne daimer); one can therefore not make it a part of an analytic of Dasein supposedly methodologically atheisticotherwise, it would be necessary to acknowledge that this analytic destroys ontologia only with the tools of Revelation itself, without the most powerful conceivable deconstruction of the system of metaphysics (as proven negatively by the recent attempts of Jean-Luc Nancy and, to a lesser degree, Jacques Derrida).

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the saints, on the contrary, when speaking of things divine, say that we should love them in order to know them, and that we enter into truth only through love. Of this they have made one of their most useful maxims.30 Pascal even makes of this a universal epistemological rule: Truth is so obscured nowadays and lies so well established that unless we love the truth we shall never recognize it.31 And thus, to claim to know God such as he reveals himself without loving him amounts to not knowing his truth and not even seeing it: What a long way it is between knowing God and loving him!32 Reciprocally, if love dominates among the three theological virtues (1 Cor. 13: 13), and if truth is not discovered here at the last instance except through love, then we can obviously sustain the paradox that the greatest of the Christian virtues is the love of truth.33 These formulations, which are systematically related, correspond directly to those of St. Augustine: Volo eam [sc. veritatem] facere in corde meo coram te in confessione. I want to do the truth in my heart before your face in a confession (Confessiones X.1.1.14.140).33 bis This same epistemological role of love towards truth can also be described negatively, following the thread of hatred which resists the repercussion, all the more accusatory, of truth: for it [self-love] conceives a deadly hatred for the truth which rebukes it and convinces it of its faults. It would like to do away with this truth, and not being able to destroy it as such, it destroys it, as best it can, in the consciousness of itself and others; that is, it takes every care to hide its faults both from itself and others, and cannot bear to have them pointed
30 See Blaise Pascal, The Art of Persuasion, in Great Shorter Works of Pascal, trans. with an introduction by Emile Cailliet and John C. Blankenagel (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1974), p. 203. We have commented on this thesis in On Descartess Metaphysical Prism: The Constitution and Limits of Onto-theo-logy in Cartesian Thought, trans. Jeffrey L. Kosky (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1999), 25, pp. 333-45. Heidegger, who cites this sentence ibidem, refers this erroneously to the Penses, a confusion owing to the imprecise usage of the Lon Brunschvicg edition of Penses et Opuscules (Paris: Hachette, 1912), p. 169 (see footnote 4 of Being and Time, 1, pp. 2 and 399). 31 Blaise Pascal, Penses, trans. with an introduction by Alban J. Krailsheimer, rev. ed. (London: Penguin Books, 1995), 739, p. 229. 32 Ibid., 377, p. 110. 33 Idem, Fragment dune XIXe Provinciale, in uvres compltes, ed. Louis Lafuma (Paris: ditions du Seuil, 1963), p. 469. 33 bis St. Augustine, Confessions, trans. with an introduction and notes by Henry Chadwick (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991), p. 179. [translation modified]

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out or noticed. For is it not true that we hate the truth and those who tell it to us, and we like them to be deceived to our advantage? [T]elling the truth is useful to the hearer but harmful to those who tell it, because they incur such odium.34 Evidently, this is a literal commentary of Confessions X.23.34 which successively treats of the veritas redarguens [the truth which challenges], the nolunt convinci quod falsi sint [they do not wish to be persuaded that they are mistaken], the oderunt eam [they hate the truth], and the initial citation of veritas parit odium [truth engenders hatred].34 bis Otherwise put, for Pascal as for Augustine, truth apart from charity is not God, but his image and an idol that we must not love or worship. Still less must we worship its opposite, which is falsehood.35 The field of what can henceforth be legitimately named theology is therefore defined thus: Revelation offers a given comparable to every other given of every other science. But the procedures of access to this given call for a different epistemology: here the given has nothing immediate about it because it is necessary to believe it in order to receive it and to eventually reach a partial and always provisional comprehension of it. In fact, to believe here means much more than
Blaise Pascal, Self-love, in Penses, 978, pp. 324-6. [Translators note: emphases by the author] See together with: There is a lot of difference between not being for Christ and saying so, and not being for Christ and pretending to be. The former can perform miracles, but not the latter, for it is clear in the case of the former that they are against the truth but not in that of the others, and so the miracles are clearer. (ibid., 843, p. 265) 34 bis St. Augustine, Confessions, pp. 199-200. 35 Blaise Pascal, Penses, 926, p. 295. At the same time, the text containing Contradictions have always been left to blind the wicked, for anything offensive to truth and charity is wrong. That is the true principle. (ibid., 962, p. 316) is almost a literal commentary of a series of Augustinian sentences: Initium operum bonorum, confessio est operum malorum. Facis veritatem, et venis ad lucem. Quid est, Facis veritatem? Venis autem ad lucem ut manifestentur opera tua, quia in Deo sunt facta; quia et hoc ipsum quod tibi displicuit peccatum tuum, non tibi displiceret, nisi Deus tibi luceret, et ejus veritas tibi ostenderet. (In Joannis evangelium XII.13, PL 35, p. 1491) The beginning of good works is the confession of evil works. You do the truth and you come to the light. What does it mean, you do truth? But you come to the light that your works may be made manifest, because they have been done in God, because also this very thing which displeases you, your sin, would not displease you unless God were shedding his light upon you and his truth showing it to you. [English translation: Tractates on the Gospel of John 11-27, trans. John W. Rettig (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1988, pp. 41-2]
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to hold as true (assumption, opinion, conviction, doxa, the first kind of knowledge, etc); to believe demands loving because the revealed given is not only worthy that we love it because it results from a gracious gift (a grace), but above all because it concerns in the last instance and from the very beginning the revelation of love itself. Love plays a role of epistemological mediation; it is a required condition of access to the revealed given. And it plays this role because, more radically, it exhausts and identifies that itself which Revelation gives: love in action (en acte, in actu). Such a theology, in the proper sense, is directly opposed to the thesis, for example, of Fichte: For me the relation of the divinity to ourselves as ethical beings is what is immediately given.36 Indeed, with perfect coherence, Fichte guarantees this immediacy of the given in postulating a strict transcendental attitude: To summarize: my philosophy of religion cannot be judged, discussed, or consolidated except from a transcendental point of view.37 And he concludes very logically that as long as theology is not summarized in a doctrine of religion, the doctrine of the relations of God to finite beings (tres finis), but, as must be the case, claims to remain a doctrine of the essence of God in and for himself, then, clearly and directly: this theology must be abolished as an illusion surpassing all finite faculty of comprehension.38 Theology, in the sense which we have tried to make more precise, results from a given, but from a given the experience of which contradicts the system of metaphysics in that it transgresses the limits between the possible and the impossible, the ontological and the ontical, the natural and the supernatural, limits which result from the transcendental attitude and which accomplish it. This contradiction becomes the fundamental condition of all serious thought about the Revelation and the conditions of mediate access to its given. To face this contradiction constitutes the duty and even the identity of

Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Appel au public contre laccusation dathisme II, in Querelle de lathisme: Suivie de divers textes sur la religion, trans. Jean-Christophe Goddard (Paris: J. Vrin, 1993), p. 55; Fichtes Werke, vol. 5, Zur Religionsphilosophie, ed. Immanuel Hermann Fichte (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1971), p. 214. For example, because the same antagonisms can easily be found in Kant and Hegel, not to mention their successors. 37 Idem, Rappels, Rponses, Questions, 19, in Querelle de lathisme, p. 149; Werke, p. 351. 38 Idem, Lettre prive, in Querelle de lathisme, p. 181; Werke, pp. 386 ff.
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theology as a knowledge of God in the twofold meaning of a knowledge about God and a knowledge starting from ( partir de) God.

Recapitulation and suggestions


From these quick remarks, we can at least draw the sketch of some conclusions which are also valid as the anticipated description of a new relation yet to come between a theology on the basis of Revelation and a philosophy at the end of metaphysics. Firstly, between these two knowledges, the unbridgeable gap between the modes of givenness (revealed from elsewhere for one, experienced by oneself for the other) and the gap between their modes of experience (immediate or mediated by faith and the love of truth) never put in question the formal identity of their relation to a given: like all knowledge, one and the other are concerned with the comprehension of a given. Moreover, the gap between the procedures of access to their respective givens and between the corresponding protocols of their experience cannot be measured except against the background of this formal univocity of the givens which come into play. If it is absolutely necessary to take notice of a difference, we can say that theology admits of a given which is broader (precisely because revealed, mediated, and coming from a radical elsewhere) than that of philosophy and, obviously, than those of the regional positive sciences. But this gap yet again manifests even better the fact that they exercise the same rationality as the comprehension of a given. It is enough to recognize that, if we consider it strictly from the philosophical point of view, without satisfying its epistemological requirement (believing in order to understand, loving in order to know), and thus without the mediation that opens up its given, the theology of Revelation remains and must remain a discourse of the as if : in the best of cases, a philosopher will admit that everything takes place as if the theological discourse rationally understood a given, but a mediate given, thus, obviously, without access to its own presupposition of the immediacy of the given in general: the unavailability of the revealed (mediate) given does not prevent the recognition of the rationality of its comprehension. The theologian can never ask for more, but the philosopher should never settle for less. On this condition, there will never be a competition between these two knowledges (their givens differ as radically as the manner of acceding
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to them) nor an epistemological contradiction (for the rationality of the procedures remains univocal).39 In this context, it then becomes absurd to imagine that, between philosophy at the end of metaphysics and the theology of Revelation, the contrast can be confined to having more or less freedom of inquiry or freedom of thought. Secondly, this gap and this supplementary mediation nevertheless place theology in a dominant position in relation to the other knowledges, and particularly philosophy. Indeed, theology, as theology of Revelation, has always had to resist the metaphysical constitution of philosophy; that it often easily or uneasily arrived at this in the course of history only confirms that it always tried to remain itself without devaluing itself in a compromised or counterfeit philosophy. By vocation, the theology of Revelation must settle outside metaphysics. It therefore precedes philosophy, which today struggles to admit the end of metaphysics, and, sometimes, to even see the question. But theology precedes philosophy on its own path, on the road of its own expansion as non-metaphysical philosophy. It does not impose any constraint on philosophy, but offers it the possibility of being delivered from the mortgage that still weighs heavily upon it because of the onto-theological constitution of metaphysics. In this way, theology becomes the rational bad conscience of philosophy because it can (and must) immediately consider a given (which is nevertheless mediate)it is true that it is a given which is highly exceptionalamong all the other new givens that philosophy at the end of metaphysics must consider and struggles so much to integrate. For the question of the fullness to be recognized in the givenotherwise said, the question of the extension of the fields of givenness and the modes of givennessis also posed to philosophy: that it does not have to integrate the mediate given of Revelation does not exempt it from considering the admission of givens that surpass the limits fixed by the system of metaphysics and by the transcendental attitude that accomplished it. Thus must it integrate non-objectifiable phenomena and non-beings (non-tants):
It is necessary to emphasize that philosophy never does and can never do theology (above all when it does philosophy of religion): what philosophers denounce as a theological turn remains an unfounded fear because it is a matter of a pious wish, of an illusory claim. Philosophy does not have the means for such a turn and much more is required of it, since it does not have access to the given (mediated by faith) of Revelation.
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the phenomena of the flesh, of the other human being (lautrui), of the idol, of the event, but also of the call, of boredom, of the lover, of the unsayable language (langage dngatif ),40 etc, in short, all that we have called saturated phenomena. Until where can and must this expansion extend? As far as it is concerned with this question, the theology of Revelation cannot, by origin and definition, but already respond to it: it must expand the given until the given of Revelation mediated by faith. But philosophy, situated at the end of metaphysics, has hardly begun to heed this demand today. Philosophy must admitwhat it already practices in reality without always being able to admit it clearlythat its abandonment in fact of the transcendental attitude opens to it the a priori limitless field of a radical empiricism, which is freed from the required interrogation concerning what one is allowed to experience and what one has no right to experience. As an adept of a radical (because transcendent) empiricism, theology also has the function of being the empirical bad conscience for philosophy. And in this sense, it happens that, by excess and inadvertently, it precedes philosophy in the openness to and the construction of philosophical questions. There is therefore a rationality of theology and it is the same as, although more complex and more powerful than, that of philosophy, and, to an even lesser degree, the same as that of the positive sciences: the comprehension of a given.41 The fact of ignoring this extension of
We are thinking here of the retrieval of what is mistakenly called negative theology by contemporary philosophy within the phenomenological movement [for Derrida and his discussion of our retrieval of the Dionysian doctrine to deconstruct deconstruction, see In the Name: How to avoid speaking of Negative Theology, reprinted in In Excess: Studies of Saturated Phenomena, trans. Robyn Horner and Vincent Berraud (New York: Fordham University Press, 2002), pp. 128-62 and On the Gift: A Discussion between Jacques Derrida and Jean-Luc Marion, moderated by Richard Kearney, in God, the Gift and Postmodernism, ed. John D. Caputo and Michael J. Scanlon (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999), pp. 54-78] as well as the analytic tradition, where the later Wittgenstein appears as the patient and resolute transgression of the prohibition which concludes the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus: whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must precisely not be silent, for to be silent already implies saying it (dj de [se] le dire) in one way or another, indeed of saying it in a third voice. 41 We are all familiar with the famous definition formulated by tienne Gilson: Christian philosophy is a philosophy which, though formally distinguishing the two orders, considers Christian Revelation to be an indispensable guide to truth.
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the given and, consequently, the possibility of an extension of rationality neither confers any rigor on those who ignore it and nor puts into question those who attempt to practice it.42 We can discuss if philosophy has ever played the role of a servant of theology (ancilla theologi), but it does not seem absurd to suggest that theology plays the role of the guardian of philosophy in order that philosophy may remain at the peak of its destiny.

Translated by Eduardo Jos E. Calasanz and John Carlo P. Uy

in Theology and Philosophy, in Christianity and Philosophy, p. 101. See The Spirit of Medival Philosophy: Gifford Lectures 1931-1932, trans. A. H. C. Downes (New York: Charles Scribners Sons, 1949), p. 37 and our discussion on Christian Philosophy Hermeneutic or Heuristic? in The Visible and the Revealed, trans. Christina M. Gschwandtner and others (New York: Fordham University Press, 2008), pp. 66-79 whose conclusions we essentially maintain. However, we would correct it thus: Christian theology precisely does not distinguish its rationality from that of philosophy (for reason is one and universal), but, through a mediation (that of faith), it accedes to a given more extensive than that of philosophy; in playing its proper role, Christian theology obliges philosophy to be liberated from the transcendental limits of the system of metaphysics. 42 A remark of tienne Gilson is worth noting: To be sure, there are and will, perhaps, always be philosophers without faith or law, but what they lack cannot confer any formal exactitude on what they possess. Philosophy is not more a philosophy when it is pagan than when it is Christian; it is then only an obscured philosophy. Philosophy is not less a philosophy when it is Christian than when it is pagan, nor is it more so; but it is better. (ibid., p. 87).

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