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The Indiscrete ImageInfinitude and Creation of the Human$
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Thomas A. Carlson

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780226093154

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226093178.001.0001

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The Indiscrete Image
University of Chicago Press

In Indiscretion: Finitude and the Naming of God (1999), the author elucidated an analogy between the logic of Being-toward-God in traditions of mystical theology, where the relation of soul to God concerns a naming of the unnameable or a thinking of the unthinkable, and the logic of Being-toward-death in Heideggerian and post-Heideggerian thinking about the human as finite, mortal existence, where the individual's relation to death signals the paradoxical possibility of an impossibility. In both directions, according to a so-called “apophatic analogy,” the subject of thought and language finds itself always already constituted in relation to a term that conditions all thought and language while ever eluding their full or final capture in the presence of any experience. Figured in terms of their “indiscretion,” then, the structure and movement of a negative theology—according to which the endlessly named, conceived, and imagined God remains ultimately ineffable, inconceivable, and unimaginable—could never be securely distinguished from, nor identified with, the structure and movement of a negative anthropology, according to which our finite, mortal existence remains ever a mystery to us. This book aims to take up and advance this understanding of the human as incomprehensible to itself by showing such incomprehensibility, or the lack of definition it implies, to be a condition of the creative, and indeed technological, capacity that the human inescapably inhabits but never actually exhausts. It regards the creative possibility of mortal human existence more in terms of the infinitude or indetermination of such existence—and of such possibility. In that direction, the work posits and develops an intimate linkage between the indetermination of the human, its relative lack of definition or discretion, and the inexhaustible capacity of the human to create and recreate both itself and its world through processes of birth that may themselves go to the heart of the nature we inhabit.

Keywords:   creative, humanity, Heidegger, thought, language, negative theology, negative anthropology

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