Mystical Languages of Unsaying
By (author) Michael A. Sells
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Mystical Languages of Unsaying by Michael A. Sells
Book DescriptionThis text examines a mode of mystical discourse, "apophasis", which literally means "speaking away." Sometimes translated as "negative theology," apophatic discourse embraces the impossibility of naming something that is ineffable by continually turning back upon its own propositions and names. In this study of apophasis in Greek, Christian and Islamic texts, Michael Sells offers a sustained, critical account of how apophatic language works, the conventions, logic, and paradoxes it employs, and the dilemmas encountered in any attempt to analyze it. This book includes readings of the most rigorously apophatic texts of Plotinus, John the Scot Eriugena, Ibn Arabi, Marguerite Porete, and Meister Eckhart, with comparative reference to important apophatic writers in the Jewish tradition, such as Abraham Abulafia and Moses de Leon. Sells reveals essential common features in the writings of these authors, despite their wide-ranging differences in era, tradition and theology. By showing how apophasis works as a mode of discourse rather than as a negative theology, this work aims to open the subject up for re-evaluation. Sells demonstrates that the more radical claims of apophatic writers - claims that critics have often dismissed as hyperbolic or condemned as pantheistic or nihilistic - are vital to an adequate account of the mystical languages of unsaying. This work also has implications for the relationship of classical apophasis to contemporary languages of the unsayable. Sells challenges many widely circulated characterizations of apophasis among deconstructionists, as well as a number of common notions about medieval thought and gender relations in medieval mysticism.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780226747873
(228mm x 157mm x 19mm)
Imprint: University of Chicago Press
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
Publish Date: 1-Feb-1994
Country of Publication: United States
Books By Author Michael A. Sells
Prophecy in Islam, Paperback (October 2011)
Explores the doctrine of prophetic revelation, a critical and definitive area of Islamic religious and political thought. The author traces the inception of this doctrine from ancient Greek texts, and also its interpretation and elaboration by Muslim philosophers in order to suit their vision of the Prophet.
Literature of Al-Andalus, Paperback (November 2006)
The Literature of Al-Andalus explores the culture of Iberia adopting an interdisciplinary and comparative approach.
New Crusades, Paperback (November 2003)
Not since the Crusades of the Middle Ages has Islam evoked the degree of fear, hostility, and ethnic and religious stereotyping that is evident throughout Western culture today. This book explores the historical, political, and institutional forces that have raised the specter of a threatening and monolithic Muslim enemy.
Bridge Betrayed, Paperback (December 1998)» View all books by Michael A. Sells
The atrocities in Bosnia-Herzegovina have stunned people throughout the world. Drawing on historical documents, unpublished United Nations reports, articles from Serbian and Bosnian media, personal contacts in the region, and Internet postings, this title reveals the central role played by religious mythology in the Bosnian tragedy.
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