Ineffability in Comparative Philosophical Perspective

Chapter
Part of the Comparative Philosophy of Religion book series (COPR, volume 1)

Abstract

In this essay I compare over and philosophize about The Comparison Project’s thirteen public lectures on ineffability, twelve of which appear in this volume as academic essays. These lectures collectively represent a diverse array of religious and aesthetic traditions and communities: Indian Buddhism, Christian Neoplatonism, Visual Art, Music, Daoism, West African religion, Sikhism, Advaita Vedānta, Zen Buddhism, Poetry, Literature, Kabbalah, and Sufism. My essay compares these discourses of ineffability with respect to the four questions that guided The Comparison Project’s lecture series on ineffability: (1) What is ineffable? (2) How is its ineffability expressed? (3) For what reasons is it ineffable? (4) To what ends is it ineffable? I then offer explanations of the significant similarities and differences produced by these comparisons. Finally, I raise evaluative questions about ineffability in comparative perspective. My conclusions are unique, or at least unexpected: not only absolute but also relative ineffability is incoherent, at least logically; and religion involves the overcoming of ineffability, not its attainment.

References

  1. Alston, William. 1956. Ineffability. The Philosophical Review 65: 506–522.Google Scholar
  2. Jantzen, Grace. 1996. Power, gender and Christian mysticism. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Knepper, Timothy D. 2010. Ineffability performance: Critique and call. In Logic in religious discourse, ed. Andrew Schumann, 262–286. Berlin: De Gruyter.Google Scholar
  4. ———. 2013a. Negating negation: Against the apophatic abandonment of the Dionysian Corpus. Eugene: Wipf & Stock.Google Scholar
  5. ———. 2013b. Techniques and rules of ineffability in the Dionysian Corpus. In Logic in Orthodox Christian thinking, ed. Andrew Schumann, 122–173. Berlin: De Gruyter.Google Scholar
  6. ———. 2013c. The ends of philosophy of religion: Terminus and telos. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. ———. forthcoming-a. Against absolute ineffability.Google Scholar
  8. ———. forthcoming-b. Philosophy of religion as journey: How metaphor theory can reshape global-critical philosophy of religion.Google Scholar
  9. Kopf, Gereon. 2014. Zen, philosophy, and emptiness: Dōgen and the deconstruction of concepts. In Nothingness in Asian philosophy, ed. JeeLoo Liu and Douglas Berger, 246–262. New York: Routledge Press.Google Scholar
  10. Kukla, André. 2005. Ineffability and philosophy. New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Lakoff, George, and Mark Johnson. 1980. Metaphors we live by. Chicago: The University of Chicago Pres.Google Scholar
  12. ———. 1999. Philosophy in the flesh: The embodied mind and its challenge to western thought. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  13. Neville, Robert Cummins, and Wesley J. Wildman. 2001a. On comparing religious ideas. In The human condition, ed. Robert Cummins Neville, 1–20. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  14. ———. 2001b. On comparing religious ideas. In Ultimate realities, ed. Robert Cummins Neville, 187–210. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  15. Paden, William. 2001. Universals revisited: Human behaviors and cultural variations. Numen 48: 276–289.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. ———. 2006. Theatres of worldmaking behavior: Panhuman contexts for comparative religion. In Comparing religions: Possibilities and perils? Ed. Thomas Idinopulos, Brian Wilson, and James Hanges, 59–76. Boston: Brill.Google Scholar
  17. Proudfoot, Wayne. 1985. Religious experience. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  18. Rambachan, Anantanand. 2006. The Advaita worldview: God, world, and humanity. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  19. Schafstein, Ben-Ami. 1993. Ineffability: The failure of words in philosophy and religion. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  20. Sells, Michael A. 1994. Mystical languages of unsaying. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  21. Wildman, Wesley J. 2011. Religious philosophy as multidisciplinary comparative inquiry: Envisioning a future for the philosophy of religion. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  22. Yandell, Keith. 1975. Some varieties of ineffability. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 6: 167–179.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and ReligionDrake UniversityDes MoinesUSA

Personalised recommendations