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Document Details :

Title: Aan gene zijde van de conceptualiteit
Subtitle: Transcendentie van God en de grenzen van ons denken
Author(s): MARKUS, Arjan
Journal: Bijdragen
Volume: 62    Issue: 2   Date: 2001   
Pages: 190-211
DOI: 10.2143/BIJ.62.2.772

Abstract :
The question the author seeks to answer in this article is: What does God’s transcendence imply for the possibility of human thinking and talking about God? In an analysis of the concept of transcendence the author defines ‘divine transcendence’ as: God’s being other than the universe in going beyond its limits and limitations. God’s transcendence as regards human thinking is phrased as conceptual transcendence and defined as God’s otherness in going beyond the limits of human thinking. Four sorts of limits of human thinking are presented. Firstly, there are limits of intelligence that limit the range of human comprehension. Secondly, three rational limits are offered, resulting from an analysis of the concept of rationality. Categorial rationality limits are used to distinguish thinking of the category of rational beings from that of non-rational beings. Limits of formal rationality demarcate thinking as rational in an evaluative sense with the help of formal criteria. Such criteria consist in correct procedures to arrive at a certain thought (for instance a belief) and in the logical criteria of consistency and coherence. Finally, material rationality limits delimit thinking which is adequate in relation to specific circumstances. For instance, a belief is materially rational insofar as it corresponds to the actual state of affairs to which it refers; in other words, when it is true. In this article it is argued that God transcends these limits of human thinking in two ways. Firstly, God transcends these limits because they do not apply to His “thinking”, or better, to His intellectual consciousness. This is called intrinsic conceptual transcendence. Secondly, God transcends the limits of human thinking because human thinking is limited to such an extent that it is hindered to think God. This is extrinsic conceptual transcendence. As regards God’s intrinsic conceptual transcendence of the four limits of human thinking, the author concludes that God’s intellectual consciousness has intelligence in the most perfect way, is categorially rational in the most perfect way, is not formally rational but intuitively rational, and is materially rational in the most perfect way. As to God’s extrinsic conceptual transcendence, it is concluded that God is only incompletely and partly within the range of human intelligence, is also incompletely and partly within the range of the categorially rational human thinking, is within the range of human formal rationality (insofar as He is within the range of human intelligence and categorial rationality), and is only incompletely and partly within the limits of human material rationality. This whole discussion has the following three consequences for human thinking about God. Firstly, humans can partly comprehend and think God, at least sufficiently to live their lives coram Deo. Secondly, human imperfection urges to modesty and awe in thinking and talking about God. Thirdly, in that which humans can think about God, they have to try to use the same correct procedures and logical rules which they use in thinking about other parts of reality.