Published Volume XXIII Nos. 1&2 2010
Theologians often distinguish between two ways of describing God: apophatic description, and cataphatic description. The former posits negative statements about what God is not ; the latter, affirmative statements about what God is . When St. Paul writes to St. Timothy that God “dwell[s] in light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, or can see,” he indicates that God must be understood apophatically, in the via negativa.1 In contrast, when a Rabbi calls the Jewish people to prayer, he begins with an elegant cataphaticism: “Hear O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one.”2 In the ongoing battle for the soul of conservatism, Professor Donald Livingston’s recent article in The Intercollegiate Review, “David Hume and the Conservative Tradition,” presents a primarily apophatic reading of the Anglo-American conservative political tradition.3 Echoing Russell Kirk’s classic formulation, Livingston . . .
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