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Theolatry and the Making-Present of the Nonrepresentable

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Undoing (A)Theism in Eckhart and Buber

image of The Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy

In this essay, I place Buber’s thought in dialogue with Eckhart. Each understood that the theopoetic propensity to imagine the transcendent in images is no more than a projection of our will to impute form to the formless. The presence of God is made present through imaging the real, but imaging the real implies that the nonrepresentable presence can only be made present through the absence of representation. The goal of the journey is to venture beyond the Godhead in light of which all personalistic depictions of the divine person are rendered idolatrous. Perhaps this is the most important implication of Eckhart’s impact on Buber, an insight that may still have theopolitical implications in a world where too often personifications of the God beyond personification are worshipped at the expense of losing contact with an absolute person that cannot be personified absolutely.

Affiliations: 1: University of California Santa Barbara


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