The last century saw a return of ‘the mystical’, especially in Wittgenstein who spoke of ‘the mystical’, as that of which ‘one cannot speak’, but which also ‘shows itself’. Michael Craig Rhodes in this remarkable book seeks inspiration for the future of philosophy in the vision of the mysterious figure of the early sixth century who wrote under the name of Dionysios (or Denys) the Areopagite. From his starting-point in Wittgenstein, Rhodes leads us to Denys’ understanding of what he calls being-as-ikon, that is, being as disclosing the ultimate, God as unknowable. He makes this theme central to his development of the notion of the mystical, in which he brings philosophers of the analytical tradition—Colin McGinn, David Cooper and Shimon Malin—into dialogue with giants of the continental tradition of hermeneutical philosophy such as Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty, and also draws into his discussion scientists and philosophers of science such as Weinberg, Heisenberg and Feyerabend. Descartes emerges as a surprisingly central figure. His argument leads us through reflections on ontology, linguistics, and aesthetics. It is a book that is in many places inspiring and always thought-provoking.
(Andrew Louth, University of Durham)