In this short but ambitious book, Michael Craig Rhodes makes a persuasive case for the philosophical rehabilitation of the neglected notion of an ineffable mystery. Through an original discussion of the great early champion of ‘negative theology’, Pseudo-Dionysius, Rhodes develops a rich and attractive concept of being as an ‘ikon’ of transcendent mystery. The value of this concept is then established by showing how it is presupposed in some of the best modern contributions to the philosophies of mind, matter and language. Theologians and philosophers alike will welcome this challenging book.
(David E. Cooper, Durham University)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)
About the Author
Michael Craig Rhodes is dialogue lecturer at North Park University.