The Practice of Being: Liturgy as Concrete Philosophy

Davis, Creston Cathcart, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia
Milbank, John
Bell, Dan
Surin, Kenneth

Alain Badiou argues that contemporary philosophy, seen in the hermeneutic, analytic and postmodern orientations, has lost site of its true destiny namely, the search for truth and the instantiation of truth in the world. Beginning with this assumption, I argue for a way of resuscitating philosophy's locus classicus in three ways. First, I begin by constructing a definition of philosophy by assessing five different but interrelated orientations in Pre-Socratic thought. The origin of philosophy in history through these five orientations reveals that philosophy is the attempt to mediate oppositions in the cosmos such as the One and the many and from Being to becoming and so forth. With this conception of philosophy, I move on to the second task of resuscitating philosophy. This second task assesses the problematical nature of modern philosophy in the thought of Rene Descartes and Immanuel Kant who articulates a dualistic ontology that sunders the material world from thought (or mind). I assess modern philosophy through a 20 th century Marxist philosopher, Georg Lukács. Lukács' argument, History of Class Consciousness, attempts to overcome modern philosophy's dualism through the dialectical ontology of G.W.F. Hegel. I argue that philosophy nearly returns to its true task with Hegel's synthetic methodology that relates oppositions. But a closer examination reveals that in fact Hegel's ontology does not mediate anything at all because his ontology is a selfmediating structure and therefore philosophy's true return is supplanted. Confronted with the twin problem of Cartesian dualism on the one hand, and Hegelian monism on the other hand, the third and final task of this dissertation constructs a philosophical procedure that properly mediates oppositions without falling pray to dualism or monism. This is accomplished in the following two stages. First, I construct an ontological axiom founded on the logic of mediation. The logic of mediation, I argue, properly synthesizes oppositions through William Desmond's "metaxological" ontology. The second and last stage seeks to materialize this ontology through practicing liturgy where the infinite and the finite merge as the mediation of the world through and beyond itself into a new creation of nontotalizing truth, plurality, and love.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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