Volume 78, Issue 1, Winter 2004
Norman Brian Cubbage
Nothingness and the Quarrel Between Faith and Reason
In this paper, I examine the extent to which philosophical and theological debates concerning the concept of nothingness have shaped the contours of the debate between faith and reason in modern times. First, I argue that Parmenides, the most famous contributor to the question of nothingness, bequeaths conclusions to the tradition that are more ambivalent than usually recognized. Second, I show that nothingness re-enters philosophical debate in the West due to the role the notion plays in the Trinitarian debate in the early Christian church. Third, I argue that Descartes’s method of radical doubt and assertion of the existence of his own ego provide the contours of a response to the question of nothingness that is characteristic of modern thought. I conclude by gesturing towards a constructive proposal of my own.