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Volume 9/10, 2011/2012

L’âme et ses Discours de l’Antiquité au Moyen Âge

Julie Casteigt
Pages 295-320

‘La science de l’âme est plus certaine que toute autre science’. Une interprétation eckhartienne du témoignage (Jn 8, 17)

‘The Science of the Soul is Surer than every other Science’. An Eckhartian Interpretation of Bearing Witness (John 8 :17). Why does the knowledge of the soul constitute the surest science, according to the thesis that Meister Eckhart takes from Aristotle ? Here is the reason he gives : «Concerning what is within us, we are not seeking the testimony and approval of anyone else». But the argument of the uselessness of the testimony of another seems paradoxical in the context in which it appears : the commentary on the verse in John 8 :17 which is precisely about basing the certainty of the testimony as knowledge through the mediation of another. How are we to understand this paradox? My assumption is that it is necessary to consider the point at which the doctrinal aspect of this commentary about bearing witness and its hermeneutical aspect in relation to the interpretation of Scripture are in agreement. From the perspective of doctrine, Meister Eckhart, reinterpreting John Chrysostom, Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, aims to overturn the conception of noetic mediation into one of immediacy, basing this on the Trinitarian theory of the begetting of the Son by the Father in consubstantiality. Therefore otherness and exteriority are led back towards unity of nature and inwardness. And certain knowledge coincides with the knowledge of the principle of one’s own being. From a hermeneutical perspective, the exegesis of the verse according to its latent meaning suggested by Eckhart becomes for him a model of metaphysical and noetic interpretation : to understand in what way the one who is testifying to the principle that has engendered him delivers the most certain knowledge, it is necessary to move from the patent meaning of being and of knowledge to their latent meaning. To this extent, all knowledge through mediation that is demonstrated as external knowledge is revealed to be, in a latent sense, a manifestation of truth as an act of engendering.