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Volume 14, 2016

La Médiation Discursive dans le Néoplatonisme

Carolle Metry-Tresson
Pages 195-221

Comment l’âme peut saisir l’un
l’anagogie damascienne comme transgression de l’apophasis

For Damascius, the last great Neoplatonist of late Antiquity, the answer to the question “how to go beyond the plurality of human thought for the purpose of really attaining the one ?” is not to be found on the side of the via negativa – which is the dynamics of a rejection of plurality –, but in a positive, unifying and integrative dialectic by which the plurality of the soul is not denied any more, but gathered, contracted and simplified in an undifferentiated unity for the purpose of really attaining the one. Setting himself apart from his predecessors due to a new conception of the ‘one’ understood as ‘all(ness)’, Damascius aims to deconstruct, and then abandon, the via apophatica, for it becomes in his eyes an illusory, unsuitable and counterproductive way in the vertiginous ascent of the soul towards its origin. Indeed, a number of passages of his masterpiece, De Principiis, reveal his radically critical decision to reject the immoderate use of negative discourse to express the one, as well as the cathartic status and the anagogical purpose generally allowed to apophatism. It is stated here that ‘negation’ is only the reflection of our own cognitive powerlessness, a dangerous illegitimate (‘bastard’) reasoning, or simply an artifice of language, even if authorized in certain circumstances. Is the one not beyond any discourse, distinction and exclusion ? Making obsolete any triumphalism of hyperapophatism, judged as unacceptable and contradictory, Damascius offers the human soul the promise of an authentic, as well as lucid anagogy towards the principle.

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