Religious language- via negativia anaogical or symbolic Flashcards Preview

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uses of religious language?

religious language can be used in many different ways-
to make truths
to evoke feelings of worship
to express emotion
to solemnise occasions
to pray


two ways religious believers might use positive terms to communicate ideas about God?

through the use of analogy or symbol.


the via positiva/ cataphatic way?

the cataphatic way states that God can be understood by human mind, this understanding can be showed using our language. - the cataphatic way is a use of positive language to say something of God.


what did st francis say about via positiva language?

st francis; nature mystic God knowable through creation
- all created things point beyond self to the wonder of God.


limitations of via positivia language

- cant use language of finite creatures to express truths of an infinite being.
- issue of univocal use: words do not necessarily mean the same when applied to God as other things.
- Issue of equivocal use; if word means something different when applied to God, how can we know the meaning?


How is analogy used to describe via positiva/ the cataphatic way?

Analogy is a comparison made between one thing and another in an effort to aid understanding.


analogical language contrasts with what?

contrasts with univocal language (where words are used in the exactly the same way) and equivocal language (where words have completely different meanings).


what does Aquinas argue, in relation to analogy?

He argues that whenever we speak to God we use analogy, whether we mean to or not.


Aquinas thought that recognising that we are using analogy helps to avoid what?

the problem of making God too small.


what are the two kinds of analogy?

analogy of attribution and analogy of proportionality.


what is analogy of attribution?

- where there is a casual relationship between the two things described. when we speak of God as loving we should remember that God is the cause of Love. When we speak of God as wise we should remember that God is the cause of wisdom.


what is the analogy of proportionality?

This is when analogy relates two things that are different in proportion. we need to remember when we speak of God that his attributes are on an infinitely greater scale.


who was Ian Ramsey and how does he relate to analogy?

in 1957 he wrote about analogy using 'models' and 'qualifiers'.
we can take an idea from this limited physical world and use it as a model.- we can use other words such as 'infinitely' or 'holy' to indicate that the word is being applied analogically to an infinite being who will always remain beyond human comprehension.


what is via negativa or apophatic way?

the supporters of vi negativa say that in order to say things that are literally true of God, it is important to use only negative terms.


example of negative terms?

things like ' invisible', ' incorporeal' and 'timeless'.


Why do people choose via negativa to talk about God?

because using positive terms of God makes God seem too small, as if God is like a human father or judge and as if God has only human wisdom or strength.


who was Pseudo- Dionysius?

- the Areopagite lived in the sixth century and was influential in developing the via, negative, arguing that people need to go beyond the need for understanding and enter a ' cloud of unknowing'.


Who was Moses Maimonides?

he lived in the twelfth century- gave an example of describing a ship by explaining what it is not, to illustrate how knowledge of God could be communicated.


The via negativa approach can what?

It can produce statements which are literally true rather than requiring interpretation.


statements made using via negativa can be what?

- meaningful across different times and cultures.


However, what could be argued about via negativa?

- it is not of much help to someone who knows knowing abut God.


also people criticise via negativa, how?

defining God in negative terms might be not very different from saying God is nothing at all.


The bible uses what?

positive terms of God, and so does Jesus in the Bible.


What is a symbol?

A symbol is a word or other kind of representation used to stand for something else and to shed light on its meaning.


what do religious believers use symbols as?

They use symbols to discuss relationships with God as convey meanings are different to put into words and that evoke feelings.- All language is symbolic- words= symbols that stand for something else.


What do people say we use metaphors for?

we use metaphors in many contexts to aid understanding and add vividness.- using symbolism can be a way of saying positive things about God without making God too small.


Where does the Bible use symbolic language?

The bible uses symbolic language of God, for example saying that ' the lord is my shepherd' (psalm 23:1) or that God is a 'father'.


Who was Paul Tilich and what did he say about symbolism?

- he argued- all religious language is symbolic- signs, points to something beyond itself; a shared meaning.
- symbols signs that participate in the reality& have some power& of that which it represents eg. a flag.


limitations of symbol

Hick-the idea of symbol participating in reality is flawed; if flag burned- no actual harm to country.
Alston- symbols don't necessarily point to realities beyond self- 'God is loving' doesn't guarantee salvation.


criticisms of analogy and symbol as ways of speaking about God.

- using ideas from the limited, imperfect physical world to express ideas about God might make God seem too small.