After Onto-Theology: what lies beyond the 'End of Everything'
This article takes up the onto-theological critique of metaphysics and questions whether onto-theology is not something to evade or overcome, but is inevitable. Consequently, it furthers the exploration of onto-theology by asking, if it is inevitable, then what comes after onto-theology? For the past half-century, onto-theology has been a central concern for philosophy, particularly in phenomenology where one sees a theological turn in order to understand and incorporate what might be beyond, or within, consciousness that does not readily appear to the self. In this turn, one often sees philosophers (and theologians) attempt to craft a post-metaphysical understanding. Resultantly, many of these philosophers herald what I call the 'end of everything,' often due to their onto-theological character: from the 'end' of philosophy of religion, to the 'end' of metaphysics, to the 'end' of theology. However, when investigating their findings, one often sees these concepts arise from the grave, perhaps showing that some onto-theological construction is inevitable. This paper proceeds by first giving a brief overview of the philosophers Jean-Luc Nancy, Richard Kearney, John Caputo, and Merold Westphal to propose how onto-theology is still an issue for their philosophies by revealing a necessary link between ontology and empirical reality. It then builds off of this proposal through the work of Joeri Schrijvers to show what might lie ahead of philosophy (and philosophy of religion in particular), arguing that if onto-theology is inevitable then philosophy should turn further into theology to explore how theology deals with this inevitability on an empirical basis. Basically, since theology always already accepts being in default (through concepts like original sin), then how does it help believers cope with this inevitability and how does it focus upon the empirical reality of this ontological gesture. Finally, this paper investigates the work of Colby Dickinson in order to solidify this finding into a programmatic, philosophical framework.
- Faculty of Humanities