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Mystical Languages of Unsaying by Michael A. Sells

by: Watkins Wisdom

This text examines a mode of mystical discourse, "apophasis", which literally means "speaking away." Sometimes translated as "negative theology," apophatic discourse embraces the impossibility of naming something that is ineffable by continually turning back upon its own propositions and names. In this study of apophasis in Greek, Christian and Islamic texts, Michael Sells offers a sustained, critical account of how apophatic language works, the conventions, logic, and paradoxes it employs, and the dilemmas encountered in any attempt to analyze it. This book includes readings of the most rigorously apophatic texts of Plotinus, John the Scot Eriugena, Ibn Arabi, Marguerite Porete, and Meister Eckhart, with comparative reference to important apophatic writers in the Jewish tradition, such as Abraham Abulafia and Moses de Leon.