Chapter

On the Names of God

Laclau Ernesto

in Political Theologies

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print November 2006 | ISBN: 9780823226443
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823237043 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5422/fso/9780823226443.003.0006
On the Names of God

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This chapter formalizes the irreducibility of difference in the constitution of the political with a central insight of mysticism. By way of a powerful rereading of Pseudo-Dionysius and Meister Eckart, it elaborates the systematic parallel between the chapter's own assessment of the meaning of “empty signifiers” for a theory of hegemony and the tradition of the divine names. Mystical discourse reveals something belonging to the general structure of experience: not only the separation between the two extremes of radical finitude and absolute fullness but also the complex language games that it is possible to play on the basis of the contamination of each by the other. This chapter examines the strategies made possible by this unavoidable contamination, citing two examples: one from the field of politics, the other from ethics. It concludes that God cannot be named; the operation of naming Him, either directly or indirectly, through the equivalence of contents that are less than Him, involves us in a process by which the residue of particularity, which mystical intervention tries to eliminate, proves to be irreducible.

Keywords: God; mysticism; divine names; Pseudo-Dionysius; Meister Eckart; hegemony; experience; finitude; politics; equivalence

Chapter.  5957 words. 

Subjects: East Asian Religions

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