Existing and the One from the perspective of the ontological argument between hermeneutics and ontology

Furia Valori (University of Perugia)

1. Reflection/Deconstruction and veritable criterion

In this contribution, we intend to address the One and its existence according to a hermeneutic/ontological approach, with particular regard to the ontological argument.[1] These considerations move from the awareness of both the lack of absolutization of the methodical knowledge of science, with the consequence and the pretense of domination on the essences through technological applications, and from the crisis of the centrality of the modern subject that seems to be wrecked in some orientations of thought, in the crisis of meaning, of values, of being able to speak of the same truth. The warning of the limits of the modern subject, together with the recognition of the limits of ontological and / or on-theological discourse elaborated on the basis of the category of presence, has led to the conceptions of a dehumanized thinking, with nihilistic outcomes. However, these consequences, if they intend to make sense and not undo themselves, need to reciprocally have a relationship with an unalterable meaning, even just to deny it, since only with that relationship has meant talking about the meaninglessness of meaning. In fact, the subject is aware of its limitations and failings. The subject senses its limit as it relates and somewhat compares to the unlimited. The subject is aware of one’s own and of the other’s finite because it has infinite warning, knows and lives its own imperfection because it mysteriously relates to perfection; it reflects on the failure of meaning, as this failure has meaning relating to destination and therefore to direction.

The deconstruction made in relation to the claims of the subject is also conducted in different contexts on the basis of a criterion deemed, more or less explicitly, veritatively. In fact, the reflective and deconstructive moment always calls for reference to a veritable and credible figure. As a result, the subject shows to be inside and out with respect to the philosophical-cultural context, traditional, socio-political structure, and environmental.

Inevitably, reflection requires elevation on a meta point of view, even implicitly. The thinker, deconstructor, interpreter, and skeptic rise on an “meta” level from which they criticize, argue, and judge: this is because deconstruction, if it is not mere destruction and empty, requires demonstration and therefore, refers to a criterion and justification path. This means that even the most destructive critique contains the criterion for reconstruction: a single principle, One, not multiple on a qualitative level. In fact, if it were multiple, such multiplicity would hinder within each thinker, due to the difference between the criteria deconstructing the same and hence the same thinking. At the same time, reconstruction would be prevented, and a new conception would be outlined. If, on the other hand, every thinker has a criterion that is meant to be the only one, then conflict and discussion move amongst the many that, dialoging, search to lead others. In fact, each multiplicity is aporetic because for each one, the criterion is unique.

If the multiple criteria were to be within the same thinker, agent, and sentient, then such multiplicity would involve an internal conflict for which the same reflection would be prevented; the criteria would disappear among themselves. Therefore, it would perhaps be an indeterminate thought, which, if it were so, would not think. At the same time, the indeterminate has the determination of indeterminacy, so it is based on the determinate.

The following reflections also move from the awareness of the inevitable inversion figure, authenticating and harmonizing every thought, will, and feeling of the subject or, rather, person. In fact, the subject conveys the Latin etymology subjectum, or upokeimenon in Greek, which refers to every being, terms that indicate a dark substrate to which the many accidents and manifestation of substance itself, which is used primarily for each body;[2] and at the same time, there is the legacy of the Cartesian subject, fundamentally dualistic and gnoseological, able by means of his methodically conducted rationality, to come to the transparent knowledge of himself.[3] What both concepts do not make clear is the relationship with thinking and sensitivity and with the individual’s willingness within, as well as the relationship with others, which always requires more than thinking/knowing the mediation of feeling and the responsible act/will. The concept of person has the thickness of millennia considering its present facets, beyond self-consciousness, self-determination, and self-consciousness[4] in the awareness of conflict and of wander[5], is essentially relatable in the originality and creativity of each caution.

2. The many existing subjects and the criticism of the only one

Thinking, in all its forms, is not limited to the singularity of reasoning, solipsistically closed in itself. The staring point is made up of the person, and not solely reasoning. Augustine’s self-consciousness and his exit path from doubt, which is by no chance the same Descartes recalls in Discourse on the Method, can be the starting developing point. In fact, it is equally important to know that it is not just about thinking, but also about wanting, feeling, willing, reasoning, and awareness. The sum does not add up to the thinking/willing/feeling, but explicitly embodies the incarnate existence of the spirit, and not solely of the finite res cogitans finita.

The person is not a mere irrelevant identity, which does not reflect or identify himself, like a rock, but is an identity in relation to himself: connected to self-openness, self-indulgence, and self-fulfillment, which implies reflection. The person acts and becomes the object of himself, which requires self-detachment and return to itself. This is a complex, never-concluded movement that is not only at the gnoseological level, but also in designing one’s existence in beauty.

If the person were to completely objectify himself in reflection, he would be distorted and would become an object and would not be thought of as such. However, if the person were not to objectify himself, it would be contradictory to a self-contained subject that does not reflect and does not think: hypothesis equally aporetic. In this arguing context, the “only”[6] is contradictory as it is neither known nor thought as existing. In fact, the subject to reflect upon itself must separate himself, that is, objectify (never totally), or reduplicate, but as a subject/object (which in turn must be able to objectively, and infinitum). Each subject may reflect on himself, detaching himself only by what he is not, others, and nature: identity is essential to diversity and for identification. The person achieves self-consciousness in the entirety of feeling, desire, and understanding, and does so by incarnating it in the body, overcoming the spirit’s opposition – the body that strongly marked Western reflection. Understanding, feeling, wanting, and thinking about oneself do not happen in solitude, rather they are always take place together, elevating themselves to a veritable figure.

In the same act in which is open to the self, the person opens to the world and to the other/Other, a movement that is as much horizontal as it is vertical. In fact, the relationship reflection has with itself implies, other than self-detachment, putting it on a “mete” point of view, or rather a superior point of view where the person/existing is in and out, and not just of the natural environment. In fact, the person is open ontologically and logically to a “further”, which in the first place is his own figure of perfection and authenticity in understanding, feeling, willing; in warning, at the same time, of its own imperfection, inadequacy, and surroundings. This implies that the person is not only accomplished in many works, such as in the “long way” indicated by Ricoeur, risking to solve an infinite interpretation of spiritual productions and symbols, which still attest to such vertical opening. Precisely in virtue of giving himself in the person of the authenticating figure in the domain of truth, good, and beauty, he is able to free himself from the causal chain of needs by means of his reflection and self-determination. He is able to give rise to responsible connections, intuition without interest, the “novum” of gift, and the contemplation of beauty. In other words, he can establish a non-instrumental relationship with the other/Other in the theoretical, ethical, aesthetic, and religious fields. Even the “lonely” who wants to think of himself, must reflect on himself, objectify himself, and thus duplicate himself. If not, he would only be a kind of rock that does not think, feel, or want. The subject’s reflection does not demand psychologically, but philosophically, on a logical and ontological level to distinguish itself from itself, which implies the separation of what it is not, that is, the separation of the other and the world, of the multiplicity that is not only subjective.

3. Hermeneutic rhythm of the ontological argument

In the reflections so far carried out, the person emerges as knowing, wanting, and feeling. He is also self-persuading, self-indulgent, and self-fulfilling. He not only requires the constitutive opening to the world and others as a distinction/search/ return to himself, but also contemporarily an ascending movement. In other words, an elevation to a qualitatively superior dimension, which constitutes the authenticating level, or regarded as such of personal and interpersonal existence in all its facets.

The person with his humus of man – homo factum ex humus – lives in a relationship without being completely involved in it. The relationship is structurally open to the “meta” dimension, a level believed to be orientating, recalling, attracting, and even deny it. Such a level is not a psychological need, nor is it solely an empirical completeness. Rather, the level makes up the transcendental level, a state of being able to think, reflect, criticize, decide responsibly and freely, desire, and feel. Need is not only transcendental,[7] but also ontological. If the One did not exist, it could not even constitute that inescapable, that manifestation that allows human existence or spiritual activity in the broad sense of the person, or better, of the existing people. If the One was not, then he could not even think. The One that does not think would be contradictory and inconceivable as it would be the foundation of a person who is not rational, who is unwilling, and who is not aware of thinking, wanting, or feeling. As a criterion, as outlined above, the One is at one time subject/object. In addition, thinking always requires clarification of assumptions, of arguments regarding their validity: the level deemed truthful may still require justification. The need for this required justification of the philosophical, non-psychological condition is not lost in the ad infinitum search of the unconditional state. If every verified level, every meta level, were to always require another that justifying the ad infinitum, then it would not be conceivable nor would there be any truthful level. The need to relate to a level that is believed to be truthful, confirms the being of the unconditional One. In the unquiet regression of research towards the unconditional state, and proceeding from it, and in the diligence to move from one direction to the other, thinking requires and permits the leap towards the entirety of being and sense of awareness of the indescribable unconditional state. If the One were no longer, it would not be possible to think broadly: at the same time, each of its explanation in the language, every embodiment always constitutes a front, a limit, and a figurative/disfiguring.

The unconditional is always One since two or more unconditionals would be contradictory because they would limit and condition themselves and therefore, would no longer be such. Having said that, it also follows that the unconditional does not diminish and does not identify with a particular figure or a truthful amount where every person is rational, willing, and aware, however, tends to approach and interpreted, so it is not made up of the totality of figures, interpretations, meta level more or less elaborated by the person. In fact, for their limitation, however, they refer to a higher condition, so not justified in their singularity, they are not justified even in their entirety. If each formulation of the unconditional is limited, and therefore conditional, then it is also the sum, or the totality of historical formulations: the Pantheon does not justify itself.

The unconditional state of human spiritual activity and personal varoius existence does not depend on its manifestation only by the minds that it pursues, but it comes with its own manner in the horizon considered truth, limited and interpretive, it is sent nevertheless through it. The unconditional state does not depend on thinking/willing/sentient, but rather depends on it, it is sent in its own way in what it bases, in what makes it possible, that is, in the true horizon of the thinker.[8] This term is not to be understood as an indication of absence, such as in Levina’s meaning, a trace of a horrific withdraw from the level of abandoning itself, thus giving it an infinite autonomy in the face of God/good.[9] Rather than utilizing “trace”, it is better to use the term “footprint” to indicate the ability to be minimal, to limit itself. For this reason, the expression of God as the quus maius of the argumentum is not enough, since it is equally quo minus. The One / God is dialectically beyond both. In true understanding of the person, the “footprint” is demonstrated in its own way as an established, but rich sign that appears as the Sense of Wisdom, which is made of flesh and blood, in its limited interpretations, it is “for-ward”[10] as an integral part circumscribed in the saying, in the idea that expresses the the true level, but at the same time independent and excessive. Also, present if the footprint is not recognized properly, even in contradiction to the figure considered to be true.

4. Libera necessitas and speculation

The echo of the unconditional state enters the idea of thinker beside, in parallel with what is favored by the thinker, by means of a “full symbol” – it is not by chance that Ricoeur’s expression is used here – a proverb that represents the “further” that dialectically stimulates the question, further improvement of the supported argument. The “further-more” has always been discussed even when the thinker does not consider it, or only partially reflects on it. The term represents the necessary, yet free and liberating state of its doubt, reflection, criticism, but also of acting and accomplishing.

The sending is not the parousìa of unconditional state; according to Heidegger’s lectio, the manifestation of being is also a hiding place, one of his determinations/limitations. It is precisely the Sense of Knowledge that is refacted and reflected in a thesis, a total affirmation characterized by an excess over supported ideas; characterized by a statement that goes beyond the possibilities of knowing. Such examples include Ricouer’s interpretations of the previous mentioned symbols, Descartes’ idea of perfection, the “ideal” Kantian of God, Gadamerian linguistical view of the world and the other views, Nietzsche’s “eternal return”, Heidegger’s ontological interpretation regardless of the perception of begin thrown out in to the world and precomprehension, etc.: concepts characterized by a “more” excessive and present, necessary and liberating.

Within the discourse, in the conception/interpretation considered true, however characterized from tension to perfection, a dialectical relationship is established between itself and the sending of the unconditional and indispensable state. Thinking is such as it is speculative, in other words, it replicates and reflects itself, it contains and radiates the horizons of the truth, as well as the willing is such as it is the speculum of good, the feeling is such as it is speculum of beauty.

The embodiment of the inconditional state in discussion corresponds to the understanding of the subject; represents that which allows understanding, integration, and overcoming; and constitutes the distruptive and critical element of freedom. From that derives waste, the distance between understanding/interpreting the subject and “further” the wise sense, which is the reason for questioning, meeting with the other, having a relationship, having a conversation, and risig up together to the meta level. Each concept embodies/limits the the grounds for thinking, which, while being ineffable and uneforceable, is also manifestative. The “further-more” is sent to an “extra” excess that makes reasoning possible. At the same time, “further-more” puts sense in tension that can freely be put into question. A libera necessitas, a necessity of the indispensable that makes thinking broadly possible as wells as makes divergence, discussion, and even its overcoming possible.

If “further-more” is embedded in the symbol, in the limited linguistic formulation, the problem arises if this does not lead to a further manifestation, an additional ad infinitum footprint, the footprint of footprints. However, if infinite unconditional figures would be conveyed simultaneously, there would not be any understanding, which always has a beginning and an end (relative) to its discourse.

Thus emerge two stories, two ways of thinking that do not coincide even though they coexist. The first is the story of conceptions, theories, and the other is represented by the history of footsteps, “more”, and “further-more”, gravitational symbols in which the unconditional state is for-ward. The first way does not articulate without the second one, which constitutes the scope of the dialectical, necessary and liberating manifestation, the unconditional state, the fullness of meaning in every understanding. The person’s route in preparation for the truth/interpretative level requires the Sense of Wisdom’s route. In the history of the doctrines that the person has considered authoritative, the story of the figures of the unconditional state is manifested: one is the story of the subject’s wanderings of the truth, the other is constituted by further-more, from the itinerarium of the Sense to the Thinkers.[11]

By highlighting the interpretative nature of human thinking/acting/feeling, we do not intend to dequalify the tension on the subject’s true level, nor to reduce the commitment to authenticity and behaving good or to beauty in asking for the quality of hearing; the awareness of the distance of limits contradictory absolutizations; but highlighting the sending of the truth, its speculativity, we intend to show its indispensability in its particular dialectical articulation in an ontological-hermeneutic view.

During recent reflections, several resolutions emerged. The first, that the ontological argument does not immediately concern the discussion about the existence of One/God starting from the present concept or development of the subject’s/person’s mind. The starting point is One/God’s needs, which is true for the person that is thoughtful, willing, and aware. It is not the One to demand demonstration of his existence, but the person to demand complexity of the One. The second, One is not required by the person in his singularity, but in his essential relationship with the other: the only one is contradictory, does not think, neither feels nor wants. The third, One is not reduced, nor is he contained in the conception deemed to be truthful, but in it, he gives “more” that dialectically exceeds understanding and that makes up of a speculative element of discussion and overcoming limits and contradictions.

  1. This topic has already been dealt with in F. Valori, Il discorso parallelo.Verità, interpretazione e linguaggio in Heidegger e Gadamer, Armando, Rome 2003; Ibid., “Interpretazione e speculatività”, in Giornale di metafisica, III (2010), pp. 667-679.
  2. Cf. Heidegger’s reflections on the concept of what and on the different concepts that tradition has brought us in M. Heidegger, Holzwege (1935-1946), F.-W. von Herrmann, Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main 1977.
  3. Among several valid editions, I emphasize the exemplary R. Descartes, Discours de la méthode, Librairie philosophique J. Vrin, Paris 1967; Meditations metaphysiques, Ibid., 1978.
  4. We developed the complexity of self-consciousness that is not only self-sustaining, but also self-indugent and self-confident in F. Valori, Itinerari della persona, Lanciano, Carabba, 2009, Ch. I and II.
  5. Here, we refer to P. Ricouer, The Conflict of Interpretations: Essays in Hermeneutics, Northwestern University Press, Evanston 2007.
  6. Important considerations on contradiction between different elements that compose the plurality of what we propose here as “the only” can be found in P. Carabellese, L’Essere e la sua manifestazione, Part 1: Io, ESI, Naples 1998.
  7. Evident in Kant’s theorizing ideas in Critique of Pure Reason, yet not fully grasping the need for the adjunt at the ontological level.
  8. The discourse that expresses reflections even on the basis of the true figure, the act that attests the tension of authenticity, and the sensation that the feeling of beauty lives contains and receives the “trace” of the indispensable, non-objectivable. The term “absolute” is unsuitable to express the indisputable, as well as the undeniable, which emphasizes only the logical and not the ontological level.
  9. Cf. E. Lévinas, Humanism of the Other, University of Illinois Press, Champaign 2005.
  10. Perhaps the expression “further-more” is more appropriate to return to the state that it is “for-ward” by limiting itself. With the dialectical concept of “further-more”, we try to think about limiting ourselves of what goes beyond, the relation of a presence/absence that allows human existence and spiritual activity. The dialectical concept of “further-more” expresses the ontological difference and relationship; the difference without the relationship would not even be conceivable, and the relationship without difference would be identity, but an irrelevant identity also to itself, which, as we have seen before, would not be aware of itself and would be equivalent to the rock, not to the One.
  11. The unity of the first principle in substantial form of Truth is the philosophical argument very present in the speculation of Italian ontologism and its derivative neobonaventurism. I therefore emphasize a high thematic importance and metaphysical value of the considerations in T. Moretti Costanzi, La rivelazione filosofica, Sala francescana di cultura P. Antonio Giorgi, Assisi, 1982; Il Cristianesimo-filosofia come tradizione di realtà, Ibid., 1986; La verità dell’immagine sacra, Ibid., 1990; along with his other works contained and republished in Opere, E. Mirri, M. Moschini (eds.), Bompiani, Milano 2009. Of fundamental importance are also the following works of E. Mirri, Teodorico Moretti-Costanzi. La vita e le opere, Carabba, Lanciano 2012; La resurrezione estetica del pensare tra Heidegger e Moretti-Costanzi, Bulzoni, Rome 1976; Il concetto della filosofia in Platone, Edizioni ALFA, Bologna 1966.

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