Friday, April 18, 2014

Divine Kenosis

The crucial problem is: how to think the link between the two "alienations," the one of the modern man from God (who is reduced to an unknowable In-itself, absent from the world subjected to mechanical laws), the other of God from Himself (in Christ, incarnation) – they are THE SAME, although not symmetrically, but as subject and object. In order for (human) subjectivity to emerge out of the substantial personality of the human animal, cutting links with it and positing itself as the I=I dispossessed of all substantial content, as the self-relating negativity of an empty singularity, God himself, the universal Substance, has to "humiliate" himself, to fall into its own creation, to "objectivize" himself, to appear as a singular miserable human individual in all its abjection, i.e., abandoned by God. The distance of man from God is thus the distance of God from Himself:
The suffering of God and the suffering of human subjectivity deprived of God must be analysed as the recto and verso of the same event. There is a fundamental relationship between divine kenosis and the tendency of modern reason to posit a beyond which remains inaccessible. The Encyclopaedia makes this relation visible by presenting the Death of God at once as the Passion of the Son who ‘dies in the pain of negativity’ and the human feeling that we can know nothing of God. [12]
This double kenosis is what the standard Marxist critique of religion as the self-alienation of humanity misses: "modern philosophy would not have its own subject if God’s sacrifice had not occurred." [13] For the subjectivity to emerge – not as a mere epiphenomenon of the global substantial ontological order, but as essential to Substance itself -, the split, negativity, particularization, self-alienation, must be posited as something that takes place in the very heart of the divine Substance, i.e., the move from Substance to Subject must occur within God himself. In short, man’s alienation from God (the fact that God appears to him as an inaccessible In-itself, as a pure transcendent Beyond) must coincide with the alienation of God from himself (whose most poignant expression is, of course, Christ’s "Father, father, why have you forsaken me?" on the cross): finite human "consciousness only represents God because God re-presents itself; consciousness is only at a distance from God because God distances himself from himself. [14]
- Slavoj Zizek, "Only a Suffering God Can Save Us" quoting Catherine Malabou, "The Future of Hegel"

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