If God is the Absolute, the profoundly not nothing, then Martin Heidegger - in his essay "What is Metaphysics?" - may have come up with the opposite of God, what he calls "the Nothing."
Emptiness can be a creative force: The universe begins, in the first lines of Genesis, with a "void." (Although how precisely the Absolute might interact with such an absence is, Heidegger suggests, a difficult ontological question; what standing Heidegger himself might have in a discussion of Jewish texts, given his political history, is itself a difficult ethical question.) A new kind of Christianity is created, it might be said, with the marvelous discovery, made by Mary Magdalene, that Jesus' burial tomb is empty. The absence of representations of God, the absence even of God - these emptinesses, too, can be fertile. Heidegger, for his part, sees all Being as being dependent upon the Nothing: "Being means: being held out into the Nothing."
Heidegger is not free of the temple builder's impulse to "set apart." He can't resist distinguishing the apprehension of this Nothing from what he calls "the public superficies of existence"; "the "Oh, yes" and the "Oh, no" of men of affairs"; "the comfortable enjoyment of tranquilized bustle." It is as if he, too, wants to escape from the profane into a private, inaccessible, sanctified room.
However, if there is a Holy of Holies at the heart of Heidegger's philosophy - a place where we might contemplate this candidate for anointment as the opposite of God - it would not be exactly empty or, more precisely, it would not contain the emptiness that functions as "negation." Instead, it would be a place of "anxiety" - not an anxiety based on a specific fear, Heidegger explains, but on a generalized feeling of being "ill at ease." It would be a sanctuary filled with "nihilation."
Perhaps that is similar to a sanctuary filled with Koheleth's vapor.
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Glad you have the courage to invoke Heidegger. You’ll get a lot of grief for it, of course. What you say here is provocative…though I can’t agree with you that the Nothing is ‘the opposite of God.’ The Nothing is also not ‘emptiness’ — be wary of conflating such terms. Perhaps not for Friday’s seminar but for the book, I urge you to think about the ‘Language’ essay (see _Poetry, Language, Thought_, 187-210) because I think what you’re striving for, particularly here and in the sections surrounding this one, on to something quite important. E.g.:
“Language speaks. … The speaking names… What is this naming? … This naming does not hand out titles, it does not apply terms, but it calls into the word. The naming calls. Calling brings closer what it calls. However this bringing closer does not fetch what is called only in order to set it down in closest proximity to what is present, to find a place for it there. The call does indeed call. Thus it brings the presence of what was previously uncalled into a nearness. But the call, in calling it here, has already called out to what it calls. Where to? Into the distance in which what is called remains, still absent…” (198).
Isn’t this nothingness at the basis of existence in some sense more an acknowledgment that there is something underlying reality that cannot be represented. An empty sanctuary could signify that at the center of the temple cult there is a reality, God in this case, that cannot be represented. I’m thinking of Lacan here. Representation always implies that which cannot be represented.
This was the big thought that kicked off a large portion of my journey with God. (I knew Him, and had been saved a long time before, but we had not yet journeyed together.)
The opposite of God is Nothing. Of itself, it knows nothing, has no power, doesn’t have a goal or purpose, and doesn’t care for anything. When it gains power, it squanders it; when it is worshipped, it doesn’t care.
In its pure form, it doesn’t exist. Purity is, however, a higher state than impurity, and it, along with creation, fell. The mixtures are worse than the Nothing.
The only good lie is one that is not told; a mixture of truth and Nothing is either a lie that is told, or a truth that is not told.
The only good tool is one that works. A mixture of tool and nothing is either a broken tool, or a tool misused.
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