Friday, May 25, 2018

Nonbeing as the Absence of Being

About three years ago, my friend Bill Vallicella broached the topic of nonbeing and even used the expression "absence of being," so maybe I owe him a footnote, and perhaps this big quote will suffice:
You may recall Sartre's example of the absence of Pierre in the cafe. That is a determinate absence: the absence of Pierre. But the absence of everything that exists is also determinate. Even the absence or nonbeing of everything that could exist seems to be a determinate or definite nonbeing parasitic upon what is or what could be.

But then we are not succeeding in thinking pure nonbeing.

The Parmenidean conclusion is nigh: absolute nonbeing is utterly unthinkable and (this is a further step) impossible. Being is; Nonbeing is not.

And yet it seems that absolute nonbeing is something 'positive' as contradictory as that sounds just as evil is 'positive' in a way that makes trouble for the view that evil is just *privatio boni.*

Just as we cannot dismiss evil as a mere absence of good, we seem not to be able to dismiss nonbeing as a mere absence of Being.

And so I cannot decisively lay the follow(ing) specter: that of absolute nothingness as a threatening 'power' that cannot be domesticated or shown to be wholly negative by sheer thought.

Enter Heidegger und das Nichts.
Bill, unlike me, capitalizes: "absence of Being." The capital of "B" is correct, I think, for this is not the absence of a particular being like Pierre. This is Being itself!

Bill, however, seems to differ from me in the degree to which he distinguishes nonbeing, or nothingness, from Being. His "nonbeing" would seem to have a wee bit of Being in it. Or maybe even a lot of Being?

I wonder if that is logically possible . . .

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At 3:44 AM, Blogger Unknown said...


In my silly opinion this Non-Being is the total singular subject of the mystics of every major religion. It is totally avoided in conventional (exoteric external public) religion and yet is the one passion of esoteric (internal private) religion. It is the focus of the Absolute and its relationship to the relative and the Infinite and its relationship to the finite. It is the arena of the Answer to the question of every human heart but it will kill the ego that finds it as sure as a moth dies in the flame it seeks. Death no more the end when life ends there than Infinity is the end when something finite hits its limit or than Eternity is over when time runs out. Yet for those who focus on Being, Non-Being is very difficult to contemplate. No it is impossible to contemplate and that is the beginning of wisdom and the border into truth. Non-Being is the land of the egoless, timeless, finite less , nameless unmasked Real. It is what Meister Eckhart called the "God beyond God". It is what Buddha called Emptiness and it is the Zero with Infinite Value. It is where Aristotle and all our very best teachers have to leave their logic and books at the door and watch how worlds are cerated out of NOTHING and now Eternity gives birth to time and space. This is really really senior high post-graduate shit. :) Your namesake Horace the great Roman poet knew that prose simply did not have the power to communicate the most important things. Poetry is needed and the ears are in the root heart of the very nature of man. This is primal stuff down to the GROUND of BEING.. and below ...The Source of Being itself is this Non-Being. No word in Webster's dictionary can describe it. IT deals in WORD not baby finite words. IT addresses your nature not your reason. IT is whole and all else is fragmited. It is peace and all else divided, stressed and dying. Important subject, Horace, perhaps the only important one.

At 6:04 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks for the comment, Mr. Claunch. I'll likely never succeed in contemplating non-Being. My brain just isn't up to it!

Jeffery Hodges,

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