Bonum non est in deo: On the Indistinction of the One and the Exclusion of the Good in Meister Eckhart
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Meister Eckhart exhibits an unprecedented confidence in the transcendental way of thought in medieval philosophy. Eckhart, unlike his predecessors, identifies being as such (ens commune) and God, allowing the most primary determinations metaphysics – ‘being,’ ‘one,’ ‘true,’ ‘good,’ – to function as both metaphysical and theological first principles. Eckhart placed them at the head of his projected Tripartite Opus, a vast work of quaestiones and commentaries whose intelligibility, he insists, requires the prior foundation of a supposed series of a thousand axioms. The table of contents remains, the opus propositionum does not. This thesis argues that what enables Eckhart to pursue the direct application of the transcendentals to the divine also makes it unrealizable. His determination of unity is twofold: as (i) indivisibility, and the standard transcendental conception of unity as a negation of the given positive content of being (ens); as (ii) indistinction, comprehending both the negation of otherness which produces the indivisible and the otherness that is negated. There is an inherent tension between Peripatetic metaphysics and Procline henology. Consequently, the Good is devalued when the Procline One appears within the transcendental perspective. Metaphysics, theology and, a fortiori for Eckhart, ethics, take no consideration of Goodness. I show how this tension gives rise to Eckhart’s association of the divine essence with the Neoplatonic One, while the Peripatetic One and the transcendental “true” function as the explanans of the Trinitarian intellectual self-return. This, in turn, gives rise to the constitutive function of the imago dei, and every imago as such, within that self-relation. Ultimately, this produces a standpoint wherein every essence, only as idea, contains the divine uniform infinity.