Umberto Eco on the Duality of God

Salvador Dali – ‘Egg yolk Sun’ (1955)

“The fact is that the ideas of God that have peopled human history belong to two types. On the one hand there is a personal God who is the fullness of being (“I am he who is”) and therefore sums up in himself all the virtues mankind does not have, and he is the God of omnipotence and victory, the Lord of Hosts. But this same God is often shown in an opposite way: as he who is not… This God who is not passes through the very history of Christianity: He hides himself, is ineffable, can be drawn upon only through negative theology, is the sum of what cannot be said of him; in speaking of him we celebrate our ignorance and he is named as vortex, abyss, desert, solitude, silence, absence… A religiosity of the Unconscious, of the Vortex, of the Lack of Center, of Difference, of the beance has spread through modern thought as the subterranean counterpoint to the uncertainty of the nineteenth-century ideology of progress and the cyclic play of economic crisis. This secularised and infinitely absent God has accompanied contemporary thought under various names, and burst forth in the renascence of psychoanalysis, in the rediscovery of Nietzsche and Heidegger, in the new anti-metaphysics of Absence and Difference”

– Umberto Eco



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