Whatcha reading? 4

Just finished Yannaras’ Relational Ontology. Looking forward to working through the rest of his work as it continues to be translated into English. Andrew Louth has a lengthy introduction to Yannaras here. And here I’ve included much shorter introduction to Yannaras by Sotiris Mitralexis.

6 comments on “Whatcha reading? 4

  1. Rob Parris says:

    “Truth can only be attained through shared experience, communed experience, life in communion, and cannot be confined in finite formulations.This excludes the possibility of a priori truths, prescribed doctrines and axiomatic theories” Serious flaw here. No denying that truth can be attained through shared experience, however to deny the a priori and axiomatic theories is basically to cut our relation to truth in half. For example, imagine a man who is shipwrecked alone, are we to take it that that man is now cut off from any further discovery of truth until someone else is shipwrecked or he is rescued? This is just a reformulation, on a religious basis, of the postmodern denial of truth as such. Apophatic thinking must distinguish itself from postmodern DENIAL of truth per se, which this does not. His very statement could never have been arrived at by shared experience, communal experience…and is in fact an a priori belief…falling short of an a priori truth as we can readily falsify it.


  2. Rob Parris says:

    Cognition is inherently a subjective experience, not a collective one. There is no collective thinking. To bring in Husserl’s “life world” concept…we all, as subjects, share a common life world, and so are able to communicate truth one to another inter-subjectively, but that is not a collective. Truth is attained as a subject, for sure a subject that is inter-subjectively connected to other subjects via the life world…but that does not and cannot preclude attaining knowledge a priori.


  3. Jacob says:

    Sweet! Looking forward to reading this.


  4. tgbelt says:

    Rob, when I first read that portion (you quoted) I thought of you! No lie. I had the same initial feeling. But I don’t think he means to deny truth in Postmodern fashion or to deny that we can ever come to know anything by thinking privately. I think what he means is given the irreducible relational nature of existence, our knowing (in in private, or even in what we call a priori fashion) must instantiate this irreducible relationality.

    So though we may come to know what we call ‘a priori’ truths (through discursive reasoning alone), in actuality we are only able to meaningfully reflect in this way because we already have a sufficiently contextualized/socialized cognition. In other words, what we call ‘a priori’ is, ultimately, ‘a posteriori’ IF we include what must be presupposed to account for the ‘a priori’ reasoning itself, and that is a cognition-in-relation (contextually informed or socialized). Even if that context is just the self’s experience of the self, it’s the self having an experience of itself in a world that’s not itself and thus a posteriori in an important sense. The ‘a priori’ truths we settled upon themselves presuppose a relational ontology that Yannaras wants to say has to then condition just what it is we mean by ‘a priori’. For him, there are no truths you can arrive at that escape this relational presupposition. I think that’s what he means.


    • Rob Parris says:

      Maybe. But if that’s what someone means then they should be a lot clearer. Look, you said it very nicely and in two paragraphs. To say, “This excludes the possibility of a priori truths,” seems pretty clear…in the opposite direction. (keep in mind I understand that this is someone else commenting on Yannaras, but I’m assuming they have read him enough to have picked up on that, so I’m still doubtful…however, if you can read him and get what YOU SAID, then I guess that’s of value) I usually say it this way…the a posteriori is a necessary but insufficient cause of the a priori. In that we always are going to have an a posteriori context, as you describe, prior to being able to formulate within the a priori. It’s not that I think that Yannaras denies truth in a postmodern way, just that this approach…IF YOU AREN”T VERY CLEAR…can be totally subsumed by postmodernist. The way you formulated it is in keeping with Husserl’s intersubjectivity, and Buber’s I-Thou, both of which I think are great. It’s just very easy to have the intersubjective collapse into a collective when ontologically theorizing. The a priori gives us access to some truths that by their very nature could never be discovered a posterioirily. As you keep reading the guy be on the lookout for any passages that would confirm your take on it. Thanks Tom.


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