Saturated Phenomenon

Working my way through Khaled Anatolios’s Retrieving Nicaea, I ran across a comment that helped me think about and appreciate the way divine transcendence and apophaticism relate:

“A helpful modern metaphor for the kind of knowledge that trinitarian doctrine offers, and that the development of this doctrine demonstrates, is Jean-Luc Marion’s notion of the “saturated phenomenon.” A saturated phenomenon involves an excess of presencing that so overtakes and overwhelms the knower that she cannot objectify the source of this saturation and enclose it within her cognitive grasp. Similarly, the meaning of the trinitarian doctrine, or the apprehension of the trinitarian being of God, cannot be epistemologically enclosed or objectified.”

I appreciate the manner of expression — an “excess of presencing” that so overwhelms one that one cannot “objectify the source of this saturation” and “enclose it within one’s cognitive grasp.”

(Picture by Natty Alderman.)

4 comments on “Saturated Phenomenon

  1. Jacob says:

    I like that quite a bit myself. Good stuff. Lemme know if you come across further explication of that concept. I’d probably want to tap into it for my own studies.


  2. Jacob says:

    Just found this:


  3. tgbelt says:

    Great find! Marion’s ‘God Without Being’ is on my to-read list. I’ve read a few things about him, but haven’t picked him up yet. Doesn’t look like light reading!


  4. Jeff says:

    I don’t see how this implies anything about whether God is definable in terms of essential attibutes to His own mind and in terms of the same categories of substance/attribute, law of identity, etc that we use. We probably don’t know exhaustively of any being’s actual essential and accidental attributes. So trying to render God as a singularity in that regard seems to imply we probably know more about non-divine entities than we do. Why can’t we say that our concepts may not exhaustively capture all the attributes of a being but that they might very well capture actual ones that are relevant to making accurate statements about them.


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