The ineffability of God

Abstract

I defend an account of God’s ineffability that depends on the distinction between fundamental and non-fundamental truths. I argue that although there are fundamentally true propositions about God, no creature can have them as the object of a propositional attitude, and no sentence can perfectly carve out their structures. Why? Because these propositions have non-enumerable structures. In principle, no creature can fully grasp God’s intrinsic nature, nor can they develop a language that fully describes it. On this account, the ineffability of God is explained in terms of the inability of our language and mental capacities to grasp God as he really is. I will motivate my account by distinguishing it from a rival proposal. According to this rival, there are no fundamentally true propositions about God’s intrinsic nature. I argue that this rival proposal faces problems that my account does not face. And unlike this rival and other accounts of ineffability, my account provides a fitting explanation of why God is ineffable. God is ineffable because the structure of his intrinsic nature is infinite.

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Omar Fakhri
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

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On the Plurality of Worlds.David Lewis - 1986 - Wiley-Blackwell.
Writing the Book of the World.Theodore Sider - 2011 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
New Work for a Theory of Universals.David K. Lewis - 1983 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 61 (4):343-377.
The Nature of Necessity.Alvin Plantinga - 1974 - Oxford, England: Clarendon Press.

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