Mystery and Method: The Other in Rahner and Levinas

By Michael Purcell | Go to book overview

3.
QUESTIONING PRESENCE

Rahne privileges the question as the proper starting point of metaphysics. The human subject is that being who must ask questions, and who, in asking questions, interrogates not simply beings in their particularity ad infinitum but being at its most fundamental, namely, being as and insofar as it is. The most fundamental question is the question about being and its meaning. In questioning the being of beings, the human subject, as Heidegger argues, is the privileged access, for the question about being includes, as part of its own questioning, the being of the one who questions; and thus, the question about being becomes also the question about the question of being. Dasein "is ontically distinguished by the fact that, in its very Being, that being is an issue for it .... Understanding of Being is itself a definite characteristic of Dasein's Being. Dasein is ontically distinctive in that it is ontological" ( Heidegger 1962, 32). Thus, it is "the primary entity to be interrogated" (ibid. 35). In Spirit in the World, Rahner notes that the transcendental question, which refuses to be ignored and must be asked, is that question "which does not merely place something asked about in question, but the one questioning and the question itself, and thereby absolutely everything" ( Rahner 1994a, 58). One may try to evade the question about being by so immersing oneself in the world and so involving oneself in the attempt to manipulate or control the concrete world that reflection is limited to the concrete entities of the world and self-reflection is refused; or, one may simply accept the fact of finite, categorial existence and leave the question of the ultimacy of existence to the side; or, one may give way to a despair which sees everything as so devoid of sense that any question about the meaning of being would prove meaningless (see Rahner 1978, 32-33). But,

[e]ven when we do not bother asking such questions or explicitly refuse to do so, we still answer the question. We call the question irrelevant or meaningless and have ipso facto already given an answer: being is that something which stares at us out of every being as irrelevant, dark, and meaningless. Or we implicitly substitute some particular existent for being as such. It may be matter, or

-129-

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Mystery and Method: The Other in Rahner and Levinas
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents iii
  • Foreword vii
  • Introduction xii
  • Endnotes xxxiii
  • 1. Method 1
  • 1.7 Summary 56
  • Endnotes 59
  • 2 Philosophical Origins 119
  • Endnotes 121
  • 3. Questioning Presence 129
  • 3.5 Summary 166
  • Endnotes 169
  • 4. Subjectivity and Alterity 171
  • 5. Desiring the Other Or, the Prevenience of Grace 223
  • 5-5 Summary 246
  • Endnotes 248
  • 6 the Sacramentality of the Face, Or, Sacramental Signification 251
  • Endnotes 294
  • 7. Being Ethical 297
  • Endnotes 333
  • 8 the Mystery of the Other 335
  • Endnotes 357
  • Bibliography 359
  • Index 383
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