Between Chora and the Good: Metaphor's Metaphysical Neighborhood

Between Chora and the Good: Metaphor's Metaphysical Neighborhood

Copyright Date: 2005
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 576
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  • Book Info
    Between Chora and the Good: Metaphor's Metaphysical Neighborhood
    Book Description:

    Plato's chora as developed in the Timaeus is a creative matrix in which things arise and stand out in response to the lure of the Good. Chora is paired with the Good, its polar opposite; both are beyond beingand the metaphors hitherto thought to disclose the transcendent. They underlie Plato's distinction of a procreative gap between being and becoming. The chiasmus between the Good and chora makes possible their mutual participation in one another. This gap makes possible both phenomenological and cosmological interpretations of Plato. Metaphor is restricted to beings as they appear in this gap through the crossing of metaphor's terms, terms that dwell with, rather than subulate, one another. Hermeneutically, through its iswe can see something being engendered or determined by that crossing.Bigger's larger goal is to align the primacy of the Good in Plato and Christian Neoplatonism with the creator God of Genesis and the God of love in the New Testament.

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-4749-3
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-xii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xx)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxi-xxvi)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-20)

    Modernity can no longer borrow the criteria by which it takes its orientation from the models supplied by another epoch; it has to create its normativity out of itself.


    In with a bang and out with a bust? Isn’t that how last century was? It announced itself in Futurism and Ezra Pound’s “Make It New”; but, having eliminated transcendent moral and spiritual orientations, it left us bewildered. Levinas recalls how, as a young student, he welcomed Bergson’s “prospects for renewal”; how he learned from Husserl “to be clear about what we thought by exploring how we thought it” and...

  6. 1 The Place of Metaphor
    (pp. 21-50)

    Metaphor, that old, anarchical alchemist, transmutes belief into truth, illusion into reality, ignorance into knowledge—only then to turn around and do the opposite. How? She lets unsociable differences cross over to dwell with and interpret one another in order to reveal unsuspected identities—fictional, real, and virtual.¹ Water is one thing, electricity is another; but when Faraday crossed them and saw electricity through hydraulics, a new science was born. Electricity isn’t a fluid and does not flow, yet its dynamics are formally the same as those of water. Sometimes what is seen is an artifact of the metaphor. Waves...

  7. 2 The Matrix
    (pp. 51-82)

    E. V. Walters’sPlacewayschronicles his journey along the sacred path to Plato’s Academy and the matrix. He calls attention to Ptolemy’s distinction betweentopos,the space of geography—and Descartes’s extension or Aristotle’s innermost container—andchora,a qualitative, phenomenological place that organizes and evokes images, memories, feelings, meanings, and the work of the imagination.¹ Like the Rome of Freud’sCivilization and Its Discontents“in which nothing once constructed ever disappears,” the matrix seems to hold in storage the entire contents of past experience. We have known this archival and creative or threatening power of place in Delphi, Chartres,...

  8. 3 Plato’s Idea Theory
    (pp. 83-120)

    Since we are in for a heavy dose of my idiosyncratic Plato, some preliminaries are in order. Even among Platonists, the theory ofideas,whatever that means, is often suspect; others find it bizarre. This is especially true of those who work within my Continental tradition but who often take Nietzsche far too seriously; oddly, Platonic realism continues to be appreciated among logicians, mathematicians, and even many analytic philosophers. Can we make it appealing to our peers?

    Ifeidoiare to give metaphor a new life, perhaps even taking one to the Good’s vestibule, how are we supposed to think...

  9. 4 To Feel and to Know
    (pp. 121-151)

    Thanks to Whitehead’s rather elliptical mention of the consequent nature of God and recent discussions in quantum mechanics, the Holy Spirit now may have a relevancy it has not enjoyed since Joachim of Fiore, Hegel, or Karl Rahner. The way beyond being is dual; there is first the rather uranian Good (agathon) beyond being (Rep.,509B) which is the cause of knowing and being, and then, in the late dialogueTimaeus,its chthonic supplement, the procreative receptacle that gives beings place. Though neither is on the surface a promising subject for further discourse, we will find the chthonic aspect to...

  10. 5 Deictic Metaphor
    (pp. 152-181)

    Plato’s metaphors tend toward the transcendent, but now the matrix must have its due. Deictic images seek out the factical uniqueness that condemns us to live in both truth and untruth, in openness and in concealment. How can this be if, as it is said, Plato is unable to accommodate thetodi ti,the individual? But does Aristotle do better? His solution hinges on the distinction between sensing the individual and, except inphronesis,knowing it as universal, and that gets us nowhere. Can Plato be rescued? Perhaps. The way to the individual is the way of love, but in...

  11. 6 Truth and Metaphor
    (pp. 182-207)

    When I was with some distinguished men recently, I asserted that the Socratic method of discussion … seemed to me outstanding. For not only are souls imbued with the truth through conversation, but one can see [it] in the order of meditation itself which proceeds from the unknown to the known.


    The movement away from predication toward an apprehensive of “the thing itself,” metaphor’s phenomenological task, was begun by Plato in the Seventh Epistle and as Leibniz saw, is the point of dialectic. This deictic movement was nipped in the bud by Aristotle’sDe Categoria(1a 16–1b 9),...

  12. 7 Aristotle: Poetry and the Proper
    (pp. 208-221)

    In theGorgias,Plato proposed that sophistry be purged from rhetoric, which could then be fashioned into a dialectical instrument (499A ff) that would incorporate the monstrative and persuasive potentials of metaphor andmythos.¹ In theRepublic(510B), however, he eliminated appeals to sense and its images in the “upward” movement of the dialectic for the sake of an eidetic intuition; on the other hand, we propose to enlist him in the countermovement of deictic metaphor, which discloses form in the fact rather than in an abstract and imageless thinking.² This strange disclosive power is never more apparent than in...

  13. 8 “To the Things Themselves”
    (pp. 222-236)

    We hope to transport metaphor from its usual Aristotelian setting into a Platonic context where the Good, not Being, is supreme. If we are to displace being, what are we displacing? Aside from its vitalistic, durative, and fact-stating senses,einai(to be) has a locative power, a presence in the present. We shunt these senses over to the matrix, which, though beyond being, gives each being life, duration, a place, a present, and that facticity of a there to a here. “Existence” is not one of the meanings ofeinai. In his important study of the Greek verb “to be,”...

  14. 9 The Hypostasis: Its Thisness and Its There
    (pp. 237-262)

    Interpreting Plato’s “living creature” (Tim.,30B–D) as a hypostasis goes beyond his letter, if not his spirit; it takes us a long way toward unraveling something of the mystery of incarnation. Plato saw that the separationist account in thePhaedodefined soul through its relation to theideas,but then it left no place for “change, life, soul, and understanding” and condemned us “to stand immutable in solemn aloofness, devoid of intelligence” (Sop.,249A). The hypostasis as developed in Greek patristic usage can begin to put these together and to correct the mistaken view that Platonism, if not Plato...

  15. 10 Elementals
    (pp. 263-275)

    If Rilke, Hölderlin, George, and Trakl are among the poets who set truth to work for Heidegger, something like this happened for me through an obscure Byzantine icon representing the Virgin Mary as theZoodochus Pegeand another calling her “the place of the placeless.” In her welcome, “matter shows itself for the first time in its materiality.”² Llewelyn has it that “maternity is the mother of materiality because it is the in-vention of the other … a pre-naissance of pre-nature.”³

    The mother who intervenes must be seen in the God who is “loving love.” While a loving could hypostasize...

  16. 11 Time’s Arrow
    (pp. 276-297)

    In 1910s and early 1920s Whitehead provided a phenomenological basis for the principles of natural knowledge and an alternative to Einstein;¹ but in his cosmology, process is being and the phenomenological concern seemingly disappeared. What appears for the first time in the later work, however, is an assimilation of force and affectivity that was based on an interpretation of the Platonic matrix as diversified by vectors, which can be read as both physical forces and phenomenological affects. Derrida used the same interpretative freedom to gain an important insight intochoraas loci ofdifférancein the general text. It also...

  17. 12 The Originary
    (pp. 298-324)

    Let’s begin by asking ourselves, what dowemean by time? No doubt, many different things, but chief among these is that time is mine, what I am in my innermost self. What is it? We share Augustine’s dilemma; he knew what time was until asked. What is this time that is mine and yours alone, the time we are caught up in, never have enough of, cannot endure, and can lend or give to others? Then there is the time clocks keep that ticks away inexorably, indifferent to our moods and the occupants of its now, its before and...

  18. 13 Otherwise than Metaphor
    (pp. 325-342)

    Thanks to the gifts of the instant that is beyond beings, beings can enter into the rubrics of metaphor, hermeneutics, and participation, all of which share a reflexive structure. In perception, the paradigm case of participation, a form is engendered when the “subject” crosses over and interprets what is actively received. This resembles both the crossings of hermeneutics and metaphor.¹ We must now go beyond these in approaching the Good, though the beyond is always under an ontological pall.

    As a preliminary,sayingoffers the prospect of a way beyond. Though Heidegger neglects the ethical priority of the other who...

  19. 14 Saying Something
    (pp. 343-361)

    Plato thought that light was the medium of seeing (Rep.,407E). The sun, which causes both light and life (509B), is “the child whom the good begat in its own likeness” (508B). Thought the cause of vision and generation, the sun “is not himself generation” nor can it be seen directly through an excess of light, but only through a dark glass or in its effects; so too for the Good. Nevertheless, the sun is said to have been begotten in its likeness. Patristic apophatic theology, working from this invisibility of the Good, spoke of it as “invisible in light”...

  20. 15 The Receptacle
    (pp. 362-380)

    In “How to Avoid Speaking: Denials,” Jacques Derrida approacheschorafrom the perspective of apophatic theologies in which every attributive predicate is said to be “inadequate to the essence, in truth the hyperessentuality (the being beyond Being) of God.” Only a negative attribution can claim to approach and prepare us for a silent intuition of God.¹ These claims elicit Derrida’s interest because hisdifférance,which is not a concept, describes how the matrix may work in articulating language, for in its ineffability it resembles the withdrawn God of mystical theology. He distinguishes several types that “deconstruct grammatical anthropomorphism” and awaken...

  21. 16 À Dieu
    (pp. 381-400)

    What is left to language were the said peeled away from the saying? A primal fecundity awaiting the word. When saying is propositioned by erotic reason, it is as if the said hypothesizes, stands out, and is substantial through the other. Ifhaecceitasand its ties to alterity individuate the hypostasis, establishes its integrity as something against which to stand over and take our measure, is there anything that will give the word a similar status? Is there some analogue to the “Word made flesh” that can prevent its endless chain of signifiers or limit its dissemination, if with the...

  22. Notes
    (pp. 401-470)
  23. Bibliography
    (pp. 471-490)
  24. Index
    (pp. 491-496)
  25. Back Matter
    (pp. 497-502)