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Title: Reason, detachment and political egalitarianism : a critically analytical exploration in Thomas Nagel and Pseudo-Dionysian apophaticism
Author: Exall, Maria
ISNI:       0000 0004 5368 3933
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2015
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With particular constructive epistemological and political goals strategically in view, this thesis undertakes a critically analytical comparison of key aspects of the thought of Thomas Nagel and the ‘intellectual stream’ of the apophatic tradition originating from the works of Pseudo-Dionysius. In drawing on Nagel, an American ‘analytical’ philosopher, as a primary source, it seeks, in more general terms, to contribute in unique ways to a recent broader renewal of interest in Pseudo-Dionysius for contemporary philosophical and theological concerns. Substantially and specifically, however, in taking the role of detachment in both primary interlocutors as its central guiding focus, the thesis uncovers several fundamental and mutually illuminating orientational and structural resonances between the two, not least among which is a demonstration of the indispensable interwovenness and integration of the epistemological, ethical and political domains in both. Through this integration the thesis seeks further to show in new ways and along fresh trajectories not only the essential ‘this-worldly’ or socially engaged orientation at the heart of detachment, but also the full rational accountability of detachment in both Nagel and Dionysius. Despite their striking similarities, however, crucial differences will be found between the two, most especially in the ‘extent’ of the detachment allowed or demanded by each: differences which will be shown to have an especially important bearing when considering Nagel’s political theory. Whilst the ‘liberal egalitarianism’ yielded by Nagel’s programme is grounded in a ‘two standpoints’ model of detachment – a model which must retain an element of the ‘personal standpoint’ along with the detached ‘impersonal standpoint’ – the ‘radical’ detachment of Dionysian apophaticism (for which Meister Eckhart will be the later exemplar), demands a full ‘erasure’ of the personal perspective, thereby yielding what we shall be calling a ‘kenotic egalitarianism’, key commitments and characteristics of which will be explored at the conclusion.
Supervisor: Janz, Paul Dwight ; Davies, Oliver Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available