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Title: The Apophatic tradition in Alan of Lille and Dante : logic, theology and poetry from the twelfth to the fourteenth centuries
Author: Addivinola, Gabriella
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis explores, through a focused examination of the works of Alan of Lille and Dante Alighieri, the apophatic tradition or via negativa, with particular regard to the issues raised by naming God with human language. Thematic and stylistic reappropriations of Alan are highlighted, the aim is not, however, to establish textual dependency as such, but to explore the historical development of the via negativa, the problems it raises in medieval logic and theology, and the different approaches to the transcendence of the divine reality in the production, both prose and verse, of Alan and Dante. Since divine ineffability crosses a number of disciplinary domains – rhetoric, semantic, logic, metaphysics and theology – the thesis is attentive to all these topics and their interactions. Attention to these fields and to their development over time, both in the period before and after the entry of Aristotelian works at the end of the twelfth century, is employed in order to evaluate more closely the respective treatments of Alan and Dante. Chapter One reconstructs the interactions of Stoic, Augustinian and Aristotelian (by Boethian mediation) sources together with the Neoplatonism of Proclus and Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (especially as transmitted by Eriugena) in order to provide a conceptual background for medieval discussion on the heuristic value of signs. In this chapter, attention is paid in particular to the contribution of the Pseudo-Dionysian tradition to medieval thought. Chapter Two provides an in-depth study to the medieval reception of the conceptual background delineated in Chapter One, particularly in relation to the issue of the transformations which human language undergoes when used in the theological field. This chapter assesses the impact of the new translations on the reconfiguration of the relationship between metaphysics and theology and related linguistic questions, illustrating shifts in the way that divine predication is handled and the richness and importance of the medieval understanding of the concept of analogy of being (analogia entis). Chapter Three deploys the historical context set out in the previous two chapters in order to compare Alan of Lille’s and Dante’s treatment of apophatic themes, by showing the different conceptual backgrounds for their reinterpretations of the theory of translatio and of the concept of analogia entis. The analysis thus departs from the extant scholarly concerns with Alan and Dante (namely, the use of figurative and allegorical devices) in order to provide a firmer historical and conceptual basis from which to understand their poetical choices in the De Planctu naturae and the Anticlaudianus and in the Comedy.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: BR Christianity ; PQ Romance literatures