Nothingness and the Return of Metaphysics

  • George Pattison


In the Augustinian tradition nothingness is thought through its refractions in a sequence of interlocking concepts: creaturely dependence, fallenness, time, and the will (or self) in its existential failure to be what it is. Nonetheless, nothingness itself is not thought in its thematic unity. In the case of Augustine himself this is because its various manifestations are only united by virtue of the fact that (like everything else) they are modifications of the one being that is the prime metaphysical reality. In the case of the Augustinianism of the Reformers it is because the very possibility of thinking these fundamental religious realities is denied. Yet, by virtue of their thoroughgoing foregrounding of the crisis of the will, the Reformers paradoxically prepared the way for a reinvention of metaphysics on the basis of the self-in-search-of-itself — a reinvention that would therefore locate nothingness at the very centre of the metaphysical project. This turn in the history of metaphysics is above all associated with the name of Hegel and so it is to Hegel that we now turn.


Sufficient Reason Dialectical Logic Pure Thought Eternal Recurrence Philosophical Fragment 
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Copyright information

© George Pattison 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • George Pattison
    • 1
  1. 1.King’s CollegeCambridgeUK

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