Home > Uncategorized > Mary Daly’s historicized analogia entis

Mary Daly’s historicized analogia entis

I’m in the middle of Mary Daly’s Beyond God the Father, which is far more straightforwardly compelling than her reputation had led me to expect. One of the things I’ve particularly enjoyed seeing is how she ties together, far better than most, ontology, spirituality, and historical progress—though it’s almost impossible to resist putting scare quotes around all three of those terms, since she’s working so hard, and largely succeeding, to put all of them into a new semantic field.

I’ll just give the one example, since it’s likely to be of some interest to the blogosphere, of her surprising appeal to the analogia entis. (It comes in the middle of another surprising claim—that the self-expression of woman-consciousness toward God might, in some sense, have more in common with medieval than with modern theology.) She calls hers a living analogy of being, and says that “the particular aspect of our existence from which we are enabled to draw the analogy is the courage that is experienced in the liberation process” (36).

The idea she’s been developing up to this point is that the whole movement of liberation begins with the experience of or confrontation with nothingness, known under patriarchy by women above all, which is then rejected as the woman steps instead decisively, courageously into being. So the whole process is conceived within an ontological frame. Moving into being involves a transformation of consciousness and also an active opposition to the external structures of patriarchy. And all three of these elements—the movement toward Being, the transformation of consciousness, and the dismantling of patriarchy—are bound together in such a way that you can’t move forward in one without moving forward in the others.

When she invokes the analogia entis, she is beginning to explain how an analogous structure is attributable to Be-ing itself—one of her shorthands for referring to God as a Verb. Be-ing asserts itself precisely over nothing, over nothingness. The experience of courage is a kind of sacrament (though Daly certainly does not use this language) of the self-assertion of Be-ing over non-being. “The unfolding of woman-consciousness is an intimation of [or, she’ll also say, participation in] the endless unfolding of God” (36).

  1. ken oakes
    January 29, 2011 at 6:01 am

    That’s interesting. Sounds like Ruether has picked up a lot from Tillich’s sermons.

    • January 29, 2011 at 7:36 am

      It’s Mary Daly, but you’re definitely right: she has a complicated but clear dependence on Tillich throughout. Does he ever make this kind of appeal to the analogia?

  2. ken oakes
    January 29, 2011 at 10:34 am

    An embarrassing comment oversight.

    It’s been a while since I’ve read Tillich’s sermons (esp. The Courage to Be, which seems like the sermon-volume which is being appealed to here), but I don’t think he ever appeals to analogy explicitly (as they are sermons). Come to think of it, you could probably find a whole range of works using this sort of ‘historicized analogy of being’ simply by looking at who was using these sermons for more liberation-type ends (Cone’s early works come to mind).

  1. January 28, 2011 at 9:41 pm

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