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Quote of the Week

January 18, 2007

“In a passage that has always remained with me, the young Friedrich Nietzsche envisaged the following scene. Once upon a time, on a little star in a distant corner of the universe, clever little animals invented for themselves proud words, like truth and goodness. But soon enough the little star cooled, and the little animals had to die and with them their proud words. But the universe, never missing a step, drew another breath and moved on, dancing its cosmic dance across endless skies.

Has Nietzsche described our fate? Does anyone know we are here? Or care? Does a faith in God relieve us of the horror of this scene once and for all? Or is this scene inescapable, not because it can be firmly established as the final truth, but because it remains a possibility that haunts and menaces faith like a ghost? And in constantly menacing faith, does this eerie scene in fact help to constitute faith as faith, which does not see in whole but only in part?

That question, that cluster of questions, is for me the way the issues of philosophy and theology get raised, the two together. The two have always overlapped for me, intertwining and communicating with each other in kind of endless contest and collaboration that constitutes their history across the centuries. The philosophers and the theologians go for the ‘ultimates,’ the deepest questions we ask ourselves, or better, that keep imposing themselves upon us. Philosophers and theologians are slightly unstable types, people who have been knocked off their pins by such questions, who have been drawn into an exploration of the outer and inner space of our lives. Each proceeds with a wary eye on the other, ranging over much the same territory–God and ethics, our origin and our destiny–sometimes jealously and combatively, sometimes cooperatively, conducting a kind of lover’s quarrel over the ages.”

John D. Caputo, Philosophy and Theology


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