Critically Assess the Via Negativa as a Means of Knowing God

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Critically assess the Via Negativa as a means of knowing God
In the Christian tradition, the via negativa (apophatic theology) refers to a way of speaking about God and his attributes through the way of the negative. Because God is beyond our capacity as human beings to comprehend, anything we can say of him is necessarily limited by our finite human understanding and his reality far surpasses our power of expression through our anthropocentric languages. It suggests that the closest way we can get to describing him is by saying what he is not, rather than what he is. We therefore can come to know God better through meditating on how much greater he is than anything we can conceive for as St. Thomas said: “This is the ultimate in human knowledge of God: to know that we do not know Him”. According to this way, we use words like “infinite,” “incorporeal”, “immutable,” and “ineffable” to describe God. Even to call God “perfect,” says St. Thomas, we do by way of negation, because we understand perfection as “lacking nothing.”
Moses Maimonides believed that when it came to directly describing God’s nature, “silence is the best praise” and that even the Torah was an imperfect source for describing God as any descriptions are carried out using human language (“The Torah was written by the sons of men”). However he understood human need to describe and explain the characteristics of God, which he felt was impossible to do in a meaningful way; And so he suggested that we demonstrate the nature of God by saying what he is not as he believed that God is transcendent, so it is impossible to say what God is. He therefore decided that the only way we could speak of him, is to talk in negatives.
He gave the example of ‘God is not a human being. This is because he is transcendent, so cannot have a body.’ Maimonides believes that by giving positive ideas to God, we are lowering God…...

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