On What Cannot Be Said: Apophatic Discourses in Philosophy, Religion, Literature, and the Arts: Volume 1: Classic Formulations / Edition 1

Paperback (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from BN.com
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $30.72
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 16%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (8) from $30.72   
  • New (4) from $30.72   
  • Used (4) from $78.94   


Apophasis has become a major topic in the humanities, particularly in philosophy, religion, and literature. This monumental two-volume anthology gathers together most of the important historical works on apophaticism and illustrates the diverse trajectories of apophatic discourse in ancient, modern, and postmodern times. William Franke provides a major introductory essay on apophaticism at the beginning of each volume, and shorter introductions to each anthology selection. The first volume, Classic Formulations, offers excerpts from Plato, Plotinus, Damascius, the Bible, Gregory of Nyssa, Augustine, Pseudo-Dionysius, Maimonides, Rumi, Thomas Aquinas, Marguerite Porete, Dante, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, and more.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"These two volumes successfully realize a massive project: to propose and delineate a new field of discourse that provides a fresh approach to Western thought as a whole. In short, William Franke demonstrates the centrality of apophaticism, 'what cannot be said,' to the Western tradition, from Plato (and before) to Derrida (and beyond). . . . The first volume covers the first 'cycles' of apophasis, as the Western tradition evolves, stretching from the commentary tradition of Plato's Parmenides to Eckhart and his progenitors. . . . Franke's work is nothing short of brilliant." —Religion and Literature

“. . . One of the most important and original contributions to the discussion of apophasis in recent years. . . . Franke’s historical and disciplinary range, in light of his well-written and compelling essays, provides an illuminating insight into the pervasiveness of apophatic discourse. . . . Franke’s anthology is a resource which should not be ignored. Few others, maybe no others, provide the same clarity, coherence, and scope.” —Christianity and Literature

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780268028824
  • Publisher: University of Notre Dame Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2007
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 460
  • Sales rank: 1,518,723
  • Product dimensions: 6.13 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

William Franke is associate professor of comparative literature and religious studies at Vanderbilt University. He is the author of Dante’s Interpretive Journey.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Hymn to the Transcendence of God     x
Preface: Apophasis as a Genre of Discourse     1
Introduction: Historical Lineaments of Apophasis     9
The Ineffable One
Plato, Parmenides 137b-144e     37
Plotinus, The Enneads V.v.6; VI.ix.3-5,7,10; V.iii.13,14     49
Porphyry?, Commentary on Plato's Parmenides, Fragments I-VI     62
Proclus, Commentary on the Parmenides, Book VII, 53K-76K     75
Damascius, Doubts and Solutions Concerning First Principles, Part I, chaps. 2-8     91
The Nameless God
Bible: 1 Kings 19:9-12 (Elijah on Mount Horeb); 2 Corinthians 12:2-6 (Paul rapt to the third heaven)     111
Philo, On Cain's Posterity 15-21; On Change of Names 11-15; On the Law of Allegory III, 206-208; On Dreams I, 64-67, 229-230     115
Corpus Hermeticum V.1, 9-11; Asclepius 20     123
Tripartite Tractate I,51-57 (Gnostic text from the Nag Hammadi Library)     128
Clement of Alexandria, Stromate V, chap. XII, 78.1-82.4     135
Gregory of Nyssa, The Life of Moses, Book II, 162-166     140
On Virginity 46.360C-364A
Commentary on Ecclesiastes, Sermon 7, 44.724D-732D
Augustine, Confessions, Book IX.x.xxiii-xxv (The Vision at Ostia)     152
Dionysius the Aeropagite, Divine Names, chaps. I and VII, 3; Mystical Theology     158
Johannes Scotus Eriugena,The Division of Nature I, 457d-462d     181
Moses Maimonides, Guide of the Perplexed I, chaps. 50,54, 56-61     191
Kabbalah: Azriel of Gerona, "Ein Sof," "The Annihilation of Thought," and "Being and Nothingness"     210
Zohar III, 26b
"Beyond Knowing"
from Embellishments on the Zohar
"The Name of Nothingness"
"The Wisdom of Nothingness" and "Ripples"
Ibn al-'Arabi, from "The Wisdom of Exaltation in the Word of Noah" and "The Exaltation of Light in the Word of Joseph" in The Bezels of Wisdom     223
Rumi, "The Reed Flute's Song"; "The World Which Is Made of Our Love for Emptiness"; "Quietness"     235
Albert the Great, Commentary on Dionysius' Mystical Theology, chap. 5     241
Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae Ia, q. 13, arts. 1-6, 8-10 ("De nominibus Dei")     249
In-finite, In-fant Spirit
Marguerite Porete, from The Mirror of Simple Souls, chaps. 7,122     277
Meister Eckhart, German Sermons 53 and 83; Commentary on Exodus, sections 146-184; Granum sinapis, stanzas VII and VIII     285
Dante, Paradiso, Canto XXXIII, 46-145     313
Gregory Palamas, Triads in Defence of the Holy Hesychasts, I.iii, chaps. 4,5,17-23     318
The Cloud of Unknowing, chaps. 3,5,6     333
Nicholas of Cusa, Dialogue on the Hiddenness of God; On Learned Ignorance, Book I, chaps. 24-26     338
Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle, Sixth Mansions, from chaps. 5 and 6     356
John of the Cross, Spiritual Canticle, Prologue, sections 1 and 2; The Dark Night, Book II, chap. XVII, 1-8; Ascent of Mount Carmel, Book I, chap. XIII, 11; "The Dark Night" (poem); "Stanzas Concerning an Ecstasy Experienced in High Contemplation"     363
Jakob Bohme, On the Election of Divine Grace, chap. 1     378
Silesius Angelus, selections from The Wandering Cherub     388
Permissions and Acknowledgments     398
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)