Christological Controversies: Will the Real Catholic Žižek Please Stand Up? | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
2004
Volume 32, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 0960-2720
  • E-ISSN: 2666-9730

Abstract

Summary

Plato’s dialogue contains the infamous ontological bombshell, the so-called Third Man argument. This argument involves a criticism of the forms, arguing that the premise – roughly, ‘there cannot be any ontological interpenetration between the One and the many’ – is false. The argument intimates that the only way for thought to move beyond the forms is to accept the ‘impossible’ object, the nonsensical One--many. This article calls any ontology which accepts this Third Man argument and attempts to answer it on its own terms, ‘material dialectic’. The high-profile debate between John Milbank and Slavoj Žižek in brings the relevance of this dialectic into stark relief. Both authors accept the material dialectic and mobilise it toward competing christological theses. Yet it is important to navigate the Third Man argument in such a way as to keep a dyophysite Christology in order to satisfy orthodox theological pressures. I will therefore advance two conclusions: first, that the material dialectic is a valid analytical project; and second, that neither Milbank nor Žižek espouses an orthodox Christology: Milbank’s is monophysite while Žižek’s is patripassian. Following Milbank, I will call the final (dyophysite) corrective the ‘Catholic Žižek’ – only, contra Milbank, it will be the Catholic Žižek.

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