The paradox of ineffability

International Journal of Philosophy and Theology 78 (3):1-12 (2017)
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Saying that x is ineffable seems to be paradoxical – either I cannot say anything about x, not even that it is ineffable – or I can say that it is ineffable, but then I can say something and it is not ineffable. In this article, I discuss Alston’s version of the paradox and a solution proposed by Hick which employs the concept of formal and substantial predicates. I reject Hick’s proposal and develop a different account based on some passages from Pseudo-Dionysius’ Mystica Theologia. ‘God is ineffable’ is a metalinguistic statement concerning propositions about God: not all propositions about God are expressible in a human language.

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Sebastian Gäb
Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München


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