As I remarked earlier I’m embarking on a somewhat ambitious project of trying to make sense of several linked books. These include Sartre’s Being And Nothingness and Zizioulas’ Communion and Otherness. In observe these short quotes and note the similarity:
- Gregory Palamas from the Triads, “The essence is not necessarily being, but being is not necessarily essence”.
- Zizioulas … (argh). I thought I’d found a similar quote from him. But it escapes me now.
- Sartre (there are more of these, but harder to spot than I recollected): “Consciousness is a being whose existence posits its essence, and inversely it is consciousness of a being, whose essence implies its existence”
Another Zizioulas quote (footnote 62 page 34):
Atheism, in its modern form, is based on the assumption that something can simply be or not be regardless of any consideration of how it is. The ultimate and decisive question in the case of God, which precludes any further discussion about him, is for atheism a substantialist one.
For Zizioulas these considerations are ontological. The question for the atheist is … why is that wrong?
Another remark, concerning Sartre on “Negation”. I’m not very much into it but it looks like an expression of what is to ontology as compared to what the empty set is to set theory. And judging by what a useful thing the empty set is in sets, it is likely why he turns to explore that next.
Zizioulas begins in his introduction to introduce his problem speaking about Other and differences and divisions in society.
Now if this confusion between difference and division were simply a moral problem, ethics would suffice to solve it. But it is not. St. Maximus the Confessor recognized in this not only universal but even cosmic dimensions. The entire cosmos is divided on account of difference, and it is different in its parts on the basis of its divisions. [ … ] Hell, eternal death, is nothing but isolation from the other, as the desert fathers put it. We cannot solve this problem through ethics. We need new birth. This leads us to ecclesiology. [ed: italics/emphasis mine]
As an aside, noting the “cosmos divided” this harkens back to the ontological message within Genesis 1, noted in an earlier essay derived from Kass’ Beginning of Wisdom, which was derived largely from Casuto’s work.