Everyone can agree that the mystery of the Incarnation is difficult to believe and to understand, and yet it is precisely what Christians do not cease to profess. The most innocent questions concerning the “carnal consistency” of the Resurrected One today are omitted for want of a suitable and contemporary anthropology for us to ask them. But that a body made of “flesh and bones” can indeed now claim to appear and reappear in what we ordinarily call a horizon of reality or objectivity goes against our faculties of thought and even imagination. Philosophy must aim to render comprehensible this mystery of a God made body.
This paper investigates the theme of sense and nonsense as it pertains to the phenomenological problem of “flesh.” It raises two sets of questions: 1) What is the relation of flesh to body and body to flesh? It is possible to admit the materiality of the corporeal condition while maintaining the phenomenological privilege of flesh and life? Or must one deny the privilege of flesh in favor of a more moderate “balance” of flesh and body? 2) How does the phenomenality of flesh and body go together with the theological reality of the Incarnation of the Word? How is the passage into theology effected in phenomenology when it is a question of body and flesh? The article objects to Emmanuel Falque’s interpretation of Michel Henry, enters into recent scholarship relating phenomenology and cognitive science, and questions whether incarnation can be adequately described by a phenomenology in which perception is ultimate.
In this article, I want to make the following points, none of which are totally new, but their constellation here is meant to be challenging. First, world is not a (Cartesian) thing but an event, the event of sense. This event is opening and meaning – verbal tense. God may be a philosophical name of this event. This is recognized by late-modern religious atheist thought. This thought differs from modern scientific rationalism in that the latter’s so-called areligious atheism is actually a hyperreligious theism. On the way, the alleged opposition between philosophy and theology, between thought and faith is seen to erode. The core matter of this philosophy of religion will be the absolute reference, the system of objectivity and the holiness of the name. All this because of a prefix a- that has its sense turned inside out by the death of God.