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According to ps.-Dionysius, the two ways do not contradict one another: whereas negative theology considers the deity in his absolute transcendence mone and stresses his difference from beings, positive theology considers it as the cause of all beings, i.e., the principle from which all beings emanate by virtue of proodos and in which they are thus potentially contained. Seattle Map Whereas positive theology, through proodos considers the descending process from the deity to beings, negative theology rises from beings to the first principle, which remains always detached from them. These two methods also explain how the deity can be simultaneously nameless and the object of all possible names a doctrine also found in the Corpus Herm. V, 10. Strictly connected to the adoption of the two theologies is the application to the deity of negative and positive concepts characteristic, respectively, of the one of the first and second hypotheses of Plato’s Parmenides, which, first by the Neopythagoreans and then by the various exponents of Neoplatonism, was given a theological-metaphysical interpretation and thus became the basis of the theology of Neoplatonism.

Apart from chs. IX and X of the Divine Names, in which the positive concepts are those that characterize the one of the second hypothesis of the Parmenides, ps.-Dionysius takes up the negative conclusions of the first hypothesis in De div. nom. I, 5,593A-B; II, 11,649C4-6; V, 4,817D; XIII, 3,981A cf. Parm. 141e, 142 a; and the positive conclusions of the second hypothesis in De div. nom. V, 8,824A cf. Parm. 155d; and makes simultaneous use of both hypotheses in De div. nom. V, 10,825B and VII, 3,872A.

D. The superiority of negative theology. Though recognizing the legitimacy of both theologies, ps.- Dionysius seems to consider negative theology more suited to the absolutely unknown nature of the first principle: in Cael. hier. II, 3, 140D 6-7, he says that it is a more appropriate method; and in De div. nom. XIII, 3,981D, he recalls with approval the preference accorded to the negative procedure by the theologians who taught him. Proclus too preferred this procedure and, like ps.-Dionysius, identified it with the ascending process Th. plat. 2,5: II, 38,19-21. The via negativa is one of the main characteristics of the theology of the whole Platonic and patristic tradition. Ps.-Dionysius’s words in Cael. hier. II, 3 140D 5-6, which designate not what is, but what is not, should be compared with Clement of Alexandria, Strom. V, 71,3 CGS II, 374, 13-15 and with Plotinus, Enn. V, 3,14 V, 68,6-7 Brhier.

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