apophatic

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adjective ap·o·phat·ic \ ˌa-pə-ˈfa-tik \

Definition of apophatic

:of or relating to apophasis (see apophasis 2) :involving the practice of describing something by stating which characteristics it does not have
  • an apophatic description
  • It was a reactive consciousness, embedded mainly in an apophatic discourse.
  • —Amila ButurovicCultural Survival QuarterlySummer 1995
; especially :of, relating to, or being negative theology
  • apophatic theology
  • the Christian apophatic tradition
  • The deepest truth in all things is numinous, these apophatic masters taught, beyond reason, beyond language.
  • —Tim LilburnFiddleheadJanuary 1993
  • … a humility that recognizes that all theology has both eschatological and apophatic dimensions.
  • —Lawrence S. CunninghamCommonweal5 June 2009
  • We'll … move on to Thomas Aquinas, in whom we can see that God's best hope is apophatic silence.
  • —John Crace, The Guardian (London)7 July 2009

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Origin and Etymology of apophatic

borrowed from Medieval Latin apophaticus “negative, negating,” borrowed from Greek apophatikós, adjective derivative of apóphasis “denial”


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