Recovering World-Welcoming Words: Language, Metaphysics, and the Voice of Nature
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Gerlier, V. (2021). Recovering World-Welcoming Words: Language, Metaphysics, and the Voice of Nature. Religions, 12 (7)https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12070501
This article presents a theological–literary response to a concern in contemporary theory with heeding and articulating the speech of nonhuman things. Drawing from Rowan Williams’ metaphysics of poetic addition, I argue that an ‘ecotheological’ literary practice challenges us to become attentive and responsive to the language of the nonhuman, by creatively performing the co-mingling of nonhuman and human language. Drawing from Jean-Louis Chrétien’s phenomenology of the voice, I propose a theological conception of language as a gift of hospitality to the voice of nonhuman things that is also a gift of poetic addition—a ‘saying more’ which, adding being to the world, also manifests its gift-like nature. In contrast to recent critical approaches, I argue for the qualified retrieval of ‘nature’ as a figure both literary and theological, a voice that gives voice to things and speaks by means of human literary production. Through a reading of Shakespeare’s King Lear, I show that the paradoxical and poetic ambiguities of the literary sense of ‘nature’ serve precisely to shed light on its suspect modern iteration, while at the same time taking us beyond critique to enable a cautious yet attentive retrieval of its poetic and symbolic scope.
ecotheology, theology and literature, ecology and religion, nature, Rowan Williams, Jean-Louis Chrétien, Timothy Morton, metaphysics of language, Shakespeare, King Lear
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12070501
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/324916