The power and illusion of words: renegotiating ineffable presence in the advent of humanism and reform
This chapter explores the radical changes in the intellectual presence of ineffability in Western thought following the rise of humanism and the impact of religious reform. It seeks to demonstrate how the notion of the ineffable ceases in the period to be merely speculative, and in the processes of Renaissance and Reformation becomes a temporal source for profound individual empowerment, but also religious anxiety and intellectual dissent. The argument here develops in stages by surveying and analysing the permutations of thinking about ineffability in the Renaissance Neoplatonic philosophy of man, in the philological practices of Erasmian humanism, in Reformation debates about the use of signs and metaphors in the operation of the logos in scripture and sacrament, and the emerging English Protestant preoccupation with the motions of interior sacredness, holy silence, and the language of election.
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