This dissertation proposes an "apophatic subjectivity" as a new way of understanding the human subject of theology. It therefore examines the concept of "detachment" and "self-annihilation" in the linked medieval mystics Meister Eckhart and Marguerite Porete through the lenses of both Jacques Derrida's deconstruction and Trinh T. Minh-ha's "critical non-knowingness."
The "detachment" of Eckhart and Porete presupposes that unity with the Godhead can only happen when humans become as "nothing," that is, when one becomes free from the constructed distinctions that divide the human from the divine. Human language is one of the distinctions to which Eckhart and Porete paid special attention to.
I argue that Eckhart's caution against language as humanly constructed finds an echo in the writings of Jacques Derrida, who deconstructs the idea that language can truly represent human reality. Paying attention to what is hidden and disregarded in discourse, Derrida proposes that there is always an "other" whose singularity exists beyond closed languages.
Deduced from Derrida's proposition, tout autre est tout autre , ("every other is wholly other"), I propose: The human other as well as the God of Christianity can be read as the "wholly other" whose "secret" or "singularity" should be respected as something both impossible and inexpressible.
Derrida's deconstruction presumes that the standard "I" has been confirmed at the expense of the other as its negative figure. Derrida's attention to "others" is re-cast in Trinh's idea of the "non-unitary subject" that exceeds oppositional explanations.
Trinh's non-knowingness, which disrupts and overcomes "the objectifying and colonizing of the other," lays the foundation for apophatic subjectivity, which I present as an alternative understanding of humanity. For Trinh, people who have been objectified as "the other" should seek out for the forms of differences that cannot be put in oppositional and dualistic terms—the terms of the medieval mystical "distinction." Such differences—hybridity, multiplicity, and unending continuity—can be encountered only after the all-knowing desire and the prejudices of the standardized "I" have disappeared. This is akin to Porete's premodern annihilatio, and yet nonetheless is a subjectivity in which the "I" un-knows and un-does all unnecessary baggage.