Meaning of via negativa in English:

via negativa

Pronunciation /viːə nɛɡəˈtiːvə/


  • A philosophical approach to theology which asserts that no finite concepts or attributes can be adequately used of God, but only negative terms.

    ‘Because I risk ‘owning’ this affirmative relationalism coupled with the via negativa of her theological honesty, let me note some remaining questions.’
    • ‘That said, the Anglican emphasis on the quest for holiness and on union with God bred not merely a concern for right practice but also a certain conceptual skepticism and attraction to the via negativa.’
    • ‘This can also lead to a certain fascination with a via negativa, a path of negation that approaches the impossible as religious experience.’
    • ‘Jeffrey also has a theological point to make, however: He interprets the Christianity of these texts as exhibiting what one could call a via negativa, a Christianity (to put it more sharply) with little if any doctrine of creation.’
    • ‘Yet, the via negativa finds place here: when use is useless, it's best to grip the armchair argumenta based not on what X is, but rather on what X is not.’
    • ‘If it were possible to talk about love, it wouldn't be worth talking about: whereof we cannot speak we take the via negativa.’
    • ‘I think that's sort of the via negativa phrasing of what I'm saying above.’
    • ‘But important connections can yet be made with postmodernity: first, the rabbinic tradition of commentary is contextual straight back to the Torah itself; second, these commentaries ultimately require the via negativa.’
    • ‘The Jewish doctrine of God's ineffability further endorses the via negativa in postmodern Judaism.’
    • ‘This via negativa is consistent with the Islamic credal formula, which begins with the negative There is no god…’
    • ‘The Tao is spoke of via negativa: as not this or that, since all attempts to classify the Tao as this or that would be imprudent.’
    • ‘In both Zen masters and Christian mystics, Nishitani found the via negativa that follows negation to its end-point in the affirmation of all and the clear vision of that-which-is, or, in Buddhist terms, ‘suchness’.’
    • ‘‘[This] is as autobiographical as I make it,’ the poet tells us in the previous stanza, and he's correct - the self dissolves in most of Agency's poems, leaving a spirit to float about the clouds of unknowing, via negativa.’


Latin, literally ‘negative path’.