This essay offers a reading of Stathis Gourgouris's The Perils of the One (2019). The peril of the One is primarily, Zartaloudis suggests, its poverty of experience. The impoverishment of experience is the purpose of transcendental foundations of the One, which, in Western traditions, is presupposed through a binary schema of power whereby potency is exhausted in actuality. This binary of power corresponds historically to the Christian Trinitarian oikonomia that predates the transcendental foundationalism of sovereign power/law and secular government. Hence, the age-old discourses that have been produced over many centuries over heteronomy and/or autonomy, across the theological, philosophical, juridical, and political spectrum, revolve around the same false paradox of how to form order in the world from a transcendental vantage point, without being able, by definition, to unfold it in the world. Determined to separate the false paradox (the “world” according to the One) from the true paradox (the cosmological abyss) within which it unfolds, humanity is thought to be destined to an inevitable state of war as if by nature. Secular criticism (in the manner of Edward Said and Gourgouris) as a tradition of thought offers an alternative to the polemic between traditions that are structured according to a false paradox (a world as the world) attempting to erase the unmappable cosmos. Such criticism, it is proposed, could become ever more creative and inviting if it reached out across traditions to compose an impassioned poietic thread that is premised on the negation neither of traditions nor of the irreparable cosmological abyss that marks our species.

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