Apophatic theology  

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"With the advent of the first truly revolutionary means of reproduction, photography, simultaneously with the rise of socialism, art sensed the approaching crisis which has become evident a century later. At the time, art reacted with the doctrine of l'art pour l'art, that is, with a theology of art. This gave rise to what might be called a negative theology in the form of the idea of 'pure' art, which not only denied any social function of art but also any categorizing by subject matter. (In poetry, Mallarmé was the first to take this position.)" --The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, 1936

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Negative theology - also known as the Via Negativa (Latin for "Negative Way") and Apophatic theology - is a theology that attempts to describe God by negation, to speak of God only in terms of what may not be said about God.

In brief, the attempt is to gain and express knowledge of God by describing what God is not (apophasis), rather than by describing what God is. The apophatic tradition is often, though not always, allied with the approach of mysticism, which focuses on a spontaneous or cultivated individual experience of the divine reality beyond the realm of ordinary perception, an experience often unmediated by the structures of traditional organized religion or learned thought and behavior.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Apophatic theology" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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