Philosophy & Theology
John Milbank’s and Phillip Blond’s narratives of modernity’s descent to nihilism identify the “metaphysics of the sublime” as a feature of modernity, assimilated from Kant’s critical project, that is particularly problematic for the robust post-modern Christian theology proposed in Radical Orthodoxy. This essay argues that the sublime is not the concept most fundamental to their account of Kant’s role in modernity. Far more important is the “phenomenon/noumenon” distinction, which Milbank and Blond read as a “two-world” distinction—an understanding that, despite a long history in Kant interpretation, is not Kant’s. It is less important, however, that constructive dialogue between Radical Orthodoxy and Catholic theology correct this misreading of Kant. More important will be efforts to understand the metaphor of the “immense depth of things,” which Radical Orthodox offers in contrast to the “metaphysics of the sublime,” particularly in relation to the concepts of participation and the analogy of attribution that emerge from Radical Orthodoxy’s reading of Aquinas.