Towards constituting the identity of the universe: apophaticism and transcendental delimiters in cosmology

Alexei Nesteruk

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The paper discusses the limits in knowability of the universe in modern cosmology which arise from the human condition. We argue that the alleged identity of the universe as a whole can only be approached apophatically, that is refusing exhaustibility of truth through either positive or negative assertions of this identity in the scientific discourse. Thus any commitment to realism must be abandoned and the objectivity of the universe can acquire no more than a “weak” sense of a construct, that is of constituted reality. Seen in this way the discourse of the universe becomes involved in historicity of the human rationality, so that the reality of the universe can only be understood as having its origin in its historically contingent disclosure by human beings. The fundamental incommensurability between the universe and embodied humanity, as well as intrinsic non-attunement of humanity with the universe, are manifested in communion with universe through existential anxiety of being displaced in it. It is from within this anxiety that one can identify transcendental delimiters which act in cosmological knowledge. In particular, we discuss the meaning of the cosmological principle as a transcendental principle of explicability of the universe related to the inherent ability of human rationality to grasp the presence of the finite infinitude. We point out that this principle, being methodological for cosmological research, has some teleological overtones (linked to the active telos of cosmological explanation) related to the essence of the human condition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)358-394
Number of pages37
JournalJournal of Siberian Federal University - Humanities and Social Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 10 Mar 2012


  • universe
  • identity
  • knowledge
  • explicability
  • apophaticism
  • transcendentalism
  • teleology


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