Thanks to the new commented bilingual edition of Mark Siderits and Shōryū Katsura, Nāgārjuna’s Middle Way: Mūlamadhyamakakārikā (Boston: Wisdom, 2013), the thought of the great logical clarifier of the foundations of the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras’ proclamation of emptiness has become very accessible to Western readers. Meanwhile Jan Westerhoff has clarified the logic of Nāgārjuna’s use of the catuṣkoṭi or tetralemma—the claim “that some proposition holds, that it fails to hold, that it both holds and fails to hold, that it neither holds nor fails to hold” (Westerhoff, 67), as well as the negation of all four positions—by drawing on the distinction between two forms of negation, prasajya or paryudāsa. “The number seven is not green” is a paryudāsa negation, which presupposes the validity of speaking of numbers in terms of color, but “it cannot be said that the number seven is green” is a prasajya negation, which implies no positive account of the number seven but merely disqualifies this entire way of speaking about it. One cannot say that the number seven is green, nongreen, both, or neither, since the category “green” has no applicability at all. Westerhoff is able to explain Nāgārjuna’s arguments “within the framework of classical logic” without drawing on dialetheism or paraconsistent logic or rejecting the Law of the Excluded Middle.
For Nāgārjuna all our propositions are invalid insofar as they presuppose the idea of substantial existence, svabhāva, which is shown to have no applicability to any of the topics analyzed in turn in the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā (MMK): causality, motion, āyatanas, skandhas, dhātus, desire, the conditioned, object and agent, what is prior, fire and fuel, prior and posterior parts (of saṃsāra), suffering, the composite, conjunction, the existent and nonexistent, bondage and liberation, action and fruit, self, time, the causal assemblage, arising and dissolution, the Tathāgata, false conception, the Noble Truths, nirvāṇa, the twelvefold chain of dependent co-arising, views. Whatever flimsy, provisional, functional reality any of these items may have can be upheld only on the basis of emptiness, not of svabhāva.
The negativity of this dialectic reflects the low estimate of conceptuality in Buddhist thinking. “Substance (dravya), quality (guṇa), action (kriyā), genus (jāti) and name (naman) are so many mental constructions generated by transcendental imagination (kalpanā) iinsofar as it is organically allied with verbal designation (abhilapa)” (François Chenet, “Catégories de langue et catégories de pensée en Occident et en Inde,” in Chenet, ed. Catégories de langue et catégories de penséé en Inde et en Occident [Paris: L’Harmattan, 2005], 9-67; p. 45). In Buddhism the status of the concept is far from the power of abstraction by which, in Aquinas the intellect grasps the essence of things, and far from the Idea which, in Hegel, swallows and digests the real in all its complexity. Among Indian philosophies Buddhism is distinguished by its nominalist tendencies, and it disdains vikalpa, thought that proceeds by merely conceptual differentiations and discriminations. It is telling that when the great Buddhist logicians Dignāga and Dharmakīrti seek to define the concept what first comes to their mind is an entirely negative notion: apoha or exclusion. The concept of a cow, for example, is an instrument of thought that does not grasp the essence of a cow but keeps at a distance whatever is non-cow.
Nāgārjuna’s arguments against svabhāva often seem jejune and sophistical. One is the argument from the “three times”: a goer cannot exist, because he does not exist on the path that has been traversed or the path that has yet to be traversed, and the present path has no existence apart from the other two. A cause cannot produce an effect after it has ceased to be, but neither can it be simultaneous with the effect, nor can the effect come into being independently of or prior to the cause (MMK 20.6-15).
“If the cause is empty of the effect, how will it produce the effect. If the cause is not empty of the effect, how will it produce the effect?” (20.16). Here the argument moves from time to the plane of logical relations of dependence. Causal relations cannot occur either if there is unity or if there is separateness of cause and effect (20.19-20).
Mutual implication is another argument: there is no goer without the act of going (or no father without a son), so the goer cannot be established as having independent existence. The mutual implication may be that between two notions, such as North and South. Thus present and future do not exist since they depend on the past (MMK 19.1-3). “Likewise one could develop an argument along the same lines in order to demonstrate a problem with other such triads: best, worst, and middling, for instance, and singularity, duality, and plurality. Buddhapālita adds that the same reasoning would undermine the real existence of such pairs as near and far, earlier and later, cause and effect, and so forth” (Siderits/Katsura, 210). “Causes and effects are both notionally and existentially dependent on one another. They therefore cannot exist from their own side, irrespective of the existence of one another. Moreover, they also depend for their existence on us, because it is our cognitive act of cutting up the world of phenomena in the first palce which creates the particular assembly of objects that constitutes a causal field, whcih then in turn gives rise to the notions of cause and effect. This entails that the causal field, cause and effect are empty of svabhāva” (Westerhoff, 98).
More elaborate is the fivefold analysis exemplified by MMK 10.14: “Fire is not in fuel, fire is not elsewhere than where fuel is, fire does not possess fuel, fuel is not in fire, and fire is not in fuel.” and by 22.1: “The Tathāgata is neither identical with the skandhas nor distinct from the skandhas; the skandhas are not in him nor is he in them; he does not exist possessing the skandhas. What Tathāgata, then, is there?”
The tetralemma is not an argumentative weapon of this kind but proceeds at a meta-level, surveying all possibilities. The concrete argument against each of the possibilities has to be provided. Thus MMK 25 provides arguments against nirvāṇa as an existent (4-7), an absence (8-10), both (11-4), and neither (15-16). The tetralemma, in its negative guise, assures the exhaustivity of the negation, in that arguments against all four possibilities have been found. In its rare positive guises it can be seen as celebrating the variety and fullness of the Buddha’s teaching devices.
The Significance of Greek Parallels
The Madhyamaka arguments are often reminiscent of those of the Greek sceptics, notably Pyrrho, who accompanied Alexander the Great to India and whose unwritten teaching is summed up by a disciple, Timon, as follows: “We should say of each thing that it no more is than is not, than both is and is not, than neither is nor is not” (quoted, Thomas McEvilley, “Pyrrhonism and Mādhyamika,” Philosophy East and West 32 :1-35; p. 1). The Madhyamaka arguments acquire depth from the use to which they are put, for they converge on one point of application, the ever-recurring delusions of svabhāva thinking, and they envisage the perception of reality, tathatā, the empty thusness of things. The spiritual bearing of the Greek skeptical arguments is summed up in the ideal of ataraxia. Timon promises that the skeptical attitude brings “first detachment from language (aphasia), then imperturbability (ataraxia)” (McEvilley, 2). Pyrrho is closer to the skeptics of the Buddha’s time than he is to the Buddha himself, since “he advises suspension of judgment not for the religious purpose of escaping from transmigration, but for the psychological purpose of attaining tranquillity” (25).
Diogenes Laertius (Lives of the Eminent Philosophers IX, 61) tells of Pyrrho “coming into contact with the Gymnosophists and Magi in India, as a result of which he seems to have philosophized in a most noble manner, introducing the form of inapprehension (akatalêpsia) and suspension of judgement (epochê)…. In all matters he said that nothing existed in reality, but that men did all things as a result of law and convention; for no particular thing is any more this rather than that” (quoted, R. J. Hankinson, The Sceptics [London and New York: Routledge, 1995], 59). Everard Flintoff finds that “the antithetical approach towards all metaphysical, indeed perhaps all assertion, which is the differentia between Pyrrhonian philosophy and every other contemporary Greek philosophy” resembles the “polarity and antinomies” that are “a recurrent hallmark of Buddhist thought” (“Pyrrho and India,” Phronesis 25 :88-108; p. 91). He refers to “the quadrilemma, a mode of thinking hitheerto without precedent in Greek philosophical or indeed any other thinking, and not deployed very widely even after this period, except, interestingly enough, in the sceptical corpus of Sextus Empiricus, where, according to A. M. Frenkian [“Sextus Empiricus and Indian Logic,” Philosophical Quarterly 30 (1957):115-26], there are 14 in all (4 of them couched in the most rigorous form!)” (92).
The parallels adduced by McEvilley (for instance, to the three times argument against causality, 6-9) are impressive, but since he thinks it possible that Pyrrho “could have devised the four negations out of materials readily at hand in the Greek schools” (23) he looks for possible influence in the other direction, pointing out that the many uses of tetralemma in the Pāli Canon do not necessarily predate Alexander. “Nāgārjuna’s work appears without known Indian forerunners of its dialectical methods. It has the whole pattern of the Greek dialectic, with its complex and extensive system of arguments which in Greece took six centuries to develop, yet it arises without evidence of developmental stages in its own tradition” (28). There is evidence in India of “a full and integrated Hellenism (or polis culture), in more or less continuous touch (on epigraphical and art historical evidence) with the Mediterranean, and yet sensitively open to Indian thought, especially Buddhism” (29). “There were scores of Greek dialectical books, no longer extant, any one of which could have made its way to India during or shortly before the time of Nāgārjuna” (30). “It seems that cross-fertilisation of dialectical techniques, arguments, and exempla may have taken place in both directions” (31). In addition there are parallels in “the doctrine of two truths, the use of apparent contradictions (based on a mixing of the two truths) as teaching devices, and the admission of empirical evidence into the dialectic (for examples, MK 13.3, 7.21, 7.24, 21.8)” (35).
If this were correct, students of Nāgārjuna would have to study Sextus Empiricus (c. 200 CE) in search of the Indian philosopher’s sources. Sextus recounts Gorgias of Leontini’s arguments that “nothing exists,” and that if anything exists it is ungraspable (akataleptos) by humans, and that even if grasped it is inexpressible and incommunicable (Against the Logicians I, 65, in R.G. Bury, ed. Sextus Empiricus, II [Loeb classical Library, 1935]). He disproves that the existent exists, or the non-existent, or both; to disprove that the existent exists, he proves that it is neither eternal, nor created, nor both. A similar threefold division with similar negative upshot is found at II, 17: “If anything true exists it is either apparent (phainomenon) or non-evident (adêlon) or partly apparent and partly non-evident.” All three are disproved, therefore “there does not exist anything true.” (Twofold divisions or dilemmas are ubiquitous: “the true is either an absolute and natural thing or a relative thing; but it is neither of these, as we shall establish; therefore the true does not exist” [II, 37].) The supreme genus (“something”) in Stoicism “is either true or false or at once both true and false or neither true nor false” (II, 32); all four are disproved, so “there does not exist anything true” (36).
The Stoics examine presentations (phantasiai) under four headings: probable, improbable, both, neither (I, 242), and “of the probable presentations, some are true, some false, some both true and false, some neither true nor false” (I, 243-4). Here is another example of exhaustive division: “If there exists an indicative sign, either it is an apparent sign of an apparent thing, or a non-apparent of a non-apparent, or an apparent of a non-apparent, or a non-apparent of an apparent”; it is none of the four so “no sign exists” (II, 171).
Why did Indian and Greek thinkers cultivate the tetralemma? In some texts in the Pāli Canon we may retain the impression that the tetralemma was habitually invoked in ordinary mundane discussion (and if so, this would tell against McEvilley’s stress on Greek influence). Four alternatives are listed, and one is stated to be true and the three others false; an example is given in K. N. Jayatilleke, Early Buddhist Theory of Knowledge (London: Allen & Unwin, 1963), 345-6. This is a rather circumstantial method of giving high relief to the import and veracity of a statement. When the Buddha refuses to answer the 14 indeterminable questions, he uses the tetralemma with apparent spontaneity. In this case all four alternatives are not so much false as meaningless, so they are rejected rather than negated (Jayatilleke, 346). The questioner sponaneously gives his questions a circumstantial thoroughness, expecting a clear decision between the four alternatives. The refusal of the decision must prompt him to rethink the basis of his questioning. This rather paradoxical deployment of the tetralemma provides the pattern that Nāgārjuna’s use of it will regularly follow.
In Greece the question “true, false, both true and false, or neither” arises in connection with future contingents. Stanislas Breton notes that the tetralemma has not enjoyed much popularity in Western philosophy, perhaps because it seems to trample on the doctrine of the Excluded Middle, an objection that might also be lodged against Aristotle’s view that statements about future contingents (On Interpretation, 9) are neither true nor false. Aristotle argued that the future is indeterminate, a result of free decisions, and the possibility of making a true statement about it takes away that indeterminacy and imposes necessity. So the statement, “there will be a sea-battle one month from today” is neither true nor false, since the topic, a contingent future event, is not one about which true or false statements can be made. Commenting on the rare case of a negation of all four alternatives in the Pali Canon—as in “one attains the goal by knowledge, by conduct, by both, by neither”—all false since knowledge and conduct are necessary but not sufficient for salvation—Jayatilleke notes that “we meet with this paradoxical situation even with Aristotelian logic, e.g. when a non-smoker is confronted with the question ‘have you given up smoking’?” (347). In these cases the alternatives are not exhaustive, so that to deny one or the other of them is misleading. Tetralemmic arrangements can proceed on the basis of a blind spot which undercuts thier claim to have considered all alternatives. But since this does not entail a meaningless presupposition (in the way discussion of the color of the number 7 does) the four alternatives are negated, not rejected. Nāgārjuna’s prasajya negations amount to rejections rather than straight negations: they mean “it cannot be said that…” (From the Jain, perspectivist standpoint, faintly echoed in the Brahmajāla-sutta’s remark that the 62 false views are “paccecasaccas [partial, individual truths] of the several recluses and brahmins” [quoted, 354], it could be said that the meaningless propositions are also be based on blind spots, limitations of perception, like the blind men’s reports on the elephant; but paccecasacca may just be a sarcastic name for heretics [355-6].)
Similarly, Nāgārjuna does not feel obliged to accept the contrary of a proposition he has refuted, since it could be semantically ill-formed, lacking a sense or a referent. Breton insists that Nāgārjuna respects the principles of contradiction and of sufficient reason (in the form, “no effect without a cause, no cause without an effect”). He sees Nāgārjuna’s demonstrations as taking us from an everyday world of substances to a deeper perception of a world made up of relations—the esse ad, a favorite theme of Breton’s.
While the tetralemma may be an artificial construct aiming at logical thoroughness and going beyond the needs of everyday life, this does not mean that it is without practical effect. When the MMK declares, “Not from itself, not from another, not from both, nor without cause/ Never in any way is there any existing thing that has arisen” (1.1), this strikes a practical blow to free our mind from causal enchainments. It has a practical function. The Christian uses an apophatic tetralemma in regard to God, but Buddhism brings the tetralemma to bear on everything. “It is not to be asserted that the Buddha exists beyond cessation, nor ‘does not exist’ nor ‘both exists and does not exist,’ nor ‘neither exists nor does not exist’—none of these is to be asserted, Indeed it is not to be asserted that ‘The Buddha exists while remaining [in this world],’ nor ‘does not exist’ nor ‘both exists and does not exist,’ nor ‘neither exists nor does not exist’—none of these is to be asserted” (MMK 25:17-18). Not only nirvanic existence, even in this world, but existence as such is negated—of such everyday realities as the self. But the self is delusive whereas nirvāṇa is supremely real. The denial of existence in the former case smashes an illusion, while in the latter it functions somewhat as negations in apophatic theology.
Blind Spots in the Current Reception of Nāgārjuna
Causation is impossible in a svabhavic universe: “A non-empty effect will not arise, a non-empty effect will not cease. Being non-empty, it will be uncaused and unarisen (aniruddham… anutpannam) (MMK 20.17). But immediately “Nāgārjuna asserts, somewhat puzzlingly, that the absence of svabhāva, that is, emptiness, is not compatible with causation either” (Westerhoff, 99): “How will what is empty arise? How will what is empty cease? It follows that what is empty is also unceased and unarisen” (MMK 20.18). I take this to mean that causation has a conventional but no ultimate reality; it is ultimately incoherent, even when understood in a non-svabhic way. As Siderits/Katsura comment: “Since what is empty or devoid of intrinsic nature is not ultimately real, it cannot be ultimately true than an effect that is empty arises or ceases” (224). Westerhoff seems to shy away from this understanding: “Causation in this context has to be understood as an objectively obtaining relation which lins objects and events independent of human conceptualisations” (99). Well, of course this is incompatible with emptiness. But the point Nāgārjuna is making is far deeper: A world in which things arise in dependent co-origination is a world in which all dharmas are empty, and so incapable of arising or ceasing. The ultimate truth of dependent co-origination is non-dependent non-origination: “neither cessation nor origination (anirodham anutpādam)”—the opening words of MMK, which also occur in MMK 20.17 in a somewhat ironic guise: nothing can arise or cease in a svabhavic world; but nothing can arise or cease in a sunyatic world either. In the one case causation cannot get off the ground, and in the other it is shown to be ultimately self-cancelling. Note how the term “ultimate” cannot be avoided here. It is in this twist in Nāgārjuna’s thinking that it comes into its own; then the previous levels of his thinking are re-situated as “conventional.”
Westerhoff, like so many English and American readers of Nāgārjuna, believes that “According to the Madhyamaka view of truth, there can be no such thing as ultimate truth” (220). This leads him to skip over the emergence of the deepest level of the MMK, the paradox that ultimately the conventional realities upheld and given logical coherence by emptiness are entirely unreal. At that point one may add that emptiness itself is unreal. each of these discoveries is a breakthrough to ultimacy, even if not a final breakthrough. The nirvanic quiescence of fabrications promised at MMK 25.24 is the concrete form of “ultimate truth”; we are not sent back to the play of conventional truth with no further perspective. “This halting of cognizing everything, this halting of hypostatizing, is blissful. No Dharma whatsoever was ever taught by the Buddhas to anyone” (25.24). “It follows from this that the Dharma… contains no single statement that is ultimately true” (Siderits/Katsura, 304). But one may identify ultimate truth with the attainment of nirvāṇa. (Some think the MMK originally stopped with this statement and that the remaining two chapters are “later additions and not the work of Nāgārjuna” [Siderits/Katsura, 305].
Westerhoff, like Siderits, Jay Garfield, and C. W. Huntington, seems unable to make anything of the paramarthic dimension of Madhyamaka (and of the Perfection of Wisdom sutras to which he makes no reference at all). “Ultimate truth” means only that “ultimately there is nothng but conventional truth,” and the final lesson of Nāgārjuna is that “in order to become truly selfless, one has to give up the view that we can obtain anything more than conventional truths, some of which might be evaluated as better than others but none of which can constitute the last word” (224).
For a conference on “God or the Divine” to be held at Schwerte this summer I have been asked to address the question of divine personality in light of the tetralemma. Is God personal, impersonal, both, or neither? Is he all four or none of the four? I am not sure how profitable these questions are, but they do seem to have some roots in the tradition of negative theology.
For Ps.-Dionysius, “a ‘God’ who either is or is not anything at all, who could be grasped by thought whether positively or negatively, would not be God but a being, and as such finite and created… But neither is Dionysius an atheist, for on his principles it is no more correct to say ‘God is not’ than to say ‘God is’ (i.e. is a being). Simply to deny that God exists, to say ‘God is not’ or ‘There is no God’ is still to consider God as some (putative) being, and then to deny that there is such a being.” In short it is a paryudāsa negation. “This still treats God as some distinct conceptual object and so fails truly to intend God at all” (Eric D. Perl, Theophany: The Neoplatonic Philosophy of Dionysius the Areopagite [SUNY Press, 2007], 15]). Usually we take such apophatic logic as a method of affirming the super-reality of the absolute, too fully real to be imprisoned in any finite concept. The Thomist subsumption of Neoplatonism into a vision of God as ipsum esse subsistens confirms this. The pure simplicity and concreteness of divine presence is the core of Plotinus’s doctrine of the One. This is other than the realm of being and intelligibility mapped at the level of the Nous. But when Perl insists that God is not a being, not finite he is rushing through an open door. All theologians agree that God is infinite being, and as such a “nothing” over against all finite determinations. The elaborate metaphysical machinery of Neoplatonism has diminishing returns in Proclus, Damascius, and Ps.-Dionysius. Apophatic deployments of the tetralemma in this tradition can yield nothing new.
Nicholas of Cusa develops a tetralemma: God is mobile, immobile, both mobile and immobile, neither mobile or immobile. There is a hierarchy among the four members. The mobility of God is vouched for by the language of Scripture (Wisdom 7:24; 8:1; Ps. 18:5; 147:15; Heb 4:12) and by Scotus Eriugena (De divisione naturae III, 9). Divine immobility is affirmed by Aristotle (Metaphysics XII, 6). That the first principle is both static and in motion is held by Pseudo-Dionysius (De divinis nominibus V), while Proclus holds that it is neither static nor in motion (Platonic Theology II, 1, according to the note at II, 292). Again some say God is generally in every place, others that God is particularly in any place, some that he is both, other that he is neither (again the notes refer to Scripture, Plotinus, Ps.-Dionysius, Eriugena). It is not hard to Cusanus him saying: God is being, non-being (beyond being), both being and non-being, neither being nor non-being.
We can say, God is a person (the Bible tells us so), and God is not a person, since he cannot be confined to our conceptions of personhood, he is then “at least” personal, as Tillich claimed, so both personal and supra-personal, and finally this language does not apply to God at all, so he is neither personal nor impersonal. A Nagarjunian negation of the four possibilities would focus on person as svabhavic. It would say that “person” is not the sort of thing that can be said of God just as “yellow” is not the sort of thing that can be said of the number seven. But is God not supremely svabhavic in Christian theology? We can speak of God as empty of attributes and determinations, nirguṇa like the Brahman of Vedantism, but only to reaffirm that God is the fullness of being and reality, like the Vedantic sat-chit-ananda (being-consciousness-bliss).
That Vedantic triad is attractively impersonal — evoking a being, consciousness, bliss, released from the constrictions of personhood. The affinity with trinitarian theology has often attracted theologians. If God is personal, it is in such a way that God is known in in three “persons”—as Father, Logos, Spirit—and, as the full-fledged fourth century trinitarian doctrine affirms, objectively subists in three “persons.” The original Greek expressions for “persons” here, namely prosôpa (“presentations,” originally “masks” through which an actor sounds, per-sonare), hypostaseis (“subsistences”) and tropoi tês hyparxeôs (“modes of subsistence”), are remarkably impersonal. In speculative Trinitarian theology the three “persons” are expounded within a chain of impersonal concepts, alongside the one substance, two processions, four relations, and five notions. Aquinas asks if “person” can be said of God. His answer: “‘Person’ signifies what is most perfect in all nature, that is, a subsistent individual or a rational nature [Boethius’s definition of person]. Hence, since everything that is perfect must be attributed to God, forasmuch as His essence contains every perfection, this name ‘person’ is fittingly applied to God; not, however, as it is applied to creatures, but in a more excellent way” (Summa theologica I, q. 29, a. 3). God must enjoy in the fullest degree the perfection of personhood. The trinitarian nature of God would be a yet fuller realization of this perfection. Much has been made of the non-svabhavic nature of the trinitarian persons as “subsistent relations”—their being is purely “esse ad.” This idea penetrated theology only in the 13th century, and was at first condemned. It is anachronistic to read it back into the Fathers.
The mystery of personhood is a topic of some 20th century philosophers (Scheler, Mounier, Marcel, Martin d’Arcy, Robert Johann). Thomas’s dry Boethian definition of personhood and his very impersonal account of the divine processions does not tend in that direction. The topos of the Spirit as mutual bond of love between Father and Son has little place in his thought or even in Augustine’s; it is left to more sentimental theologians such as Bonaventure and Richard of St.-Victor. At the ultimate level, classical theology erases anthropomorphism in its talk of God, tolerating it only at the conventional level as a skillful means, so to speak. The divine perichoresis is a popular theme among religious writers today, and is imaged as a dance between the three persons. But classically it means only the mutual co-inherence of the three persons because of the one substance they share. Its tendency is again to depersonalize the persons.
Refutation of the third horn is either via a summary declaration that something cannot be A and not-A (e.g. MK 25.14), because it entails contradiction, or by saying that it combines the weaknesses of the already refuted first and second horns (see Westerhoff, 82-3). So we cannot say that God is both personal and impersonal not because there is a clear contradiction between the two, but because the proposition would carry over the weakness of the two statements it unites. All of theology builds on the shaky foundation of identifying the supreme principle(s) as person(s). A principle that is the foundation of being and intelligibility cannot be at the same time an active person. Plotinus did not have this problem, since his supreme principles are perfectly impersonal. Ps.-Dionysius is often suspected of playing down divine personhood and agency, and a fortiori the Incarnation of God in Christ, using apophatism to reassert the primacy of an impersonal divinity.
Ps.-Dionysius is seen as an extreme point in the Hellenization of Christian theology (and is acclaimed for this by Werner Beierwaltes), against whom Luther upholds Christ crucified as the only secure path to God. His negative theology does not really free the thinking of God from the limits of what Heidegger calls the onto-theo-logical structure of metaphysics, since it does not restore a concrete phenomenology of the divine but only a more refined conceptualization or erasure of conceptualization. Augustine’s reception of Plotinus already overcomes the abstraction of negative theology by subordinating it to the incarnational revelation of God in Scripture. Can we use the tetralemma to exhaust the possibilities of metaphysics and thus to send our inquiry back to the concreteness of revelatory events?