I would like to ask this question: Is it a limitation of Hegel that he does not have a plurivocal sense of being? Such an articulated sense, or lack of it, would surely affect the meaning of philosophy’s own systematic side. We would have to ask if indeed philosophy must be directed to the one totality, or rather toward a plurality of logoi about to on. This question also affects how we think of the plurivocity between religion and philosophy, and indeed art. If there is no sense of the plurivocity of being, is there not the danger, as I think we find with Hegel, of a recurrence to a higher speculative univocity? The ghost of Spinoza comes back to haunt him thus.
The question of plurivocity is also connected with the question of the ways we do and might (legitimately) speak of God. There are many ways, obviously, but the matter here is especially important with regard to the proper protocols for approaching the issue of God. If I am not mistaken finesse for these protocols diminishes notably in the modern epoch, and I take this to be inseparable from the will to univocity we find in so many areas, and not only in mathematics, science and technology. Think again how Spinozist univocity has its afterlife in much of German idealism, and indeed in contemporary philosophies of immanence (see, e.g., Deleuze). The plurivocity articulated space between immanence and transcendence is collapsed into the plane of immanence, beyond which nothing greater is to be thought, nothing greater can be thought.
How we are in the between, how we think in the between, is not given enough mindfulness. This is true also of the between marking the space of difference between us and the divine. The proper protocols concern how we articulate, or find articulated, this between-space, and how from it we venture thought about the divine as such. With the notion of analogy, Aquinas is in a healthier place on this issue of proper protocols. Analogy demands a finesse which is itself a kind of reverence for the proper protocols. To know that there is a proper question of protocols is already to display a certain philosophical-theological finesse. Is Thomistic analogy more finessed than speculative dialectic?
If we come back from this to Aquinas, in between the temerity of a Hegel or a Spinoza and the timidity of a Kant, we find that the sense of divine mystery looms large; the sense of the incomprehensibility of God is huge. Deus semper major. We know that God is not what God is. We find the reticence of a wisdom of limits, of finitude, that would not claim to be on a par with the divine knowing. There is a kind of wiser not-knowing that does not lead to the atheistic reduction above mentioned. This not-knowing is not an epistemic defect simply at the beginning and to be overcome by the fuller development of knowing along the immanent continuum of its own self-becoming. One does not argue to this wise nescience simply at the end—it constitutes something of the ethos of another way of thought. Within this ethos there are indeterminate ignorances and determinate cognitions, but the sense of astonishing mystery is in another dimension to such ignorances and cognitions, and companions all efforts at determinative knowing, and overcoming ignorance.
Hegel putatively argues through, along the continuum from ignorance to knowing, from indeterminacy to self-determination, and to the end of absolute knowing. Percolating into the whole development is the ethos of his thought as marked more by rationalistic recoil to mystery, if not secret hostility to it. There is a porosity of religion and philosophy in Aquinas which is different. Religion is the great companioning sister, the older sister of philosophy that cares for the primal reverences. There is also a different dialectic, to be sure. The medieval dialectic is not the same as the modern idealistic one, though one finds a scholarly variation on dialogue. I mean we find in Aquinas a finely calibrated dialogue of authorities, Scripture, reasonable argument in question and answer. The summa is architectonic and systematic but differently so than the idealistic version of system. The latter mingles the Spinozist sense of the One with the Kantian call (amplified, adapted, and modified, to be sure) for completeness of the categories derived from one principle.
There is a finesse for divine mystery percolating through the summa, rising up from a religious ethos where, at best, the practices of prayer keep unclogged the soul’s porosity to the divine. The sap of the mystery of God flows in the body of the work, though this is not always immediately evident on the surface, where sometimes a kind of forensic univocity marks Aquinas’s way of proceeding. More rationalistic philosophers tend not to be attuned to that sap and turn Aquinas’s thought into a Scholasticism closer to the prototype of modern rationalism. (I suppose the manualistic way of packaging Aquinas evidences this very much.) There is a kind of reversal of this in Hegel, in that religion is more a prelude to philosophy on the hierarchy of absoluteness. Philosophy is the more ultimate arbiter, not the inspired receiver to thought of what comes from beyond our thought.