Mar 24, 2024

not equating reality with thinghood

Abraham Joshua Heschel, cited in the “Time” chapter of Iain McGilChrist’s The Matter With Things:

We are all infatuated with the splendor of space, with the grandeur of things of space. Thing is a category that lies heavy on our minds, tyrannizing all our thoughts… Reality to us is thinghood, consisting of substances that occupy space; even God is conceived by most of us as a thing. The result of our thinginess is our blindness to all reality that fails to identify itself as a thing, as a matter of fact. This is obvious in our understanding of time, which, being thingless and insubstantial, appears to us as if it had no reality.


there is no equivalent for the word “thing” in biblical Hebrew. The word “davar,” which in later Hebrew came to denote thing, means in biblical Hebrew: speech; word; message; report; tidings; advice; request; promise; decision; sentence; theme, story; saying, utterance; business, occupation; acts; good deeds; events; way, manner; reason, cause; but never “thing.” Is this a sign of linguistic poverty, or rather an indication of an unwarped view of the world, of not equating reality (derived from the Latin word res, thing) with thinghood?