Rational Gematria

Method developed by David G. Leahy

The rational gematria I use was discovered by the American philosopher David G. Leahy, who passed away in 2014. Within in the philosophical community he is a rather obscure figure. The theologian David Tracy has said that Leahy is the most important catholic philosopher since Saint Thomas Aquinas.  Dr. Thomas Altizer called Leahy “our most isolated and unknown major thinker.” Some of you may remember Dr. Altizer who became the spokesperson for what is known as the “death of God” theology which had it’s academic and popular hey-day in the mid 1960s.

One day David Leahy delivered one of his books to Professor Altizer who was then at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He said that he had other things to do that day, but he took the book home and decided to read it late that night. He couldn’t put it down.  He was astonished and overwhelmed by what he read and made every effort from that point forward to bring attention to Leahy’s work.



He was without doubt the most vigorous champion of Leahy’s work. He told me that he considered Leahy’s thought even more important than Thomas Aquinas. This is actually somewhat strange because I can’t quite imagine two thinkers whose fundamental positions seem to be more radically opposed. For Leahy, Altizer’s work represented the extreme end of modern (which includes postmodern) thinking about God.

Leahy’s monumental intellectual project was to elaborate what he considered to be the form of an essentially new thinking, which is objective and beyond self or self consciousness. He called this essentially new thinking simply “the thinking now occurring” and endeavored to set forth the transcendental limits of this thinking.  It is the beginning, he says, of the universal or absolute objectivity of consciousness, a novitas mentis, and the beginning of a new world, novitas mundi.  His work is the placement of thought on a completely new foundation (which he painstakingly provides in his two most difficult works: Novitas Mundi and Foundation Matter the Body Itself). 

 These works are extraordinarily challenging.  Prof. Altizer remarked to me that Hegel is “a piece of cake” compared to Leahy.  Although the thinking now occurring is, according to Leahy, unprecedented, it is also essentially historical and thus he offers a sweeping reconsideration of the history of western philosophy much in the way that Heidegger also attempted to present in his History of Being. He begins with the Greeks, but then conceives the developments beyond the classical thought of antiquity from Augustine to Aquinas, Descartes, Kant, Hegel and beyond as the outworking of the effect of the incarnation on thought.  He presents, along the way, a formal critique of historical materialism.  As a profoundly christian thinker, Leahy takes the Bible very seriously and “the thinking” does not set aside the content of faith. If the creator entered the creation, there should be a real and discernable effect on the forms taken by thought in the wake of this event.  The thinking now occurring is what he calls “the final assault” of the incarnation on our thinking.  This historical aspect of Leahy’s work, is by far the most accessible. For this I recommend to you his books Faith and Philosophy and Novitas Mundi which both cover similar ground. I should also mention that Leahy wrote a book which deals with foundational issues in ethics called Beyond Sovereignty.  It is an exposition of the categories Christian ethics like no other I have encountered.  One of his most fascinating publications which really defies an attempt at explanation here is The Cube Unlike all Others which gives the mathematics of a unique “dead center” cube and hypercube.

But the rational gematria which I use is to be found primarily in his most difficult work: Foundation Matter the Body Itself.  It is in this text that Leahy explains his new trinary logic— the logic of the ‘thinking now occurring’. You could say that this logic would be appropriate for quantum computing, as it moves beyond binary operations and Boolean logic.  In fact, he even hazards the stray remark that his logic is appropriate for a computational system that makes use of quantum gravitation. I can scarcely imagine how that would work, but you can see that Leahy’s thinking is vast in scope.  He co-authored scientific papers on the epidermal structure and on the human cornea.  Ultimately, he claimed to have shown that mathematics can be logically founded.  This was sort of a holy grail for philosophical logic and was the heart of the dispute between Gottlob Frege and Betrand Russell in the early part of the 20th century.

It is not merely the sweeping breadth of his rethinking of the history of western thought or the deep connections he makes with logic, math and science which make Leahy’s works so difficult to master.  Ironically, the opaqueness is also due to his writing style, which he himself calls “styleless” and for which he even apologizes in his preface to Foundation. Some confusion is due to the innovations of his categories, but the bigger difficulty is with his somewhat repetitive or recursive syntax. It is a style which requires one slowly to re-read each sentence to get a clearer sense of the relationships being described. Despite the almost mechanical nature of the prose, which generally dispenses with a proliferation of synonyms, his style is quite consistent and intentional.  Many sections of the text read like mathematical proofs, including those which deal with the explicit formulation of the important corollary to his trinary logic: what he calls “the meta-identity of language and number.” 

When I first began working on this material, I tried to explain it to an esteemed older colleague who commented with undisguised dismissal: “so you are doing numerology now?”

I am staking no small degree of my credibility on my answer – which was and is emphatically “No!”   Admittedly, this is something that at first blush might look a lot like numerology. I was once in a bar in Amsterdam with a friend and an old woman sat down with us who made a living by doing numerology with the patrons as a form of entertainment. I can’t remember being impressed by her pronouncements (which I barely remember) although she claimed that her insight into number meanings was a sort of supernatural gift from childhood that had been honed via a method passed down in her “gypsy” family.  She took umbrage at the idea that her calculations and interpretations were merely a parlor game although this was the basis for her employment by the bar owner.  So that was my only experience of numerology— as a sort of fortune telling.  But Leahy certainly did not see his thesis on the meta-identity of language and number in that way, and after much time and effort devoted to his arguments and conclusions I do not see it that way, either. However, the question of the relationship of all this to prophecy is a serious and deep one, which I hope will become clearer.

I would be remiss if I did not say a few words about the general conception at work in his logic, but what I hope to convey to those of you interested in the interpretation of religious texts such as the Tanakh and New Testament, is that Leahy has devised a method useful for exhibiting his scriptural and ontological insights. When I first encountered this extensive section of his argument I was exceedingly skeptical. Since I was ill-equipped to attack his novel logic, I decided to test his methods empirically to see if I could find grounds for rejecting them.  My own use of his method has yielded some surprising results.  The thinking now occurring is one in which the distinction between perceiving and conceiving is transcended. So literally, the demonstration is key. You have to see it to understand it and to believe it.