Friday, July 22, 2011

From radical atheism to radical theology

John Caputo has a lengthy (93 pages!) new article in the Spring 2011 issue of JCRT (11.2) called "The return of anti-religion: from radical atheism to radical theology." Some of you Meillassoux fans might be a bit insulted! From the intro:

"Postmodern theology has come of age. It now has its own counter-movement, a new generation of philosophers marching under the flag of materialism, realism, and anti-religion who complain that the theologians are back at their old trick of appropriating attempts to kill off religion in order to make religion stronger.

"Martin Hägglund‘s Radical Atheism [RA] is a closely argued contribution to the recent debate that fits hand in glove with the new counter-movement. His book has reinvented Derrida for the younger generation of restless realists and comes as a timely refutation of any attempt to reduce Derrida to an anti-realist or anti-materialist. The book is especially welcome in the light of Meillassoux‘s caricature of correlationism, which treats continental philosophers from Kant on as ―creationists. (That is not an exaggeration. I understand the need to kill the father, but one ought at least to make some sense when asked for the motive for the murder. Besides, such caricatures invite an obvious counter-argument: if treating Derrida and Foucault as creationists is where the new realism leads, then so much the worse for the new realism!)

"In my view it [RA] presents a certain deconstruction, and a certain logic of deconstruction, but in an abridged edition of Derrida cut to fit the new materialism, all scrubbed up and sanitized, nothing written in the margins, deconstruction as logic not écriture. I wish it well. But in my view not only is the unabridged edition of deconstruction considerably more interesting it also provides the basis for a criticism of religion from within, rather than mounting a frontal attack from without that tries to hammer religion senseless. In deconstruction religion is more than one, and that opens up a possibility never considered in RA, what we might call a religious materialism, a religion without the immaterialism of two-worlds Augustinianism, another Augustine and another religion, which is in fact the unedited view of Jacques Derrida. Interestingly, Meillassoux himself tried his hand at propounding something of a religious materialism, one that even sounds a bit like the specter of a coming god in Derrida, but with ridiculous results (a fanciful version of eternal recurrence). His position is especially ridiculous when viewed against the subtle and careful analysis of a certain faith and a certain religion and a certain à venir that Derrida provides, an analysis that is unfortunately completely suppressed in Hägglund‘s abridged edition of deconstruction."

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