Monday, May 26, 2014

Deconstructing god

This recent Caputo interview explores the distinctions between theism, atheism and agnosticism. Caputo doesn't think deconstruction fits into any of those categories. Following are some of his responses:

"After making a distinction in deconstruction, the first thing to do is to deconstruct it, to show that it leaks, that its terms are porous and intersecting, one side bleeding into the other, these leaks being the most interesting thing of all about the distinction."

"I am not resurrecting the old comparative-religion thesis that there is an underlying transcendental form or essence or universal that we can cull from differing empirical religious beliefs. [...] Nothing says that underneath they are all the same."

"Derrida is not launching a secularist attack on religion. Deconstruction has nothing to do with the violence of the 'new atheists' like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. Derrida approaches the mystics, the Scriptures, Augustine with respect — they are always ahead of him, he says — and he always has something to learn from them. He is not trying to knock down one position ('theism') with the opposing position ('atheism'). He does not participate in these wars."

"He is interested in all the things found in the Scriptures and revelation, the narratives, the images, the angels — not in order to mine them for their 'rational content,' to distill them into proofs and propositions, but to allow them to be heard and reopened by philosophy."

"Derrida calls this a 'religion without religion.' Other people speak of the 'post-secular,' or of a theology 'after the death of God,' which requires first passing through this death. In Derrida’s delicate logic of 'without,' a trope also found in the mystics, a thing is crossed out without becoming illegible; we can still see it through the cross marks. So this religion comes without the religion you just described — it is not nearly as safe, reassuring, heartwarming, triumphant over death, sure about justice, so absolutely fabulous at soothing hearts, as Jacques Lacan says, with an explanation for everything. His religion is risky business, no guarantees."

"Deconstruction is a life-giving force, forcing them to reinvent what has been inherited and to give it a future. But religion for Derrida is not a way to link up with saving supernatural powers; it is a mode of being-in-the-world, of being faithful to the promise of the world."

"Deconstruction is a plea to rethink what we mean by religion and to locate a more unnerving religion going on in our more comforting religion. [...] Deconstruction dares to think 'religion' in a new way."

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