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The Faith of the Faithless: Experiments in Political Theology
The return to religion has perhaps become the dominant cliché of contemporary theory, which rarely offers anything more than an exaggerated echo of a political reality dominated by religious war. Somehow, the secular age seems to have been replaced by a new era, where political action flows directly from metaphysical conflict. The Faith of the Faithless asks how we might respond. Following Critchley’s Infinitely Demanding, this new book builds on its philosophical and political framework, also venturing into the questions of faith, love, religion and violence. Should we defend a version of secularism and quietly accept the slide into a form of theism—or is there another way?
From Rousseau’s politics and religion to the return to St. Paul in Taubes, Agamben and Badiou, via explorations of politics and original sin in the work of Schmitt and John Gray, Critchley examines whether there can be a faith of the faithless, a belief for unbelievers. Expanding on his debate with Slavoj iek, Critchley concludes with a meditation on the question of violence, and the limits of non-violence.read more
In this thoughtful, illuminating exploration into the complex relationship between religion and politics, New School for Social Research philosophy professor Critchley (Infinitely Demanding) uses this topic to link several essays, beginning with Rousseau's writings on government and the "social contract," and the almost magical process by which, in a democracy, the majority of citizens believe their elected officials represent their wishes. He then analyzes the ways in which heretical mystical groups of the Middle Ages, such as the Movement of the Free Spirit, represent radical socialist and anarchist elements within mainstream Christianity, and follows with explorations of Heidegger's thoughts on the apostle Paul and his writings, revealing that one of Christianity's first thinkers held ideas that could be considered mystical and anarchist. Critchley concludes with an argument against fellow philosopher Slavoj Zizek, who contends that the best course of action against political oppression or tyranny is what he calls "divine violence": simply stepping back and waiting for the situation to crumble on its own. Critchley makes the case that people must actively engage against government abuses of power to force change, even resorting to violent action if necessary. Erudite and measured, this book demonstrates the ways religion can alter the political status quo. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.