Styles of Piety: Practicing Philosophy after the Death of God

Styles of Piety: Practicing Philosophy after the Death of God

S. Clark Buckner
Matthew Statler
Copyright Date: 2005
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 320
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Styles of Piety: Practicing Philosophy after the Death of God
    Book Description:

    The last half century has seen both attempts to demythologize the idea of God into purely secular forces and the resurgence of the language of Godas indispensable to otherwise secular philosophers for describing experience. This volume asks whether pietymight be a sort of irreducible human problematic: functioning both inside and outside religion.S. Clark Buckner works in San Francisco as an artist, critic, and curator. He is the gallery director at Mission 17 and publishes regularly in Artweek and the San Francisco Bay Guardian. He has a Ph.D. in philosophy from Vanderbilt University. Matthew Statler is the Director of Research at the Imagination Lab Foundation in Lausanne, Switzerland. His current research is focused on practical wisdom as it pertains to organizational phenomena such as strategy making and leadership. He also has a Ph.D. in philosophy from Vanderbilt University.

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-4877-3
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)
    S. Clark Buckner and Matthew Statler

    Styles of Pietyexplores questions of value in light of the problem of nihilism articulated in Nietzsche’s pronouncement of the death of God. With the accomplishment of a thoroughly rationalized world, the categories that had promised to give meaning to experience proved untenable. The problem of the irrational appeared to be immanent to reason rather than merely an aberration from its proper functions, the aspirations of philosophy appeared to be inherently contradictory, and its ideals seemed to harbor coercive deceptions and tyrannies. Nevertheless, philosophers since Nietzsche have continued to pursue questions of value; indeed, they have found new avenues to...

  4. Part I: The Persistent Problem of Value
    • 1 Violations
      (pp. 15-34)
      Alphonso Lingis

      How eccentric of Hegel to have imagined that when we go to encounter others, it is recognition we demand, recognition of the freedom and self-consciousness of the ego, confirmation, attestation, certification of our identity!

      Yet there are such encounters. “Last week you said you would . . .” “But you are now a mother . . .” “But you just said that . . .” “How is your dissertation coming along?” “You said you loved me . . .” Our interlocutor seeks coherence, a line of intelligibility in the phases and states of our duration. He and she seek to...

    • 2 Fatherhood and the Promise of Ethics
      (pp. 35-54)
      Kelly Oliver

      InOn the Genealogy of Morals, Nietzsche describes Judeo-Christian morality as a result of the resentment of the weak who affirm themselves only by hating others: “Slave morality from the outset says No to what is ‘outside,’ what is ‘different,’ what is ‘not itself.’”¹ God in all His forms and the pious adherence to religion, philosophy, or science are the creations of weak wills who need something transcendent in order to justify and redeem earthly life. The master morality, on the other hand, is not so much the affirmation of difference or an embrace of others as a noble indifference...

    • 3 Suffering Faith in Philosophy
      (pp. 55-75)
      S. Clark Buckner

      Since the publication of Heidegger’sBeing and Time, with its appeal to explicitly religious categories, phenomenology and post-phenomenological thought has repeatedly demonstrated a distinctly religious dimension. In the United States, this religious dimension to phenomenology recently has been celebrated by leading scholars such as John Caputo and Edith Wyschogrod, while, in Germany, it has been recognized by defenders and critics of phenomenology alike since the 1920s. And in France virtually every leading post-phenomenological thinker, from Paul Ricoeur and Jean-Luc Marion to Emmanuel Levinas and Jacques Derrida, has taken up and explored this dimension to phenomenology. In the work of these...

    • 4 Becoming Real—with Style
      (pp. 76-92)
      Merold Westphal

      I have not been able to determine from which seminary the Skin Horse has his degree, or at what divinity school he teaches. A thorough check reveals that the American Academy of Religion, for all the great diversity of its offerings, has never devoted a session to his thought. But surely he is one of the leading theologians of our time. He knows that, if the ultimate explanation of our being here is a blind evolutionary process, all it would take to be real would be to show up on the scene (Dasein, perhaps). But if we are made, if...

    • 5 Morality without God
      (pp. 93-102)
      Charles E. Scott

      I would like to address the issues of this discussion by presenting three options. One is clearly theistic, one figures a loss of faith, and one arises outside of a sense of divine presence or of loss of divine presence. I use the wordaddressin order to indicate that I do not have a final judgment to make regarding the advantages of one option over the others, although I find myself oriented by the third. My purposes are broadly descriptive and intended to indicate three kinds of attitude, three affective awarenesses, each exclusive of the other two and each...

  5. Part II: Philosophy and Its Fictions
    • 6 How Does Philosophy Become What It Is?
      (pp. 105-118)
      Matthew Statler

      According to Aristotle’sMetaphysics, the most distinctly unfunny thing about philosophy is the principle of noncontradiction. Indeed, we are encouraged as philosophers to respect this most serious and fundamental principle, namely, that “the same thing cannot at the same time and in the same respect both belong and not belong to the same object.”¹ Aristotle certainly refuses to take the matter lightly, providing eight different proofs and maintaining that the principle holds as a law with absolute psychological as well as ontological governance. With regard to the psychological application of the law, Aristotle insists that our thought and our actions...

    • 7 Genealogy, History, and the Work of Fiction
      (pp. 119-150)
      Jason K. Winfree

      The genealogist can no more exorcise the chimeras of origin around which philosophy traditionally performs its most pious dances, than the philosopher can cast out the shadows of his or her soul. Nor does genealogy seek to do so, as long as it is understood as the reflexive art of tracing implications, lineages, and inheritances, for such extirpation would at once neutralize the very possibility of genealogy, denying the lines of descent (Herkünfte) that it interprets and exposes. The plurality of these lines of descent is opposed to the unity of origin (Ursprung) and exposes it as chimerical, just as...

    • 8 Tragic Dislocations: Antigone’s Modern Theatrics
      (pp. 151-170)
      Tina Chanter

      Where to begin? In which time, or what place? With modernity or antiquity? And would there be a difference? Is it certain that there would be anywhere for me to begin beyond the tomb, the cave, the womb that suffocates Antigone? Would it be possible to start from anywhere other than the feminine, rather than the masculine? Or would it be possible to start from anywhere other than the masculine? I will try to remain here in the interval between: between the particular and the universal, the feminine and the masculine, the spirit and the law, the private and the...

    • 9 A Touch of Piety: The Tragedy of Antigone’s Hands
      (pp. 171-190)
      Michael Naas

      “When it comes toAntigone, everything has already been said and we come too late in the game.”¹ So late do we come that it seems presumptuous, if not actually impious, even to try to lend a helping hand, let alone speak with any authority on the work that has already been done or the game that has been played out. Though we can try to forget that we are touching here on an almost sacred work of art, what Hegel called “one of the most sublime, and in every respect most consummate works of art human effort ever produced,”²...

  6. Part III: Deconstruction and Religion
    • 10 The Prayers and Tears of Jacques Derrida
      (pp. 193-204)
      John D. Caputo

      In his notebooks of 1976, Jacques Derrida proposes to himself the task of describing his broken covenant with Judaism in a work that would “leave nothing, if possible, in the dark of what related me to Judaism, alliance [alliance, covenant; Hebrew:berit] broken in every respect.”¹ For Derrida is Jewish without being Jewish, Jewish sans Judaism, married outside Judaism, hissonsuncircumcised, he an atheist. Of this broken covenant, this breach of analliancethat stretches “throughout thousands of years of Judaism,” he says—now the time has changed to 1989 and this note has been stitched into “Circumfession”—“that’s...

    • 11 God: Poison or Cure? A Reply to John D. Caputo
      (pp. 205-211)
      David Wood

      This is a reading that will move many old Derrideans to tears, make dyed-in-the-wool deconstructionists tremble, and drive more Dionysian fellow travelers to pray that John Caputo is wrong about Derrida, or that they had misheard or misunderstood what he is telling us. Derrida a “religious thinker”?¹ Who has strayed from the path, Derrida or Caputo? Or could it be us?

      Allow me to recall, if I may, the early Derrida’s account of the standard structural move constitutive of the metaphysical tradition. It is essentially a refusal of the instability of meaning that flows from the diacritical, differential, textual, and...

    • 12 Those Weeping Eyes, Those Seeing Tears: Reading John D. Caputo’s Ethics
      (pp. 212-221)
      Edith Wyschogrod

      How can one write an ethics without appearing to command the Other? Is not an ethics always already written from the standpoint of God, as it were? “Do Thou examine the motives upon which thy actions shall be based and act upon a maxim that thou would’st will to become a universal law.” Or, “Assess the outcomes of thy actions and comport thyself accordingly.” More modestly stated, in writing an ethics, one creates a macro, it would seem, a system of keystrokes that is entered into the memory of one’s computer, and then orders, “Execute.” Baudrillard might say playfully that...

    • 13 Derrida and Dante: The Promise of Writing and the Piety of Broken Promises
      (pp. 222-252)
      Francis J. Ambrosio

      InThe Prayers and Tears of Jacques Derrida,¹ John Caputo argues convincingly that in Derrida’s more recent writings we discover, to our surprise, that he has “gotten religion” or, more accurately, that it has gotten him; indeed, that it already had him in the beginning. The “cut” that deconstruction traces copies the style of the cut of the circumcision made by the mohel in Derrida’s flesh. As a mark, Derrida reads this cut as a shibboleth, the mark of a two-edged sword that cuts both ways, that is, ambivalently. The ambivalent mark of the cut is the “bind” of a...

    • 14 Laughing, Praying, Weeping before God: A Response
      (pp. 253-270)
      John D. Caputo

      I work my way through things by writing. So, whenever I read what others have written about my work, whenever what I have written is read back to me by others—never, of course, without a gloss—it is as if the inert pages of books and journals have come to life and begun to talk back to me (and sometimes even to bite back). It is as if something that is structurally private, written in solitude, my most secret thoughts, meant only for me and God—like Augustine confessing to God in writing, “cur confitemur deo scienti,” (Why do...

  7. Notes
    (pp. 271-300)
  8. Index
    (pp. 301-304)
  9. Back Matter
    (pp. 305-307)