Postmodernism and the Revolution in Religious Theory

Postmodernism and the Revolution in Religious Theory: Toward a Semiotics of the Event

CARL RASCHKE
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 248
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt6wrjmt
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  • Book Info
    Postmodernism and the Revolution in Religious Theory
    Book Description:

    While the academic study of religion has increased almost exponentially in the past fifty years, general theories of religion have been in significant decline. In his new book, Carl Raschke offers the first systematic exploration of how the postmodern philosophical theories of Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze, Alain Badiou, and Slavoj Žižek have contributed significantly to the development of a theory of religion as a whole. The bold paradigm he uses to articulate the framework for a revolution in religious theory comes from semiotics-namely, the problem of the sign and the "singularity" or "event horizon" from which a sign is generated.

    eISBN: 978-0-8139-3308-5
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-10)

    The question of the “religious” today continues concomitantly to haunt, fascinate, and discomfit us. Ever since Jacques Derrida and Gianni Vattimo announced the “return of religion” as an “autoimmune” reaction to secularism in the early 1990s, scholars have wallowed in their own confusion, not only about whether it is really happening, but also about whether it is a good thing. In the immediate wake of September 11, 2001, much of the Western academic world for a short period tended to give Derrida and Vattimo the benefit of the doubt. During the same period we witnessed, as a result of various...

  5. PART II: SOURCES
    • 5 BATAILLE AND ALTIZER: THE SACRIFICIAL BACKGROUND OF POSTMODERN RELIGIOUS THEORY
      (pp. 89-107)

      For decades the “postmodern” has been defined as indefinable, but that lack of definition is more a sophistical dodge than a commitment. Let us define it as the lightning storm of the twentieth century that at last became lyrical.

      That century is now past, but its atmospheric conditions remain with us. Nietzsche himself prophesied an era of wars and upheavals, climactic shifts in the terrain of values and thought. Postmodernism has given song to those shifts. Like the angel appearing to the apostles in prison, it freed philosophy and culture from what Fredric Jameson has called the “prison house of...

    • 6 LEVINAS AND THE FINAL À-DIEU TO THEOLOGY
      (pp. 108-140)

      It is the “proper name ‘Sinai,’” which Derrida says is “as enigmatic as the name ‘face,’” which is “untranslatable.”¹ The death of Levinas called forth this peculiar “spirit” for Derrida. But it is a spirit that does not allow us to simply say “farewell” to the celebrated postmodern Moses who brought down from the mount of modernism the tablets of a new ethic, the (post-Kantian) “law” of responsibility tol’autre.This spirit, specter, or “ghost” (Geist) is, at the same time, a “guest” (Gast). The specter of infinite alterity oscillates with its seeming “opposite pole,” its parallax position, which in...

    • 7 DELEUZE AND NOMADOLOGY
      (pp. 141-164)

      A shadow is skulking through the borderlands of religious thought. It is Deleuze’s “nomad.” The nomad is more than a sign of impermanence, or what Deleuze understands as the permanently “deterritorialized.” The nomad signifies the errant and global movement of thought that at last bursts the bonds of Judeo-Hellenism, mathematical formalism, or even the rhetoric of poststructuralism. According to Deleuze and Guattari’s “Treatise on Nomadology,” the fundamental challenge of philosophy is not overcoming metaphysics, subverting ontotheology, or deconstructing the language of presence. It is to find “a way to extricate thought from the State model.”¹ The project of emancipating thinking...

    • 8 ŽIŽEK AND THE FAILURE OF THE SUBJECT
      (pp. 165-183)

      The somewhat recent claim of Žižek to speak to the religious academy as a “theologian,” more precisely as aChristian thinker,has unsettled traditional practitioners of the profession. Žižek’s exchanges with John Milbank, the would-be guardian of orthodox Christianity against secularist postmodernism, in the volume entitledThe Monstrosity of Christ,and his impromptu monologue about the “death of God” (which was supposed to be a dialogue) on the same platform with Altizer at the American Academy of Religion meeting in November 2009¹ have both entranced the field and left many scratching their heads. Even more puzzling is Žižek’s declaration on...

    • 9 BADIOU AND THE PROSPECTS FOR THEORY
      (pp. 184-202)

      Badiou would seem to be a genuinely bizarre source of inspiration for “religious theory.” While most of our present-day celebrity postmodern thinkers, including even Deleuze, have been amenable to God-talk or religion-speak in some fashion, Badiou has resolutely maintained his youthful stance of Sartrean atheism and Marxism. The irony, of course, is that Badiou in his later years became fascinated in a more conspicuous way with Christian thought that any of his contemporaries. His book on St. Paul is a landmark in religious thought. InSt. Paul: The Foundation of UniversalismBadiou the philosophical formalist and apostle of set theory...

  6. CONCLUSION: TOWARD A REVIVAL OF RELIGIOUS THEORY
    (pp. 203-212)

    But if in considering the religious we find ourselves in such a strange “place,” seeking to peer over the generative rim of events, we must ask the question: how do we think at, and across, this horizon? How do we theorize theinfinite, or illimitable, horizon of the eventthat Spinoza’s God, Deleuze’s “expressive” semiosis, Levinas’s face, Derrida’s “friendship,” and Žižek’s singular materiality pose to us. The horizon, or “place of religion,” is only the site for this infiniteindicativitywithin our own time-space continuum. Spinoza himself said the infinite continuum of God allowed for an infinity of divine attributes,...

  7. NOTES
    (pp. 213-228)
  8. INDEX
    (pp. 229-235)
  9. Back Matter
    (pp. 236-236)