The term deconstruction-and-religion describes a nontheistic mode of thought that proceeds from a
theologicaland deconstructiveframework. In terms of dogmatic theology, deconstruction-and-religion ranges from almost certainly atheisticto out-and-out atheistic.
Those that take a deconstructive approach to religion identify closely with the work of
Jacques Derrida, especially his work later in life. According to Slavoj Žižek, in the mid-to-late 1980s Derrida's work shifted from constituting a radical negative theologyto being a form of Kantian idealism. [(2006) Žižek, Slavoj, "A Plea for a Return to Differance (with a minor 'Pro Domo Sua')" "Critical Inquiry" 32 (2): 226-249 ] John D. Caputodescribes Derrida's work in the 1970s as a Nietzschean free play of signifiers while he describes Derrida's work in the 1990s as a "religion without religion." [(2002) Raschke, Carl, "Loosening Philosophy’s Tongue: A Conversation with Jack Caputo" http://www.jcrt.org/archives/03.2/caputo_raschke.shtml]
A vital feature of Derrida's work later in life is the notion of undeconstructibility. In Derrida's thought, deconstruction exists in the interval between constructions and undeconstructibility. The primary exemplar of this relationship is the relationship between the
law, deconstruction, and justice. Derridasummarizes the relationship by saying that justiceis the undeconstructible condition that makes deconstruction possible. [(2001) Derrida, Jacques, "Acts of Religion", p. 243.] However, the justice referred to by Derrida is indeterminate and not a transcendent ideal.
The law is made up of necessary human constructions while justice is the undeconstructible call to make laws. The law belongs to the realm of the present, possible, and calculable, while justice belongs to the realm of the absent, impossible, and incalculable. Deconstruction bridges the gap between the law and justice as the experience of applying the law in a just manner. Justice demands that a singular occurrence be responded to with a new, uniquely tailored application of the law. Thus, a deconstructive reading of the law is a leap from calculability towards incalculability.
In deconstruction, justice takes on the structure of a promise that absence and impossibility can be made present and possible. Insofar as deconstruction is motivated by such a promise, it escapes the traditional presence/absence binary because a promise is neither present nor absent. Therefore, a deconstructive reading will never definitively achieve justice. Justice is always deferred.
Derrida works out his idea of
justicein " Specters of Marx" and in his essay "Force of Law" in "Acts of Religion"; he works out his idea of hospitalityin "Of Hospitality"; Similarly for democracysee "Rogues: Two Essays on Reason"; friendshipsee "The Politics of Friendship"; the othersee "The Gift of Death"; the futuresee "Given Time: I. Counterfeit Money".
God and deconstruction
Deconstruction-and-religion understands religion in terms of what is shared among the
Abrahamic faiths. In Derrida's work, there is a suggestive notion of a quasi-religion locatable in the cluster of concepts surrounding the affirmation of that which is experienced as undeconstructible. Derrida's acts of affirmation go by names such as the "unconditional without sovereignty," the "weak force" of the undeconstructible, and the "possibility of the impossible." Derrida sometimes suggested that such acts of affirmation can be used to describe "God."Fact|date=August 2008
Différance and negative theology
Derrida saw the God of
negative theologyas a crude precursor to deconstruction's central concept of différance. However, the God of negative theologyis qualitatively different than the idea of différance because the God of negative theology functions as an ultimate, higher reality where différance does not.
Différance is not God
Central to deconstruction is the idea of différance. Différance is an anarchic nonconcept that makes a conception of language-as-a-play-of-signifiers possible. This French
neologismmeans both "differing" and "deferring," describing in its name its own operation in setting deconstructive language in motion.
Prior to différance, all Western conceptual schemes relied on one form or another of a transcendental signifier. A transcendental signifier is any
metaphysical, hierarchical principle that presumes to determine which constructions of signifiers are "natural" or "proper." Examples of transcendental signifiers include Truth, God, Allah, Reason, Being, and various political ideologies. Différance is an alternative to and escape from the logic of the transcendental signifier.
Because employing the idea of différance precludes the possibility of positing a transcendental signifier, no historical conception of God can survive a deconstructive framework; even the God of negative theology falls short of différance.
John D. Caputohas indicated that différance is not God [(1997) Caputo, John D., "The Prayers and Tears of Jacques Derrida", p. 2.] and that the God of negative theology is a transcendental ulteriority while différance is a quasi-transcendental anteriority. [(1997) Caputo, John D., "The Prayers and Tears of Jacques Derrida", p. 3.] However, negative theology and différance are kindred spirits insofar as they both desire what is absent, impossible, and incalculable.
In the essay "Sauf le Nom," Derrida centered his investigation of the notion of God around
negative theologyand the poetry of Angelus Silesius. [(1995) Derrida, Jacques, "Sauf le nom." In Thomas Dutoit (ed.), "On the Name". ]
Proponents of deconstruction-and-religion believe that dominant contemporary explications of theology are inherently ideological, totalizing, and militant. In response, deconstruction-and-religion expresses itself through acts of interpretation. In taking on the process of interpretation, deconstruction-and-religion follows two tropes: active reinterpretation of the theological tradition and passive reinterpretation.
Deconstruction-and-religion operates actively when it theorizes in a new way. Deconstruction-and-religion begins from a
deconstructiveframework that is both post-structuralist and post-phenomenological. The framework provides a means of identifying and exposing illegitimate doctrines or interpretations from within monotheistic traditions. Through the use of careful historicalanalysis, linguisticcritique, and logicalscrutiny, deconstruction-and-religion resolves interpretive tensions from within theological discourses while at the same time creating space for unforeseen developments in theological expression.
Deconstruction-and-religion operates passively when it takes a historical, descriptive approach to analyzing the corpora of various traditions of theology. In its passive mode, deconstruction-and-religion examines theological traditions to take note of documented instances of reified or unnatural theological concepts expanding only to later be dismissed or significantly transformed. An example of an unnatural concept rising and falling is the medieval Christian understanding of
indulgences. The historical deterioration or mutation of theological concepts is referred to as self-deconstruction by Jean-Luc Nancy. The idea of self-deconstruction echoes Friedrich Nietzsche's idea that the highest Western values devalue themselves.
John D. Caputo on weak theology
John D. Caputohas a distinctive approach to deconstruction-and-religion that he calls weak theology. According to Caputo, the distinctive reinterpretive act of weak theology has resulted in the notion of the weakness of God. The paradigm of God as an overwhelming physical or metaphysical force is regarded as mistaken. The old God-of-power is displaced with the idea of God as an unconditional claim without force. As a claim without force, the God of weak theology does not physically or metaphysically intervene in nature.
Essentially, the idea of God in Caputo's thought is an alternate name for particular manifestations of undeconstructibility. The idea of God as an undeconstructible follows a line of ethical thinking that moves from
Martin Buberto Emmanuel Levinasto Jacques Derrida. Caputo works the idea out in the following way:
Jean-Luc Nancy on self-deconstructed Christianity
Following Derrida's criticisms of the
metaphysics of presenceand logocentrism, Jean-Luc Nancyunderstands Christianity to be act-based and focused on an undeconstructible understanding of hope. Nancy thinks of Christianity as the "religion that provided the exit from religion," and posits that it consists in the announcement of the second comingof Christ, known as parousia. For Nancy, because Christ is central to the formation of value and meaning in Christianity; because parousiais an announcement of a Christ to come; and because the promised return of Christ involves the return of a person who lived in the past, then Christianity as a framework of thought supports the notion that 'traces' of the non-present (i.e. past and future) are constitutive of the present. As a result, the Christian concept of parousiaposes ontological questions about the conditions of possibility of concepts like identity, subjectivity, consciousness, and experience, among many others. In Nancy's thought, the concept of parousia reveals that we humans are no longer mortals who are saved by faith in an immortal being. Rather, the concept reveals that we are beings who are capable of accepting or rejecting non-self-presence. The acceptance of non-self-presence is what Nancy understands to be the heart of Christian 'faith.'
Bernard Stiegler on the prostheses of faith
The French philosopher
Bernard Stiegler, following the archaeologist André Leroi-Gourhan, understands the human distinction to consist in a "third kind of memory": in addition to the genetic memory recorded in the DNAmolecule, and individual nervous system memory, human beings are the creatures capable of using organized, inorganic matter, that is, tools, technology, writing, and everything that records a human gesture (as Stiegler puts it: "humans die but their histories remain"). [Stiegler, Bernard, [http://culturemachine.tees.ac.uk/Cmach/Backissues/j005/Articles/Stiegler.htm Our Ailing Educational Institutions] ; cf., Stiegler, "" (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998).] Stiegler calls this "tertiary memory", and it is the beginning of the human possibility for the individual to adopt a past they did not themselves live (when, for example, an immigrant to the United States adopts George Washingtonas part of his or her past). In his article, "Derrida and technology: fidelity at the limits of deconstruction and the prosthesis of faith," Stiegler uses this concept of tertiary memory to conduct a reading of the Derridian corpus. In so doing he reaches the following conclusion:
*(1992) "The Ethics of Deconstruction: Derrida and Levinas", by
*(1993) "Against Ethics - Contributions to a Poetics of Obligation with Constant Reference to Deconstruction", by
John D. Caputo
*(1995) "On the Name", by
*(1996) "The Gift of Death", by
*(1997) "The Prayers and Tears of Jacques Derrida", by
John D. Caputo
*(1998) "Religion", with
Jacques Derrida& Gianni Vattimo
*(2001) "Acts of Religion", by
*(2005) "The Future of Religion", with
Richard Rorty, Gianni Vattimo, & ed. by Santiago Zabala * [http://www.santiagozabala.com/]
*(2007) "Dis-Enclosure: The Deconstruction of Christianity", by
*(1982) "Deconstructing Theology", by
Mark C. Taylor
*(1987) "Erring: A Postmodern A/theology", by
Mark C. Taylor
*(1993) "Theology of Discontent: The Ideological Foundations of the Islamic Revolution in Iran", by
*(1995) "Desiring Theology", by
*(1997) "Deconstruction in a Nutshell: A Conversation with Jacques Derrida", ed./auth. by
John D. Caputo
*(1999) "About Religion: Economies of Faith in Virtual Culture", by
Mark C. Taylor
*(1999) "Epiphanies of Darkness: Deconstruction in Theology", by
*(1999) "Ethics-Politics-Subjectivity: Essays on Derrida, Levinas, and Contemporary French Thought", by
*(1999) "Truth and Narrative: The Untimely Thoughts of Ayn al-Qudat al-Hamadhani",
*(2000) "In the Absence of the Face," by
Hamid Dabashi. In "Social Research", Volume 67, Number 1. Spring 2000. pp. 127-185.
*(2001) "Derrida and Technology: Fidelity at the Limits of Deconstruction and the Prosthesis of Faith," by
Bernard Stiegler. In Tom Cohen (ed.), "Jacques Derrida and the Humanities"
*(2001) "On Religion", by
John D. Caputo
*(2004) "Portrait of Jacques Derrida as a Young Jewish Saint", by
*(2004) "Sufism and Deconstruction", by Ian Almond
*(2006) "Philosophy and Theology", by
John D. Caputo
*(2006) "The Weakness of God: A Theology of the Event", by
John D. Caputo
*(2007) "After God" by
Mark C. Taylor
*(2007) "After the Death of God", with
John D. Caputo, Gianni Vattimo, & ed. by Jeffrey W. Robbins
List of deconstructionists
Metaphysics of presence
* [http://www.jcrt.org/archives/06.1/caputo.pdf "Jacques Derrida (1930 - 2004)"] (pdf), by John D. Caputo
* [http://www.espaces.info/deutsch/artikel/januar/ReligionVilolenceenglish.pdf "Religion and Violence: Plea for a 'Weak' Theology in Tempore Belli"] (pdf), by Ulrich Engel OP
* [http://www.jcrt.org/archives/07.2/heltzel.pdf "The Weakness of God: A Review of John D. Caputo's 'The Weakness of God: A Theology of the Event'"] (pdf), by Peter G. Heltzel
* [http://www.jcrt.org/archives/06.3/kotsko.pdf "Already, Not Yet: A Review of Jean-Luc Nancy's 'La Déclosion : Déconstruction du christianisme, 1'"] (pdf), by Adam Kotsko
* [http://www.jcrt.org/archives/05.2/robbins.pdf "Weak Theology"] (pdf), by Jeffrey W. Robbins
* [http://www.arsindustrialis.org/Members/bstiegler/prendresoin-en "Take Care"] , by Bernard Stiegler
* [http://religion.syr.edu/caputo.html Homepage of John D. Caputo, Thomas J. Watson Professor of Religion and Humanities at Syracuse University]
* [http://www.newschool.edu/gf/phil/faculty/critchley/ Homepage of Simon Critchley, Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research]
* [http://personal-pages.lvc.edu/~robbins/ Homepage of Jeffrey W. Robbins, Assistant Professor of Religion and Philosophy at Lebanon Valley College]
* [http://www.stanford.edu/~rrorty/ Homepage of Richard Rorty, Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature at Stanford University]
* [http://www.williams.edu/mtaylor/ Homepage of Mark C. Taylor, Cluett Professor of Humanities at Williams College]
* [http://www.giannivattimo.it/ Homepage of Gianni Vattimo, Professor of Theoretical Philosophy at the University of Turin]
* [http://www.santiagozabala.com/ Homepage of Santiago Zabala, Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow at Potsdam University Institute of Philosophy]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Deconstruction and religion — Part of a series on the History of Christian Theology … Wikipedia
Deconstruction and Derrida — Simon Critchley and Timothy Mooney DERRIDIAN DECONSTRUCTION1 In the last twenty five years or so, particularly in the English speaking world, no philosopher has attracted more notoriety, controversy and misunderstanding than Jacques Derrida.… … History of philosophy
Religion and mythology — differ, but have overlapping aspects. Both terms refer to systems of concepts that are of high importance to a certain community, making statements concerning the supernatural or sacred. Generally, mythology is considered one component or aspect… … Wikipedia
Deconstruction — For the approach to post modern architecture, see Deconstructivism; for other uses, see Deconstruction (disambiguation). Deconstruction is a term introduced by French philosopher Jacques Derrida in his 1967 book Of Grammatology. Although he… … Wikipedia
Religion (Philosophies of) — Philosophies of religion Marcel, Jaspers, Levinas William Desmond Gabriel Marcel (1889–1973), Karl Jaspers (1883–1969) and Emmanuel Levinas (1906–) seem like a mere aggregate of thinkers. Jaspers, a German thinker who coined the phrase Existenz… … History of philosophy
Religion — This article is about a general set of beliefs about life, purpose, etc.. For other uses, see Religion (disambiguation). Religious redirects here. For a member of a Catholic religious order, see Religious (Catholicism) … Wikipedia
Religion and homosexuality — See also: LGBT matters and religion Conservative Christian protesters at a 2006 gay pride event in San Francisco. The relationship between religion and homosexuality can vary greatly across time and place, within and between different religions… … Wikipedia
Religion — La religion a été définie pour la première fois par Cicéron comme « le fait de s occuper d une nature supérieure que l on appelle divine et de lui rendre un culte ». Dans les langues où le terme est issu du latin religio, la religion … Wikipédia en Français
List of thinkers influenced by deconstruction — This is a list of notable thinkers that have been influenced by deconstruction. NOTOC The thinkers included in this list are published and satisfy at least one of the three following additional criteria: he or she has * written about… … Wikipedia
Relationship between religion and science — Part of a series on Science … Wikipedia