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Styles of Piety

Practicing Philosophy after the Death of God

S. Clark Buckner

Publication Year: 2006

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.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page

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pp. xi-xii

As editors of this volume, we are indebted to our colleagues, friends, and families. We are especially grateful to Worth Hawes, who helped us first to define our topic as a co-organizer of the conference at Vanderbilt University, ‘‘Styles of Piety.’’ We are also grateful to David Wood, who advised us on that initial project, and to the McVean ...

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pp. 1-12

Styles of Piety explores 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 ...

PART I: The Persistent Problem of Value

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pp. 13-14

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Chapter 1. Violations

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pp. 15-34

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 . . .’’

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Chapter 2. Fatherhood and the Promise of Ethics

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pp. 35-54

In On 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 ...

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Chapter 3. Suffering Faith in Philosophy

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pp. 55-75

Since the publication of Heidegger’s Being 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, ...

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Chapter 4. Becoming Real—with Style

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pp. 76-92

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 ...

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Chapter 5. Morality without God

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pp. 93-102

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 word address in 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 ...

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Chapter 6. How Does Philosophy Become What It Is?

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pp. 105-118

According to Aristotle’s Metaphysics, 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 ...

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Chapter 7. Genealogy, History, and the Work of Fiction

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pp. 119-150

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 ...

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Chapter 8. Tragic Dislocations: Antigone's Modern Theatrics

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pp. 151-170

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 ...

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Chapter 9. A Touch of Piety: The Tragedy of Antigone's Hands

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pp. 171-190

‘‘When it comes to Antigone, 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 ...

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Chapter 10. The Prayers and Tears of Jacques Derrida

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pp. 193-204

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, ...

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Chapter 11. God: Poison or Cure?: A Reply to John D. Caputo

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pp. 205-211

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? ...

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Chapter 12. Those Weeping Eyes, Those Seeing Tears: Reading John D. Caputo's Ethics

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pp. 212-221

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.’’ ...

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Chapter 13. Derrida and Dante: The Promise of Writing and the Piety of Broken Promises

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pp. 222-252

In The 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 ...

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Chapter 14. Laughing, Praying, Weeping before God: A Response

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pp. 253-270

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 ...


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pp. 271-300


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pp. 301-304

Other Books in Fordham's. Perspectives in Continental Philosophy Series: John D. Caputo, series editor

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pp. 305-307

E-ISBN-13: 9780823248483
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823225002
Print-ISBN-10: 0823225003

Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2006