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Ecce Monstrum

Georges Bataille and the Sacrifice of Form

Jeremy Biles

In the 1930s, Georges Bataille proclaimed a ferociously religioussensibility characterized by simultaneous ecstasy and horror. Ecce Monstrum investigates the content and implications of this religious sensibility by examining Bataille's insistent linking of monstrosity and the sacred. Extending and sometimes challenging major interpretations of Bataille by thinkers like Denis Hollier and Rosalind Krauss the book reveals how his writings betray the monstrous marks of the affective and intellectual contradictions he seeks to produce in his readers. Charting a new approach to recent debates concerning Bataille's formulation of the informe (formless), the author demonstrates that the motif of monstrosity is keyed to Bataille's notion of sacrifice--an operation that ruptures the integrality of the individual form. Bataille enacts a monstrousmode of reading and writing in his approaches to other thinkers and artists--a mode that is at once agonistic and intimate. Ecce Monstrum examines this monstrous mode of reading and writing through investigations of Bataille's sacrificialinterpretations of Kojve's Hegel and Friedrich Nietzsche; his contentious relationship with Simone Weil and its implications for his mystical and writing practices; his fraught affiliation with surrealist Andr Breton and his attempt to displace surrealism with hyperchristianity; and his peculiar relations to artist Hans Bellmer, whose work evokes Bataille's religious sensibility.With its wide-ranging analyses, this book offers insights of interest to scholars of religion, philosophers, art historians, and students of French intellectual history and early modernism.

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Ecstatic Morality and Sexual Politics

A Catholic and Antitotalitarian Theory of the Body

Graham McAleer

This first book-length treatment of Thomas Aquinas'stheory of the body presents a Catholic understandingof the body and its implications for social and politicalphilosophy. Making a fundamental contribution toantitotalitarian theory, McAleer argues that a sexual politicsreliant upon Aquinas's theory of the body is better (becauseless violent) than other commonly available theories.He contrasts this theory with those of four other groupsof thinkers: the continental tradition represented by Kant,Schopenhauer, Merleau-Ponty, Nancy, Levinas, and Deleuze;feminism, in the work of Donna Haraway; an alternativeCatholic theory to be found in Karl Rahner; and theRadical Orthodoxyof John Milbank.

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Encountering Reality

T. F. Torrance on Truth and Human Understanding

by Travis M. Stevick

Encountering Reality argues for a new appreciation of T. F. Torrance on epistemology and reality. According to Torrance's realism, all authentic knowledge involves the nature of the object impressing its inherent rationality on the mind. Consequently, knowledge involves thinking in accordance with the nature of the object. We shall explore the place and function of “ultimate beliefs” in epistemology, as well as the question as to whether such beliefs imply a retreat to either foundationalism or fideism. The inescapability of ultimate beliefs in all human knowledge requires a shift in the traditional notion of objectivity. We find that shift in the account provided by T. F. Torrance, whose epistemological position implies an alternative notion of truth. Drawing on distinctly Christian sources, Torrance emphasizes the distinction between truth and truthfulness thereby reorienting the discussion from a focus on statements to a focus on being. This shift challenges the dichotomy between correspondence and coherence theories of truth and provides one way of transcending the scientific realism/anti-realism debate and gives rise to a practical epistemological tool, disclosure models, which function as self-correcting, self-marginalizing lenses through which we encounter reality, yielding knowledge in accordance to the nature of the thing known.

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Encountering the Secular

Philosophical Endeavors in Religion and Culture

J. Heath Atchley

In Encountering the Secular, J. Heath Atchley proposes an alternative to the understanding of the secular as that which opposes the religious, and he turns to American and Continental philosophy to support his critique. Drawing from thinkers as disparate as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Gilles Deleuze, and engaging with contemporary literature and film, Atchley shows how the division of experience (individual, cultural, political) into the distinct realms of the religious and the secular overlooks the subtle ways in which value can emerge. Far from arguing that the religious and the secular are the same, he means instead to suggest that the dogmatic separation between these two realms gets in the way of experiencing an immanent value, a kind of value tied neither to a transcendent reality (e.g., a god or an ideal) nor to a self-centered reality (e.g., pleasure or knowledge).

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Erasmus, Man of Letters

The Construction of Charisma in Print

Lisa Jardine

The name Erasmus of Rotterdam conjures up a golden age of scholarly integrity and the disinterested pursuit of knowledge, when learning could command public admiration without the need for authorial self-promotion. Lisa Jardine, however, shows that Erasmus self-consciously created his own reputation as the central figure of the European intellectual world. Erasmus himself—the historical as opposed to the figural individual—was a brilliant, maverick innovator, who achieved little formal academic recognition in his own lifetime. What Jardine offers here is not only a fascinating study of Erasmus but also a bold account of a key moment in Western history, a time when it first became possible to believe in the existence of something that could be designated "European thought."

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The Essential Kierkegaard

Søren Kierkegaard

This is the most comprehensive anthology of Søren Kierkegaard's works ever assembled in English. Drawn from the volumes of Princeton's authoritative Kierkegaard's Writings series by editors Howard and Edna Hong, the selections represent every major aspect of Kierkegaard's extraordinary career. They reveal the powerful mix of philosophy, psychology, theology, and literary criticism that made Kierkegaard one of the most compelling writers of the nineteenth century and a shaping force in the twentieth. With an introduction to Kierkegaard's writings as a whole and explanatory notes for each selection, this is the essential one-volume guide to a thinker who changed the course of modern intellectual history.

The anthology begins with Kierkegaard's early journal entries and traces the development of his work chronologically to the final The Changelessness of God. The book presents generous selections from all of Kierkegaard's landmark works, including Either/Or, Fear and Trembling, Works of Love, and The Sickness unto Death, and draws new attention to a host of such lesser-known writings as Three Discourses on Imagined Occasions and The Lily of the Field and the Bird of the Air. The selections are carefully chosen to reflect the unique character of Kierkegaard's work, with its shifting pseudonyms, its complex dialogues, and its potent combination of irony, satire, sermon, polemic, humor, and fiction. We see the esthetic, ethical, and ethical-religious ways of life initially presented as dialogue in two parallel series of pseudonymous and signed works and later in the "second authorship" as direct address. And we see the themes that bind the whole together, in particular Kierkegaard's overarching concern with, in his own words, "What it means to exist; . . . what it means to be a human being."

Together, the selections provide the best available introduction to Kierkegaard's writings and show more completely than any other book why his work, in all its creativity, variety, and power, continues to speak so directly today to so many readers around the world.

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Eternity and Eternal Life

Speculative Theology and Science in Discourse

The Newtonian concept of time has been changed by Einsteinian insight. Yet the Einsteinian world view might make it difficult to appreciate traditional concepts of eschatology, like heaven and hell, death and immortality, life after death and resurrection, last day and final judgments, because these expressions presuppose a pre-Einsteinian view of the universe. Since theology cannot remain unaffected by the new research in concepts of time, Eternity and Eternal Life tries to express the eschatological faith of the Church by using the time language of our age. To achieve this it provides an overview on the research in the nature of time done in geology, cosmology, physics, biology, psychology, sociology, history and philosophy and proposes a notion of time for “timely” Christology and for “timely” eschatology.

By using the singularity event as literary form, Horvath scrutinizes how Christ’s time can lead to the times of all existing realities, through death to “eternity.” This is a pioneering work, one that needs to be tested in the community of interested readers. It is a communal search for an understanding of life, death and eternal life, not only in the light of abstract ideas and cultural linguistic doctrines in the world of religions, but also in the light of science and especially of a person as the horizon of understanding for both time and eternity. Christ as the eschatological union of time and eternity becomes the work’s unifying focus and its paradigm, which solves recognized problems and opens our minds to new ones.

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Ethical Method of John Duns Scotus

A Contribution to Roman Catholic Moral Theology

The four papers in this volume were presented at a symposium celebrating the anticipated beatification of John Duns Scotus, summer 1992. They address Scotus’s perspective on The Nature of the Human Person, Free Will, and Decision-making in the private and public spheres.

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Ethics, Love, and Faith in Kierkegaard

Philosophical Engagements

Edited by Edward F. Mooney

Ethics, Love, and Faith in Kierkegaard collects essays from 13 leading scholars that center on key themes that characterize Kierkegaard's philosophy of religion. With their unique focus on notions of the self, views on the command to love one's neighbor, thoughts on melancholy and despair, and the articulation of religious vision, the essays in this volume cover the breadth and depth of Kierkegaard's philosophical and religious writings. Poised at the intersection of Kierkegaard's moral psychology and its religious significance, they offer vivid testimony to the ongoing power of his unique and fervent religious spirit. Students and scholars alike will find new light shed on questions that define Kierkegaard's philosophy and religion today.

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The Ethics of Death

Religious and Philosophical Perspectives in Dialogue

by Lloyd Steffen and Dennis R. Cooley

For the living, death has a moral dimension. When we confront death and dying in our own lives and in the lives of others, we ask questions about the good, right, and fitting as they relate to our experiences of human mortality. When others die, the living are left with moral questions—questions that often generate personal inquiry as to whether a particular death was “good” or whether it was tragic, terrifying, or peaceful.

In The Ethics of Death, the authors, one a philosopher and one a religious studies scholar, undertake an examination of the deaths that we experience as members of a larger moral community. Their respectful and engaging dialogue highlights the complex and challenging issues that surround many deaths in our modern world and helps readers frame thoughtful responses.

Unafraid of difficult topics, Steffen and Cooley fully engage suicide, physician assisted suicide, euthanasia, capital punishment, abortion, and war as areas of life where death poses moral challenges.

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