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Sovereignty and Subjectivity Between Freud, Bataille, and Derrida
No topic has caused more discussion in recent philosophy and political theory than sovereignty. From late Foucault to Agamben, and from Guantanamo Bay to the 'war on terror,' the issue of the extent and the nature of the sovereign has given theoretical debates their currency and urgency. New thinking on sovereignty has always imagined the styles of human selfhood that each regime involves. Each denomination of sovereignty requires a specific mode of subjectivity to explain its meaning and facilitate its operation. The aim of this book is to help outline Jacques Derrida's thinking on sovereignty - a theme which increasingly attracted Derrida towards the end of his career - in its relationship to subjectivity. It investigates the late work Rogues: Two Essays on Reason, as not only Derrida's fullest statement of his thinking on sovereignty, but also as the destination of his career-long interest in questions of politics and self-identity. The book argues that in Derrida's thinking of the relationship between sovereignty and subjectivity - and the related themes of unconditionality and ipseity - we can detect the outline of Bataille's adaptation of Freud. Freud completed his 'metapsychology,' by defining the 'economic' nature of subjectivity. In Bataille's hands, this economic theory became a key to the nature of inter-relationship in general, specifically the complex and shifting relationship between subjectivity and power. In playing with Bataille's legacy, Derrida connects not only with the irrepressibly outrageous thinking of philosophy's most self-consciously transgressive thinker, but with the early twentieth century scientific revolution through which 'energy' became ontology. As with so many of the forebears who influenced him, Derrida echoes and adapts Bataille's thinking while radically de-literalising it. The results are crucial for understanding Derrida's views on power, subjectivity and representation, as well as all of the other key themes in late Derrida: hospitality, justice, otherness and the gift.
A Hermeneutics of Religion
"Kearney is one of the most exciting thinkers in the English-speaking world of continental philosophy.... and [he] joins hands with its fundamental project, asking the question 'what'or who'comes after the God of metaphysics?'" -- John D. Caputo
Engaging some of the most urgent issues in the philosophy of religion today, in this lively book Richard Kearney proposes that instead of thinking of God as 'actual,' God might best be thought of as the possibility of the impossible. By pulling away from biblical perceptions of God and breaking with dominant theological traditions, Kearney draws on the work of Ricoeur, Levinas, Derrida, Heidegger, and others to provide a surprising and original answer to who or what God might be. For Kearney, the intersecting dimensions of impossibility propel religious experience and faith in new directions, notably toward views of God that are unforeseeable, unprogrammable, and uncertain. Important themes such as the phenomenology of the persona, the meaning of the unity of God, God and desire, notions of existence and différance, and faith in philosophy are taken up in this penetrating and original work.
Richard Kearney is Professor of Philosophy at Boston College and University College, Dublin. He is author of many books on modern philosophy and culture, including Dialogues with Contemporary Continental Thinkers, The Wake of Imagination, and The Poetics of Modernity.
A Reading of Heidegger
The Gods and Technology is a careful and original reading of the principal statement of Martin Heidegger’s philosophy of technology, the essay Die Frage nach der Technik (“The question concerning technology”). That essay is a rich one, and Richard Rojcewicz’s goal is to mine it for the treasures only a close reading of the original German text can bring out. Rojcewicz shows how the issue of technology is situated at the very heart of Heidegger’s philosophical enterprise; especially for the late Heidegger, the philosophy of technology is a philosophy of Being, or of the gods. For Heidegger, technology is not applied knowledge, but the most basic knowledge, of which science, for example, is an application. The ultimate goal of this study, and, as Rojcewicz writes, of Heidegger’s thought, is practical: to find the appropriate response to the challenges of the modern age, to learn to live in a technological world without falling victim to the thrall of technological things.
A Short Book on the Secular and the Sacred
The title of Charles Taliaferro’s book is derived from poems and stories in which a person in peril or on a quest must follow a cord or string in order to find the way to happiness, safety, or home. In one of the most famous of such tales, the ancient Greek hero Theseus follows the string given him by Ariadne to mark his way in and out of the Minotaur’s labyrinth. William Blake's poem “Jerusalem” uses the metaphor of a golden string, which, if followed, will lead one to heaven itself. Taliaferro extends Blake’s metaphor to illustrate the ways we can link what we see, feel, and do with deep spiritual realities. Taliaferro offers a foundational case for the recognition of the experience of the eternal God of Christianity, in which God is understood as the fount of all goodness and the subject and object of our best love, revealed through scripture, tradition, philosophical reflection, and encountered in everyday events. He addresses philosophical obstacles to the recognition of such experiences, especially objections from the “new atheists,” and explores the values involved in thinking and experiencing God as eternal. These include the belief that the eternal goodness of God subordinates temporal goods, such as the pursuit of fame and earthly glory; that God is the essence of life; and that the eternal God hallows domestic goods, blessing the everyday goods of ordinary life. An exploration of the moral and spiritual riches of the Christian tradition as an alternative to materialism and naturalism, The Golden Cord brings an originality and depth to the debate in accessible and engaging prose.
The Berlin Lectures
The Berlin lectures in The Grounding of Positive Philosophy, appearing here for the first time in English, advance Schelling’s final “existential system” as an alternative to modernity’s reduction of philosophy to a purely formal science of reason. The onetime protégé of Fichte and benefactor of Hegel, Schelling accuses German Idealism of dealing “with the world of lived experience just as a surgeon who promises to cure your ailing leg by amputating it.” Schelling’s appeal in Berlin for a positive, existential philosophy found an interested audience in Kierkegaard, Engels, Feuerbach, Marx, and Bakunin. His account of the ecstatic nature of existence and reason proved to be decisive for the work of Paul Tillich and Martin Heidegger. Also, Schelling’s critique of reason’s quixotic attempt at self-grounding anticipates similar criticisms leveled by poststructuralism, but without sacrificing philosophy’s power to provide a positive account of truth and meaning. The Berlin lectures provide fascinating insight into the thought processes of one of the most provocative yet least understood thinkers of nineteenth-century German philosophy.
Hindu Mythology and the Critique of Sacrifice
From God to the Gods
In various texts, Martin Heidegger speaks of god and the gods, but the question of how exactly Heidegger’s thought relates to theology and religion in a broad sense—and to God in a specific sense—remains unclear and in need of careful, philosophical excavation. Ben Vedder provides the first book-length study on Heidegger’s relation to the philosophy of religion, offering greater accessibility into an area that continues to fascinate philosophers, theologians, and all those interested in the philosophy of religion. Heidegger’s Philosophy of Religion: From God to the Gods deals intimately with hotly debated topics such as Heidegger’s interpretation of Saint Paul, Nietzsche and the death of God, ontotheology, and Heidegger’s discussion of the “last god,” taking into account the early, middle, and later texts of Heidegger. Significantly, Vedder draws heavily on Heidegger’s The Phenomenology of Religious Life, long available in German, but only recently available to English readers. Vedder describes the tension between religion and philosophy, on the one hand, and religion and poetic expression, on the other. If we grasp religion completely from a philosophical point of view, we tend to neutralize it; but if we conceive it in a simply poetic way, we tend to be philosophically indifferent to it. Vedder demonstrates how Heidegger speaks a “poetry of religion,” a description of humanity’s relationship to the divine, and why Heidegger’s thinking is ultimately a theological thinking. Clearly written and comprehensive in scope, Heidegger’s Philosophy of Religion: From God to the Gods represents a major step forward in Heidegger scholarship.
Translated here into English for the first time, F. W. J. Schelling’s 1842 lectures on the Philosophy of Mythology are an early example of interdisciplinary thinking. In seeking to show the development of the concept of the divine Godhead in and through various mythological systems (particularly of ancient Greece, Egypt, and the Near East), Schelling develops the idea that many philosophical concepts are born of religious-mythological notions. In so doing, he brings together the essential relatedness of the development of philosophical systems, human language, history, ancient art forms, and religious thought. Along the way, he engages in analyses of modern philosophical views about the origins of philosophy’s conceptual abstractions, as well as literary and philological analyses of ancient literature and poetry.
One cannot enter the medieval world of the 13th century wearing 21st century glasses. The authors writing in the volume make every effort to see what the Franciscan Schoolmen saw; to hear what they heard; to think as they thought. Thus foundational Franciscan insights and intuitions are offered for consideration in the contemporary search for meaning.