After the manner of psychoanalysis, political theology reflects the larger, darker, contours that liberalism—the discourse of the modern nation-state—fails to see or imagine for itself. For, “just as Freud argued that the modern idea of the individual as a self-determining, rational agent mistakes a normative theory for the reality of lived experience, Schmitt argued that the modern, liberal understanding of the state mistakes a normative theory for the phenomenon of political experience.” In this new version, the mirror stage deals a double whammy. Ego recognizes itself, no doubt, but it also has to integrate a vastly broader field of meaning. We, citizens of the nation-state, may think ourselves children of the Enlightenment, but our inheritance is ultimately larger; it reaches back further—to Christianity.Read the rest of Mirror, mirror on the wall.
Gil Anidjar is Associate Professor in the Departments of Religion and Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies (MESAAS) at Columbia University. He is the author of ‘Our Place in al-Andalus’: Kabbalah, Philosophy, Literature in Arab Jewish Letters (Stanford University Press, 2002); The Jew, the Arab: A History of the Enemy (Stanford University Press, 2003); and Semites: Race, Religion, Literature (Stanford University Press, 2008). Anidjar is also the editor of Jacques Derrida's Acts of Religion (Routledge, 2002). His 2006 article “Secularism” (Critical Inquiry 33:1) was one of four discussed at a 2007 SSRC colloquium on the Varieties of Secularism.
Posts by Gil Anidjar:
Famously posing a peculiar problem of translation, names are a necessary feature of our academic craft. We like to call things, but we may also need to, obviously, in order to give figure to that which we think and study. Remarkably true to that necessity, Stefanos Geroulanos tells us in the first pages of his impressive book that the “conceptual reorganization” he will describe and analyze became “an almost official face of French thought.” It was only later (with structuralism and everything, everyone, associated with and past it) that it “acquired the name ‘antihumanism’.” Geroulanos further proposes to expand the reach of the name “antihumanism” by meticulously documenting lesser known antecedents, earlier phases of what the term might otherwise designate, seeking thereby to bring together a fuller, and detailed, account of numerous and diverse actors, elements and factors, and trends too, which in fact jointly define the greater part of the last century.Read the rest of The poverty of atheism.
You see, the interview on Al Arabiya confirms that the politics of fear can safely endure, barely disguised as the politics of love. It’s (Christian) politics as usual, in other words. The extended hand of love and friendship—for the enemy—continues to veil the indisputable fact that there is only one iron fist in “the region as a whole.”Read the rest of So, what about the Christian lobby?.
Heidegger did not need to point out (but he did) that God occupies a hegemonic place as the figure of transcendence that characterizes the Christian and post-Christian tradition (let us not rush too quickly to operate our own secularizing machines, global experts on world-religions that we are, to claim that other “traditions” equally partake of this particular character). But – and here is some more outbidding – God is not transcendent enough. In order to be a critical secularist, one would have to demonstrate a more unyielding antagonism, take a more radical stance (or agonizing distance), and install oneself in a more transcendent position vis-à-vis the object of one’s critique. What object? More often than not “religion” and better yet “religions.” But not only religion, of course.Read the rest of Equal opportunity criticism (affirmative faction).
“The world of today is torn asunder by a great dispute; and not only a dispute, but a ruthless battle for world domination. Many people still refuse to believe that there are only two sides, that the only choice lies between absolute conformity to the one system or absolute conformity to the other.” What Czeslaw Milosz in The Captive Mind was calling “a great dispute,” Mark Lilla calls “The Great Separation.” With this phrase, The Stillborn God presents itself, like its predecessor, as an account of the world, “our world, the world created by the intellectual rebellion against political theology.”Read the rest of A review in three parts.