John Milbank

John Milbank is Professor in Religion, Politics and Ethics in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Nottingham, and Director of the Centre of Theology and Philosophy. He is the author of numerous volumes and essays, including Theology and Social Theory (Wiley-Blackwell, 2nd ed., 2006), The World Made Strange: Theology, Language, Culture (Wiley-Blackwell, 1997), and Being Reconciled: Ontology and Pardon (Routledge, 2003). He is also co-author, with Slavoj Žižek, of The Monstrosity of Christ: Paradox or Dialectic? (MIT Press, 2009). His latest book is Beyond Secular Order: The Representation of Being and the Representation of the People (Wiley, 2014).

Posts by John Milbank:

Monday, July 6th, 2015

Samuel Moyn and the history of natural right

Within historical approaches to questions of natural right, one can approximately distinguish three main tendencies. The first is a whiggish or progressivist tendency to see a gradual development of notions of subjective rights all the way from Ancient Rome until the present day. One main problem with this approach is that it confuses the many examples of subjective natural ius (“right”) to claim or to exercise with a grounding of these same rights in pure individual identity or self-assertion. Equally, it often ignores the correlation of subjective right with conceptions of the enforceability of such right through sovereign political exercise, by projecting backwards a very recent notion of pure “human rights” that are somehow no longer suspended within the aporetic space between the naturally given and the legally enactable.

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Friday, January 18th, 2013

Are “new evangelicals” a new phenomenon or a reversion to type?

In her piece, Marcia Pally continues her most commendable attempt to describe the diversity of evangelical political opinion in the United States, and to provide a more nuanced account even of the evangelical right. As she suggests, the core of all evangelical political outlooks tends to be a belief in the importance of individual virtuous action and collaboration. This by no means betokens an entirely uncritical embrace of neoliberalism; the alliance with the latter has probably been forged by a horror at the (historically novel) libertarian cultural mores of the contemporary left. In actual practice much evangelical social action is more concerned with the common good than is the general run of more recent GOP attitudes, and it is, I think, partially a reflection on the political implications of this that has, as Pally notes, led many younger evangelicals to move leftwards.

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Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Culture, nature, and mediation

Matthew Engelke is right: religion is about mediation. Ironically so, because it is about the divine; but because the divine is never directly available, religion must instead be about how the divine is indirectly manifest. . . . Because religion is about mediation, it naturally refuses any duality of nature and culture. Reality, as the true nature of things, is sacred, but it must be mediated by particular human relations and practices. Culture, therefore, can be neither merely arbitrary nor totally opposed to nature, since it is what truly discloses the latter.

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