e-book The Faith of the Faithless: Experiments in Political Theology

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Somehow, the secular age seems to have been replaced by a new era, where political action flows directly from metaphysical conflict. The Faith of the Faithless asks how we might respond. Following Critchley's Infinitely Demanding, this new book builds on its philosophical and political framework, also venturing into the questions of faith, love, religion and violence. Should we defend a version of secularism and quietly accept the slide into a form of theism - or is there another way? From Rousseau's political and religion to the return of St. Paul in Taubes, Agamben and Badiou, via explorations of politics and original sin in the work of Schmitt and John Gray, Critchley examines whether there can be a faith of the faithless, a belief for unbelievers.

Expanding on his debate with Slavoj Zizek, Critchley concludes with a meditation on the question of violence, and the limits of non-violence. Free Returns We hope you are delighted with everything you buy from us. However, if you are not, we will refund or replace your order up to 30 days after purchase. Terms and exclusions apply; find out more from our Returns and Refunds Policy. Recently Viewed. Critchley begins the analysis with a splendid reading of Rousseau. This then moves to St. The Heidegger section appears abrupt and disparate from whatever momentum had been established.

A solid 3. I don't completely agree with the conclusion of a turning to love as a concept that can help us out of the mess, but I think there is lots of insight that can be gained from his hermeneutics and reflection on continental philosophers. Actually, the most enjoyable pa A solid 3. Actually, the most enjoyable part of this book is Critchley taking on losers like Badiou and Zizek.

I actually enjoyed this book; I usually cannot get the point of radical philosophical writings, but this book clarified many different points for me. Now I can easily say that I know how anarchism can make sense It still doesn't, it has the potentiality of making sense though!

The first two chapters on Rouseau and Schmitt are fantastic but then it gets too messy to understand. Although it took a long time for me to finish this book, I still think it was worth reading. Seriously, a good load of excellent work has been placed into this one. I've almost turned out surprised, how many of my concerns with Infinitely demanding have been explored at detail in here: which exactly concerns the relationship of politics and religion with respect to the politics of the undeterminable. On the first reading, I see a few gaps in the argument here and there i.

As well, it seems to me that Critchley at times tends to adopt some Badiouesque positions more strongly than in his previous works, though that does not necessarily need to be a bad thing. In any case, even if the argument is occasionally scattered, and a tad bit discontinuous, this is a worthy book trying to diagnose the religious roots and theological limits of contemporary politics.

While a couple of the polemics will most likely resonate with me a bit differently after catching up with some of the references, I find it indisputable that a lot of work and thought has been put into this one and that can never really be a bad thing for philosophy.


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Apr 14, Jake rated it liked it. Oct 27, Charlie Cray rated it liked it. I don't read a lot of philosophy.

The Faith of the Faithless Experiments in Political Theology

Although much of it seemed to be a return to an ongoing argument with Zizek, he draws from others Fanon, Benjamin, anarchists to situate essential questions where is it justified, where is it effective or necessary in historical context - the place it matters most. As he points out, in the colonized world citing Fanon violence equates with expropriation, "whose effects constitute the I don't read a lot of philosophy. As he points out, in the colonized world citing Fanon violence equates with expropriation, "whose effects constitute the daily humiliation of the wretched of the earth.

When violence is understood in this way, there is no doubt that principled assertion of nonviolence simply miss the point. Worse still, nonviolence can be an ideological tool introduced by those in power in order to ensure that their interests are not adversely affected by a violent overthrow of power. But there are too many instances where nonviolence is simply ineffective, to be crushed by the state, military, police.

What then? Here it's easy to miss Critchley's answer.

The Faith of the Faithless: Experiments in Political Theology

I had to digest parts of this carefully, go back and re-read certain passages. Because he's not simply suggestion it's a matter of historical context: "Violence is not reducible to an act in the here and now which might or might not be justifiable in accordance with some or other conception of justice. I think what he's driving at is a rejection of universal principles, ideological or religious.

Whether philosophers would call that "existential" I don't know. But he see this in Paul as well as Kierkegaard, whose counsel was not in his words "to sit in the anxiety of death, day in and day out, listening for the repetition of the eternal," but rather in Critchley's words to commit to "a rigorous and activist conception of inner faith that proclaims itself into being at each instant without guarantee or security, and which abides with the infinite demand of love.

The "faith of the faithless" is thus a "subjective strength that only finds its power to act through an admission of weakness: the powerless power of conscience. Conscience is the inward ear that listens for the repetition of the infinite demand. It has been my contention in this book that such an experience of faith is not only shared by those who are faithless from a creedal or denominational perspective, but can be experienced by them in an exemplary manner. However, and this has also been a constant concern of my work, an atheistic conception of faith should not be triumphalist.

I have little sympathy for the evangelical atheism of Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens that sees God and religion as some sort of historical error that has happily been corrected and refuted by scientific progress. On the contrary, the religious tradition with which I am most familiar -- broadly Judeo-Christian - offers a powerful way of articulating questions of the ultimate meaning and value of human life in ways irreducible to naturalism.

The Faith of the Faithless: Experiments in Political Theology | The Nile | TheMarket NZ

Thinkers whose company I have long valued, like Augustine and Pascal, raise exactly the right questions, even if I cannot accept their answers. It is the expression of religion in bigotry, hostility to free inquiry which philosophers like Critchley should well appreciate and the violence and coercive consequences that theocracies impose upon its subjects that bothers Hitchens most, in addition to witnessing close hand actions of political theocracies, such as the fatwa against his friend Rushdie.

If I have one basic criticism of Hitchens, OTOH, it would be his selective citation of religious texts to prove his point. Hitchens was above all a scorching contrarian. Books like "The Missionary Position" depicting Mother Theresa as a fraud were to many who are more tolerant of religion as impolite jabs at the charitable works of religion.

But I digress, and these are points we could return to when reviewing that book. Anyway, when it comes to philosophy, I'm still very much a mere lay person. But what I've read so far has been engrossing and stimulating. Jan 03, Brian Moore rated it really liked it. Explores interesting concepts that provoke a lot of thought, but ultimately does not have much of a prescription of how to avoid authoritarianism. Makes a lot of references to his ethical system laid out in Infinitely Demanding, reading it shortly to see if these hurdles can be overcome by that work.

Jul 24, Richard rated it liked it. Very interesting discussion of Rousseau and the role of the civic religion, but mostly this reminds me of what is worst about modern academic writing. I'm just not prepared to invest the time to understand the jargon anymore. Jan 21, Iskender rated it liked it. First third of book addresses the theme of "faith" directly. This faith is not attached to a metaphysical God but to a civil religion..

Critchley recasts "modernization" from a process resulting in an increasingly secular society to one in which the sacred remains central but is redefined. Oscar Wilde, Rousseau, and St. Paul feature in this argument. I was completely lost in much of it. I expected an easier go of it , and perhaps the false start through me off. Critchley writes very First third of book addresses the theme of "faith" directly. Critchley writes very accessible philosophy in a book called "Continental Philosophy" part of the Oxford Very Short Introduction series. They talk art, theater, creativity.

Really underlines what a loss his death is. Dec 03, Aiman Caezar rated it really liked it. Great resource for thinking about the intersections between politics, faith and violence. See myself returning to it soon for a second reading after the first impression of Critchley's argument sinks in. Finally, Critchley really is one of the best close readers of text around.

Interview of Simon Critchley, author of "The Faith of the Faithless"

Particularly liked his treatment of Rousseau - fresh thoughts on a subject like social contract theory are always good! In all, It's really a deeply hopeful and inspiring book and the are moments where his argument fully Great resource for thinking about the intersections between politics, faith and violence. In all, It's really a deeply hopeful and inspiring book and the are moments where his argument fully develops and blossoms in your mind with breathtaking clarity - while this only becomes apparent sporadically throughout, it happens often enough to merit a full recommendation.

Jan 29, Nikolay Nikiforov rated it it was ok. Jul 27, Geoff Giancarlo rated it really liked it.

reviewed by Benjamin Noys

Critchley's engagement with Rousseau is the highlight of the book, and his penetrating and perhaps exhaustive look at faith is worth the price of admission. As usual, the sparring between him and Zizek is quite spirited. The final 20 or so pages really gives a clear look at Critchley's conception of resistance, and it ties the book to a close nicely.

Jul 13, Nick Buck rated it really liked it Shelves: philosophy , religion , politics. Critchley brings his anarchist "infinitely demanding" ethics to a next step.


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  • Dec 06, Joshua rated it liked it. A great read. Lucid, compelling and well-written analysis of the intersection between religion, politics, and violence. May 18, Katrinka rated it it was amazing.