Photograph: Getty Images At the end of his previous book, How to Stop Living and Start Worrying , Simon Critchley wrote: "If morality becomes a question, as it is on BBC Radio 4, of nicely educated people with shrill voices making choices between different courses of action and being able to account for them, then this is awful. Critchley was one of the first thinkers to stress that so-called "continental philosophy" had an ethical dimension over and above its worrying and fraying at the textures of language, and that manner of analysis typifies this new, movingly optimistic, work. In Infinitely Demanding , Critchley had already begun to articulate the methods by which the state of being a "dividual" — "the self which shapes itself in relation to the experience of an overwhelming, infinite demand that divides it from itself" — might represent the precondition for committed engagement rather than a paralysing paradox. The Faith of the Faithless outlines in more detail his views on the nature of conscience and the possibility of an "anarchism of responsibility".
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Shelves: political-philosophy , 21st-century , religion I actually enjoyed this book; I usually cannot get the point of radical philosophical writings, but this book clarified many different points for me. 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. 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. 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 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? I had to digest parts of this carefully, go back and re-read certain passages. 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.
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.
The Faith of the Faithless
Shelves: political-philosophy , 21st-century , religion I actually enjoyed this book; I usually cannot get the point of radical philosophical writings, but this book clarified many different points for me. 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. On the first reading, I see a few gaps in the argument here and there i.
The Faith of the Faithless: Experiments in Political Theology
Zucage Excellent exploration of the meaning of faith, and of the difficulty of acting responsibly among other things. Explore the latest social science book reviews by academics and experts. Jul 27, Geoff Giancarlo rated it really liked it. Published February 1st by Verso first published January 1st Although it took a long time for me to finish this book, I still think it was worth reading. The final chapter is the most rebarbative, and the funniest.