It is not a question of "religion," here, but rather of a "faith" as a sign of the fidelity of reason to that which in and ofitselfexceeds reason's phantasm of justifYing itself [rendre raison de sot1 as much as the world and man. That the signal "a god"-or again, the "signal of a god"-might be necessary or not here remains once again undecided. That will perhaps remain undecidable-or not.
But, for the moment, it is at least beyond all doubt that a signal, whatever it may be, addresses us from the site of our atheist reason. Beginning with Judaism and Christianity, each is a successor haunted by what came before; for Muslims, Islam fulfills and ends the line of prophecy.
There is still no decent histoty or demystification of the many-sided contest among these three followers-not one of them by any means a monolithic, unified camp--of the most jealous of all gods, even though the bloody modern convergence on Palestine furnishes a rich secular instance of what has been so tragically irreconcilable about them. And since the waters are part of the ocean of history, trying to plow or divide them with barriers is futile. Humanism opens onto inhumanity: such may well be the brutal summary of the situation.
And the West does not understand how it managed to come to this. Nevertheless, the West has indeed come to this: it is the civilization constructed initially around the Mediterranean by the Greeks, the Romans, the Jews, and the Arabs that has borne this fruit. To that degree, then, it cannot suffice to search elsewhere for other forms or values that one might attempt to graft onto this henceforth global body. We know-how could we ignore this? Ultimately, if the capitalist and technological economy constitutes the general form of value or sense today, that is by way of the worldwide reign of a monetary law of exchange or general equivalency or the indefinite production of surplus value within the order of this equivalency-a value whose evaluation remains impossible except in terms of equivalency and indeterminate growth.
Perhaps it is impossible to take a further step in understanding and transforming our history without extending the interrogation into the heart of this structure of monovalence. J l It goes without saying that a program such as this could not be the object of a single talk. So I will immediately narrow the scope of this essay. I will do so in two ways. First, I will offer a very brief and summary remark on a point that should be developed separately: in speaking of monotheism, I include from the outset the Greco-Roman heritage, understood in its composite character, a heritage both philosophical and state-juridical.
Dis-Enclosure: The Deconstruction of Christianity (Perspectives in Continental Philosophy)
Second, I will limit my analyses here to the form of monotheism that became its most European form-and thus, starting from there, the form that most often accompanied the Westernization of the world, at least up until the middle of the twentieth century-that is, I will limit the analysis to the form that is Christianity. It is also the form of which I am the least incapable of speaking, since it is that of my culture as a Frenchman and a European which implies, moreover, also a certain distance relative to Orthodox Christianity.
But I will do this only on two conditions, which I emphasize as follows: 1. First, we must hold in abeyance, pending the continuation of the work of deconstruction, the other major forms: Judaism and Islam.
This is not so much to pass along the same analytic operation from one form to another as to keep in sight the constant interaction in monotheism of its triple determination or of the plural singular that constitutes it. I will thus attempt an initial sketch of a "deconstruction of Christianity. Yet a certain conception of "human rights," as well as a certain determination of the relationship between politics and religion, comes straight out of Christianity.
A Deconstruction of Monotheism II 33 It is thus important to discern in what sense the West is Christian in its depths; in what sense Christianity is Western as if through destiny or by destination, and in what sense, through this Christian occidentality, an essential dimension of monotheism in its integrality is set into play.
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It is important to think this, insofar as the Westernized world-or again, the globalized West-is experienced as deprived of sense-of sense or value, if we want to highlight the fact that it has replaced all values with the general equivalence that Marx designated as that of "merchandise. In attempting to respond to this question-but of course to do so we shall have to complicate greatly the rough form I have just given it-we may hope to obtain at least three results: l.
I will call a "deconstruction of monotheism" that inquiry or search consisting in disassembling and analyzing the constitutive elements of monotheism, and more directly of Christianity, thus of the West, in order to go back to or to advance toward a resource that could form at once the buried origin and the imperceptible future of the world that calls itself "modern. Now, is this not a characteristic of Christianity and monotheism in general: the contract or the alliance of the promise, the commitment that commits before all else to be committed to it?
In Christianity, the promise is at once already realized and yet to come.
But is this not a theme that runs through all the monotheisms? Is such a paradoxical space not that in which the presence of sense is at once assured, acquired, withheld, absented in its very presence? Could this challenge be the one that monotheism has cast us, and that a deconstruction of monotheism would have to take up?
In other words, Christianity indicates, in the most active way-and the most ruinous for itself, the most nihilist in certain regards-how monotheism shelters within itself-better: more intimately within itself than itself, within or without itself-the principle of a world without God. I will distinguish five traits.
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I would state it thus: monotheism is in truth atheism. In effect, its difference from "polytheisms" is not due to the number of gods. The unicity of god, on the contrary, signifies the withdrawal of this god away from presence and also away from power thus understood. With the figure of Christ comes the renunciation of divine power and presence, such that this renunciation becomes the proper act of God, which makes this act into God's becoming-man. In this sense, the god withdrawn, the god "emptied out," in Paul's words, is not a hidden god at the depths of the withdrawal or the void a deus absconditus : the site to which he has withdrawn has neither depths nor hiding places.
He is a god whose absence in itself creates divinity, or a god whose void-of-divinity is the truth, properly speaking. One might think of Eckhart's phrase: "I pray to God that he make me free of God," or again of Harawi imitating Hallaj: "No one really bears witness to the one God 'that he is one.
This does not mean that things cannot modulate themselves very differently among the diverse Christianities: for example, that of Latin America is not at all, in this respect, in the same posture as that of North America and that of Europe. But the fundamental stakes are nonetheless the same. Christianity tends to erase every distinctive religious sign and all sacrality for the benefit of what Kant called a "religion within the limits of reason alone," or again, of what Feuerbach proclaimed in saying that "belief in God own essence.
Moreover, the theoretical or dogmatic Christian construction is that of a way of thinking whose center is "the word of God made flesh. To be sure, the heart of this dogma is declared "a mystery. But it is not without value to observe that this point of discord is also that at which, in the first place, the whole question central to monotheism is debated i.
Islarnic god. This divided unity o f self, characteristic o f monotheism most properly, and thus also most paradoxically, makes up the unity of the unique god.
Adoration: The Deconstruction of Christianity II by Jean-Luc Nancy
This is why, just as Christianity thinks a god in three persons whose divinity consists in the relationship to self, so it divides itself historically into three at least a division of the community which must at the end be reassembled , and so too it presents the logic of the threefold monotheism as a subject divided in itself i.
The relation to self defines the subject. However, the law of its structure entails that it cannot be given to self before being itself related to self: its relation to self-or "the self" in general-can only be infinite. This escaping of self defines jointly, in this realm of thought, the life of the creator and the death of the creature. But in this way it is the one and the other, and the one in the other or through the other, who are affected by and with the in-finite in the sense of finitude.
In one way or another, what is in question is: how monotheism engenders itself as humanism, and how humanism confronts the finitude that entered in this way into history. Today I will remain with this briefest of characterizations. It seems to indicate a direction in thinking without which it is impossible to consider seriously, henceforth, the question of the sense of the world such as the West has given it to us as heritage-or as escheat. Nor is it to rediscover the unity proper and immanent to a world of the myth that has decomposed in the Westernization-monotheization of the world.
One year later, that is to say, one "9- 1 1 " later, the talk calls for more than one complement without speaking of the fact that in many respects my work on the subject has been displaced, has opened new paths. If "9- 1 1 " made something clear, then it was this: the world is tearing itself apart around an unbearable division of wealth and power.
This division is insufferable because it rests upon no acceptable hierarchy, neither of power, nor of wealth. A "hierarchy" signifies, etymologically, a sacred character of the principle or the commandment. Now the world of techno-science, or the world that I have called "ecotechnics"-that is, a natural environment entirely made up of the human replacement of a "nature" henceforth withdrawn-which is also the world of democracy, the universal rights of a human being presumed to be universal, the world of secularism and religious tolerance both aesthetic and moral, not only keeps us from founding in a sacred regime differences of authority and legitimacy, it makes those disparities or inequalities that overtly violate its principles of equality and justice seem intolerable.
What we call the scripting or instrumentation of religions, or indeed the deviation, the perversion, or the betrayal of one or another religion including the national theism of the United States , in no way constitutes a sufficient explication.
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- Dis-enclosure: the deconstruction of Christianity?
- The Treasury of Knowledge: Books Nine and Ten: Journey And Goal.
- Dis-Enclosure: The Deconstruction of Christianity (Perspectives in Continental Philosophy).
- Falsches Spiel: Roman (German Edition).
This material is given, in a paradoxical but evident way, through the motif of the One: it is Unity, Unicity, and Universality that are evoked throughout in the global confrontation, or rather, in the world structured as a confrontation that is in no wise that of a "war of civilizations" since Islam is also a part of the West, throughout its entire history, and this even ifit is not exclusively such. To the total mobilization and it is no accident that I use a concept so recently fascist , proclaimed and telecommanded in the name of a single God whose transcendent unicity effectuates an absolute hierarchization God, the paradise of the believers, the dust of all the rest-all the rest being composed also of a lot of dollars, missiles, and petroleum.
We could say here, since I am extending remarks made in Cairo: the pyramids of the pharaohs did not draw their value from the null point of their summit, but from the secret of death and life buried deep in their mass. They drew their value from the profound withdrawal into a cryptic obscurity and not from the point of a presence erected as evidence.
Now, what is thus lost of the very essence of monotheism in all its forms is precisely that the "one" of the "god" is not at all Unicity qua substantial present and united with itself: on the contrary, the unicity and the unity of this "god" or the divinity of this "one" consists precisely in that the One cannot be posited there, neither presented nor figured as united in itself.
Their thoughts, which is to say their acts, their ethos or their praxis, still await us. Harnack thus distinguishes them from those whom he will call the "pagan-Christians" who will also be called "Helleno-Christians" or "Hellenic-Christians". At the same time, certain among them have expressed doubts about the validity of the category, if only because of the diversity of movements or stances that it is able to cover.
The enigma of this noncomposable composition should interest us in more than one respect; in fact, it should interest us in five respects. Insofar as its name de-composes what we have agreed to call, in our culture, "religions," it implies, within the determination of Western thought and in its self-determination a hyphen drawn between "religion" and "thought," precisely where thought-in the name of "philosophy," itself albeit otherwise self-composed-was determined as non-religious, even anti-religious, thereby drawing its line over religion, to destroy it or de-compose it.
This name thus implies an irritation or a vexation of the West in itself and for itself. Insofar as this mark multiplies at least once by itself, its reduction [sa demultiplication] will not cease thereafter: it draws or traces from itself a general de-composition. But it is a constant that the most general law of this schema like the structure of the Kantian schematism, which forms a species of the same genre is to contain at its center a gap [un kart] around which it is organized. The hyphen passes over a void that it does not fill.
Upon what could this void open?