Monday, February 01, 2010

Philosophy of religion's concern for the secular and its speculative character

from An und für sich by Anthony Paul Smith

Recently James KA Smith and Bruce Benson had a conversation that unfolded on the pages of the journal Faith and Philosophy. As Daniel Whistler and I are currently finishing up editing on our edited volume, After the Postsecular and the Postmodern: New Essays in Continental Philosophy of Religion, I read it to see if I could get a sense of where two mainstream Christian philosophers see the discipline. I was, quite simply, disappointed in the dialogue as it continues a rather uncritical discourse on Continental philosophy of religion that perpetuates its status as a kind of ersatz-philosophical theology, but adds a bit of new analytic envy and Christian victimhood.

I’m not too concerned with the so-called analytic/Continental split anymore and, like many, hope that some new constellation is emerging that will though whose work is “Continental” to break through the institutional biases of mainstream Anglophone departments and join with post-analytic thought in doing new and interesting work. Still, there is something distinctive about Continental philosophy of religion that differentiates it form both mainstream Anglophone philosophy and philosophical theology. In our volume we locate three distinct characteristics: its coming out of the modern tradition, its concern for the secular, and its speculative character. Perhaps Smith’s account is impovershed because of his focus on phenomenology and hermeneutics.

I would argue that, while these philosophical forms can support philosophies of religion, they have tended to be used as a method for a theological thinking rather than a philosophy of religion. This theologization of Continental philosophy largely goes unacknowledged within those circles, both because figures like Marion are both theologizers of philosophy and respected expositors of the phenomenological method. Thus, the notion that somehow Marion is ostracized by most Continental philosophers, just strikes me as absolutely false. 

No comments:

Post a Comment