Reexamining Deconstruction and Determinate Religion: Toward a Religion with Religion

Reexamining Deconstruction and Determinate Religion: Toward a Religion with Religion

Ed. by J. Aaron Simmons and Stephen Minister $30.00

Published in 2012 | paper | ISBN: 978-0-8207-0457-9 


“Simmons and Minister gather some exciting young voices in Continental philosophy of religion to discuss the claim that postmodernism, and specifically deconstruction, pushes us to a renewed commitment to our own particular religious communities. They purposefully stage the book as a discussion. . . . Ultimately, this structure helps support the book’s thesis that inhabiting a specific religious tradition does not prevent someone from engaging in actual, serious dialogue with other people.” — Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

“Caputo’s engagement . . . is a restatement of his project that re-covers a lot of ground that has already been covered elsewhere, but he does it here more clearly and more directly.” — Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

“This call for religion with religion offers a good reminder to keep the balance of the slash in the with/out.” — Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

This pioneering volume explores the philosophical, theological and practical implications of deconstructing religion—and what comes after. Bringing together the most radical insights of contemporary phenomenology and hermeneutics, the authors challenge us to rethink faith in the postmodern agora. A very timely intervention in the ongoing debate about God with and without religion.” — Richard Kearney, Charles Seelig (Chair of Philosophy, Boston College)

Book Information:

Reexamining Deconstruction and Determinate Religion addresses the conventional conflicts between those who desire a more objective, determinate, and quasi-evidentialist perspective on faith and religious truth and those who adopt a more poetic, indeterminate, relativistic, and radical one. Drawing on both continental and analytic philosophy, this unique volume offers a sustained challenge to the prominent paradigm of a “religion without religion,” proposed in a deconstructive philosophy of religion. Articulated by Jacques Derrida and advanced by John D. Caputo, “religion without religion” challenges the epistemic certainty, political exclusivism, and theological absolutism with which specific religious traditions have tended to operate and recommends rejecting or maintaining an ironic distance from the determinate truth-claims and practices of particular religious communities. 

Without simplistically rejecting deconstruction, Simmons and Minister maintain that a specifically deconstructive approach to religion does not necessarily dictate the complete indeterminancy of a “religion without religion.” Rather, “religion with religion” is offered as a particular way of practicing determinate religions that rejects binary options between undecidability and safety, or between skepticism and dogmatism. Thus, the truths of determinate religions are not assumed, but their possibility is embraced, which invites vigorous and charitable dialogue. Within this framework, the contributors assert that postmodern religious identity is necessary for contemporary ethical and political existence.

Organized in what might be called a “polylogue,” chapters 1–5 function dialogically, including two response essays to each of the primary essays. In these chapters, the authors explore topics including politics, faith, and biblical interpretation, but ultimately focus on the philosophical basis for a “religion with religion” and the practice or application of it. Finally, the book ends with two important new essays by Merold Westphal and John D. Caputo, respectively, that consider the conversation of the book as a whole and the very idea of “religion with religion.” Westphal’s essay offers a rigorous analysis and productive response to the essays by the other contributing authors, while Caputo’s lengthy chapter offers a clear and accessible introduction to his philosophical theology.

While especially relevant to anyone interested in an overview of and constructive dialogue with deconstructive philosophy of religion, Reexamining Deconstruction and Determinate Religion will be of interest to scholars and students interested in all areas of continental philosophy of religion and its potential benefit to determinate faith practices. 


Bruce Ellis Benson, John D. Caputo, Drew M. Dalton, Jeffrey Hanson, Stephen Minister, J. Aaron Simmons, Merold Westphal

Author Information:

J. AARON SIMMONS is assistant professor of philosophy at Furman University.  He is the author of God and the Other: Ethics and Politics after the Theological Turn and coeditor of Kierkegaard and Levinas: Ethics, Politics, and Religion. Dr. Simmons is also the philosophy of religion section chair for the southeast region of the American Academy of Religion.

STEPHEN MINISTER is assistant professor of philosophy at Augustana College. He is the author of De-Facing the Other: Reason, Ethics, and Politics after Difference as well as numerous book chapters and journal articles.


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