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Minimal Theologies

Critiques of Secular Reason in Adorno and Levinas

Hent de Vries
Geoffrey Hale

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Originally published in in 2004. What, at this historical moment "after Auschwitz," still remains of the questions traditionally asked by theology? What now is theology's minimal degree? This magisterial study, the first extended comparison of the writings of Theodor W. Adorno and Emmanuel Levinas, explores remnants and echoes of religious forms in these thinkers' critiques of secular reason, finding in the work of both a "theology in pianissimo" constituted by the trace of a transcendent other. The author analyzes, systematizes, and formalizes this idea of an other of reason. In addition, he…

Originally published in in 2004. What, at this historical moment "after Auschwitz," still remains of the questions traditionally asked by theology? What now is theology's minimal degree? This magisterial study, the first extended comparison of the writings of Theodor W. Adorno and Emmanuel Levinas, explores remnants and echoes of religious forms in these thinkers' critiques of secular reason, finding in the work of both a "theology in pianissimo" constituted by the trace of a transcendent other. The author analyzes, systematizes, and formalizes this idea of an other of reason. In addition, he frames these thinkers' innovative projects within the arguments of such intellectual heirs as Jürgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida, defending their work against later accusations of "performative contradiction" (by Habermas) or "empiricism" (by Derrida) and in the process casting important new light on those later writers as well. Attentive to rhetorical and rational features of Adorno's and Levinas's texts, his investigations of the concepts of history, subjectivity, and language in their writings provide a radical interpretation of their paradoxical modes of thought and reveal remarkable and hitherto unsuspected parallels between their philosophical methods, parallels that amount to a plausible way of overcoming certain impasses in contemporary philosophical thinking. In Adorno, this takes the form of a dialectical critique of dialectics; in Levinas, that of a phenomenological critique of phenomenology, each of which sheds new light on ancient and modern questions of metaphysics, ethics, and aesthetics. For the English-language publication, the author has extensively revised and updated the prize-winning German version.

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Minimal Theologies

Hent de Vries
Geoffrey Hale

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Reviews

Reviews

This fiercely intricate and intriguing work gestures towards a 'theological' position that avoids the Scylla of false hope and the Charybdis of nihilism... A suggestive, intelligent and erudite (non-linear) journey alongside Habermas, Adorno, Levinas and Derrida.

A deeply impressive achievement and an important contribution to theological debate in the wake of Critical Theory and deconstruction.

A substantial contribution to the philosophy of religion and to the study of the thought of Adorno and Levinas.

Very demanding but rewarding book.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
758
ISBN
9781421437484
Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments
Abbreviations
Introduction: Tertium Datur
Part I. Antiprolegomena
Chapter 1. Toward a Critique of Theology
Chapter 2. A Possible Internal and External Differentiation of

Preface and Acknowledgments
Abbreviations
Introduction: Tertium Datur
Part I. Antiprolegomena
Chapter 1. Toward a Critique of Theology
Chapter 2. A Possible Internal and External Differentiation of Habermas's Theory of Rationality
Part II. Dialectica
Chapter 3. Paradox and Aporia in Adorno's Philosophy of Nonidentity
Chapter 4. The Construction of Occidental Subjectivism: Reductio ad hominem versus Remembrance of Nature in the Subject
Chapter 5. The Breaking Apart of Western Objectivism and the Resurrection of the Particular and the Ephemeral in the Philosophy of History
Chapter 6. Metaphysical Experience
Part III. Phaenomenologica
Chapter 7. Paradox and Aporia in Levinas's Philosophy of the Ethical-Religious Other
Chapter 8. Levinas on Art and Truth
Chapter 9. The Dialectics of Subjectivity and the Critique of Objectivism
Chapter 10. Loosening Logocentrism: Language and Skepticism
Part IV. Hermeneutica Sacra sive Profana
Chapter 11. From Unhappy Consciousness to Bad Conscience
Chapter 12 "The Other Theology": Conceptual, Historical, and Political Idolatry
Appendix. The Theology of the Sign and the Sign of Theology: The Apophatics of Deconstruction
Bibliography
Index

Author Bios
Featured Contributor

Hent de Vries

Hent de Vries is Paulette Goddard Professor of the Humanities. He is Professor of German, Religious Studies, Comparative Literature, and Affiliated Professor of Philosophy. He received his BA/MA in Judaica and Hellenistic Thought (Theology), Public Finance and Political Economy (Law), at Leiden University, and obtained his PhD there in Philosophy of Religion, with a study on Theodor W. Adorno and...