Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Christopher Watkin, Difficult Atheism

Forthcoming in Symposium: Jason Harman reviews Christopher Watkin's Difficult Atheism: Post-Theological Thinking in Alain Badiou, Jean-Luc Nancy, and Quentin Meillassoux. Harman writes:
Watkin’s text seeks to chart contemporary French thought’s attempt to attain “a thinking that is truly without God” (1), through an analysis and critique of Alain Badiou, Jean-Luc Nancy, and Quentin Meillassoux. It should be noted upfront that for sheer breadth and depth Watkin’s work is astounding. Watkin, I am led to suspect, feels perfectly at ease inhabiting the minds of Badiou, Nancy and Meillassoux. Further, where contemporary French philosophy often dallies in the obscure, Watkin’s rendering—with ample citations from a wide selection of primary texts—both clarifies and sharpens. Throughout this text, Watkin ushers the reader into the intimate circle of philosophy’s leading minds—certainly no small feat.
Despite these merits, Harman notes several shortcomings with Watkin's approach, that you can assess by clicking here and reading the review.

This is the second review that I have read of Watkin's book, and it (that is, the book) looks to be quite thought provoking (perhaps it also pairs well with Martin Hägglund's Radical Atheism: Derrida and the Time of Life?).

Note that I'm no post-secular! philosopher. I think that the works of Spinoza (obviously the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus) and Marx are still the best approaches for dealing with the relations between religion, philosophy, and politics--and from what I gather, they both avoid the pincers of Watkin's critique (go read it!). I do think, on the other hand, that many contemporary attempts to go, as it were, post-theological, don't take enough from these approaches.

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