Tuesday 21 August 2007

Slavoj Žižek and the loss of faith

Sorry, I couldn’t resist the temptation to quote Žižek once more:

“[W]ho, in fact, are fundamentalists? To put it simply, a fundamentalist does not believe in something, but rather knows it directly. In other words, both liberal-sceptical cynicism and fundamentalism share a basic underlying feature: the loss of the ability to believe in the proper sense of the term. For both of them, religious statements are quasi-empirical statements of direct knowledge: fundamentalists accept these statements as such, while sceptics mock them. What is unthinkable for both is the ‘absurd’ act of a decision which installs every authentic belief, a decision that cannot be grounded in the chain of ‘reason’, in positive knowledge.”

—Slavoj Žižek, The Universal Exception, ed. Rex Butler and Scott Stephens (2nd ed.; London: Continuum, 2007), pp. 308-309.


J said...

Is it just me, or is there a glimpse of Kierkegaard in that passage?

Zac said...

This reminds me of Tournier:

"God's favorites, especially God's favorites, are not immune from the bewildering times when God seems silent. Where there is no longer any opportunity for doubt, there is no longer any opportunity for faith either. Faith demands uncertainty, confusion. The Bible includes many proofs of God's concern - some quite spectacular - but no guarantess. A guarantee would, after all, preclude faith."

Paul Tournier

Thanks for this post.


Anonymous said...

Tweedledum and Tweedledee
Agreed to have a battle;
For Tweedledum said Tweedledee
Had spoiled his nice new rattle.

Just then flew down a monstrous crow,
As black as a tar-barrel;
Which frightened both the heroes so,
They quite forgot their quarrel.

(Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass)

Kierkegaard is the crow, and the quarrel, if not forgotten, is mere shadow-boxing.

derek said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

What a great quote!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, shades of SK--but still a quite wonderful passage. Scepticism and fundamentalism: both failures of nerve. Brilliant.

Anonymous said...

I am reminded of Hauerwas's claim (in "Unleashing the Scripture" and continually since) that fundamentalism and historical criticism are simply two sides of the same coin, both seeing the text as just THERE, without any need for a community of interpretation.

::aaron g:: said...

Reminds me of the difference Dewey noted between "the quest for certainty" and "warranted assertability."

Anonymous said...

Please find this paragraph from a recent essay titled All Imperfect "Knowledge" Is Bunk by my Spiritual Master. It deals with this theme in no uncertain terms. All the itallics are indicators of bunk ideas.

"Exoteric "religion" achieves physically effective mind-control over human individuals and collectives by means of (invariably, conspicuous) social and political "moral performances", power-alliances with social and political institutions, the public proliferation of "sacred enclosures" (such as temple architecture), and the broad scale persistent propagandizing of "sacred artifices", such as "religious" myths, IRREDUCIBLY "objectified" beliefs, symbolic ceremonials, ritual re-enactments, "religious" art, and the authoritarian of such ideas as "objective certainty", "moral absolutes", the "inherent integrity and reliability of tradition", "happiness by means of institutions", "blessedness" by means of "sacramentally authorized" hierarchies of "religious officials", "faith" as an exercise superior to all other human efforts, the "necessary immortality" of the "ego", and both the "authority" and the "ultimate sufficiency" of "religion" ("itself").

Anonymous said...

Zizek's the Fragile Absolute is a brilliant read particualarly his Lacanian reaading of Paul's comments in Romans, the man's so persuausive when you read him you can't help but go wow! Yet I still can't escape the feeling that ultimately he's just having one almighty laugh at all the pretensions to profundity - that ghost that still haunts modern discourse - but at least he does it with flair.
What's a spiritual master is it like a headmaster? i.e someone who's mastered his head?

Anonymous said...

john, spiritual master, et al.--


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