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Negative EcstasiesGeorges Bataille and the Study of Religion$
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Jeremy Biles and Kent Brintnall

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780823265190

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823265190.001.0001

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Sacrifice as Ethics

Sacrifice as Ethics

The Strange Religiosity of Neoliberalism

Chapter:
(p.123) Sacrifice as Ethics
Source:
Negative Ecstasies
Author(s):

Shannon Winnubst

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823265190.003.0009

This essay has two primary aims: a theological, historical explanation of the profound aporia of ethics in neoliberalism and a speculation about a possible mode of remediation. By reading Foucault’s 1979 lectures on neoliberalism, The Birth of Biopolitics, alongside Bataille’s analyses of Protestantism in the first volume of The Accursed Share, this essay traces the apparent erasure of ethics in neoliberalism to theological transformations in Calvinist Protestantism of the sixteenth century. It then follows Bataille’s writings on sacrifice, especially as accentuated through the Lacanian concept of the Real, as an exemplary act that might retrieve us from the slide into pure thinghood, return us to our humanity, and thereby enact a moment of ethics. If the gift of sacrifice is the reintroduction of the sacred into the Calvinist world of things, then it may also offer a radical cathexis with ethics that is otherwise lost to us in these neoliberal times.

Keywords:   Neoliberalism, Sacrifice, Religion, Foucault, Bataille, Lacan, capitalism, church, state, liberalism, political economy, Protestant, Calvinism, Real

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