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The Trace of GodDerrida and Religion$
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Edward Baring and Peter E. Gordon

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780823262090

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823262090.001.0001

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The Autoimmunity of Religion

The Autoimmunity of Religion

Chapter:
(p.178) The Autoimmunity of Religion
Source:
The Trace of God
Author(s):

Martin Hägglund

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823262090.003.0010

This essay provides a new framework for understanding Derrida’s engagement with religious concepts and challenges the numerous theological accounts of deconstruction. The proliferation of apparently religious terms in Derrida’s late works—which Hägglund here examines through the triad of faith, the unconditional, and the messianic—has given rise to a widespread notion that there was a “religious turn” in Derrida’s thinking. In contrast, Hägglund argues that Derrida engages religious concepts in accordance with a logic of “radical atheism.” Radical atheism does not pursue an external critique of religious concepts, but rather seeks to read these concepts against themselves, thereby unearthing their atheological and irreligious condition of possibility. Hägglund pursues this argument with regard to basic notions of good and evil, showing how Derrida’s notion of “radical evil” entails a revaluation of established religious values and illuminating what is at stake in the “autoimmunity” of living beings.

Keywords:   radical atheism, Derrida, radical evil, autoimmunity, the messianic, faith, the unconditional

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