Age Of Enlightenment
The resounding call to reason which has been the battle cry of the Enlightenment is by now no more than a reverberating call to identify with the privileged reason of modernity – that of the market. REASON AND RELIGION through a genealogical study of the historico-material and theoretical terrains that have lent currency to such a discursive oppositionality while paying attention to the concrete strategies of its deployment as well as consequences to the possibility of truly. Throughout the semester, the course will show how the diverse pursuits, reflections and theoretical engagements of modern and contemporary political theorists are underpinned by a struggle to define the boundary of the religious and the non-religious with the aim of securing and guarding the freedom promised by the modern conceptualization of reason. At the heart of the course is a sustained and systematic effort as well as invitation to approach religion – that is, to consciously nurture and performatively cultivate a disciplinary form of subjectivity capable of making such an approach – and then to be possessed by religion – that, is to think about the present, about oneself and one’s relations as a subject of and constituted by religion. It entails asking first – who is making this approach? How has the one approaching religion been constituted as a subject and how has this subject come to know one’s subjectivity as such via one’s position in relation to religion? The course will argue that the constitution of contemporary political subjectivity along the discourses of consumerism andcoloniality has adversely influenced the ability of the modern subject to approach religion – that is, to consider the rationality and reasonableness of a religious approach to living in the world and with others. Central to these discourses is the reproduction of the ideology of secularism and its attendant constitution of religion as a moralizing rationality thus legitimizing religion’s occlusion from the world of public life while at the same time politicizing it to serve purposes other than theologically and ecclesiologically authorized ones. Thus, the critical motif of approaching religion via one’s engagement with the world and with others is viewed in this course as a liturgical celebration – a simultaneous affirmation of commonality and difference, a productive agonism that resists solipsism and atomism, a communion with the world that is truly revolutionary. Here, to be possessed by religion does not entail the abandonment of the self but in fact demands a heightened and deliberate awareness of the self’s encounters that allows the self to come into being rather than to declare its finality, that is a rejection of an apocalyptic conception of the self and the world and its place through acts and gestures of receptivity to the eschatological moment of reason, the triumph of an enlightened form of thinking that is able to appreciate the public, stabilizing and grounded positionality of each other rather than the invisible, arbitrary and irrationality of hierarchies brought about by a false sense of rationality – a longing, a desire to long. A student conference entitled, “Moving from the Critique of Religion towards Religion as Critique” will be held two weeks before the semester’s scheduled final examinations during which students will be presenting their work to a public audience. NOVEMBER 8, 10, 15 and 17 Why is the Enlightenment’s concept of reason and appeal to the use of reason selfdefeating and incapable of animating, building and sustaining communal existence? How did the Enlightenment distort the meaning of reason and how has it shaped our contemporary political vocabulary? How did truth become publicly inaccessible in the way the Enlightenment understood it? To what extent can invocations and appeal to truth still make sense, and in fact, necessary in order to acknowledge and endorse the reality of human differences? Why is the use of religious reason not grounded on moral imperatives but guided by tradition? Why is violence the result of a form of reason that is no longer bound with tradition? Why did the logic of property and the language of the economy become the prevailing constructs of Enlightenment rationality? Why can these constructs not fulfill the tasks of reason and as such only serve to betray reason? Why are the human capacities to desire and to reason not incompatible? What ways of understanding each would render them in opposition or contradiction? How did the historical-material conditions of the industrial capitalist age pervert the human capacity to desire? Why did capitalism emerge, how does it operate and how did it change the way religion was understood? Why is capitalism inherently exploitative? How does it conceal its exploitative tendencies? Why and how can religion not become complicit in the concealment, reproduction and legitimation of the exploitative nature of capitalism? How is capitalism involved in preventing critics of the consequences of capitalist accumulation from realizing the capacity of religion to pose a serious challenge to the capitalist system? Why is a class approach to the study of society compatible with a religious form of subjectivity? Ellen Meiksins-Wood. “Hunger,”Something in a Dream,” “God of Hope,” Thing-ForUs” in The Frankfurt School on Religion ed. Why would the delegitimization and suppression of the authority of religion over its subjects lead to the rise of totalitarianism? Why is religion’s insistence on the uniqueness of the human person a powerful antidote against totalitarian terror and ideology? How does religion provide a guard against escaping the pluralistic and deeply conflictual realm of worldly existence? Why do appeals to and invocations of the law today share in the logic of totalitarianism? Why is a formal account of state power inadequate in understanding the manner through which the interests of capitalism are reproduced and legitimized? Why should revolutionaries pay attention to the production of knowledge and why is the production as well as deployment of knowledge linked with the historico-material constitution of the dominant social order? Why and how can the disciplinary regimes and technologies of religion be conceptualized and utilized in the critique of capitalist modernity? Why and how can the body become a political strategy for resisting the normalizing gaze of capitalist modernity?