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Open Theology

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Phenomenology’s Rejects: Religion after Derrida’s Denegations

Jason W. Alvis
Published Online: 2017-10-28 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opth-2017-0045


Religion, as well as any individuals’ volitionally chosen ‟worldview,” generally get conceived solely in affirmative terms of value. ‟Religion” has been conceptualized almost solely on the terms of axiology: as the experience of ‟the greatest” holiness (Otto), the purely valuable sacred (Eliade); the most ‟ultimate concern” (Tillich); the symbols accepted to order life (Geertz), or the binding of oneself to deep value (Müller). Yet there are limitations of such axiomatic thinking, limitations that can be exemplified through an interpretation of Derrida’s ‟globolatinization,” which he described as a system of thought that promotes a universalism of pseudo or petit-valuations, and punishes those resistant and inflexible to them in the name of toleration. This essay investigates what happens when this ‟axiomatic” register (i.e. a reduction to a set of values) gets displaced in order to conceptualize religion also in terms of the nonvaluable or ‟rejected.” Rejection entails the paradox that what is rejected often speaks to a deeper reality of what in fact is desired. Thus, what we reject usually says infinitely more about us than what we claim to value and affirm. This essay interprets Derrida’s essay ‟How to Avoid Speaking: Denials” alongside his ‟Faith and Knowledge” in order to offer a Derridean conception of religion on the terms of a rejection that amounts to a double-affirmation or de-negation.

Keywords: Phenomenology; Denial; Derrida; Religion; Theory; Denegation; Faith; Knowledge; Globalization


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About the article

Received: 2017-06-06

Accepted: 2017-09-14

Published Online: 2017-10-28

Published in Print: 2017-10-26

Citation Information: Open Theology, Volume 3, Issue 1, Pages 590–599, ISSN (Online) 2300-6579, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opth-2017-0045.

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© 2017. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. BY-NC-ND 4.0

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