Religion, Cultural Memory in the Present

By Jacques Derrida, editor

This is a very saddening book in which these authors, who have helped to move our thinking away from some of the remnants of religion over which we continue to trip, express their (perhaps elderly, not to say senile) longing for old-time religion itself. Not only that, but they suggest, as opponents of postmodernism or pragmatism do, that outgrowing the tiresome remnants of religion found in the arrogant self-descriptions of scientists or ethicists actually allows (or is it causes?) “the return of religion” – an event which they claim to be witnessing although they offer little argument for its existence or desirability. They seem (and, of course, each takes a slightly different tack) to be arguing ad populum instead of admitting their desire for religion. They explain that people are scared by nuclear proliferation and environmental destruction and are turning to religion, but do not address whether such false comfort should be joined in. Rather, they simply join in it – without, however, ever quite saying so. Not one of them writes “I believe in God,” but each asserts by every word he writes “God is worth writing about.”

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