After the Postsecular and the Postmodern

What comes after the postsecular and postmodern trends in the Continental philosophy of religion? This question is addressed in the anthology edited by Anthony Paul Smith and Daniel Whistler, After the Postsecular and the Postmodern: New Essays in Continental Philosophy of Religion (2010).

The essays respond to this question by reading and transforming Continental perspectives on the philosophy of religion: reinterpreting contributions from modernity, reinterpreting the secular (and postsecuar), and exploring contributions from contemporary speculative philosophy (e.g., Meillassoux, Grant, Badiou, Žižek, etc.). There’s no easy answer to summarize what comes after the postsecular and postmodern. It’s an open field full of untapped potentials.

In the “Editors’ Introduction,” Smith and Whistler riff on Spinoza’s claim that nobody has determined what a body can do, saying: “no one has yet determined what Continental philosophy of religion can do” (p. 12). Attending to the undetermined possibilities of Continental philosophy of religion enables it “to enhance its power of acting and being acted upon” (ibid.). It also enables it to construct a new sense of the secular open to the diverse potentials of religious and post-religious existence. In other words, it enables “the construction of a truly generic secular, a secularity that can sustain the particularity, and even the proliferation, of all religious and post-religious modes of being” (p. 16).

One school of speculative thought was not represented in this volume: object-oriented philosophy.  On page 19, when Harman’s object-oriented philosophy is mentioned in a footnote, it is misspelled, “object-orientated.” An honest mistake, I’m sure. In any case, I expect that object-oriented studies will make significant contributions to Continental philosophy of religion and related fields like theology and religious studies.  I’ll have more to say about this in the future.

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