More than just a ticklish subject: History, postmodernity and God

Heythrop Journal 42 (2):192–204 (2001)
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The paper begins by tracing the development of the understanding of truth as adjunct to the self in postmodernity. It then proceeds to ask what history is in postmodernity in the light of the reconfiguration of truth, and what kinds of response Christianity, and especially Catholic Christianity might develop to the postmodern situation. Using a critique of Habermas’ speech “Modernity – an incomplete project” it develops a notion of postmodernity as an extreme interpretation of modernity, solely through reference to the self. By analysing the concept of the universal horizon in Habermas and in Hegel it shows how postmodernity both produces and deflects the notion of modernity, so that prior to the postmodern, neither modernity nor postmodernity can really be said to be thought at all.The paper suggests that postmodernity is not really ‘thought’ at all, but rather thinks for us, so that we take it for granted. It then takes a sketch of Nietzsche’s critique of the death of God as a springboard to ask what arenas a thoughtless theological response might be tempted into – especially that of conceiving the world purely and baldly as “sacramental” in structure. Finally it concludes by asking what possibilities postmodernity opens up through a thoughtful discernment of how it constitutes us at all



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Laurence Hemming
Lancaster University

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