The essays in this new book from John Milbank range over the entire field of theology, and both extend and enrich the theological perspective underlying his earlier Theology and Social Theory. The essays are focused around the theme of a theological approach to language, and offer a richly textured and broad ranging inquiry which will contribute to a variety of contemporary debates.
Radical Orthodoxy is a new wave of theological thinking that seeks to re-inject the modern world with theology. The group of theologians associated with Radical Orthodoxy are dissatisfied with conteporary theolgical responses to both modernity and postmodernity Radical Orthodoxy is a collection that aims to reclaim the world by situating its concerns and activities within a theological framework. By mapping the new theology against a range of areas where modernity has failed, these essays offer us way out of the impasses (...) that postmodernity represents. (shrink)
The current global economic crisis concerns the way in which contemporary capitalism has turned to financialisation as a double cure for both a falling rate of profit and a deficiency of demand. Although this turning is by no means unprecedented, policies of financialisation have depressed demand while at the same time not proving adequate to restore profits and growth. This paper argues that the current crisis is less the ‘normal’ one that has to do with a constitutive need to balance (...) growth of abstract wealth with demand for concrete commodities. Rather, it marks a meta-crisis of capitalism that is to do with the difficulties of sustaining abstract growth as such. This meta-crisis is the tendency at once to abstract from the real economy of productive activities and to reduce everything to its bare materiality. By contrast with a market economy that binds material value to symbolic meaning, a capitalist economy tends to separate matter from symbol and reduce materiality to calculable numbers representing ‘wealth’. Such a conception of wealth rests on the aggregation of abstract numbers that cuts out all the relational goods and the ‘commons’ on which shared prosperity depends. (shrink)
The following essay explores the way in which notions of truth are linked to those of secure identity and hence to certain mathematical issues, from Plato and Aristotle onward. It argues that this recognition underlies traditional resorts to notions of form or eidos as securing both particular and general identity—at once the integrity of things and the link among things. I contend that nominalism rightly saw that there were certain problems with this notion in terms of the strict application of (...) the logical law of identity and the recognition of the “artificial” character of human understanding. However, I also argue that the most extreme fulfillment of the nominalist program after Frege itself ran foul of the law of identity because of the paradoxes of set theory. In the face of this double impasse I press for a re-configured Thomistic realism, taking account of the insights of Nicholas of Cusa that would abandon the ultimacy of the law of identity as paradoxically the only way to save identity and so truth, and would admit that the passage to the recognition of universals lies through the human creative construction of universals. Realism can still be saved here because in the Divine Son or Logos, in whom human reason participates, divine ideas are at once made and seen. (shrink)
The Summer 2004 issue of the "Journal of Religious Ethics" included papers by James Wetzel, Gordon Michalson, Jennifer Herdt, and David Craig that assessed my interpretation of certain historical figures and texts. These papers also considered the place of those interpretations in my normative theology. This response spells out the relationship, as I see it, between historical inquiry and theological utterance and then addresses some of the concerns posed in those papers.
Community and Gift Despite growing uneasiness about the economic and social consequences of the free market, today socialism, like religion, exhibits merely a spectral reality. It no longer seems either plausible or rational, and it has been consigned to the realm of faith. Yet, as with Christianity, socialism still haunts the West because nothing has emerged to replace it. Just as the story of a compassionate God who became a man was seen as the “final religion,” so the hope of (...) a universal fraternity based on sharing was seen as “the final politics.” With its demise, all that seems to…. (shrink)
Today we live in very peculiar circumstances indeed. The welfare of this world is being wrecked by the ideology of neo-liberalism, and yet its historical challengers—conservatism and socialism—are in total disarray. Socialism, in particular, appears to have been wrong-footed by the discovery that liberalism and not socialism is the bearer of “modernity” and “progress.” As the suspicion arises that perhaps modernity and progress are themselves by no means on the side of justice, then socialists today characteristically begin to suspect that (...) their own traditions, in their Marxist, Social Democratic, and Fabian forms, have been too grounded in modes of thought…. (shrink)
The article discusses the history of monotheism from the earliest times to the present. It begins with arguments against the notion of monotheists as an evolutionarily early stage in religion and then proceeds to characterize monotheism in the Old testament. The view that there was every a pre‐monotheistic phase of one ‘national God’ is called into question, along with the priority of the ‘God of history’ over the creator God. Association of the divine with social justice is shown to be (...) common to the ancient Near East as a whole; however, Israelite monotheism, it is argued, was associated with a kind of conservatism which preserved more features of an oral and gift‐exchange culture, while calling into question the more fetishistic aspects of such culture. Monotheism, it is claimed, is what refutes both myth and rationalism, while the superiority of one God to many gods is defended in connection with the theme of peace. The final section deals with the three monotheistic faiths, and argues that Christianity, with its doctrines of incarnation and the Trinity, is not qualifying monotheism and its distinctive features as just adumbrated, but on the contrary developing it in the purest and most consistent form. (shrink)
The Christian Bible was from the outset a dogmatic and Christological conception, which entailed a mystical reading of signs and events, a practise of speculation at once narratological and phenomenological. The trilogy of Olivier‐Thomas Venard OP – Thomas d'Aquin, poète théologien – is proposed as crucial to understanding how Thomas Aquinas preserves the authentic biblical character of Christian theology, proceeding along the diagonal axis of the mystagogical, an axis neither purely vertical nor purely horizontal but a blending of both at (...) once. Here a reading of Aquinas is offered as initiating a participational ‘linguistic turn’, an alternative modernity that can heal the dissociation of the science of being from the phenomenal and hermeneutical embeddings in which human life is constituted. (shrink)
What is postmodernity? — not simply postmodernism as a set of theories, but also postmodernity, as a set of cultural circumstances. Above all, it means the obliteration of boundaries, the confusion of categories. In the postmodern times in which we live, there is no longer any easy distinction to be made between nature and culture, private interior and public exterior, hierarchical summit and material depth; nor between idea and thing, message and means, production and exchange, product and delivery, the state (...) and the market, humans and animals, humans and machines, image and reality — nor beginning, middle and end. Everything is made to run into everything else; everything gets blended, undone and then re-blended. There are no longer any clear centres of control, and this means that new weight is given to plurality and the proliferation of difference. However, none of these differences ever assumes the status of a distinct essence: rather they are temporary events, destined to vanish and be displaced. (shrink)