Karen Blixens Plads 8, 2300 København S, Søndre Campus, Building: 10-4-09
Philosophy of Religion, Intellectual History, Political Theology, Secularization and the Post-Secular, Religion and politics, Theory and Method in the Study of Religion, Historiography of Religious Studies, Ascetical Practices, Monasticism, Materiality, National Socialism -1945
The title of my PhD-project is Where Do We Go From Here? An Inquiry into the Role of Religion in Peter Sloterdijk's and Giorgio Agamben's Affirmative Critiques of the Present. The project is supervised by Associate Professor Peter Kurt Westergaard.
At the beginning of the 21th century the word crisisis once more at presence in Europe, and the decades surrounding the millennial turn have offered both radical and original ways of confronting that which from the point of view of the European cultural sphere seems as a global crisis of multiple modalities.
Traditionally, religion has played an important role when the uncertainty of existence and the instability of the world were to be responded to; but in spite of current claims of the return of religion, it is important to raise fundamental questions about the relevance of religion in today’s engagement with narratives and experiences of crisis.
In the philosophical critique, the question has often been: How did we get here? But in order for the critique not just to be destructive and retrospective, it is important to raise a following question: Where do we go from here? Thus, the current crisis demands new interpretations of what Europe is, but also new suggestions of what Europe can and must do with itself in a global context.
These concerns are currently being addressed by two different yet connected philosophers and cultural critics of the Continental philosophical tradition: the German Peter Sloterdijk and the Italian Giorgio Agamben. Both Sloterdijk and Agamben consider themselves as diagnostics who can read the signs of the times, and both carry out genealogical and archaeological investigations of the history of the West in order to understand the present. But they also both attempt to give prognostics and engage themselves with challenging and rethinking current conditions. Thus, their critique is not just destructive, but it takes an affirmative form in order to offer an alternative to the present state.
The aim of my project is threefold: I undertake a comparison of religious and political motives in the works of Peter Sloterdijk and Giorgio Agamben in order to be able to investigate which influences and consequences religion have on and for the political aspects of their thinking. Furthermore, I investigate how they both inscribe a soteriological potential in their understanding of the human-being and in continuation thereof advance ideas of alternative community forms as a solution to contemporary challenges. Finally, the comparison of their philosophical projects is also an investigation of two different ways of managing a shared Western intellectual heritage, on the one hand that of the critical tradition as identified and exemplified in and by the works of Michel Foucault; on the other hand, the ontological and existential questions addressed by Martin Heidegger constitute a foundation that none of their respective projects can be thought without.
The research project thus comprises of a mapping, comparison, clarification and analysis of two contemporary positions on the boundary between political philosophy and the philosophy of religion, thus in a broader perspective touching on the role of religion in political philosophy in times of crisis. Simultaneously, the intellectual historical conditions for the positions are being traced and a concept of affirmative critique are being developed. In this way, the project paves the way for a qualified rethinking and revaluation of the foundation of and offered solutions to the present state of the West.