Simon Critchley has secured his standing as an eminent philosopher working in the Continental tradition, and I was expecting great things from his most recent book, The Faith of the Faithless.
However one feels as though his reputation has got the better of him: the book is in dreadful need of editing. The prose is clumsy, but not in the kind of meandering dialectical thinking we expect from the likes of Slavoj Zizek. Critchley seems not quite in control of his material, and as such resorts to bullet points, and tedious "flagging" of his argument ("I have said this, now I will say this"). These, rather than providing clarity, prove irritating and, I think, betray haste of production.
Beside the issues I have with stylistics, however, the work is extremely interesting. When Critchley remains firmly within his native topics (ethics, Derrida, Heidegger) he is convincing. Straying into theology, politics or "political theology", Critchley begins to reveal fundamental cracks in his reading.
It's an ambitious book, featuring a [somewhat too] lengthy chapter on Rousseau, which makes some compelling and learned points about the ontological foundations of polity. Yet overall the book seems to lack a point, which is to say that one is never sure what Critchley makes of his own arguments. It feels in part more like a collection of essays, yet their collation here - suggesting implicating concerns - is not convincing.
Over the last few decades Critchley has proven himself an adept scholar of Continental philosophy, yet his move towards the "religious turn" sees Critchley perilously out of his comfort zone. I hope the next turn is back towards Derrida and Levinas.