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Acts of Religion Hardcover – 13 Dec 2001

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Review

'It is a very significant contribution because it enables the reader to know Derrida's personal views, opinions, values, reflections, and judgments on many topics philosophical, religious, and humanistic...Highly recommended for graduate students and scholars of Derrida.' - R. Puligandla, emeritus, University of Toledo

'This important collection of essays traces the development of Derrida's long-standing interest in religion into a virtual obsession. In ways difficult to calculate Derrida has become one of the most provocative 'religious' thinkers of our time. Gil Anidjar's fine translation and remarkable introduction show not only the philosophical and theological importance but also the social, political and even economic implications of Derrida's reflections on religion.' - Mark C. Taylor, author of The Moment of Complexity: Emerging Network Culture and Grave Matters

'The most important publication in the area of deconstruction and theology this year ... indispensible reading for the many scholars working in this area.' - Critical and Cultural Theory

About the Author

Jacques Derrida teaches at the École des Hautes Études in Paris, at the University of California, Irvine, New York University, and the New School for Social Research. He is the author of more than 30 books including Acts of Literature and Specters of Marx, both published by Routledge. Gil Anidjar is Assistant Professor in the Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures at Columbia University.

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Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Significant Philosophical / Religious Touchstone 24 Oct. 2005
By Douglas H. Hunter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This collection of Derrida's essays is impressive for its scope and intellectual utility. The writings cover a wide range of Derrida's various themes and modes from his more poetic and challenging 'A Silkworm of One's Own', to 'Faith and Knowledge' that consists of a long series of point emanating from his reading of Kant's essay Religion at the Limits of Reason Alone; to 'Force of Law' a text constructed from the transcript of a spoken address and a written text, that together elaborate the affinity between, or the possibility of deconstruction and Justice, or deconstruction as justice if you like.

Acts of Religion: A title that those familiar with Derrida's work may find questionable. After all he was open about his relation to religion, "[it is] foreign to me . . . My atheism develops in the churches, all the churches . . ." Yet, the word 'acts' suggests an interiority, that Derrida participates within religion. But these essays are often conspicuous for the way they are able to address religion, even to use scripture, in a way that avoids just this type of interiority. Derrida's great distance from religion, its institutions, and from faith, will be evident to any reader who approaches the text from a point of view informed by religious practice. This is not a criticism by any means for Derrida's writings are seriously engaged with, perhaps even enchanted by philosophical themes that are essential to religion. Thus, these texts will be most appreciated by readers whose point of view is dynamic enough to encompass both post-structural thought, and their own personal faith. For such readers these essays suggest a project, a re-reading and re-engagement with religious texts that is of value exactly for its distance from the a priori that our religious affiliations ask us bring to the reading of scripture.

I found 'Force of Law' to be of particular benefit in this regard. It addresses the conditions of possibility of justice, its relation to deconstruction, to enforcement and to the founding violence that institutes the law in a way that has two distinct trajectories.

The first is indeed religious, in that it offers a frame of reference with which to challenge the institutionalized notions of God's law, justice, and agency found in Christianity, and other monotheisms. For this challenge to take the form of a violence in which secular philosophy is used to "disprove" or "discredit" religious faith would miss the point. Rather, 'Force of Law' offers the reader a way of examining the ways that political ideology is often conflated with religious ideology, or a way of facing (not without some fear) the difficulties and inconsistencies found in religious interpretations / constructions of law and justice found in sacred texts.

The second trajectory is societal and significant to where we find ourselves in America today. Events occurring now (in 2005) show that America is indeed in something of a crisis: judicial, religious, and in terms of human rights. The level of public discourse concerning the appointing of new justices to the Supreme Court, and judicial interpretive methodology is painfully low, and seems to be divorced from or ignorant of the potentials of justice. Religion in America today is more a matter of politics than of our experience of the Devine, or comitment to the highest ethical/spiritual ideals. Human rights in regards to international immigration, the treatment of prisoners of war, and civilians in military conflict have been seriously undermined. By pointing to this obvious crisis, I don't want to overstate this collection's direct political appeal, Derrida is often working in a realm that confounds the desire for simple pragmatics, although a few essays such as 'Taking a Stand for Algeria' and 'Hospitality' certainly have a political drive.

In the end Acts of Religion is a complex, and rewarding philosophical text. I believe it offers a place of refuge to intellectuals involved in both post-structural and religious thought, who are looking to be challenged by a thinker working across a broad range of themes that are both very old and yet still significant today. Its is Derrida's gift to present them in a vital and energetic manner.
0 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good book if you're into this sort of thing 23 Nov. 2014
By NATHANIEL RIDER - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
continental philosophy isn't for the realists out there. While JD does make some interesting points, like the rest of the deconstructionists it's a lot of claiming without a lot of proving.
5 of 116 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Derrida Not Dead Another Death 3 Aug. 2006
By Oslerp Jargo - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Derrida, who passed away on Oct 10 2004. His last thoughts were to his dearly departed friend, Giles de Leuze. Most of you know that the Oxford philosophical committee wanted to reject him for an honorary award, because they considered his "work" "useless". It is precisely because of Derrida that one was able to question and in this subtle work he traces the steps of "Igmar", who was a religious fanatic who existed in 700 AD with a large following in Persia. Devotees were said to wrap used loin clothes around their head and weep to an ancient statue which was later discovered to be a sign post.
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