January 10, 2011
'Materialism just isn't what it used to be. Nowadays everyone wants to be a materialist, even the theologians, while the materialists want to look like they lead a spiritual life'
Kaksi selventävää kommenttia Zizekiltä po. kirjasta
[Viimeisin K-mafian tekemä korjaus 11.1]
Tässä kuusi ensimmäistä kappaletta arvostelusta koskien kirjaa Slavoj Žižek and John Milbank, The Monstrosity of Christ: Paradox or Dialectic?, Creston Davis (ed.), MIT Press, 2009, 312pp - reviewed by John D. Caputo, Syracuse University. - [University of Notre Dame - Philosophical Reviews - ks. linkki].
Alkukappaleet antavat tiivistetyn katsauksen sekä nykypäivän ei-reduktionistiseen materialismiin että etenkin Slavoj Zizekin 'materialistiseen teologiaan/teologiseen materialismiin', jonka perustana on tietenkin Hegelin filosofia ja uskonnonfilosofia erityisesti.- [Huomaa Zizekin radikaalisti uudelleen tulkitsema negaation negaatio eli säilyttävä kumoaminen. Aufhebung positiivisena synteesinä muuttuu negaation negaation entistä pidemmälle viedyksi reaalisen 'katsomiseksi' [Lacanin Real mutta myös Nietzschen 'kuilu'].
Zizekin ja Milbankin dialogi on mainio esimerkki siitä 'teologisesta käänteestä', joka on tapahtunut viimeisten 10-15-vuoden aikana eurooppalaisten intellektuellien keskuudessa, ja jossa Zizek on ollut mukana koko 2000-luvun ajan [uusi kirja aiheesta on juuri ilmestynyt - Paul's New Moment: Continental Philosophy and the Future of Christian Theology, Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press (yhdessä Creston Davisin ja John Milbankin kanssa), 2010]
Kun lukee Caputon filosofisesti kovatasoisen artikkelin [ja mieluummin koko kirjan, josta Zizekin osuus on melkein 2/3], tiedostaa entistä selkeämmin, mikä on paitsi Zizekin myös Euroopan filosofisen keskustelun kuuminta hottia.
Kyseinen aihe on saanut tilaa myös USA:ssa, joskin sen luultavasti terävin kulttuuri- ja kirjallis-filosofinen edustaja, teologi D.B. Hart [ei suinkaan esim. Daniel Dennet! Esko Valtaoja ei näköjään ole vieläkään päässyt irti maagisesta materialismista] asettunee yleisesti ottaen Milbankin tomistisille linjoille, jossa tehdään hyvin olennainen ero sekulaarin ja teologisen etiikan välille (Hart'in kuitenkin tukeutuessa pääasiallisesti vanhan kirkon itäiseen traditioon), tosin konservatiivisemmista ja klassisistisimmista lähtökohdista [Hart on koulutukseltaan paitsi teologi myös klassinen filologi kuten Nietzsche].
Eurooppalainen ja anglo-amerikkalainen keskustelu aiheesta eroavat siinä mielessä, että nimenomaan euroopplaiset filosofit [Levinas ja Derrida juutalaisine 'Toisen/toiseuden etiikka-uskontoineen' ja heitä kritisoiden Badiou] tekivät siitä alunperinkin sekä metafyysisen että kulttuurifilosofisen debatin, kun taas Dawkins, Dennet ja muut uusateistit ovat keskittyneet lähinnä uskontojen selittämiseen 'pois päiväjärjestyksestä', kun taas Zizek ja kump. ottavat teologian nimenomaan takaisin tähän 'järjestykseen', vaikka useimmat filosofit [kuten Zizek] ateisteja ovatkin.
Modernin fysiikan uusi käsitys materiasta on saanut aikaan monenlaisia reaktioita myös filosofisella kentällä [kuten imaginaaris-metaforista sekaannusta immanenssin logiikassa idealismin ja materialismin suhteen: Deleuzen nietzscheläinen spinozalaisuus fantastisimmillaan], mutta nimenomaan teologian ja uuden filosofisen materialismin keskinäisen kommunikaation revival - ylipäätään filosofian tunkeutuminen teologian alueelle on 'Tapahtuma', jonka tyyppistä ei liene nähty/koettu sitten skolastiikan, jossa teologia alunperin tunkeutui filosofiaan - [kuten myöhäis-antiikissakin, jonka teoreettinen (ja teologiseen umpikujaan johtanut: areiolais-kiista) viitekehys oli platoninen, kun taas skolastiikan Filosofi oli Aristoteles (jonka deismissä ja konseptualismissa kuitenkin iti Duns Scotuksen (Milbankin 'pahis') sekä lopulta Ockhamin kautta nominalismi ja siten myös voluntaristinen nihilismi); tosin ('sovelletun') uusplatonismin vaikutus oli merkittävä molempina aikoina - esim. Augustinuksella mutta myös Tuomas Akvinolaisella (Dionysos Areiopagitan kautta)].
Materialism just isn't what it used to be. Nowadays everyone wants to be a materialist, even the theologians, while the materialists want to look like they lead a spiritual life. The battle that is joined today is no longer between materialism and idealism, or hard-nosed Newtonians and far out spirit-seers, but between "materialist materialism" and "theological materialism", between crude soulless materialism and materialism with spirit, a materialism of the spirit, a religious materialism (93). "Materialist materialism is simply not as materialist as theological materialism", says John Milbank, the leading Anglo-Catholic theologian of the day, in this published debate with Slavoj Žižek, a Lacanian neo-Marxist writer and something of a Slovenian philosophical sensation in the Anglophone world (206). Theological materialism goes back to Christology, the materialism of the Logos made matter, in which matter really matters. Žižek would agree, but he would stand this statement on its head in a resuscitated and refashioned neo-Hegelian death of God theology. The debate that unfolds is strikingly Christological, in which both parties agree that Christianity is the absolute truth (Hegel), where Milbank takes his Christology straight up (treating Žižek's as a "counterfeit") and Žižek takes his on the rocks (treating Milbank's version as "imaginary" (153, 245). The book is a splendid condensation and cross section of a contemporary debate between writers who seek to position themselves beyond the postmodernism or poststructuralism that dominated the last few decades of European thought. Whatever one thinks of the views of Milbank or Žižek, we may be very grateful to editor Creston Davis for crafting such a first rate exchange.
Milbank, an Anglican theologian who started out in Theology and Social Theory (1990) offering a robust defense of the Christian "meta-discourse", now thinks the best defense for materialism lies in "metaphysics", in nothing less than the Christian metaphysics of St. Thomas, the venerable metaphysics of analogy and the participation of being first restored to a place of honor in Catholicism by Pope Leo XIII. For Milbank, to embrace materialism materialistically is to embrace matter in itself, and that is nothing but nihilism. For the material world in itself, apart from God, is nothing at all. To embrace materialism theologically, however, is to see the material world as a created share and reflection of the goodness and glory of God, just as Christ, who did not think equality with God something to cling to, embraced the domain of fleshy matter even unto death. But it is precisely Christ, and the death of Christ, which Žižek seizes upon and presses to the end. Following Hegel, Žižek denies the distinction between the immanent and economic Trinity, between the generation of the Son and the creation of the world. For him, the absolute in itself (Father) negates itself in order to empty itself without remainder into the world (Son), of which the Christ is a singular sign, constituting a kind of first death or kenotic emptying of the Father/God. That negation is in turn negated in the Crucifixion, in which nothing less than the God(-man) himself dies, which allows the emergence of the collective "spirit". The supreme moment of dark lucidity is Jesus's lament "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" At that point, the horizon is wiped out, and the cold black truth is exposed that no one (save ourselves) is coming over the horizon to save us, that we are sustained by no overarching cosmic support. We are on our own. Just as in psychoanalysis, Žižek says elsewhere, the treatment is over when the patient realizes there is no "Big Other" (God or Man, Nation or Party, Father or Big Brother, Lacan's symbolic order or what Derrida called the "transcendental signifier").
The odd title of the book, which proffers a new Christological title ("monstrosity"), goes back to a line from Hegel's lectures on the philosophy of religion describing the expression "God-man" as a "monstrous compound" (74). For Milbank this means that Christ represents a magnificent monstration of God's love for the world, which takes the form of the excessive "paradox" of God-made-man. For Žižek, it means that Christ is the monstrous moment of the death on the cross in which God himself loses faith and confesses the death of God, which is the theological result demanded by the "dialectic". So the whole book unfolds as a theological and Christological bidding war aimed at deciding whether paradox or dialectic holds the most chips when it comes to making matter matter more. In this corner Milbank's radically orthodox theology with a straight face, in that corner Žižek's radically ironic, heterodox and subversive theology. Žižek has to work harder because the match takes place in the theologian's ring. But Žižek is undaunted; he is used to being the visiting team and knows no limit to the cultural material he will address. Žižek's readings of G. K. Chesterton and Meister Eckhart, of the Trinity and the Incarnation, are obviously more eccentric than those of Milbank, who clearly holds the home field advantage.
Significantly the debate is not between theology and anti-theology. That is a sign of the times, of a "theological turn" among European intellectuals, even of the most hardened neo-Marxist sort, all of whom turn to theology for help in addressing basic questions in ontology and political theory. This turn cuts a wide swath, including Jewish post-structuralist figures like Emmanuel Levinas and Jacques Derrida (on the "wholly other", tout autre), the "saturated phenomenology" of the Catholic Jean-Luc Marion, and the controversial interpretation of St. Paul by neo-Marxist Alain Badiou, which drew Giorgio Agamben and Žižek into the debate. Although it would make Žižek and (less so) Milbank uncomfortable to say so, there is nothing else to call this turn but "postmodern", if postmodernism means a recognition of hybridity, a weakening of rigid modernist binarities like matter/spirit, faith/reason, objective/subjective, philosophy/theology. Their debate is whether this hybrid monster is to be interpreted dialectically or analogically. Of course, for the most part these authors cannot think of things mean enough to say about postmodernism, which they both regard as a spineless and indecisive compromise with late capitalism, pluralism and liberal individualism. On their telling, postmodernism means that Platonic truth collapses into relativistic "conversation", decision dissolves into a pool of undecidability, genuine political action into political correctness, and love into sexual libertinism. In this regard, whatever their differences, both authors ride a high theological horse. Both love G. K. Chesterton's old chestnuts about orthodoxy offering the most radical revolution, or about past papal censures of scientific research providing reason its best protection. That produces some more monsters: Milbank (an Anglican) is happy to invoke the Pope to counter the Reformation and Žižek happily calls himself a Stalinist to counter democracy; Milbank defends "Red Toryism" and pleads that paternalism has its bright side and Žižek wants us to see the rose in the cross of an "austere socialist dictatorship" (292). That leaves their readers to decide just how much they actually mean these things, and just how much we should love these monsters.
The core theoretical debate in this book goes back to Hegel, about which Milbank and Žižek share considerable agreement. For Hegel, the fundamental motor of time and becoming is dialectical reconciliation of the members of a binary oppositional pair in virtue of which each one tends to pass into the other on a higher level. But Žižek rejects Hegel's invocation of "reconciliation" of opposites in a happier harmony. For Žižek the next step, the negation of the negation, does not mean a step up (aufheben) to a higher plane of unity but instead a more radically negative negation in which we are led to see that this mutual antagonism is all there is and that we are going to have to work through it. The unreconciled is real and the real is unreconciled. The only reconciliation is to reconcile ourselves to the irreconcilable, to admit that there is no reconciliation, and to come to grips with it. The negation of the negation leaves us with a deeper negation, not with an affirmation. It is not that the spirit is first whole, then wounded, then healed; rather such healing as is available to it comes by getting rid of the idea of being whole to begin with. The antithesis is already the synthesis (72). Žižek seeks thereby to relieve us of what he regards as a "scarecrow" Hegel, where a reconciliation is all the while going on up above, in a higher "Mega-subject" called the "Spirit" which works its wily ways through individual empirical subjects all in the name of the necessary unfolding of Reason (26, 60-61). The "totalizing" Hegel criticized by postmodernists is completely apocryphal and makes a mockery of Hegel's respect for contingency and individuality. In its place, Žižek sees an owl-of-Minerva Hegel who describes an after-the-fact rationale for what has in fact unfolded contingently, whose genius lay in his Monday morning quarterbacking, his gift of finding a pattern in contingency, while conceding that a good deal of blood was spilled in the process (246-47). Far from describing the movements of a Super-Subject-Spirit, Hegel confronts us with the cold and merciless realization that things are what they are, where instead of infusing the real with the rational, the rational is reduced to the real, to the realization that we are the only ones who know we are here and as for us, we are on our own.
This is a ruthless demythologization of Hegel's Spirit. The Spirit is a "virtual" community, by which Žižek does not mean an "online" but an imaginary community, individuals bound together by their "subjective presuppositions", which they discover they themselves have posited to begin with. But instead of a simple "positing", which is something purely subjective (that is as far as Feuerbach got), Žižek offers the notion of a contingent multitude that organizes itself and self-mediates, engendering and positing its own immanent necessity. It retroactively posits its own essence or presuppositions. The subject sees it has itself posited what appears to it as its own presuppositions (76). Rather than saying that individuals organize themselves immediately into collectivities, Žižek describes a transubjective "it" that organizes itself. That requires a "mediator", some singular individual -- like the King, the Leader, or Christ, each of whom is a monstrous compound of some sort. This individual is not just a miserable man, but a King, His Majesty, or the Son of God, etc., whose role is to provide a mediation between the individuals and the collectivity, the existential occasion (the "event") upon which something gets itself organized in us. The result is that there is neither a mere assemblage of atomic individuals, as in liberal individualism, nor an absolute Mega-Spirit, as in Stalinism or Nazism, where there are no individuals, just the Party or the "Big Other". Liberal Individualism and Stalinism are the recto and the verso of each other; what they both lack is the auto-organizing or auto-emergent collectivity, which is a necessity recognized after the fact (76-78). The necessity is not just lying there waiting to be discovered by us, as in a pre-critical idea of truth, but constitutes our way to truth, which is part of the truth process itself. Our discovery of eternal truth generates eternal truth, as a retroactive appearance or constitution of necessity (78). We construct what we discover; we produce what organizes us.
Seuraavissa kappaleissa Caputo [amerikkalainen filosofi, joka tuntee varsin hyvin eurooppalaista ajattelua] esittelee tarkemmin Milbankin näkemyksiä teemasta, pohtii hänen ja Zizekin peruseroavuuksia ja tekee lopuksi omaa yhteenvetoa, joka edustaa ns. 'heikkoa teologiaa' - Gianni Vattimon heikon ajattelun [ontologian heikentymisen aikana] hengessä.
http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2010/07/20/2959228.htm - [tästä linkistä saa 'puraisun' Milbankin ajattelutavoista]