The new issue of Telos* includes 2 or 3 papers of interest to Fb readers, including one by my Emory colleague Tom Flynn Thomas Lynch. From Berman’s editorial, which focuses on the role and position of critical theory, and the question of whether it has a renewed position if the state is back and neoliberalism on the retreat a bit:
A set of three essays leads through a discussion of religion, a topic that has emerged as a no longer secret focus of Critical Theory. Jean-Michel Landry provides an astute account of Michel Foucault’s unpublished 1980 lectures On the Government of the Living. In effect a foundation to the History of Sexuality, the lectures interrogate the origins of Western subjectivity through Christianity and its various disciplinary practices, in particular confession: “By demanding that the Christian speak the truth about himself, he is forced on a quest that can only be undertaken from a position that brings him into subjection—since the relationship of the subject to his own ‘truth’ is mediated by an Other, and this Other requires submission and dependency. Behind confession lies a political technology of obedience.” Foucault treats Christianity as exclusively a mechanism of domination that becomes the foundation of modern structures of political control, even or especially when they come in secular garb. To all this Thomas Lynch presents a robust response. The notion that modern technologies of power derive directly from early Christianity turns out to be difficult to maintain. More importantly, as Lynch shows, Foucault misunderstood the monastic culture in which practices of confession emerged and which, rather than representing abject submission, indicated a “striving for a special excellence” (in Elizabeth Clark’s words). While Lynch concedes that Christianity can participate in structures of domination, it can—drawing on Augustine and other traditions—also provide a source for a critique of domination: “Christianity affirms a notion of the self and its corresponding disciplines that refuses coercive domination and rejects the disciplines of structures that cannot conceive of discipline in any other way.” Aaron Riches concludes the religion discussion, proceeding from an exchange between Carl Schmitt and Jacob Taubes and into an elaboration of the Pauline theology of law and its suspension. Riches argues that the critique of law, directed against both Torah and the imperial Lex, should be reduced neither to an antinomian canceling of law nor to a state of exception. Instead, following Taubes’s lead, he describes an alternative account of law compatible with messianic love.
GSU doesn’t subscribe online so haven’t seen the articles. In fact, the library is axing nearly 800 journals in an effort to save $400,000–including the print edition of Telos, which will save $202.
Sad. How can we do any research?
Filed under: Uncategorized