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Secularism Stuck in the End-Times: From Alexandre Kojève to the Recent Messianic Turn

  • Rory Jeffs
Chapter
Part of the Sophia Studies in Cross-cultural Philosophy of Traditions and Cultures book series (SCPT, volume 5)

Abstract

In current Western philosophical discourse, secularism appears to be at a crossroads. There has been much written about the return of religion into politics and the public sphere, as well as the rise of fundamentalism and new spiritualisms. At the same time, there has been a revaluation of political theology and a critical examination of the legacy of secularism, with even the suggestion that we are already in a “post-secular” age. In this article, I argue One of the key model of secularisation that continues to shape such discussions of the topic originates from a framework initiated by the Russian-born French Hegelian Alexandre Kojève. At the centre of Kojève’s interpretation of Georg W.F. Hegel’s philosophical idealism is the doctrine of the end of history, which Francis Fukuyama famously appropriated after the fall of the Berlin Wall. I will propose that there is a thematic thread that runs from Kojève’s controversial yet unique theorisation of the modern secular State as an ‘End-State’ into the recent political messianism of Giorgio Agamben mediated by Carl Schmitt’s political theology. The issue of the relationship between religion and secularism in these discussions concerns the theological remainder that persists in the modern Hegelo-Kojève end of history. Kojève and Agamben’s re-consideration of theology and its anthropological or political “truth” is worthy of attention for raising important questions concerning the spiritual foundation of modern secularism. Despite this importance, I will argue that both sides of this discussion overestimate the significance of a theological-political framework for understanding modern secular life.

Keywords

French Revolution Secular Society Political Theology Secularisation Theorist Religious Philosophy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Humanities and Social SciencesDeakin UniversityBurwoodAustralia

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