Can There Be a Theology of Disenchantment? Speculative Realism, Correlationism, and Unbinding the nihil in Tillich

  • Thomas A. James
Part of the Radical Theologies book series (RADT)


Contemporary philosophy seems to be showing signs of dissatisfaction with an agnostic orthodoxy that has been, according to some, all too comfortable for religion. Beginning with what Quentin Meillassoux ironically calls the “Ptolemaic” counterrevolution of Immanuel Kant, and continuing in both continental and Anglo-American contexts in the forms of phenomenology, linguistic analysis, and pragmatism, philosophy in the modern period has in one way or another disavowed knowledge of the “thing-in-itself.”1 New realists, such as Meillassoux, charge that in so doing it has carved out a philosophical niche to shelter some of its most prized notions (God, freedom, and immortality, to recall Kant’s own program) from the withering impact of the properly revolutionary turn in cosmological thinking inaugurated by Copernicus. Meillassoux labels this long-standing philosophical tradition “correlationism,” because it maintains that access to objects as they are in themselves is barred—we have access to objects only as correlates of particular perspectives held by knowing subjects.


Speculative Realism Modern Cosmology Cosmic Evolution Eternal Life Ontic Statement 
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  1. 1.
    Quentin Meillassoux, After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency, trans. Ray Brassier (London: Continuum, 2008), 118.Google Scholar
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    Ray Brassier, Nihil Unbound: Enlightenment and Extinction (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), 223–230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Friedrich Schleiermacher, The Christian Faith, ed. H. R. Mackintosh and J. S. Stewart (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1999), 703–707.Google Scholar
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    Portions of The Divine Existence have been published in Graham Harman, Quentin Meillassoux: Philosophy in the Making (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2011). See Harman, Quentin Meillassoux, 197–193.Google Scholar
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    Douglas Ottati’s theatre analogy seems apt here. The best hope for a broad-way show is not that it should continue forever, but that it have a “good run.” That is, its value and meaning are connected to its having a place in and time in which its value is expressed—not in the idea that place and time will be preserved forever. See Douglas Ottati, Theology for Liberal Protestants, Vol. I: God the Creator (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2013), 228.Google Scholar

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© Russell Re Manning 2015

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  • Thomas A. James

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