Religion and emancipatory politics (Selyem, Troha)

Chair: Lea Kuhar

The close connection between religion and politics has been emphasized many times throughout the history of political thought. We’re not talking here about some dark medieval times – one need only look at the French revolution to see how even revolutionary historical movements that are generally perceived as secular drew a certain amount of inspiration from ideas which we could characterize as either religious or religiously inspired. Taking a look at the history of leftist theory in the last two hundred years we see how these ideas still persist in some form or the other. On the one hand there were many authors whose works were inspired in different ways by religious thought – for instance Hegel, who wrote that there cannot be a revolution without a prior reformation; Althusser, who moved from an intense involvement in the Catholic church to Marxism; Gramsci, who was fascinated by the institutional structure, ecumenism and proselytism of the Roman-Catholic church, etc.; and on the other hand there were Liberation Theologians who tried to make a final reconciliation between emancipatory politics and religious thought by applying Marxist categories to theology.

Through a theoretical analysis of different yet interconnected themes this panel will try to readdress the relationship between religious and political ideas. We will see how these ideas interact in contemporary political thought while emphasizing the connections between Christianity and leftist thought. We will try to give some perspectives to help us answer the question which are the concepts of religious thought that could still help contemporary political thought in constituting an emancipatory political subject?

Zsuzsa Selyem: Sparrows sold for a penny. Christian views on the emancipatory political subject

My approach to the main topic of the conference will be built around the following questions: What are those Christian concepts, events and actions that can empower a human being to resist the overwhelming, enslaving magic of capital in contemporary society? What are the different Christian official attitudes toward contemporary slavery, wars, corruption and exclusion? What does the “love of the neighbor” mean, and what arguments could be found to be unafraid to unfold the “obscene unwritten rules” (Žižek) of the ruling power and break from the dumb complicity in the various contemporary destructions?

Zsuzsa Selyem (Selyem Zsuzsa) earned her Ph.D in Aesthetics at ELTE Bölcsészettudományi Kar (HU) with specializations in Postmodern Literature and Philosophy of Contemporary Arts. Her current research and publications continues the research on these areas with an emphasis on the social relevance of contemporary literature, Ecocriticism, Gender and Animal Studies.

Tadej Troha: How to produce a miracle?

“I call a miracle anything which appears arduous or unusual, beyond the expectation or ability of the one who marvels at it,” wrote St. Augustine in De utilitate credendi. If we follow St. Augustine and understand a miracle as an excess of appearance over any anticipation of appearance, which cannot be eliminated within the situation in which it appeared, it becomes clear that its early theological definition already included its materialist core, and thereby the reason we should retain its theoretical potential. Yet, since the miracle was irreducible to the sign of God’s existence from the outset, and moreover, since, as a spectacular sign of God’s existence it was also a reticent sign of God’s non-existence, we should move away from the abstract question of whether miracles happen to a question that fully develops the consequence of its atheist premises: how do we produce a miracle?

Tadej Troha is a research Fellow at the Institute of Philosophy of the Scientific Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Science and Arts and a lecturer at the postgraduate school of the same institute. His main research topics are Freudian psychoanalysis, politics and discourse analysis. He is the author of two books: Niti čudež, niti čudež (Analecta, 2010) and Intervencije v nepovratno ( Analecta, 2016).

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