"Everything to be true must become a religion" said Oscar Wilde, and The Faith of the Faithless, Simon Critchley's examination of the importance of religion to the irreligious, builds upon this maxim to produce a political theology that "calls not for our "passive resignation from the world", but for "the urgency of active commitment"", according to Tom Cutterham in the Oxonian Review.
Recognising the contemporary shift of political philosophers towards the "return to religion", Critchley provides a nuanced account, offering no easy answers to the question of an ethical engagement with the political imperative.
Still, says Cutterham, the nuance complements a precise ethical position: a stand against violence and terror as political activity, as expoused by Slavoj Zizek:
again and again in [The] Faith of the Faithless, he points out and rejects the desire for a messianic rupture, an "event", an "exception" that will answer this infinite demand with a divine violence or an absolute newness.
In his recent review of Simon's Critchley's "movingly optimistic" new book for the Guardian, Stuart Kelly finds a work detailing new possibilities for an "anarchism of responsibility", skipping from Rousseau to Zizek, touching upon Agamben, St Paul and Schmitt upon the way. Focusing on the process of modernity as a reformulation of sacralisations, Critchley's book is less of a development of a position as a series of "variations on a theme":
The chapters of this new book do not establish and develop an argument. Instead, they parry and complement each other; it is better to think of them as symphonic movements.
In a recent feature for Mute, David Morris puts artist Alfredo Jaar, with whom Verso collaborated for his Marx Lounge at the Liverpool Biennial and the cover of The Emancipated Spectator, and author of Infinitely Demanding, Simon Critchley in dialogue. They discuss art, philosophy, and their responses to the recent spectacles of violence, destruction and hope, in particular the revolts of the Arab world and the naturo-nuclear disaster in Japan. The conversation will be on-going.