Apr 17, 2008

Slavoj Zizek - Hegel - Chesterton: German Idealism and Christianity


According to a commonplace, Judaism (and Islam) is a "pure" monotheism, while Christianity, with its Trinity, is a compromise with polytheism; Hegel even designates Islam as THE "religion of sublimity" at its purest, as the universalization of the Jewish monotheism:

"In Mohammedanism the limited principle of the Jews is expanded into universality and thereby overcome. Here, God is no longer, as with the Asiatics, contemplated as existent in immediately sensuous mode but is apprehended as the one infinite sublime Power beyond all the multiplicity of the world. Mohammedanism is, therefore, in the strictest sense of the world, the religion of sublimity."1

This, perhaps, explains why there is so much anti-Semitism in Islam: because of the extreme proximity of the two religions. In Hegelese, in Judaism, Islam encounters ITSELF in its "oppositional determination," in the mode of particularity. Against this, one should argue that it is Judaism which is an "abstract negation" of polytheism and, as such, still haunted by it (Jehovah - plural; do not celebrate other gods IN FRONT OF ME; etc.), while Christianity is the only TRUE monotheism, since it includes self-differentiation into the One - its lesson is that, in order to have truly One, you need THREE. Here Hegel's logic of triads gets stuck into a deadlock: the triad that offers itself is that of Judaism - Christianity - Islam: first the immediate/abstract monotheism which, as the price to be paid for its immediate character, has to be embodied in a particular ethnic group (which is why Jews renounce all proselytism); then Christianity; then Islam, the only TRUE universal monotheism. What would be an alternative here?

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