The debate over the place of religion in secular, democratic societies dominates philosophical and intellectual discourse. These arguments often polarize around simplistic reductions, making efforts at reconciliation impossible. Yet more rational stances do exist, positions that broker a peace between relativism and religion in people's public, private, and ethical lives.
Christianity, Truth, and Weakening Faith advances just such a dialogue, featuring the collaboration of two major philosophers known for their progressive approach to this issue. Seeking unity over difference, Gianni Vattimo and René Girard turn to Max Weber, Eric Auerbach, and Marcel Gauchet, among others, in their exploration of truth and liberty, relativism and faith, and the tensions of a world filled with new forms of religiously inspired violence.
Vattimo and Girard ultimately conclude that secularism and the involvement (or lack thereof) of religion in governance are, in essence, produced by Christianity. In other words, Christianity is "the religion of the exit from religion," and democracy, civil rights, the free market, and individual freedoms are all facilitated by Christian culture. Through an exchange that is both intimate and enlightening, Vattimo and Girard share their unparalleled insight into the relationships among religion, modernity, and the role of Christianity, especially as it exists in our multicultural world.
Christianity, Truth, and Weakening Faith truly marks an important set of occasions in which two of today's most prominent and perhaps controversial thinkers on Christianity engage each other's thoughts. The glaring question is: How could such a dialogue not set into violent conflict the factual approach of the anthropologist Girard and the hermeneutic approach of the nihilist Vattimo? It seems that the real success of the editor is his understanding that these thinkers already share much and have interests and methods that greatly complementand even supporteach other.
Robert T. Valgenti, Lebanon Valley College
Rich, difficult, fascinating, and provocative reading on Christianity and culture from two of the new Europe's leading eggheads.
Note on the Text
Introduction, by Pierpaolo Antonello
1. Christianity and Modernity, by Gianni Vattimo and René Girard
2. Faith and Relativism, by Gianni Vattimo and René Girard
3. Hermeneutics, Authority, Tradition, by Gianni Vattimo and René Girard
4. Heidegger and Girard: Kénosis and the End of Metaphysics, by Gianni Vattimo
5. Not Just Interpretations, There Are Facts, Too, by René Girard