Is the Return of Religion the Return of Metaphysics? or, the Renewed Spirit of Capitalism in Post-Secular Age

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 10:45
Location: Hörsaal 42 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Sam HAN, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Thinkers associated with deconstruction, including Derrida himself but also Gianni Vattimo and John Caputo, inaugurated the “return of religion” in social theory in the 1990s. Most surprising about this intellectual moment was precisely that thinkers who claimed to partake in the project of ending metaphysics were arguing for the return of something that many would deem as being metaphysical. Of course, for them, the idea was that what was returning was not religion as such but something like “religion without religion,” or “religion without metaphysics.”

In recent years, there has been growing interest in some of the recent heuristics in the fields of “digital religion” and “everyday religion” within the sociology of religion. The net result of this interest has been the broadening of the traditional social scientific definitions of religion beyond belief to include affectivity, sociality (belonging) and experience. I take the significance of these conceptual contributions to the sociology of religion to bear squarely on questions raised earlier by deconstruction regarding religion outside of the bounds of religion. By tying particular studies of contemporary religiosity from digital religion and everyday religion with the larger question of “religion without religion,” I bring to bear these resonant points with parallel developments on secularity and post-secularity. In assessing the major statements in the “post-secular” debates, including Talal Asad, Charles Taylor and Jurgen Habermas, alongside scholarship from “digital religion” and “everyday religion,” this paper goes on to argue that living in a post-secular age can also mean living in amid the “return” of metaphysics, specifically under the regime of what Scott Lash has labeled a “metaphysical capitalism” that demonstrates similar values as contemporary religion.