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Faith and Philosophy

Volume 17, Issue 4, October 2000

Kant's Philosophy of Religion

James K. A. Smith
Pages 558-571

Re-Kanting Postmodernism?
Derrida’s Religion Within the Limits of Reason Alone

This essay considers the legacy of Kant’s philosophy of religion as appropriated by Jacques Derrida in his recent, “Foi et savoir: les deux sources de la ‘religion’ aux limites de la simple raison.” Derrida’s adoption of this Kantian framework raises the question of how one might describe this as a postmodern account of religion, which in turn raises the question of the relationship between modernity and postmodernity in general, and Derrida’s relationship to Kant in particular. Following an exposition of Derrida’s notion of a formal “ethical” religion as a repetition of Kant’s critique in Religion Within the Limits of Reason Alone, I offer a critique of Derrida’s (and Kant’s) “formalization” of religion and the relationship between faith and reason, arguing that a more persistent postmodernism requires a de-formalization of the modern concern for justice, appreciating its determinate prophetic origin.

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