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Difficult Atheism

Post-Theological Thinking in Alain Badiou, Jean-Luc Nancy and Quentin Meillassoux

Christopher Watkin

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Reassesses the term 'atheism' in the context of contemporary French philosophy

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Editor’s Preface
Introduction: Atheisms Today
1. The God of Metaphysics
2. The God of the Poets
3. Difficult Atheism
4. Beyond A/theism? Quentin Meillassoux
5. The Politics of the Post-Theological I: Justifying the Political
6. The Politics of the Post-Theological II: Justice
General Conclusion: How to Follow an ‘Atheism’ That Never Was

About the Author

Christopher Watkin is Senior Lecturer in French Studies at Monash University.


This book is a brilliant presentation of debates between key figures in the recent turn to religion (even in the shape of an insistent atheism or a-theism) in continental philosophy. Chris Watkins positions his work very precisely between philosophies of the finite (Nancy) and of the infinite (Badiou). The author could not have his finger more firmly on the pulse of contemporary discussion of these matters. I cannot think of a book on such difficult material written with more sparkle or clarity.

- David Wood, Centennial Professor of Philosophy, Vanderbilt University

Watkin takes readers on a fascinating journey into contemporary post-theological philosophy. He shows with admirable clarity how each writer articulates a new position beyond the innate problems of parasitism and asceticism. He sharpens focus on post-theological integration, whether in the form of Badiou’s axiomatic atheism, Nancy’s deconstructive antheology, or Meillassoux’s argument that philosophy believes in God because God does not exist. As Watkin proves quite brilliantly, atheism is not as easy as it seems. Summing up: Recommended.

- C. B. Kerr, Vassar College, Choice

The book is filled with subtle and complex commentaries to which no review can do justice. Difficult Atheism represents a sophisticated contribution to the debates that have arisen in the wake of the 'theological turn', and it merits careful study by anyone interested in these issues.

- John D. Caputo, Syracuse University and Villanova University, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

Watkin accomplishes a daunting task in this book, managing to summarize and explain some of the most complicated, complicating works we have from these thinkers while at the same time issuing forth his own provocative thesis, thus finding points of commonality in unlikely places. He has raised the bar on post-theological philosophy, demanding more than a mere emptying of God's place, more than a weak imitation of religion, but rather a full-throated and unapologetic philosophy that provides us with all God used to, without the cost.

- Christina Smerick, Greenville College, Derrida Today

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