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Vattimo, Kenosis and the Philosophy of the Event

Harris, Matthew Edward (2016) Vattimo, Kenosis and the Philosophy of the Event. Doctoral thesis, Staffordshire University.

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Having presented as a Marxist atheist for the previous thirty years, in the 1990s the postmodern philosopher Gianni Vattimo returned to religion. This dissertation analyses and evaluates the kind of religion to which Vattimo has returned, looking in particular at how it relates to his wider philosophical style of ‘weak thought,’ the interpretation of our current situation as one of hermeneutical nihilism in which there are no longer any ‘strong foundations’ such as metaphysics, value-free facts and metanarratives. In particular I look at whether Vattimo has constructed a ‘supersessionist’ religious history in which Christianity is ‘better’ than Judaism, a claim which—if true—would not only be politically incorrect, but also inconsistent with weak thought in that it puts forward a metanarrative of progress away from ‘strong’ biblical literalism associated with Judaism towards the ‘spiritual’ interpretation of Scripture found in postmodernity today, via the ‘liberating’ messages of kenosis and caritas found in Christianity. I argue Vattimo has constructed a ‘weak Hegelian’ narrative and one which, due to his increasing reliance on the work of Thomas Kuhn, can be tempered by an appeal to the ‘incommensurablity’ of paradigms, whereby difference in content is acknowledged although one paradigm (such as Judaism) cannot be regarded as better than another (such as Christianity). To support this interpretation of Vattimo’s ‘return’ to religion I appeal to changes in his view of Christianity since the Millennium in which the ‘unilinear’ history is downplayed in favour of a Gadamerian focus on the importance of the Bible as the source of textual tradition. Nevertheless, I go on to show that while there are resources within his return to religion to counter its critics, the kind of ontology he takes on board with his appeal to Kuhn highlights the larger problem within his philosophy of an increasingly selective reading of his main influence, Heidegger. The selectivity in his reading of Heidegger pertains in the main to his central concept of Being as event, and I show how this has implications for his return to religion in relation to the ideas of transcendence and caritas. Having done this, I construct my own reimagining of Vattimo’s return to religion to keep the spirit of what he has done without the conceptual problems generated from his reading of Heidegger, using Vattimo’s idea of the defining message of the New Testament as God’s newfound announcement of universal ‘friendship’ for all peoples to construct the idea that Philosophy and Theology have inexorably weakened one another through the missionary aspect of ‘friendship’ leading the Apostles to seek out Greeks (philosophers) as well as fellow Jews.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty: Previous Faculty of Arts and Creative Technologies > Journalism, Humanities and Social Sciences
Depositing User: Jeffrey HENSON
Date Deposited: 02 Aug 2016 15:15
Last Modified: 02 Aug 2016 15:32
URI: http://eprints.staffs.ac.uk/id/eprint/2382

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