Suspicion and Faith: The Religious Uses of Modern Atheism / Edition 1

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Marx, Nietzche, and Freud are among the most influential of modern atheists. The distinctive feature of their challenge to theistic and specifically Christian belief is expressed by Paul Ricoeur when he calls them the masters of suspicion.While skepticism directs its critique to the truth or evidential basis of belief, suspicion asks two different, intimately intertwined questions: what are the motives that lead to this belief? and what function does it play, what work does it do for the individuals and communities that adopt it. What suspicion suspects is that the survival value of religious beliefs depends on satisfying desires and interests that the believing soul and the believing community are not eager to acknowledge because they violate the values they profess, as when, for example, talk about justice is a mask for deep-seated resentment and the desire for revenge. For this reason, the hermeneutics of suspicion is a theory, or group of theories, of self-deception: ideology critique in Marx, genealogy in Nietzsche, and psychoanalysis in Freud.Suspicion and Faith argues that the appropriate religious response (the religious uses of modern atheism) to these critiques is not to try to refute or deflect them, but rather to acknowledge their force in a process of self-examination—and this for two reasons. First, while these critiques are not, as Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud tend to suppose.

Are there legitimate uses for atheists' critiques of religion? Westphal says yes, if we take a closer look not at the atheists' arguments against the existence of God, but at their observations about the sometimes disreputable functions of religious practice and belief, as demonstrated in the "atheism of suspicion, " put forth by Freud, Marx, and Nietzsche.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823218769
  • Publisher: Fordham University Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/1998
  • Edition description: 2
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 296
  • Sales rank: 920,374
  • Product dimensions: 8.70 (w) x 5.40 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Merold Westphal is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Fordham University and author of Suspicion and Faith: The Religious Uses of Modern Atheism.

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Table of Contents

I The Hermeneutics of Suspicion
1 Atheism for Lent 3
2 On Learning When Not to Refute Atheism 10
3 Help from Gilbert and Sullivan 18
4 Religious Fictions Too? 25
II Freud and the Psychoanalysis of the Believing Soul
5 Freud's Pessimism 33
6 Freud's Scientism 38
7 Freud's Suspicion I: Dreams and Wish Fulfillment 43
8 Freud's Suspicion II: Doctrines and Wish Fulfillment 50
9 On Remembering When Not to Refute Atheism 55
10 Freud's Suspicion III: Doctrines and Distortion 61
11 The Paranoid Dr. Schreber as Victim 65
12 The Paranoid Dr. Schreber as Redeemer 71
13 The Atheist Dr. Freud as Theologian of Original Sin 77
14 Ceremonial as Defense 83
15 Ceremonial as Compromise 89
16 They Know Not What They Do 96
17 Of Savages and Salieri 103
18 Of Obedience and Sacrifice 110
19 Willful Renunciation and the One-Way Covenant 115
III Marx and the Critique of Religion as Ideology
20 Feuerbach's Bourgeois Atheism 123
21 Feuerbach's Radical Atheism 130
22 Marx's Radical Atheism 134
23 Religion and the Christian State 141
24 Religion and the Secular State 147
25 Marxian Materialism 154
26 Religion as Ideology 159
27 Religion as Critique 166
28 Techniques of Neutralization 172
29 More Techniques of Neutralization 180
30 One Last Technique of Neutralization 186
31 Mixing Religion and Politics 193
32 Who Is the God of the Bible? Ask Pharaoh! 199
33 Third Commandment Idolatry 205
34 A "Marxist" Sermon Against the Baalization of Yahweh 210
IV Nietzsche and the Critique of Religion as Resentment
35 Squintingly Yours, Friedrich Nietzsche 219
36 Distinctively Yours, Friedrich Nietzsche 225
37 The Big Lie 232
38 Jews and Priests 238
39 Glittering Vices 246
40 Justice and the Fascists 252
41 Pity and the Pharisees 259
42 Jesus and the Pharisees I: The Sinners 265
43 Jesus and the Pharisees II: The Sabbath 275
44 In Conclusion: The Dangers of Suspicion 283
Index 291
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