Chomsky and Religion
In his 2007 book, A Secular Age, Charles Taylor describes the philosophical and moral terrain of the modern world as a collision among three broad camps: (1) secular or ‘exclusive humanists’, (2) postmodern or ‘neo-Nietzschean’ anti-humanists, and (3) ‘acknowledgers of transcendence’ (pp. 636–637). One intriguing feature of this struggle, Taylor writes, is the fact that any two parties will always ‘gang up against the third on some important issue’ (p. 636). Exclusive humanists—continuing the Enlightenment project of advancing a politics and ethics within an entirely disenchanted or immanent frame—stand united with neo-Nietzscheans in their opposition to religious ways of thinking and in their goal of liberating society ‘from the illusion of a good beyond life’, relegating ideas of transcendence ‘to the status of past illusion’ (p. 637). Yet it turns out that the ‘camp of unbelief is deeply divided—about the nature of humanism, and more radically, about its value’ (p. 636). Anti-humanists (who Taylor believes have exercised a more powerful influence on history and culture over the past century than many individuals realize) have levelled an ‘immanent counter-Enlightenment’ critique of liberal conceptions of human nature and rights, which they describe as oppressive forms of essentialism and masks for sheer power objectives.
KeywordsHuman Nature Historical Context Human Dignity Irrational Belief Religious Faith
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- Asad, T. (2006) ‘The Construction of Religion as an Anthropological Category’, in Kunin, Seth D. (ed.) Theories of Religion: A Reader. New Brunswick: Rutgers University.Google Scholar
- Assman, J. (2008) Of God and Gods: Egypt, Israel, and the Rise of Monotheism. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.Google Scholar
- Barsky, R. (1997) Noam Chomsky: A Life of Dissent. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Brueggemann, W. (2009) Divine Presence amid Violence: Contextualizing the Book of Joshua. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books.Google Scholar
- Cavanaugh, W. (2002) Theopolitical Imagination: Discovering the Liturgy as a Political Act in an Age of Global Consumerism. New York: T & T Clark.Google Scholar
- Chomsky, N. (1969) American Power and the New Mandarins. New York: The New Press.Google Scholar
- Chomsky, N. (1970) For Reasons of State. New York: The New Press.Google Scholar
- Chomsky, N. (1987) The Chomsky Reader, ed. James Peck. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
- Chomsky, N. (1992) Interview with David Barsamian in Noam Chomsky: Chronicles of Dissent. Stirling: A.K. Press.Google Scholar
- Chomsky, N. (1995) Transcript from an America Online chat, on the web at: http://www.chomskyinfo/interviews/1990.html.Google Scholar
- Chomsky, N. (1996) Powers and Prospects: Reflections on Human Nature and the Social Order. London: Pluto Press.Google Scholar
- Chomsky, N. (1998) ‘Just Intuition?: Jim Skillen and Michelle Voll Talk to Noam Chomsky’, Third Way, 20 (10).Google Scholar
- Chomsky, N. (1998b) On Language. New York: The New Press.Google Scholar
- Chomsky, N. (1999) Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel, and the Palestinians. Cambridge: South End Press.Google Scholar
- Chomsky, N. (2002) Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky, eds. Peter R. Mitchell and John Schoeffel. New York: The New Press.Google Scholar
- Chomsky, N. (2004a) ‘Interviewed by Shawn Wallace’, Final Edition, vol. 1 (No. 1).Google Scholar
- Chomsky, N. (2004b) Language and Politics, ed. Otero, C. P. Oakland: AK Press.Google Scholar
- Chomsky, N. (2005) Interview with David Jay Brown in Conversations on the Edge of the Apocalypse: Contemplating the Future with Noam Chomsky, George Carlin, Deepak Chopra, Rupert Sheldrake and Others. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
- Chomsky, N. & Michel Foucault (2006) The Chomsky-Foucault Debate on Human Nature. New York: The New Press.Google Scholar
- Chomsky, N. (2007) ‘Interview with Amina Chaudary’, Islamica Magazine, No. 19 (April–May), on the web at: http://www.chomsky.info/interviews/200704--.htm.
- Chomsky, N. (2009) ‘Interview with William Crawley’, 25 October, on the web at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/legacy/ni/2009/10/chomsky_on_religion_and_the_et.html.
- Chomsky, N. (2010) ‘Interview with David Samuels’, Tablet, 12 November, on the web at: http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/50260/qa-noam-chomsky.
- Edgley, A. (2004) The Social and Political Thought of Noam Chomsky. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Eller, V. (1987) Christian Anarchy: Jesus’ Primacy over the Powers. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.Google Scholar
- Ellis, Marc H. (2012) ‘Exile and the Prophetic: Chomksy and the Epic Battle between Jewish Empire and the Jewish Prophetic’, 25 October, on the web at: http://mondoweiss.net/2012/10/exile-and-the-prophetic-chomsky-and-the-epic-battle-between-jewish-empire-and-the-jewish-prophetic.
- Ellul, J. (1991) Anarchy and Christianity. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.Google Scholar
- Finkelstein, N. (2010) ‘A Chomsky Interview Worth Reading’, 20 November, on the web at: http://normanfinkelstein.com/2010/11/20/a-chomsky-interview-worth-reading.
- Fitzgerald, T. (1999) The Ideology of Religious Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Habermas, J. (2010) An Awareness of What Is Missing: Faith and Reason in a Post-Secular Age. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
- Hopgood, S. (2013) The Endtimes of Human Rights. Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
- Hopgood, S. (2014) ‘The End of Human Rights’, Washington Post, 3 January, on the web at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-end-of-human-rights/2014/01/03/7f8fa83c-6742-11e3-ae56-22de072140a2_story.html.
- Iskandar, A. (2010) ‘Ch. 22: The Incalculable Loss: Conversations with Noam Chomsky’, in Iskandar, A. and Rustom, H. (eds.) Edward Said: A Legacy of Emancipation and Representation. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
- Jacob, P. (2010) ‘Ch.10: The Scope and Limits of Chomsky’s Naturalism’, in Jean Bricmont and Julie Franck (eds.) Chomsky Notebook. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
- King, R. (2007) ‘The Association of “Religion” with Violence: Reflections on a Modern Trope’, in John R. Hinnells and Richard King (eds.) Religion and Violence in South Asia: Theory and Practice. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Lean, N. (2013) ‘Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens: New Atheists Flirt with Islamophobia’, Salon.com, 30 March, on the web at: http://www.salon.com/2013/03/30/dawkins_harris_hitchens_new_atheists_flirt_with_islamophobia/
- MacIntyre, A. (1968) Marxism and Christianity. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press.Google Scholar
- Marvin, C. & Ingle, D. (1999) Blood Sacrifice and the Nation: Totem Rituals and the American Flag. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Marx, K. (1982) Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, ed. Joseph O’Malley. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Milbank, J. (1990) Theology and Social Theory: Beyond Secular Reason. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
- Miller, J. (1993) The Passion of Michel Foucault. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Osborn, R. (2010) Anarchy and Apocalypse: Essays on Faith, Violence, and Theodicy. Eugene: Cascade Books.Google Scholar
- Paine, T. (1987) The Thomas Paine Reader, eds. Michael Foot and Isaac Kramnick. London: Penguin Classics.Google Scholar
- Rachels, J. (1990) Created from Animals: The Moral Implications of Darwinism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Said, E. (1986) ‘Michael Walzer’s “Exodus and Revolution”: A Canaanite Reading’, Grand Street, 5 (2) (Winter).Google Scholar
- Said, E. (2000) ‘Chapter 7: Traveling Theory’, in Bayoumi, M. and Rubin, A. (eds.) The Edward Said Reader. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
- Schillbrack, K. (2010) ‘Religions: Are There Any?’, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 78 (4) (December).Google Scholar
- Schwartz, R. (1997) The Curse of Cain: The Violent Legacy of Monotheism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Siedentop, L. (2014) Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism. Cambridge: Belknap Press.Google Scholar
- Smith, James K. (2004) Introducing Radical Orthodoxy: Mapping a Post-Secular Theology. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic.Google Scholar
- Stackhouse, M. (2005) ‘Why Human Rights Needs God: A Christian Perspective’, in Bucar, Elizabeth M. and Barnett, B. (eds.) Does Human Rights Need God. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.Google Scholar
- Steiner, G. (1997) Errata. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
- Taylor, C. (2007) A Secular Age. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Voltaire (1830) The Philosophical Dictionary. New York: George E. Evans.Google Scholar
- Von Humboldt, W. (1854) The Spheres and Duties of Government (The Limits of State Action), trans. Joseph Coulthard. London: John Chapman.Google Scholar
- Ward, B. (2010) Redeeming the Enlightenment: Christianity and the Liberal Virtues. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.Google Scholar
- Wolterstorff, N. (2010) ‘Modern Protestant Developments in Human Rights’, in Christianity and Human Rights: An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar