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John Caruana   (Ryerson University)

“Julia Kristeva on Nihilism and Faith: Our Late Modern Impasse”

Abstract: In his provocatively titled book, Barbarism, Michel Henry asserts that we are currently experiencing a radical reshaping of the world, driven in large part by a reductive picture of the scientific enterprise. Scientism, the ideological distortion of science, works to make the strangeness of the world into what can be known, appropriated, and objectified. This tendency has the effect of emptying the world of any meaning or value. For Henry, this contributes to what he calls the unparalleled “flight from oneself.” Our eviscerated subjectivity no longer believes in the world or in itself. The French philosopher and psychoanalyst, Julia Kristeva has outlined, over the span of four decades, this unprecedented devastation of psychic life. She succinctly describes how our late modern world works to deform not only our self-understanding but more significantly our connectedness to others and the world. Like Henry, Kristeva points to scientism as a major source of this crisis. But equally problematic is the rise of religious fundamentalism. For Kristeva, both of these late-modern tendencies are the inevitable consequence of a breakdown in a fundamental sense of trust. Interestingly, she maintains that a renewed understanding of the problem of faith offers a key for addressing this cultural impasse.

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Date(s) - September 25, 2015
3:30 pm - 5:00 pm

McMaster University, Kenneth Taylor Hall 109


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