The Trespass of the Sign: Deconstruction, Theology, and Philosophy

By Kevin Hart | Go to book overview
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Deconstruction otherwise


The first chapter described what the relationship between deconstruction and theology is commonly taken to be and what reasons there are for holding this view. However, in trying to be precise about the matter at hand I had to raise but leave unexamined a number of issues which now demand clarification. I have had recourse, for example, to Pascal's distinction between the God of the philosophers and the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; and I have made use of Nietzsche's statement 'God is dead'. The conjunction of Pascal's distinction and Nietzsche's statement inevitably leads one to ask, 'But which God is dead?' While no one doubts what Pascal's answer would be, there is a general lack of agreement as to how Nietzsche would reply. There are those, for instance, who regard Nietzsche as diagnosing a malaise in Christendom: real belief in the God of Christianity is dead, and so the Christian God has lost all power over the determination of man.1 Others understand Nietzsche to affirm that Christian morality has been so discredited, both from within and without, that it can no longer be endorsed by a serious moral agent.2 Still others approach the text from Nietzsche's epistemology, seeing it as a terse denial that there can be any firm ground for our knowledge of ourselves and our

1 See, for example, Martin Heidegger, Nietzsche, Vol. IV, trans. Frank A.
Capuzzi, ed. D. F. Krell (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1982), p. 4. Hei-
degger distinguishes between Christendom - a cultural and intellectual move-
ment - and Christianity, a relationship in faith with God.

2 '[God is dead]… Nietzsche's heart was not in contesting the existence of
God, or in the other arguments to which we have referred. His central attack,
into which he flung himself with all his force, was upon what he called
Christian morality.' Karl Barth, Church dogmatics, Vol. 3 The doctrine of
creation', Part 2, p. 238.


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