The Essential Caputo: Selected Writings

The Essential Caputo: Selected Writings

The Essential Caputo: Selected Writings

The Essential Caputo: Selected Writings

Synopsis

This landmark collection features selected writings by John D. Caputo, one of the most creative and influential thinkers working in the philosophy of religion today. B. Keith Putt presents 21 of Caputo's most significant contributions from his distinguished 40-year career. Putt's thoughtful editing and arrangement highlights how Caputo's multidimensional thought has evolved from radical hermeneutics to radical theology. A guiding introduction situates Caputo's corpus within the context of debates in the Continental philosophy of religion and exclusive interview with him adds valuable information about his own views of his work.

Excerpt

In February 1990, a good friend and I decided to journey to Conception Seminary in northwest Missouri in order to attend a conference on Catholic philosophy and deconstruction. Little did I realize how consequential those three days at that Benedictine monastery would be for me, personally and professionally. It was there and then that I first met and began to read John D. (Jack) Caputo. Jack initiated the weekend conference by delivering the first keynote address, a lecture entitled “Sacred Anarchy: Fragments of a Postmodern Ethics.” Although I did not know it at the time, I later realized that the essay actually reprises various significant themes that he first articulates in the final chapter of his 1987 book, Radical Hermeneutics, themes that continue to direct his thought decades later. For example, “Sacred Anarchy” offers another commentary on his distinction between responsible postmodernism and irresponsible postmodernism, a distinction that comes in tandem with the tension that develops when the religious perspective confronts the tragic perspective with reference to the issue of suffering. in Radical Hermeneutics, he raises the issue of how the religious perspective on suffering evokes a certain theology, a certain way of talking about God as always siding with those who suffer, with the victims of oppression, hunger, injustice, and disregard. For him, responsible postmodernism adopts the religious perspective and embraces, in one way or another and in one vocabulary or another, the theological position of joining God in the desire to alleviate the suffering of wounded flesh. This religio-theological sensitivity to the problem of suffering constitutes part of the mystery of existence—with “mystery” functioning as a legislating theme in that final chapter.

Just a year after the publication of Radical Hermeneutics, in the 1988 essay “Beyond Aestheticism: Derrida’s Responsible Anarchy” (chapter 11 in this reader), Jack obviously transfers the adjective “responsible” from qualifying “postmodernism” to qualifying “anarchy” in order to maintain the ethical dynamic of his thought while simultaneously acknowledging the necessity for avoiding the hierarchical closure of any ersatz rational absolute. Then, two years later, “responsible” is itself replaced with “sacred” in the lecture “Sacred Anarchy,” in which Jack amplifies aspects of “Beyond Aestheticism” and carries the themes of religion, suffering, God, and ethical responsibility into new directions. First, instead of contrasting responsible, religious postmodernism with irresponsible, tragic postmodernism, he writes . . .

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