Constructing Data in Religious Studies - Examining the Architecture of the Academy - Leslie Dorrough Smith

Constructing Data in Religious Studies - Examining the Architecture of the Academy - Leslie Dorrough Smith

10. Negative Dialektik and the Question Concerning the Relation between Objects and Concepts

Constructing Data in Religious Studies - Examining the Architecture of the Academy - Leslie Dorrough Smith

Lucas Wright [+-]
University of California at Santa Barbara
Lucas Scott Wright is a PhD student in the Religious Studies Department at the University of California at Santa Barbara with a research focus in the area of Jewish Studies. His research explores the relations between German idealism, Modern Jewish Thought in Germany, and Contemporary Continental Philosophy of Religion. His current project is a study of the use of the concepts of ‘factuality' and ‘virtuality' in Franz Rosenzweig’s Star of Redemption, in relation to gnosticism, dialectics, and phenomenology.

Description

In his piece, Matthew Baldwin lays bare the key epistemological issues pertaining to the question regarding subjects and objects in the study of religion, focusing particular attention upon the intersubjective character of objects. In this response, the author attempts to illustrate through an explication of a shared source – Theodor Adorno – the ways in which Baldwin’s account of intersubjectivity fails to capture an essential element of the intersubjective relation between objects and subjects – namely, the fact of contingency. Rather than attempting to juxtapose mystification and “what is going on,” object and subject, Lucas Wright shows how, for Adorno, an element of objective unknowability phenomenologically conditions subjective positing. The result of this formulation is neither a primacy of subject, nor of object. Rather, Lucas Wright's analysis of Adorno yields a dialectical conception of the subject as always already objectively conditioned, and objects for-thought as always already figured by the so conditioned subject. There is, in the final instance, only the oscillation between objectivity and subjectivity – the real always remains unknowable in any total sense precisely because it conditions, the constructed positing of the subject arrests the fluctuation between condition and conditioned in a circumscribed sense through the use of concepts. In the end, this chapter argues, what is at stake in the theoretical and methodological discussion regarding objects in the study of religion is nothing less than the larger epistemological and existential question concerning how to conceive the conditions of thinking, the interplay between freedom and necessity. As such, it is both possible and necessary to reconceive the problems and debates in religious studies theory and method as specific occasions for thought, open to a larger range of theoretical and philosophical inquiry.

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Citation

Wright, Lucas. 10. Negative Dialektik and the Question Concerning the Relation between Objects and Concepts. Constructing Data in Religious Studies - Examining the Architecture of the Academy. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 136-148 Oct 2019. ISBN 9781781796764. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=34175. Date accessed: 21 Nov 2019 doi: 10.1558/equinox.34175. Oct 2019

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