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Andrew Benjamin – What is Political Theology?

October 25, 2016 @ 4:10 pm - 6:00 pm

The world figures within any political theology. The world’s beginning, within that setting, inscribes the possibility of another beginning as the condition of any cosmology. And yet there has been a reconfiguration. What has altered and thus what has to be drawn into any thinking of a political theology is a fundamental repositioning of the world’s presence. While a transformation of the world remains the project of a political theology such a project has become complicated since it is equally true, now, that the world itself is in a process of change; a process that is an opening to the world’s destruction. This destruction is not the one that figures within the conventions of a political theology. On the contrary, it is a form of destruction that is inextricably tied to the presence of catastrophic climate change as a genuine possibility. Destruction, now, is also present as world ending. Hence the question that has to emerge – given the centrality of the world within any thinking of a political theology – concerns the impact of this other modality of destruction on political theology as a mode of thought. In sum, what has to be noted is twofold. In the first instance it pertains to the world and thus to the way in which both the world and world making is thought. While in the second it means that working with what is meant by the ‘catastrophic’ has become far more complex. The catastrophe that is the modus operandi of political theology involves the transformation of the world. It envisages another possibility within and for world making; a making that maintains and sustains the world as a locus of potentiality. As noted the sense of catastrophe linked to climate change is the catastrophic as world ending. This complexity demands its own form of engagement. The project here is to continue a recasting of political theology in relation to this now insistent demand.

Andrew Benjamin is Professor of Philosophy and Jewish Thought at Monash University, Melbourne and Distinguished Anniversary Professor of Philosophy and the Humanities at Kingston University in London.  His recent books include: Virtue in Being (SUNY Press, 2016), Art’s Philosophical Work (Rowman and Littlefield, 2015), Towards A Relational Ontology: Philosophy’s Other Possibility (SUNY Press, 2015), and Working with Walter Benjamin: Recovering a Political Philosophy (EUP, 2013).




October 25, 2016
4:10 pm - 6:00 pm
Event Category:


Pupin Hall, Room 424