Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Politics of Time

One of my old lectures at Middlesex University has put a book of his on-line. The Politics of Time is a fascinating read for anyone interested in modern philosophy and issues of modernity, history, temporality and politics. It seems to me that the very idea of reformational philosophy is an appeal to a certain 'politics of time' that is anti-revolutionary and anti-conservatistic.

Interestingly Peter Osborne drew a parallel between Heidegger's temporal politics and that of the reformation in an article on Heidegger's politics. This was not an appealing connection though, as Osborne argued that it was the temporal dimension of Heidegger's project - "as a revival of the openness of the present through the retrieval, beneath the de-structured tradition, of the concealed truth of a distant origin" (p.26) - that structurally tied his philosophy to National Socialism. This temporal logic is a form of "reactionary modernism" which he calls "conservative revolution" where the past is regained in order to effect radical change. This temporal logic, writes Osborne, "displays distinct affinities with the temporal-political logic of the Reformation, in which religious authority was challenged by reference to the concealed essence of an other-worldly domain (conscience), delegitimising the established Church and energising the present with a newly transcendent futurity: justification by faith alone" (p.26). I admit that my reformation history is not good enough to know just how fanciful such an explanation is, but it does not come very close to what I understand by the term "reformational"

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