Sunday 13 July 2014

Sloterdijk on the non-existence of 'Religions'

From You Must Change Your Life:
European Enlightenment—a crisis of form? An experiment on a slippery slope, at any rate, and from a global perspective an anomaly. Sociologists of religion put it quite bluntly: people keep believing everywhere else, but in our society we have glorified disillusionment. Indeed, why should Europeans be the only ones on a metaphysical diet when the rest of the world continues to dine unperturbed at the richly decked tables of illusion? 
[...] a return to religion is as impossible as a return of religion—for the simple reason that no 'religion' or 'religions' exist, only misunderstood spiritual regimens, whether these are practised in collectives—usually church, ordo, umma, sangha—or in customized forms—through interaction with the 'personal God' with whom the citizens of modernity are privately insured. Thus the tiresome distinction between 'true religion' and superstition loses its meaning. There are only regimens that are more and less capable and worthy of propagation. The false dichotomy of believers and unbelievers becomes obsolete and is replaced by the distinction between the practising and the untrained, or those who train differently. (p.3)
In contrast to Latour's translative theology, Sloterdijk's concentration on "regimens that are more and less capable and worthy of propagation" refocuses attention entirely away from the past. Religious truth conditions become entirely presentist: is this regimen worthy or not? It doesn't matter, in and of itself, how many years hermeneuts have agonised over this or that crumb of biblical dogma. There is no prejudice against the nouveau riche of religiosity. If these stratified ponderings upon ponderings going back millennia have generated a rich, beautiful, jumbled jungle of immuno-psychic possibilities then great! However, that is merely the means to the end of the successful religious dispositif, not the end itself.

Religion, in this iteration, becomes fully relativistic and thus fully secularisable and is, therefore, a better diplomatic proposition (from my godless point of view) that the one Latour proposes as [rel].