Tag Archives: Žižek

LIVING WITH TWO BODIES: THE ROOT OF EVIL OR EXPLAINING THE POPULARITY OF DONALD TRUMP AMONG EVANGELICALS

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Sigmund Freud converges with the Apostle Paul in tracing the diagnosis of the human disease to a masochism that would annihilate the self and bring down the world in an attempt at self-salvation.  Freud had first assumed that sadism was the primal cause of the human ailment, but his work with hysterics and neurotics led him to conclude that sadism was simply masochism turned outward.  The ego/superego split brings about a self-antagonism (death drive) that creates a sacrificial relation within the self – or a self-punishing relationship that would destroy the self to save the self. As explained below, Žižek’s concept of the death drive, arising through the real of the body, and Paul’s concept of ‘body of death’ or ‘body of sin’ both describe a Subject engaged in a struggle for life which kills.  In this system, in Paul’s phrase, evil or sin is the means to cause grace to abound (to which he responds, ‘God Forbid’).  

As Žižek points out, the symbolic or the soul ‘has to be paid for by the death, murder even, of its empirical bearer’, the body (The Žižek Reader, vii).  In this antagonistic self-relationship turned outward one needs the ‘Other’, the foreigner, alien, or stranger, as the body to be sacrificed, so as to establish the self (the soul or symbolic).  Building walls to keep the Other out, or carpet bombing the foreigners, describes the split within the self and the need to annihilate the Other – (literally) to establish one’s immortal soul.  Just as shedding the body, in a perverse Christianity, is the means to the salvation of the soul, so here, the foreigner becomes the empirical marker of the body to be separated out and destroyed.

Paul, in the phrase ‘body of sin’ or ‘body of death’, seems to not be referring to only the physical body but to the Subject, with sin and death describing the orientation or existential reality of the Subject – (though the Subject is split in Paul’s description).  Body (sῶma) for Paul, in James Dunn’s description, denotes not only the physical body but the full reality which comes with it: ‘It is man embodied in a particular environment, the body being that which constitutes him a social being, a being who relates to and communicates with his environment. It is as an embodied entity that he can act upon and be acted upon by his environment.’[1] What needs to be added to Dunn’s description is that this capacity involves the ability to disrupt itself so that it is not just a permeable exchange with the environment.

Bultmann emphasizes that what is included in the term sῶma, in addition to the body, is a capacity to objectify or split the self (to reflect on the self), witnessed most often (particularly in its negative or fallen state) in the capacity for self-estrangement or self-alienation.[2]  He describes the resulting self relation as an experience between the ‘I’ and the ‘not-I’ and this dynamic of alienation constitutes the sῶma. As Paul states it, ‘It is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me’ (Rom. 7.20). This ‘body of sin’ or ‘body of death’ (Rom. 7.24) may be perceived or experienced as the physical body getting ‘out of hand’ or out of control, but Bultmann’s point is that it is the self in its experience of the self that is out of control.  The notion that one has a sῶma rather than that one is a sῶma is itself an occurrence within the parameters of self-reflective identity provided for in Paul’s use of the term.

Žižek describes the process as giving rise to two bodies. That body which one might think can be reduced to the biological dimension is refused: the ‘subject turns away from her biological body in disgust, unable to accept that she “is” her body’ (Organs without Bodies, 93). As Žižek describes it, the original sacrificial relation is established within the Subject (with passage through the mirror stage in which the child identifies with its reflection in the mirror) between the imaginary (the ego or ‘I’) and the symbolic (the superego) which establishes the alienated distance from the real of the body. The passage is from being a body to establishing a symbolic distance from the body (and having a body): ‘The body exists in the order of having – I am not my body, I have it’ (Organs without Bodies, 121).

Žižek’s and Lacan’s focus is on the turn of communicative capacity against the self in an antagonistic self-relation. The failure of the Subject in its self-antagonism and dis-community is at the same time a corporeal failure. In the Lacanian formula ‘there is no sexual relationship’ (Seminar 20, 17), as the register of the symbolic (language) cannot be coordinated with the reality of the body.  This serves to explain Paul’s ‘body of death’, which is also a failure of communication (communion) and a failure to achieve corporate or corporeal identity (resurrection life).

The qualifiers added to body, such as sin (σῶμα τῆς ἁμαρτίας) or death (σώματος τοῦ θανάτου), identify the psychoanalytic understanding as it overlaps with Paul’s. Rather than being in relationship with God, the Subject in these modes has a primary relationship to sin and death (or to law, which is in the end definitive of the Žižekian Subject and of Paul’s fallen Subject). From within the economy of the law (the law of sin and death), the excessive superego injunctions (giving rise to perverse questions such as, ‘Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound’ (Rom. 6.1)) ‘no longer imposes specific, determinate, prohibitions and/or injunctions. . .but just reverberates as an empty tautological Prohibition: don’t’ (The Puppet and the Dwarf, 104). This absolute law requires infinite payment and even this infinite payment does not satisfy the continual pressure of the law’s demands. ‘Christ’s death cannot but appear as the ultimate assertion of the Law, as the elevation of the Law into an unconditional superego agency which burdens us, its subjects, and with a debt we will never be able to repay’ (The Puppet and the Dwarf, 103).

The God of penal substitution or in need of infinite propitiation is split against himself in the manner of the Pauline/Žižekian Subject.  Christ is the empirical bearer of the body given over to an infinite death to which the Father subjects Him out of the demand of the Law.  The very means which God employed to defeat evil, in this understanding, becomes the foundation of a religiously prescribed evil.

‘Penal substitution’, then, describes the establishment of the law of sacrifice as a form of subjectivity within God.  A Christianity given over to the demands of this law will enthrone violence, as God – the model – demands infinite payment for his own satisfaction and this is the order of all self-satisfaction.  In this form of Christianity, the Donald Trump/Ted Cruz form of diplomacy (divide and destroy) is an extension of satisfying the demands of God.  From an orthodox Christian perspective, it is the enthronement of evil under the guise of the necessity of the law of sin and death.

[1] James Dunn, Romans, 320.

[2] It is also from this apparent duality that the ‘naïve’ or Gnostic understanding can be accounted for, as the physical body is assigned the role of ‘not-I’ (Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament: Volume I,199).

 

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A SUMMARY OF THE PSYCHOTHEOLOGY OF SIN AND SALVATION

110115-200910  The first three chapters of my book, “The Psychotheology of Sin and Salvation: An Analysis of the Meaning of the Death of Christ in Light of the Psychoanalytic Reading of Paul,”demonstrate that psychoanalysis has taken up a task (the diagnosis of human suffering and even called ‘sin’ by Lacan and Žižek) which is the proper realm of theology. The specific overlap of the two disciplines lies in the psychoanalytic understanding that the human Subject or the psyche is structured in three registers, the symbolic, the imaginary and the real, which function like a lie analogous to the deception of sin. The historical development of this understanding from Freud (recounted in Chapter 1), through Lacan (the subject of Chapter 2) to Žižek (the subject of Chapter 3), demonstrate the ‘discovery’ of the importance of the unconscious as it relates to human consciousness as these realms are founded in an inner antagonism which Freud dubs the ‘death drive’. The key shift which Lacan introduces into his reinterpretation of Freud is to read what Freud took to be biological or cosmic, as having its origins and explanation within the realm of language, making it possible to explain the working of human interiority utilizing, in part, the resouces of linguistics.   The symbolic, as the medium of human reality, by its very nature fictionalizes or displaces the physical reality of things with their symbolic representation, which means that the physical body and its mortal condition are only realized as a gap or the negative force of an absence (the register of the real) or disturbance (the work of the death drive arising from the real) in the symbolic realm which knows neither death nor mortality. Freud’s ego or Lacan’s imaginary is assailed on every side by the other registers (by the oppressive superego or its Lacanian equivalent the symbolic, acting on behalf of the id or the Lacanian real) so that the ego is constituted by pure frustration and fear.[1]

The unique vantage which Žižek brings to Freud and Lacan is that his theory fuses Lacanian theory with German Idealism and particularly the thought of Hegel, and from this perspective the problems of the psyche and its identity become the solutions. The frustration, negation and alienation inherent to the Freudian/Lacanian picture of subjectivity are subsumed into a larger picture in which the gaps and absences are taken as the formative ground of the Subject. The goal is not to overcome the gaps but to conceive them as the origin of the Subject. As in the example of Cartesian philosophy, the failure of the cogito to account for the subject and the object of the sentence accounts for the rise of the Subject. The passage into subjectivity involves the necessity of withdrawal, madness, and failure that opens up the space for its symbolic reconstitution (The Abyss of Freedom, 8-9). The fundamental fantasy names this capacity to transform the problem and reify it into the solution because, in Žižek’s analysis, it is clearly a deception or lie but it is a necessary lie as it allows for the formation of the Subject.

The fourth chapter shows how Žižek reads Romans 7.7-25 and how he sees his theory as a development of a Pauline understanding of the Subject. Žižek locates the fundamental fantasy in Paul’s depiction of the deception of sin (Rom. 7.11) and he recognizes that the Lacanian focus on desire as primary is matched by Paul’s picture of covetousness as giving rise to the sinful Subject (Rom. 7.7). Žižek reads Romans 7 as exposing the problem of the pervert, who would fuse the law (which Žižek understands as the equivalent of the symbolic) with sin (breaking or transgressing the law). So the perverse understanding of the law (as in the forbidden desire of Romans 7.7) is synonymous with, and gives rise to, sin. Where the pervert does not question the status of the law, the hysteric questions this perverse understanding and in questioning it has already moved beyond it. Paul, according to Žižek, provides the question and answer of the hysteric which amounts to a questioning and displacement of the perverse approach to the law: ‘Is the law sin? Certainly not!’ (Rom. 7.7).[2] Hence there is the possibility of reorienting the Subject (from the pervert to the hysteric) through their becoming aware of the fundamental lie (there is life in the law or in the symbolic). Only in ‘traversing the fantasy’ or in ‘dying with Christ’ (which Žižek takes as the Pauline equivalent of traversing the fantasy), the subject of Chapter 5, does one arrive at the limit experience of destitution where the contradiction of the law is exposed (promoting what it forbids), opening the possibility for a new orientation. Those who ‘were made dead to the law through the body of Christ’ no longer serve the letter of the law. That is, they no longer serve the obscene superego supplement to the law (the negative force of sin attached to the law) which causes the law to be equated with sin.

The claim in Žižek’s reading of Paul, that the Žižekian and Pauline understandings of the Subject are largely the same, is tested in chapters 6-10. The two readings, Žižek’s and Paul’s (as interpreted by New Testament scholars) are compared and I conclude that the diagnosis of the human Subject Žižek finds in his reading of Paul is analogous to the problem of sin Paul describes in Romans 7. In Paul’s description, the deceit of sin, like Žižek’s fundamental fantasy, deludes the Subject to imagine that following desire is the source of life and this desire becomes the animate force of sin. This alienating force is expressed as a split within the self and as alienation from the body is indistinguishable from the real/symbolic divide. This dynamic is summed up in Paul’s phrase ‘the body of death’ which is analogous to Žižek’s notion of the dynamic of death drive. A key difference is that Žižek sees this alienation from the body (along with the death drive) as necessary to human subjectivity where Paul views this form of subjectivity as an aberration.

I show that Žižek’s attempt to find his theory of a solution to the problem of sin in Romans 6 is inadequate and that Paul’s solution would displace the Žižekian registers. Paul’s picture of the death to sin in baptism is not simply one of symbolic or subjective destitution since it involves being ‘joined to’ Christ and is an ontological participation in the death and resurrection of Christ. By being joined to the body of Christ, the Žižekian real or the Pauline ‘body of sin’ (6.6) or ‘body of death’ (7.24) is displaced in the resurrection life of the Spirit (8.10-11). Paul’s resolution of the alienation of the Subject of the law is to become a child of God through the power of the Spirit. The ἐγὼ or imaginary is crucified or dies with Christ and the life in the imaginary or Paul’s ‘I’ (ἐγὼ) is displaced by the corporate identity in the body of Christ. Paul’s resolution to the fear and frustration of the ἐγὼ is life in the Spirit (8.2), experienced and conjoined to the categories of hope, adoption as God’s children, and participation in the Trinity. Žižek’s work, though an inadequate understanding of salvation, supports and accentuates the contrast between Romans 7 and 8 in which Paul is demonstrating how Christ overcomes and displaces sin.

The development of sin and salvation set forth above suggests a different focus than is sometimes found in a theology influenced by the peculiar emphasis on the individual, such as that which Gregory Schufreider describes as developing with Anselm of Canterbury’s adjustments to a basic Augustinian theology.[3] As Derek Nelson argues, hamartiology and soteriology have tended to either focus on individual salvation or on the social and structural notions of sin,[4] with two different understandings of the function of the law and of human nature.[5] The claim I would make for the book is that due to the focus on sin as a lie distorting the law it accounts for the role of the individual and the law as well as the structural and social aspects of sin.[6] If the analysis of Paul and Žižek above has any value then, at the least, we need to reckon with the explicability or the systematic nature of sin as it is exists in society and the individual, and to think of atonement less as the repayment of a debt and more as a transformation of the Subject. Also, because of the social nature of the Subject, neither individual nor social emphases in the doctrine of sin should be prioritised but we should attend to the dynamics which underlie both. The suggestion made in the conclusion is that part of what it means to overcome sin is to dispel the mystery which is accounted for by its deception and that this dispelling of the mystery opens the possibility of examining the depth and seriousness of sin in both its social and individual aspects.

To read more follow this link: http://bloomsburycp3.codemantra.com/widgets/9780567659415/axton.html

 

[1] Both Lacan and Žižek continue to use the Freudian names of the registers (i.e., ego, superego, and id) as near parallels to the Lacanian registers (i.e., imaginary, symbolic, and real).

[2] Where Paul would completely separate the law and sin Žižek’s hysteric can only raise the question of a difference. The Subject can question the fundamental fantasy and the reality of the symbolic but he cannot survive their dissolution.

[3] Gregory Shufreider claims the key figure in the transition from an Augustinian understanding of interiority to Descartes’ cogito, the one who in fact lays the necessary ground for the transition and transformation of Augustinian thought, is Anselm of Canterbury. Anselm’s adjustments to a basic Augustinian theology created a new emphasis in the doctrine of sin and salvation and in how knowledge of God is appropriated, but all of this flows out of the particular emphasis he puts on human reflexivity (see Gregory Schufreider, Confessions of a Rational Mystic: Anselm’s Early Writings (West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University Press, 1994), 18. See also Giorgio Agamben, Language and Death: The Place of Negativity, Translators Karen Pinkus and Michael Hardt (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006), 25). Augustine, employing Platonic categories, but fusing them with the Johannine Logos and Light and the biblical Trinity, would locate the Platonic truth, not in the forms or transcendent universals but within the self. He directs us toward a radical interiority: ‘Do not go outward, return within yourself. In the inward man dwells truth.’ Plato had employed visionary imagery, but Augustine will turn this imagery on itself to examine the very possibility of seeing. Where Plato would presume to find the ‘highest principle’ in what is seen, Augustine will focus on what enables us to see in the first place (Augustine, De vera Religione, XXXIX.72, Quoted in Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992), 129).

[4] Among Derek Nelson’s many examples of this tendency is the individualism of Charles Finney who defined sin as the individual choosing to break God’s law, which fails to take into account that it is only in concrete relations with other Subjects (in family, church, and state) that one could come to know the law (Derek R. Nelson, What’s Wrong With Sin: Sin in Individual and Social Perspective from Schleiermacher to Theologies of Liberation (London: T & T Clark, 2009), 181). Finney’s understanding also overlooks the reality that breaking the law has concrete effects in the relational spheres in which selfhood is formed (Nelson, What’s Wrong With Sin, 181). On the other hand, the focus in liberation theology on structural or corporate sin tends to blur the difference between human nature and sin and as a result the agency behind social structures (the importance of the individual choosing) is sometimes lost (Nelson, What’s Wrong With Sin, 180-187).

[5] Derek Nelson traces the shift from Augustine’s doctrine of Original Sin to a Lutheran notion that sin is against God’s word as either law or Gospel to Schleiermacher’s exclusive focus on human interiority. He then examines the strengths and weaknesses of several liberation theologies as examples of the most developed and best of corporate notions of sin and salvation (Nelson, What’s Wrong With Sin).

[6] Žižek’s theory, as with the argument above, in positing the Other and the symbolic as part of human interiority does not abolish a distinction between the individual and the social realm but explains how they overlap and are necessary to one another. See Adrian Johnston, Badiou, Žižek, and Political Transformations: The Cadence of Change (Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 2009), 85-91.

BEYOND PERVERSION AND HYSTERIA TO RESURRECTION

There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way to death. Proverbs 14:12

“ If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you” (Romans 8:11).

Hildegard_von_Bingen_Liber_Divinorum_Operum

Slavoj Žižek, in his reading of Romans 7, finds within Paul two psychoanalytic categories, perversion and hysteria, which explain the possible orientations constituting the human Subject. Žižek’s project is largely aimed at demonstrating how every realm of human activity and thought, whether philosophy, politics, culture, or human sexuality, falls within these two orientations. The key issue for Žižek, though, is to demonstrate how Christianity itself can fail to realize the Pauline insight that identifies perversion and passes beyond it. His claim is that Anselm’s and Calvin’s respective theories of atonement, along with the Catholic and Protestant theologies that locate themselves in the closed systems of thought which Anselm and Calvin represent, are perverse.

The original question that Paul raises in Romans 7:7 has to do with confusing or equating law and sin. “Is the law sin (Rom. 7:7b)?” For Žižek (following Lacan) the question could be posed, “Is the Law the Thing?” (Seminar III, 83). Taking into account that law equals the symbolic (or the epistemological realm) and the Thing represents the real (which is not reality per se but the bedrock of the Subject), it could as well be read as, “Is the symbolic the real?” Is human language and knowing, which, according to Paul, operates according to the “law of sin and death,” adequate in and of itself to arrive at God or the ground of the ultimate Subject. Do we sin (propagating our philosophy, our world systems, our being) that grace may abound? “Certainly not!” (Rom.7:7).

Perversion – the Fusion of Knowing and Being

Perversion is fairly easy to identify. The pervert imagines that the world of language and law, or the realm of knowing (inclusive of the Hebraic notion of sex as knowing), provides direct access to Being and the power to establish Being through knowing. In Genesis 3 the original sin is to imagine that through “knowing good and evil” the Being of God (“You shall be like God”) is made accessible. Behind the screen of the law (“You shall not eat of it”) absolute knowing and ultimate pleasure are to be had. Transgression is the means of access and as Žižek describes it, the pervert somehow imagines himself to fill out or bring closure to a gap in the law by transgressively serving the law.

Perversion is a disavowal of anything lacking (a denial of castration or of death – “You shall not die”). The pervert seeks to completely establish the law within himself through a transgressive relationship to the law –sinning so as to increase grace or merging law and sin into two sides of the same coin with each side dependent upon the other. The pervert would provide himself, ultimately up to and including death, as the closure to the dialectic between sin and the law. As Anselm puts it, “death makes a gift of oneself to God.”

The sex pervert is the type of every perversion in that he would make the experience of sexual knowing the avenue to final reality. The comedian Pee-wee Herman (Paul Reubens) exposes himself in a theatre, by-passing any mundane ordinary sexual experience, to commune directly (passively) with the Big Other represented by the theatre audience. The sex pervert is one who makes sex the Thing, an end in itself as a means of achieving access to the Big Other or the Ground of the Subject.

Idolatry and corrupt sexuality are often equated in the Old Testament. In the graphic logic of the pervert, Israel is said to have “lusted after her lovers there, whose members were like those of donkeys, and whose issue was like that of horses” (Ezekiel 23:20). The idol is fashioned into a phallic symbol so big it is impossible to achieve but producing an exponential desire that results in human sacrifice. So sexual knowing as the avenue to Being is the biblical metaphor for a more basic idolatrous desire that would establish Being through knowing.

The philosophical and religious pervert, alike, make knowing the avenue to Being. Duns Scotus makes no distinction between existence and essence as it is found in finite and infinite being and thus poses a “univocity of being” which makes God’s Being accessible through the being of the world (one understanding of the analogia entis). Anselm, with his notion that he could think the greatest thought (“something than which nothing greater can be thought”) harnesses the divine name to thought and provides the technique (the technology) for achieving the divine. Anselm and Scotus concentrate on a different organ than Pee-wee but for the same end. Anselm will call it “divine satisfaction.”

Anselm transposes the perverse understanding directly onto God. God finds satisfaction in the ultimate transgression: “What ultimately makes this painful, difficult death equivalent to the sum total of all sin is that like the offence of sin itself the killing of Christ is valued by the quantity of its offensiveness” (Why a God Man (CDH) 11, 11 pp. 330 331). “Pain is required because of sin’s pleasure.” To get the “ransom price” (to use the biblical metaphor) the deed must be done – the offence committed so that that “same death destroy the sins even of those who put him to death” (as the title of CDH II puts it.) God the Father must inflict on his Son, measure for measure, the pain up to and including death, so as to balance out the pleasure of sin. This not only brings final satisfaction to God, but by closing the gap in human will, mankind is able to will rightly and become self identical – melding the dialectic of thought into the non-thought of a pure vision of God (the beatific vision). Anselm pictures his ability to carry out his cosmological and ontological arguments as arising directly from the empowerment given to him through divine satisfaction. He would satisfy himself in the manner of God and in fact his own satisfaction is that of God.

Anselm does not attach his theology to medieval law primarily from a cultural constraint. He is dealing throughout with what he takes to be a self evident or self authorizing realm (raw power) and this can ultimately be reduced to the necessity called law. He does not hesitate to identify “power” or “necessity” along with “will” as his proper subject. These “necessary” realms are interlocking, each implying the other. “. . . it is essential to have an understanding of power and necessity and will and certain other things which are so constituted that no one of them can be fully considered without the others” (CDH 1, 1, p. 266). 

Hysteria – Identity with the Law

Žižek reads Paul’s questions (“Is the law sin?” “Shall we sin that grace may abound?”) as the questioning of perversion that constitutes hysteria. Though he privileges hysteria, as with his reading of Paul, hysterical questioning involves the passage through and dialectic with perversion. The difference between perversion and hysteria is simply their different location within the dialectic. The pervert, as with Anselm and Scotus, presumes the law (the symbolic or knowing) provides passage beyond itself to Being (or life, beatific vision, Hegelian synthesis), while the hysteric suspends the closure (or passage beyond the law and symbolic) and directly identifies with the law and dialectic.

Between Anselm and Scotus, Thomas Aquinas poses the notion of the analogia entis, which he takes to be a rejection of Anselm’s ontological argument and its platonic notion of closure with the forms. Aquinas is not advocating either a univocity (on the order of Scotus) or a nihilistic equivocity, but his location between these two historically and intellectually marks him as having achieved a hysterical form of thought that amounts to a temporary suspension and dependence on the same dialectic.

Martin Heidegger, like Kant (and unlike Barth), recognizes that the ontological argument stands behind all of the arguments for God (including those of Thomas) as each is aiming at achieving the same sort of ontological difference. Aquinas only names and continues a form of thought of which he is the heir. He works with the same dialectic (identity through difference with a temporary suspension of sameness or synthesis). Hysteria, as its name implies, is an unstable compound and it naturally and easily slides into the perversion from which it arose. Thus the move from Anselm to Aquinas to Scotus traces the dialectic inherent between perversion and hysteria.

Though Heidegger dubs what he is refusing the “Onto-Theological constitution of metaphysics” he does not work out the mechanics of the ontological argument as developed by Anselm. As a result, in the estimation of Gregory Schufreider, Heidegger’s thought, in attempting to think the “nothing,” is simply the last in the line of onto-theological “rational mystics” which began with Anselm. It is not just Heidegger’s pursuit of the nothing on the order of Anselm, but his pursuit of Being as the form of knowing which Aquinas dubs knowing “that,” which implicates him in onto-theology. What he misses (and what Thomas misses) is that the mode of thinking of “that” (philosophy, philosophy of religion, rationalism) already entails the drive for conceptual mastery – a form of knowing that would obtain and manipulate what it knows. Heidegger’s notion (indicated in his diaries recently published) that the clearing of Being could be equated with the “inner truth and greatness” of the Nazi movement indicates the perversity underlying his thought. He is (another) proof that the attempt to keep open the distinction between Being and beings (hysteria), or between the “that” of Being (or in the case of Aquinas the “that” (res significata) of God’s existence) and the “how” (modus significandi) is an impossibility.

Karl Barth’s theology shares with Heidegger the move against onto-theology and yet, Barth saw early on in Heidegger the danger in his historical form of thinking.   Barth would persistently refuse Bultmann’s attempt to bring Heidegger and Barth together, and of course Barth’s prescience was to recognize in Heidegger the embodiment of a form of thought he would call the anti-Christ.

The question is if Barth, much like Heidegger, was implicated in the very form of thought he was attempting to overcome. Barth marks his own theological turn against Aquinas and the analogia entis with his discovery of Anselm. The indication that even when he recognizes the inadequacy of a dialectical theology he fails to escape it is found in a reading of Romans from which he will not depart. When he turns to Romans 7:7ff he reads it, as Žižek does, as the dialectic constituting the normal Christian life. Hysteria and the dialectic with perversion is as far as Romans 7:7ff takes us. Balthasar’s recognition that Catholic thought needs, in part, the corrective that Barth brings and that Barth can be made to fit within Catholic thought indicates that the dialectic pendulum between perversion and hysteria keeps swinging.

It is not until Romans 8 that Paul introduces the Christian alternative to the agonistic dialectic of the non-Christian form of thought. “ For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:3-4).

He is risen and this constitutes a completely new form of thought – a post-Easter explanation and blog.