Between Faith and Belief

Toward a Contemporary Phenomenology of Religious Life

By Joeri Schrijvers

Subjects: Philosophy, Religion, Theology, Philosophy Of Religion, Continental Philosophy
Series: SUNY series in Theology and Continental Thought
Paperback : 9781438460222, 398 pages, January 2017
Hardcover : 9781438460215, 398 pages, May 2016

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Table of contents


General Introduction: Toward A Contemporary Phenomenology of Religious Life: Contours and Contexts

The Many Faces of Atheism Today “Against the Return of Religion: A Critique of the Religious Origins of our Political Concepts”
Jean-Luc Nancy and Peter Sloterdijk

“A Universalizing Faith at the Origin of the Social Bond: Postsecularism As a Secularizing Task”
Ludwig Binswanger

“A Recognition of the Elementary Faith Underlying the Secularizing Task”
John D. Caputo

Conclusion: Toward A Contemporary Phenomenology of Religious Life
Part I. Without

1. Anarchistic Tendencies in Contemporary Philosophy: Reiner Schürmann and the Hubris of Philosophy
“What is to be done at the end of metaphysics?”
Heideggerian Anarchy
Levinasian Anarchy
Derridean Anarchy
Conclusion: In Praise of Everydayness

2. What Comes after Christianity? Jean-Luc Nancy’s Deconstruction of Christianity
The End of Metaphysics and the Deconstruction of Christianity
Thinking the World: Between Heidegger and Levinas
The Deconstruction of Christianity
Nancy’s Exegesis of the Resurrection Story: Noli me Tangere and the Faith in Sense
Deconstructing Nancy with Derrida
Conclusion: What Comes after Christianity?

3. Exercises in Religion I: Peter Sloterdijk and the Matrix of Monotheism
How to Change Your Life: An Ontological Self-Help Group
Once Again: Violence and Metaphysics
The De-suprematicization of the World: The Matrix of Monotheism
An Exhausted Matrix?
Conclusion: Sloterdijk and “The Legitimacy of Postmodernity”

4. Exercises in Religion II. Living with Exhaustion
Modernity and the Emergence into History
Postmodern Life: Ascetic, Aesthetic, and Athletic Religion
Life, and Nothing but Life: The Liberation from the Matrix?
Changing Codes
Conclusion: Deconstructing Christianity?
Conclusion to Part 1
Part II. Between

5. In Defense of Deconstruction. John D. Caputo and His Critics
How (Not) to Do Away With “The With”?
Religion without Religion versus Religion with Religion
Mind the Gap! Of Unconditionals and Their Condition
Conclusion: Begging to Differ

6. Between Faith and Belief: Derrida versus Caputo
The Event of Religion
Prayers, Tears, and Gnashing of Teeth: On Attempting to be an Atheist
Derrida as Natural Metaphysician: The Pervertibility of Pure Faith
The Aporia, and the Great Unknown: God
Conclusion: Between Faith and Belief

7. Between Strong and Weak Theology: Of a Sacred Anarchy in Caputo and Marion
A Christian Reversal of Values
A Sacred Anarchy, or the Authority of Authorities
From Caputo to Marion: Abandoned to Love?
Conclusion: Between Phenomenology and Theology
Conclusion to Part 2
Facere Veritatem: The Primacy of Bad Conscience
Not Yet Rid of God? Of a Religion Not Quite without Religion

Part III. Within

8. Ludwig Binswanger’s Phenomenology of Love
Greetings from Being
Phenomenology of Love
Toward an Ontology Incarnate: The Fullness of Being
Conclusion: Faith in Love

9. The “Ends” of Love: Friendship, Death, and Care
Heidegger and Binswanger
The “Unfolding” of Love in the World: Toward a Liebende Sorge
Love, Language, and Community
Phenomenology of Friendshipâ€"The Death of Friends and Lovers
The Self between Love and World
Conclusion: Loving Life and Living Love

10. From Love to Life (and Back Again)
The Knowledge of Love
Body and World: Onward and Upward
The Art of a Difficult Existence: Binswanger’s Ibsen
Binswanger, Art, and the Phenomenology of Religious Life
Conclusion: From a Finite Life to the Infinity of Love
Conclusion to Part 3
General Conclusion
Phenomenology of Religious Life
A Phenomenology of Religious Life


A contemporary philosophy of religion that offers a phenomenology of love.


What is to be done at the end of metaphysics? Joeri Schrijvers's contemporary philosophy of religion takes up this question, originally posed by Reiner Schürmann and central to continental philosophy. The book navigates the work of thinkers who have addressed such metaphysical concerns, including Martin Heidegger, Emmanuel Levinas, Jean-Luc Nancy, Jean-Luc Marion, Peter Sloterdijk, Ludwig Binswanger, Jacques Derrida, and more recently John D. Caputo, Mary-Jane Rubenstein, and Martin Hägglund. Notably, Schrijvers engages both those who would deconstruct Christianity and those who remain within this tradition, offering an option that is "between:" between Christianity and atheism, between progressive and conservative, between faith and belief. Ultimately, Schrijvers confronts the end of metaphysics with a phenomenology of love and community, arguing for the radical primacy of togetherness.

Joeri Schrijvers is Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. He is the author of Ontotheological Turnings? The Decentering of the Modern Subject in Recent French Phenomenology, also published by SUNY Press.


"…Between Faith and Belief is a book well worth reading and pondering over, regardless of where you fit on the spectrum of metaphysical and post-metaphysical thinking. Some may find his reading of Nancy to be too narrow, or perhaps think his critique of Caputo too quickly dismisses the important concepts Caputo builds through a 'religion without a religion' and his use of deconstruction. Regardless, they will find in this work, at the very least, a good sparring partner. " — International Journal of Philosophical Studies

"This book is a reliable guide to a series of ongoing debates in Continental thought that have seemed for some time to be at an impasse … Schrijvers' fine work navigates this impasse with precision and fairness, and thereby gives us a path forward for maintaining embodied religious practice in our world today. " — Horizons

"This is a necessary, timely and excellent contribution in the field of philosophy of religion. " — South African Journal of Philosophy

"…well written and thought provoking. [Schrijvers] has written an important work tracing the influences and developments of a group of contemporary thinkers and their position on whether ontology can be understood without a theological origin. " — Phenomenological Reviews

"This is an enchanting study … Most originally and thoroughly, Schrijvers turns philosophy into love … an intriguing introduction into contemporary thought. " — Modern Theology

". ..a richly intricate and rewarding book. " — International Journal of Philosophy and Theology

". ..a helpful foundation for future works about faith and belief or contemporary phenomenologies of religious life. " — Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory

"Joeri Schrijvers's book is a tour de force, ranging over a wide spectrum of contemporary thinkers in order to negotiate the distance between religion and religionlessness, God and Godlessness, ontotheology and its overcoming. The result is a nuanced and careful study that repays close study. " — John D. Caputo, Syracuse University

"Among the many lusters of Joeri Schrijvers's Between Faith and Belief is a beautiful recovery of Ludwig Binswanger's phenomenology of love. Discussion of postmetaphysical theology is arid without philosophically informed and creative talk of love, and Binswanger's is a voice that has been missing from the conversation for far too long. To put Binswanger into dialogue with Caputo and Nancy, in particular, is at once fascinating and nourishing. " — Kevin Hart, University of Virginia