W 2:00 – 4:45 pm
In English / 4 credits
Taught by Philippe Büttgen, Eberhard Berent Goethe Professor at NYU
Contemporary theory has made confession an object for thought, problematizing both the subjectivation of subjects through the recognition of their sins (Foucault, The Confessions of the Flesh; Derrida, Circumfession) and the power of declarative statements in politics (Derrida, The University without Condition; Balibar, Secularism and Cosmopolitism). On the other hand, the ambiguity of confession, as confession of sins and confession of faith, has been a major issue in German thought, from Aufklärung onwards. Our inquiry will start from the question ‘What should I confess?’ (which sins and what faith?), as the question underlying all reflection especially on religion and politics on German-speaking soil. We will read and contextualize the German discussion on Bekenntnis, in an attempt to shed a new light on confession, forgiveness, and self-reliance in contemporary debates.
An inquiry on the power of confession will provide insights into the conditions of possibility of theoretical production in a culture that has been deeply confessionalized, i.e. overdetermined by the confessional divide since the Reformation. This divide has in turn had a radical effect on the thought of confession itself, crossing the boundaries between philosophy, literature, and law.
Readings will include texts by Lessing (Adam Neuser), Kant (« Was ist Aufklärung ? »), Goethe (Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre), Hegel (Phänomenologie des Geistes), Rosenzweig (Der Stern der Erlösung), Balibar, Derrida, Foucault.