Lukas Meisner presents a working paper on ‚The Project of Modernity beyond Capitalism as Religion: Disenchanting the Tragic Worldview‘

Against the classical liberalist trope of modernity as rational, disenchanted, and enlightened, this article argues to reconstruct it as spell-bound by religion – namely, by capitalism as religion. The argument is drawn from combining a line of thinkers starting with Marx and ranging from Weber via Lukács and Benjamin to Goldmann and Berman. At the latest since the Marxian twist, any consequent emancipatory critique of religion incorporates a critique of capitalism as well – any project of modernity that is not self-contradictory can no longer be identified with capitalist modernisation. More succinctly, the former, conceived of as a political project, must precisely be about overcoming the latter. This is because, if capitalism is to be grasped as a religion, then any humanist or enlightened society would have to be postcapitalist. Accordingly, since we are not postcapitalist today, we are not humanist or enlightened either. The article will deliver the foundation of that argument by demonstrating why capitalism must be deciphered as an immanent material cult religion whose worldview is tragic, if not bleakly apocalyptic.

New publication: „Andere Klarheit. Versuch über die Verklärung in Kunst, Religion und Philosophie“

Wallstein Verlag has just published a new book by Markus Kleinert entitled „Andere Klarheit“ (Other Clarity). It is – as the subtitle promises – an attempt at transfiguration in art, religion and philosophy. The book is also Kleinert’s habilitation thesis, which was awarded the Max Weber Prize for Young Researchers.

When hearing the term „transfiguration“, one might not first think that this could be a key concept for modernity. Transfiguration is called in religious contexts the elevation of the soul into the afterlife or the exaltation of a human being to a god, but above all the term is associated with that peculiar Bible episode of Christ’s transformation on a mountain. Ideas that are not exactly familiar in modern, secularised societies. But even the everyday understanding of transfiguration in the sense of a glossing over does not seem to suggest that transfiguration could be a key concept of modernity.

This makes it all the more exciting to read the book „Andere Klarheit. Versuch über die Verklärung in Kunst, Religion und Philosophie“ by Markus Kleinert (together with Hermann Deuser, head of the Kierkegaard Research Centre at the Max Weber College), which is dedicated to the concept of transfiguration in modernity and shows, on the basis of authors such as Luther or the Baroque poet Greiffenberg, up to Goethe, Nietzsche and Leopold Ziegler, how this motif, aligned with an idea of transformation, refers to an optimistic view of man and the world. In doing so, he also shows that such religious ideas are still effective socio-culturally today – in part without direct reference to religion – as illustrated not least by a look at American and Russian history.

Kleinert’s study, which also includes the visual arts (Raphael) and music (Wagner), shows the productivity of the concept of transfiguration, with its proximity to the Enlightenment as well as to glory, for understanding our modern culture as well as our attitudes and lifestyles.

Markus Kleinert
Andere Klarheit. Versuch über die Verklärung in Kunst, Religion und Philosophie

Wallstein Verlag, 2021
ISBN 978-3-8353-3992-7
277 pages
29,90 Euro

Qudsiya Contractor gives a working paper on ‚The teacher and the aalim – Religious imagination in the making of public Muslims in a Mumbai slum‘

This paper looks at how the objectification of religious imagination
influences Muslim’s coping of their changing worldly realities. It looks at
the role of new religious intellectuals in addressing the shrinking Muslim
presence in the public sphere in urban India through newer styles of
religious leadership embedded in a broader understanding of the religious
imagination itself. These new religious intellectuals among the Muslim
poor I argue see the role of secular education coupled with a religious
imagination as essential in order to protect one’s self interests as a Muslim
yet be integral to a larger and diverse public. Islamic knowledge and
behavioural conduct combined with secular education is hence seen as a
way of fashioning the lives of the modern Muslim subject. In other words,
embracing modernity with Islamic values is seen as a way of refashioning
the Muslim self.