Religion-Friendly Postmodernism: An Analysis of Westphal’s Ideas
Keywords:Post-modernism, Hermeneutics, Deconstruction, Ontotheology, Metaphysics, Perspectivism, Westphal, Derrida
This paper purports to analyze the religion-friendly postmodernism proposed by Merold Westphal. It begins by reviewing the current positions on the question of the relationship between post-modernism and religion and attempts to locate Westphal’s position in the intellectual map. It is submitted that there exists a spectrum of positions on the said question that stretches from anti-religious post-modernisms to religious rejections of post-modernism. Having briefly discussed important reasons for choosing Westphal for discussion, the paper proceeds to analyze his understanding of the nature of post-modernism, and his project of the ‘religious appropriation of post-modernism.’ It discusses in detail the question whether, being inimical to all ‘meta’ narrative and being anti-metaphysical, post-modernism is incompatible with religious beliefs, and whether the post-modern hermeneutic theory leaves any room for deriving objective meaning from religious texts. Westphal’s appropriation project is then discussed at length in its two hermeneutical prongs of ‘fininitude’ and ‘suspicion’ derived by him respectively from the beliefs of human ‘createdness’ and ‘fallenness.’ In conclusion it is shown how Westphal’s work attempts to represent a middle position between the two extremes discussed in the beginning of the paper.