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Full Access The Twilight of the Doxai: Or, How to Philosophize with a Whac-A-Mole™ Mallet

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The Twilight of the Doxai: Or, How to Philosophize with a Whac-A-Mole™ Mallet

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Abstract This article evaluates the hermeneutic value of the category of belief from the perspective of a broadly “continental” philosophy of religion. From Socrates’s dismantling of his interlocutors’ doxai to Pseudo-Dionysius’s un-saying of the divine names to Kierkegaard’s noetic divestment to Derrida’s aporetic genealogies, it argues that “belief” is the target, rather than the telos, of philosophic scrutiny. For the authors engaged here, beliefs are phantasms—uninterrogated positions that uphold a kind of routine political, psychological, or theological order—whose unraveling opens the possibility of difference, and thus of thinking itself.

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23. FN1 1One could attribute a similar dismantling of knowledge to Meister Eckhart, whose soul must “detach” itself from everything it knows in order to be united with God. In a sermon on Matthew 5:3, Eckhart writes, “whoever will be poor in spirit, he must be poor of all his own knowledge, so that he knows nothing, not God or created things or himself” (1981). I have addressed the apophatic strategies of Pseudo-Dionysius and Eckhart at greater length in Rubenstein, 2003.
24. FN2 2I have taken a slight liberty with the text: the passage reads, “the paradox itself says: Comedies and novels and lies must be probable, but how could I be probable?”

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Affiliations: 1: Wesleyan University, Department of Religion 171 Church Street Middletown, CT 06459 USA


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