Stanley Fish offers a helpful summary of one of Terry Eagleton's latest on his NY Times Blog this week. Eagleton is a philosopher and critical theorist formerly based at the University of Manchester who has maintained a pointed and critical stance towards the rise in "school-yard" atheist figures such as Hitchins and Dawkins or as he refers to them, Ditchkins. Fish's opening paragraph gives the gist of what's going on in Eagleton's work:
Why are the most unlikely people, including myself, suddenly talking about God?” His answer, elaborated in prose that is alternately witty, scabrous and angry, is that the other candidates for guidance — science, reason, liberalism, capitalism — just don’t deliver what is ultimately needed. “What other symbolic form,” he queries, “has managed to forge such direct links between the most universal and absolute of truths and the everyday practices of countless millions of men and women?”
I'll be teaching a course this Autumn on this kind of return of religion in academic discourse and the reasons why so many theorists are drawn to its themes and discourse as they grapple with today's social and political questions.