Terry Eagleton on postmodernism

This quotation from Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate, by Terry Eagleton, a Marxist literary critic, was printed in the current issue of EnlightenNext magazine:

“Postmodernism is allergic to the idea of certainty, and makes a great deal of theoretical fuss over this rather modest, everyday notion. As such, it is in some ways the flip side of fundamentalism... Some postmodern thought suspects that all certainty is authoritarian. It is nervous of people who sound passionately committed to what they say. In this, it represents among other things an excessive reaction to fascism and Stalinism. The totalitarian politics of the twentieth century did not only launch an assault on truth in their own time; they also helped to undermine the idea of truth for future generations. The line between holding certain noxious kinds of belief, and holding strong beliefs at all, then becomes dangerously unclear. Conviction itself is condemned as dogmatic.”1

I haven’t read anything by Eagleton in years, and was somewhat surprised to find that he, who is himself an atheist, apparently takes Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins to task in this book for, among other things, misrepresenting religion in their recent atheist rants.

I find Hitchens, and especially Dawkins, to be rather tiresome, but Eagleton is such a witty writer that I think I’m going to have to check it out.


[1] Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate. Quoted in EnlightenNext. 45 (September-November 2009): 22.

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