What is it that ensures the objective existence of a reality that you believe in?

In the midst of a discussion on religion during the personal interview I held with Latour in London in October 2014, he offered the following comment:

What is it that ensures the objective existence of a reality that you believe in, whether it be God, the Virgin Mary, a Saint, or whatever? Does it not follow a trajectory, does it not perform a movement? Is this not the basis of its rationality?

This comment foregrounds two important aspects of Latour’s understanding of religion. First, religion is a mediated phenomenon. That is, religion is a function of the ‘trajectory’ or ‘movement’ of actors in the space and time of this world. This is what I describe as ‘ontological pluralism’. Second, it is precisely through this mediation that the ‘rationality’ and even the ‘objectivity’ of religion arises.

Thus, Latour claims to describe a form of religion whose reality is grounded in the immanent movements of actors, not in the category of transcendence.This is the basis of his definition of ‘religion as a mode of existence’.

‘What is it that ensures the objective existence of a reality you believe in?’—this becomes the key question to ask of religion.

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2 thoughts on “What is it that ensures the objective existence of a reality that you believe in?

  1. 1. “What is it that ensures the objective existence of a reality that you believe in, whether it be God, the Virgin Mary, a Saint, or whatever? Does it not follow a trajectory, does it not perform a movement? Is this not the basis of its rationality?”
    This must be a very modern question. I mean I can think of many places and times where people would find it a bizare question or perhaps part of a hybris. And yet, I think, every one of the “expanding” religions plays with it.
    There are other questions that seem to run close to it like little children in a playground. “Who are YOU?” “Why should YOU be ensured?” “can you be ENSURED?”, “Suppose YOU are not ENSURED. then what?”

    Is it a lonely work, this work of getting ensured? Is it about the past? Is it about expectations? Is it in time?

    And what are the options? Are we not aware of the winds of discourses running around us, in us, carrying us and we end up like Elijah in the cave
    “The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.””

    What ensures Elijah of the objective existence of the reality he believes in at the proper point so that he steps out when he should?

    2. “religion is a function of the ‘trajectory’ or ‘movement’ of actors in the space and time of this world.”
    But is this the “space” and “time” of [REF]?
    When you discuss this way you sound like seeing religion “from the outside”, a powerful cognitive agent who perceives the actors and their trajectories and finally the whole system of religion.
    Is it not like trying to make a bridge between [REL] and [REF], due to modernity’s obsession to “put everything in its proper place”? To make “clean” accounting books?
    Can one [REF]erentially circumvent religion?

    3. Modernity’s starting point is achieving plentitude. Tradition works with human antenas, diminishing themselves so that they can register meetings. Is it not poverty and grace (hence time that stands still) and not plentitude of riches , that unites the churches?

    I am not sure that trajectory is the most fitting mathematical concept here. Perhaps it is too “visual” in origin. (It is so sad I have only a superficila knowledge of math)

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