Latour and the Secular

The argument I have been advancing on this blog has centred on the claim that religious categories are essential to Latour’s philosophical project. Modernity, notwithstanding its claims, is ‘religious’ because it leverages categories of transcendence to secure its political hegemony over minority collectives in the world. Modernity is always making a move upwards to the transcendent, and then using what it finds there to secure its own epistemology as unified, de-animated, indisputable, and so on. This is where it gets its understanding of ‘Nature’, ‘Society’, ‘the Economy’, and so on. The movement up and down is associated with the being of ‘the crossed-out God of Modernity’.

Latour’s analysis of Modernity as ‘religious’ can be applied to our contemporary situation, and in particular to our cherished ideology of secularism. This is the ideology that Latour claims has become ubiquitous in what he loosely describes as ‘Europe’ or ‘the West’.  Latour considers the phenomenon of ‘Western’ secularism as failing according to its own definition.

Evidently, a full consideration of how the term ‘secularism’ is understood and appropriated, let alone how it has come to determine the self-identity of those inhabiting ‘the West’, is beyond the scope of this blog post. To begin with, I am going to borrow a definition provided by Graham Ward in his 2014 article ‘The Myth of Secularism’. Ward understands secularism as a post-Enlightenment ideology and social ‘habitus’. Its distinctive feature is to propose itself as a neutral scenography that is able to guarantee the emancipation and flourishing of all human ideologies precisely because it is neutral with regard to those ideologies itself. Thus, Ward proposes the following definition:

Secularism as a norm, as the natural default position prior to individual life choices, as the eternal condition upon which constructive choices can be made

For Latour, this neutrality is precisely what cannot be predicated of secularism. This is because he understands secularism to be an expression of Modernity and therefore an inheritor of the structure of religion that Modernity encodes.

This enables Latour to make the apparently paradoxical claim that Western society is characterised above all by ‘religious fundamentalism’. With this term, he is not referring to some kind of regressive or recursive adherence to a particular religious creed or tradition. Nor is he referring to the so-called ‘return of religion’ in contemporary French philosophy as has been exhaustively documented in recent studies by McCaffery and Lambert, whose programme can be better understood as an attempt to reform secularism by means of a secular critique of religion, and as such representing ‘a more profound post-secular phenomenon’. Rather, Latour is referring to the way in which the political, cultural and economic existence of Western society is characterised by its immanentisation of the category of transcendence, such that the decisions and choices its subjects make do not arise from processes of progressive composition that take place within this framework of this world. In other words, Latour is criticising Western society for possessing an irreducible belief system. Whatever its claims to secular neutrality, then, Latour’s analysis arraigns the West for being guilty of re-inscribing a discourse that its own adherents would suppose had passed away with the most hegemonic and dogmatic forms of fundamentalist religion of the past.

By means of this insight, in a series of recent articles Latour has proposed a controversial connection between the contemporary (European) secular state and non-state actors engaged in violent religious extremism and even Jihad-inspired terrorism. For example, in a newspaper opinion piece written in response to the Charlie Hebdo massacres that took place in Paris in January 2015, published in Le Monde, he argues that the fundamental ideology of those criminals was ultimately the same, albeit in perniciously mutated form, as the one espoused and promoted by the secular ideology they were seeking to destroy:

It comes from those who believe they possess a knowledge that is so absolute that they have the right to impose it without having to take into account the necessary brakes of law, of politics, of morality, of culture or of simple good sense. It comes when certain people in the name of the utopia of a paradise on earth assume to themselves the right to impose hell on those who hesitate or don’t obey fast enough.

The hegemony over interpretation of truth claimed by the Jihadists is a function of political religion. But Latour’s startling claim is that an identical movement is enacted within the secular West as well. Both claim access to transcendence as warrant of their actions, in one case citing ‘fi sabilillah’ (‘the cause of Allah’), in the other case citing the being of ‘the crossed-out God’, or its theistic reduction in the form of the laws of ‘Nature’, ‘Society’ or ‘the Economy’. And both wield this as an instrument of political sovereignty, demanding the total obedience of citizens to diktat of this metaphysical paymaster. Thus, with regard to the Jihadists, Latour can propose that ‘behind their archaic appearance they must be understood above all as fanatical modernizers’. And correspondingly, with regard to Western secular society, he can propose that ‘like the most extremist zealots of Jerusalem and Ramallah’ its adherents are in fact nothing but ‘political fundamentalists’ (Latour, 2015, Thou Shallt Not Freeze-Frame, p.35). There is an uncomfortable synergy between the structures that lie behind both dogmatic ideologies, even if this issues in radically different forms of world-view and behavior.

Latour’s diagnosis of secularism as ‘fundamentalism’ can be fruitfully applied to recent debates in France concerning the function of ‘laïcité’ and the ‘mode of management’ that the French state is entitled to pursue in its guise as neutral arbitrator of the boundaries of religion in public life, with the vexed issue of the display of religious symbols being one prominent case-study. These debates were accelerated by the publication of the report of the Stasi Commission of 2003 and the controversy that ensued from it. Latour’s analysis would suggest that the secular French state, or indeed any state apparatus, cannot function as neutral arbitrator of religion, since secularism is itself inflected as a religious ideology. Indeed, as Ward points out in the article mentioned above, in the case of the policy of ‘laïcité’ being pursued by the French state this contradiction is apparent even in a narrowly-defined legal sense, since to enshrine ‘laïcité’ in legislation and to enforce it as law upon the population is simultaneously to enact a gesture of political sovereignty that is characteristic of political religion. Latour has been prominently involved in debates about ‘laïcité’ that have taken place in France over the last two years. However, this involvement is not knee-jerk: as I have shown, it originates in core philosophical principles that he established from the very earliest part of his career.

In summary, my claim is that Latour offers a radical critique of what constitutes the secular. His work demonstrates that secularism as an ideology does not represent a neutral scenography upon whose canvas an authentically political society can be constructed. Secularism as an ideology, and indeed the so-called secular state as it is promoted and celebrated within Western liberal democracy, is better understood as an expression of political religion and hence as a vehicle of religious ‘fundamentalism’. Failure to appreciate this results in a flawed deployment of Latour’s ideas. This error can be seen in a recent attempt to apply Latour’s work for the analysis of contemporary politics, which makes the assumption that it is aiming to shore up or re-institute the authority of the existing secular state, rather than to provide a radical critique of the concept of ‘secularism’ to which it is bound: Tsouvalis (2016), ‘Latour’s Object-Orientated Politics for a Post-Political Age’.

Latour and Voegelin’s Political Religion, part 2

See the previous post here.

For Voegelin, all human experience, including the ‘sacred symbols’ through which that experience is mediated for any given generation, is structured as an ‘ordering-towards’. For most political collectives in history, this has taken the form of ordering-towards a transcendent being. The profile of such societies has thus been hierarchical, with their internal relations of power—whether social, cultural, racial or economic—being taken as emanating from a transcendent source and cascading downwards. Human societies have thus functioned according to the principle of ‘the divinization of the worldly order of dominion’ (The Political Religions, p.44). For Voegelin, the nature of the supreme being is less significant than the basic fact of the orientation towards transcendence; hence, the mystery cults of the Greek world and the corpus mysticum of Christianity are equivalent symbols in this regard.

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Voegelin’s argument, however, is that in the modern period this ordering-towards transcendence has found itself re-conditioned as an ‘inner-worldly’ phenomenon, with the consequence that internal relations of power, aping what they have replaced, now take the form of a hierarchy emanating from a non-transcendent being—one whose surrogate authority can easily be usurped by a human individual, party or credo. ‘There is no longer any sacral permeation from the highest source’, Voegelin writes, and in its place the immanent political order ‘[…] has itself become an original sacral substance’ (The Political Religions, p.59). This transposition is the essence of what he calls ‘political religion’. It is instantiated above all in the form of the modern state, which imports from religion ‘the world-transcendent God as the ultimate condition and origin of its own existence’(The Political Religions, p.28). For Voegelin, then, contemporary political collectives derive their authority from ‘a realm of religious order’: their existence and persistence can only be understood by ‘taking into account the religious forces inherent in its society and the symbols through which these are expressed’ (The Political Religions, p.31).

In his 1938 work, Voegelin employs his concept of political religion primarily for a diagnosis of the fascist mass movements that were contemporary to that time, the common feature of which consists in the ability of their political leaderships to leverage religio-ecstatic obligations over the people in the guise of a ‘unio mystica’ between the two. Elsewhere he extends his diagnosis to ideological regimes of different kinds, including Marxist ones. However, the concept is highly consonant with Latour’s description of the ‘crossed-out God’ as an instrument of political sovereignty, for at least two reasons.

The first reason derives from an analysis of the genealogy of political religions. For Voegelin, these regimes emerge following shifts in the definition of what constitutes the rational, shifts that are associated in turn with the development of the modern scientific method. Wherever science promises an understanding of the world in positivistic terms, that is, ‘as an inventory of existential facts about all stages and as knowledge of its essential and causal contexts’ (The Political Religions, pp.59–60), then the ordering principle of human existence is shifted away from symbols of transcendent religiosity and towards an inner-worldly, immanent definition: ‘the methods of science as the sole forms to study the contents of the world’ become ‘the sole generally obligatory basis of man’s attitude towards the world’(The Political Religions, p.60). It is no surprise, then, that Voegelin identifies the seventeenth-century – and Hobbes in particular – as a turning point in this regard, since this was the period in which the modern scientific method become the ruling paradigm for man’s understanding of the world and his relation to it. Voegelin understands this moment as representing a lapse and a misdirection in the trajectory of human existence: from this point onwards, politics becomes vulnerable to annexation by those declaring themselves to be gate-keepers of the scientific method and thus guardians of the (putative) apodictic certainty that method promises to supply to those who wield it. Through its appropriation of ‘scientism’, then, political religion declares itself to be sole mediator of access to the ‘realissimum’. For Voegelin, the genealogy of political religions thus turns on a shift in the definition of what constitutes the rational: first, political religion forecloses the space of the polis in which rational meaning might be defined through collective human experience, and then, second, it establishes itself as demiurgic fashioner of an order that alone constitutes the real and that, as a consequence, is sacrosanct. As Voegelin puts it:

It [political religion] disregards the rules for examining experiences reasonably, it refuses rational discourse; and the spirit that adopts this assertion will change from being a discussion partner to being an adherent of another order. (The Political Religions, p.29)

In short, for Voegelin, political religion maintains its hegemony over the polis to the extent that it is able to appropriate a discourse of rationality for its own ends. This is precisely what Latour understands is taking place in Religion according to Modernity (not, religion as a mode of existence). In both cases this is a quasi-religious gesture, since it consists of the instrumentalization of transcendent authority claims and their subsequent imposition over the collective space of the polis.

But Voegelin’s work is useful for a second reason also: its description of the effect of political religion upon its subjects. For Voegelin, the potential for the individualization and personalization of the human subject, including one’s ability to act freely, is progressively lost under regimes of political religion. The argument is easy to trace: if, as we have seen, the claim of political religion is to represent ‘the only true reality, from which a stream of reality is allowed to flow back to the people’, then it follows that its subjects will be invited to do nothing more than ‘blend into a suprapersonal realissimum’ (The Political Religions, p.15) As Voegelin puts it, faced with the reality of the modern state, the requirement leveraged upon individuals is ‘to sink down into the impersonal nothingness of their instrumentality’. His focus in the 1938 text is on the ‘technical’ means by which this integration takes place: this of course was indicative of the highly technologized propaganda machine that was being developed at that time under the aegis of National Socialism. But Voegelin’s analysis is consonant with Latour’s depiction of the human subject under the regime of Modernity. For in the same way, the ‘crossed-out God’ enables the Modern regime to instrumentalize its human subjects, not as free actors able to engage in trials with other actors, but in the guise of ‘poor wretches’ who are ‘dominated’ from above (An Inquiry into Modes of Existence, p.421) – a hegemonic politics.

In his most recent work, Latour has explicitly taken up some of the concepts and terminology of Voegelin’s political theory in order to describe the quasi-religious procedure by which the transcendent is immanentized within the Modern regime as an instrument of political sovereignty. His point is to draw attention to this procedure as the imposition of a transcendent meta-logic, resulting in a form of religion that has lost touch with its own rational definition, which he thinks instead must always be a function of an immanent, processual, contingent and dynamic logistics.

Tout le paradoxe de la modernisation, c’est qu’elle a perdu de vue, chaque fois davantage, tout contact avec le mondain, la matérialité: elle ne voit plus dans ce bas monde que l’autre monde simplement immanentisé’ (Latour, Face a Gaia, 2015).

My translation, ‘the whole paradox of modernization is that it has lost sight, more and more every time, of contact with the mundane, with the material: it no longer sees in the here-below anything other than another world that has been merely immanentized’.

The Religion that is promoted by the Moderns thus lends itself to be wielded as a tool of instrumentalization and hegemony. For Latour, this is precisely what is instantiated in the form of the ‘crossed-out God’.

Voegelin’s concept of ‘political religion’ is thus much more useful for an analysis of religion within Modernity than, for example, Carl Schmitt’s concept of ‘political theology’. From the later, Latour would do better to focus on ‘political romanticism’.

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Latour and Voegelin’s Political Religion, Part 1

Latour’s concept of the ‘crossed-out God’, ‘le Dieu barré, hors jeu’, describes the way in which religion has become illegitimately instrumentalized within the Modern polis. This immediately differentiates his work from attempts at political theory recently developed elsewhere in Continental philosophy, since these are predicated on the attempt to develop a politics based on a very pure form of atheism. This point has been well-developed by Christopher Watkin in his excellent study of the work of Badiou, Nancy and Meillassoux, Difficult Atheism.

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Instead, it is more appropriate to propose kinship between Latour’s work and an alternative formulation of the relationship of contemporary politics with religion, namely, Eric Voegelin’s ‘political religion’.

Although it supplies the title of his 1938 book, Die politischen Religionen, published in Vienna in the immediate aftermath of the Nazi annexation of Austria, this concept has often been relegated to the status of footnote in studies of Voegelin’s political theory, first on the basis of its supposed contextual specificity vis-à-vis the totalitarian regimes of the 1930s, and second on the basis of the author’s subsequent tendency to question its explanatory value in later writing and to prefer alternative formulations for his analysis of the contemporary political situation. For a survey of its use by Voegelin and its reception history in later Voegelin scholarship, a useful article is Gontier (2011), ‘Totalitarisme, religions politiques et modernité chez Eric Voegelin’. For a history of its use before Voegelin, there is another useful article by the same author, that is, Gontier (2013), ‘From Political Theology to Political Religion: Eric Voegelin and Carl Schmitt’, p.25, fn.2.

However, recent critical re-evaluation of the place and function of this concept within Voegelin’s thought as a whole enables us to reconsider it now in relation to Latour. This re-evaluation is well represented by the essays in Hughes, McKnight & Price (eds.) (2001), Politics, Order and History: Essays on the Work of Eric Voegelin. Of particular interest is the contribution by Peter Optiz in this volume, which argues that the structural outline of Voegelin’s entire political theory is found in this early book, which is thus of greater importance than has often been acknowledged in Voegelin scholarship up to now.

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Latour and religion: a quick overview

Over the last few months I’ve written a number of posts on Latour’s concept of ‘religion as a mode of existence’ and the political theology that ensues. We’ve only scratched the surface. I’ll continue to write more of course. But I thought it might be worth a moment to collate some of those posts, so that (if you’re interested) you can begin to trace a journey through it all in some kind of order. So, here is a list of some (not all) of the posts that you might like to follow for a quick overview of the topic:

  1. The Religion of the Moderns
  1. Making a transition
  1. Religion as a Mode of Existence

 

Sloterdijk, ‘In the Shadow of Mount Sinai’, part 1

Peter Sloterdijk’s recent text, In the Shadow of Mount Sinai: A Footnote on the Origins and Changing Forms of Total Membership (2016), is an important appendix to and even recalibration of much of his previous work on globalising religion, particularly as found in the Spheres trilogy and in God’s Zeal. I’ll be offering a few posts on this interesting new text in the days to follow, with particular reference to Latour’s Face à Gaïa (suggesting as well a somewhat subterranean dialogue with certain ideas of René Girard).

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Sloterdijk begins the text by registering complaints that had been made about You Must Change your Life (2013) and God’s Zeal (2009), namely: ‘the allegation that I had indiscriminately ascribed to the monotheistic ‘scriptural religions’ (namely Judaism, Christianity and Islam) an intrinsic or, put differently, an irremovable violent component’ (p.3). The complaint made against Sloterdijk, therefore, and that he here willingly registers, is that he has confused the irenic originary purposes of these religions with their contemporary iterations.

The objective of this new text, then, will be to understand in a more integral way the link between religion and violence.

To do so (bearing in mind the complaints made against him), Sloterdijk agrees to shift his methodology somewhat. First of all, he will forgo the potentially polemical discourse of ‘monotheisms’. Why? Because Sloterdijk now sees that ‘monotheism’ is not actually very useful as a heuristic concept and, indeed, should be rejected: the religion that breeds violence (and that needs to be diagnosed in this text) is not concerned with defending ‘the numerical word one’, so much as with ensuring a ‘non-mixing contract and non-translation oath’ (p.23). What will be analysed in this text, then, are the boundarying forces that exist between people-ground and people-group. With this shift to a purer form of immanence, then, we can immediately see that we’re in the real of the Schmittian political theology espoused by Latour in his own recent work.

And so, instead of analysis in terms of ‘monotheisms’, Sloterdijk proposes instead the greater clarity offered by the concept of ‘zeal’. This shifted methodology allows a slightly different formulation of the link between religion and violence: it enables him instead ‘to focus on the phenomenon of zealous and potentially violently manifested motivation with reference to certain religious norms without addressing again the logical construction of the one-God faith’ (pp.4-5).

Thus, the phenomenon that is diagnosed as causing religious violence is broadened from ‘monotheism’ (without further nuance) to the way in which religious zealots construct a system for themselves that breeds violence. This diagnosis is in the realm of spherology/ immunology. Sloterdijk describes this new object of analysis in the following formula: it is ‘the form and the intensity of the absorption of faith practisers by the system of norms to which they subordinate their existence’ (p.6).

More to follow.

The Crossed-Out God of Modernity

If you were to ask the ‘man-on-the-street’ for his or her sound-bite understanding of the religious thought of Bruno Latour (Lord, have mercy!), there’s a chance that you’d hear (if nothing else) the phrase ‘the crossed-out God’.

It’s important to understand that this is a description not of the God of [REL], but of the god of the Moderns.

As we know from We Have Never Been Modern, the Modern constitution functions by means of the purification of a properly pluralist ontology into the artificial and non-representative epistemological categories of Nature/ Society. By means of this purification, the Moderns accrue to themselves power vis-à-vis other collectives in the world: this power is rendered by the way they can now leverage the forces of both transcendence and immanence in one and the same movement, even though this movement is in fact mutually and internally contradictory. This subterfuge back-and-forth movement allows the Moderns to evade [NET:PRE] by claiming sometimes that agency is curtailed by forces outside their control (the transcendent lock), whilst at other times that it is generated by their own meaning-making activity (the immanent lock). Latour’s particular contribution, of course, which is in accord with his Nietzschean/ Deleuzian inheritance of ‘epistemologies of force(s)’, is to diagnose this as a ‘political’ tool in the hands of the Moderns: by restricting rational definition to one or other of these locks, the Moderns are simultaneously able to denounce other (entirely legitimate) collective arrangements by which a regime of truth might be conceived to arise. (This denunciation might target human collectives, for which cf. On the Modern Cult of the Factish Gods, or nonhuman collectives, for which cf. Politics of Nature – it really is an all-encompassing power).

To complete the picture, however, another lock must be added. This is provided by the Moderns’ concept of ‘god’. It is no surprise to discover that the divinity of the Moderns is subject to exactly the same manhandling between the poles of transcendence and immanence: sometimes the Moderns situate (H)im according to the transcendent lock, thus vouchsafing their own privileged access to a regime of truth which they claim is guaranteed by (H)is transcendence; at other times they situate (h)im according to the immanent lock, thus preserving their own role as masters and determiners of a regime of truth which they claim is always the result of their own agency and nothing more. The result is a ‘God’ who serves as nothing but a functionary of the Modern constitution, available to the Moderns at any moment of their choosing as a resource to protect their own situation:

His transcendence distanced Him infinitely, so that He disturbed neither the free play of nature nor that of society, but the right was nevertheless reserved to appeal to that transcendence in case of conflict between the laws of Nature and those of Society. (Latour, We Have Never Been Modern, 1993 [1991], p.33)

Just like the first two locks, this quasi-divinity provides a means by which the Moderns can denounce regimes of truth claimed by other collectives. (I’ve simplified the system of ‘locks’ a little bit here).

Latour describes this divinity of the Moderns by means of the intriguing phrase: ‘the crossed-out God, relegated to the side-lines’. Strangely enough, although he advances this description prominently in We Have Never Been Modern (cf. pp.32–35, 39, 127–128, 138–139, 142), which is an early text dating from 1991, it hardly recurs in his subsequent corpus. Notwithstanding, the concept is highly germane to an understanding of Latour’s positive formulation of [REL] that is to follow.

Three observations about ‘the crossed-out God, relegated to the side-lines’ will be ventured here.

First, H/he is a function of the severely truncated epistemology through which the Moderns institute their own religious experience. Situated away from the logistics of [NET:PRE], the crossed-out God cannot be encountered as an entity within the common world. This being the case, whatever the piety of the Moderns (and Latour thinks they really are pious, whatever it might seem), there are quite literally no means by which a truth-claim might be made about this divinity: H/he has been denied the right to exert agency by means of an actor-network and therefore H/he cannot be conceived as an object of veridiction. The divinity of the Moderns, and the huge industry of critique that has followed in H/his wake, is chimerical. And so in making this diagnosis, Latour brilliantly bypasses vast swathes of rationalistic critique of religion. The divinity critiqued by all that has quite literally deconstructed itself. In fact, we might say the majority religion of secular modernity – the Religion of the Moderns, we might say – is characterised by a religious sensibility that has been thwarted by its own religious epistemology:

Moderns [are those who are engaged in] on the one hand a search for a substance and a God not made by human hands, a search they have made the origin of all virtue; and, on the other hand, a practice that obliges them not to take that project into account. (Latour, An Inquiry into Modes of Existence, 2013, p.275)

By contrast, Latour’s intellectual project requires experience to be open to encounter with a dramatically expanded range of agencies operating outside the locks applied by the Modern constitution. ‘All [entities] ask to exist’, Latour writes, ‘and none is caught in the choice—viewed (by Moderns) as a matter of good sense—between construction and reality’ (On the Modern Cult of the Factish Gods, p.56). Religious experience is no exception: the specification of divine being to be provided by [REL], whatever this may turn out to be (remember, we haven’t got to that yet), must be justified by the performance of that entity in the common world. The God of [REL] (whose being, to repeat, has not yet been justified) will therefore be open to rational consideration in a way that was foreclosed under the aegis of the Modern constitution.

The second observation concerns the terminology itself: I wonder (and I’d very much like to hear opinions on this if possible) if the very phrase ‘the crossed-out God, relegated to the side-lines’ is subtly constructed by Latour in such a way as to undermine itself, thereby pointing forward ultimately to its own negation, the very negation that he thinks has already taken place via its espousal by the Moderns. Unfortunately this subtlety has been somewhat obscured by the standard English translation. The French that lies behind the phrase ‘the crossed-out God, relegated to the side-lines’ is ‘le Dieu barré, hors jeu’. The second part of this phrase (hors jeu) is alluding to the notion of ‘being called offside’ in sporting competition. With this new translation, a crucial nuance to the Religion of the Moderns comes into view: although its divinity is indeed ‘offside’, that is, outside the play of logistics determined by [NET:PRE], this is only because of a law that has been imposed upon the game by the Moderns themselves and which, in theory at least, could be retracted in an alternative epistemological regime. What would result, were this alternative regime somehow to be realised (enter: AIME), would be a God who is brought back onside, in such a way that His impact within the common world could be detected. The capital letters ‘G’ and ‘H’ in that previous sentence would be re-instated as markers of divine being, rather than as markers of the false transcendences imposed by Modernity (just as the capitals are used in ‘Nature’, ‘Society’, ‘Economy’, etc).

If my footballing analogy holds, then, the formula le Dieu barré, hors jeu can be taken as encoding (in a hidden, but nascent, way – like a potential tectonic force) a shift from the logic of Modernity to the logistical operations of ontological pluralism. This is precisely the movement that will be tracked by the regime of truth given by [REL].

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Briefly, a third and final observation. In We Have Never Been Modern, a connection is proposed between the concept of le Dieu barré, hors jeu and a particular heritage in Christian theology: Latour suggests that it was in fact ‘a reinterpretation of ancient Christian theological themes [that] made it possible to bring God’s transcendence and his immanence into play simultaneously’ (We Have Never Been Modern, p.33). This hint, although it is hardly developed further in that text, points forward to something that will need to be carefully considered, namely, what is the relationship of this bastardised religious expression, both in order and priority, with Christian theology? This is a question that is imposing itself with increasing intensity in Latour’s recent work and that embodies a creative tension upon his understanding of religion as a mode of existence [REL]. it will surely have to be the subject of a great deal of our attention in what is to come …