On secularism and its discontents

Project description:

The project investigated the so-called “return of religion” in the context of late modernity in general, and its growing discontents, in particular. One most pressing among these discontents concerns the vexed realities of what is called “religious violence.” Given the often moralistic and normatively overdetermined staging of this so-called “irrational,” horrorist,” etc. violence, we have attempted to describe and analyze the proliferating phenomenon of “religious violence” in exactly this perspective. The threefold structure of our agenda (clearing the context – assessing the crisis of secularism / setting up a conceptual framework / exploring cases of religious violence) has helped us to retain a sharp focus throughout the grant. In a first step, the project broke new grounds in articulating the most malleable trope of “religious violence” in terms of an original supplement that appears systemically necessary for upholding our traditional Western economies of violence and related modern social imaginaries. Secondly, we took up the challenge to reshape classical as well as recent accounts in phenomenology of religion in light of the challenges posed by violence and developed a methodological framework for analyzing religious violence on such grounds. In this context, it finally became possible to analyze various instances of “religious violence” (religious zeal, fanaticism, unconditional action) in terms of this “relevant other”—an “other” that is all too often normatively pinned against the untouchable bedrock of discursive reason and the related procedural quest for universal norms.


Involved researches:


PD Jason Alvis, PhD

Dr. Ruth R. Tietjen


Full final report.

Conferences (with international participation)

Format Title Organization Place Date
Workshop “Phenomenologies of Religious Violence” J. Alvis & M. Staudigl University of Vienna 19-20/03/2018
Conf. “The Ends of Religious Community: Challenging Challenging Continental Philosophy of Religion” J. Alvis, L. Hagedorn, & M. Staudigl University of Vienna 16-18/05/2018
Conf. “Philosophy's Religions” J. Alvis, B. Klun, & M. Staudigl University of Ljubljana 5-7/09/2018
Workshop “An Insurrectionist Manifesto: Gospels & Political Theology” J Alvis University of Vienna 08/09/2018
Workshop “Conflict & Interpretation: Ricoeur & Return of Religion” J. Alvis & M. Staudigl University of Vienna 12/12/2018
Workshop “Identity without Faith? Agamben, Sovereingtys, and What is Missing” J. Alvis University of Vienna 22/03/2019
Workshop “The Shaping of Collective Identities. Emotion, Religion, and the Political” Ruth R. Tietjen & Michael Staudigl University of Vienna 30/09-01/10/2019
Workshop Derrida—Religion—Violence. Derrida on secular and religious reason J. W. Alvis, K. Appel & M. Staudigl University of Vienna 20-22/11/2019
Conf. “Confronting Fanaticism. Theoretical and Applied Perspectives” J. Alvis, H.-B. Schmid, M. Staudigl, R. R. Tietjen, & L. Townsend University of Vienna 20-22/11/2019
Conf. “Religious Experience and Description” J. Alvis Indiana Univ., USA October 2019
Conf. “Sovereignty: Sacred and Secular” J. Alvis University of Vienna 06-07/02/2020
Conf. “Irrationality and Religiosity in Times of a Pandemic” M. Staudigl & J. Alvis University of Vienna 16-18 September 2020