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Religions of Doubt: Religion, Critique, and Modernity in Jalal Al-e Ahmad and Walter Benjamin

Chaudhary, Ajay Singh

Religions of Doubt: Religion, Critique, and Modernity in Jalal Al-e Ahmad and Walter Benjamin is a work of comparative philosophy addressing selected works of the Iranian novelist and political thinker Jalal Al-e Ahmad and the German-Jewish critic and philosopher Walter Benjamin. I demonstrate that the perceived failure of utopian modern projects, particularly Marxism, led each of these twentieth century thinkers to re-engage with religious questions and concerns in a simultaneous critique of the corrosive, reductive, and catastrophic nature of the modern condition and the idea of traditional religion - static, irrational, regressive - that modernist thought had conjured. Furthermore, both Al-e Ahmad and Benjamin were compelled to move beyond the worlds of traditional philosophical inquiry or political action, into questions and practices of art, literature, science, technology, and ritual. I argue that reading these thinkers together allows a glimpse at ideas and modes in philosophical thought that were largely derailed by varying discourses of secularism, poststructuralism, naturalism, and fundamentalism. This reading suggests new synthetic possibilities for philosophy in the twenty-first century.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies
Thesis Advisors
Dabashi, Hamid
Degree
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 16, 2013
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