Sunday, January 16, 2011

Position, identity, and the tendency to put these two into boxes

I am always at a lost when it comes to finding words to describe my faith, my studies, or who I am. Once, someone asked me if I am a follower of religion or science. I asked him what's the difference? He said that religion is based on faith while science is based on facts. I asked him which one he belongs to. He replied that he is someone based on science. To think about it, I am neither.

There is an expectation to see a person in a box. The other day, I asked Andreas why people keep arguing with each other in all areas. He referred me to John Zizioulas. People argue because they are afraid of the Other.

In view of that, we opt to see people in a box as our attempt to reduce the threat from the Other. But by doing so, we are just making the Other more alienated and thus more threatening even though we think otherwise.

Derrida is clear when it comes to seeing ourselves in a box. If we can't do that to others, how much confidence do we have that we can do that to ourselves?

"Nevertheless, although I confirm that it is right to say that I am an atheist, I can't say, myself, "I am an atheist." It's not a position. I cannot say, "I know what I am: I am this and nothing else." I wouldn't say, "I am an atheist" and I wouldn't say, "I am a believer" either. I find the statement absolutely ridiculous. Who can say, "I am a believer?" Who knows that? Who can affirm and confirm that he or she is a believer? And who can say, "I am an atheist?""
(Yvonne Sherwood and Kevin Hart, ed., Derrida and Religion: Other Testaments [USA: Routledge, 2005], 47)

1 comment:

clement said...


Deridda may be right, or he may not be saying anything at all. One needs to be careful when reading Deridda, because he enjoys word play. Deridda aims to destroy answers, not to provide them.