Georges Bataille coined the term and concept atheology to describe the “science of the death or destruction of God.” Neither a rational atheism that emulates science nor a simple reformulation of a mystical negative theology, it refers instead to a mode of thinking that rejects the opposition between theism and atheism: atheology uncovers instead the centrality of faith to life in the human realm, where divinity resides. 

In many ways, atheology as a concept belongs to Bataille; as an intellectual tendency, however, it can be detected in a multitude of philosophers, novelists, poets, and critics across disciplinary and national boundaries. The atheologies group is dedicated to exploring atheology both in its historical origins and as a framework through which to read and talk about a variety of authors concerned with processes of individuation and de-individuation, sovereignty and freedom, communication and community, and divinity and its place in everyday life in so-called ‘secular modernity’.

The group will begin with Paul North’s 2015 book The Yield: Kafka’s Atheological Revolution, alongside Kafka’s Zürau Aphorisms, of which The Yield is a study. We will dedicate each meeting of the Spring 2017 semester to a selection of Kafka’s Aphorisms and to one or more sections of North’s book. From there, we will move on—either to Bataille’s work, or to sketch other, newer paths in the atheological corpus. The group will move freely among several disciplinary modes, addressing questions of concern to scholars of literature, philosophy, political theory, intellectual history, sexuality, and religion, among other fields.

The tentative dates of group meetings are February 20, March 13, April 10, April 24, and May 15, with meetings beginning at 4:30 PM, although this is subject to change.

Contact Elias Kleinbock ([email protected]) and Matt Rickard ([email protected]) for more information and to RSVP.