The NDPR has up a review of Unger’s new The Religion of the Future. Unger is someone I’m only vaguely aware of – he comes up in relation to Enrique Dussel and Eduardo Mendieta. This new book sounds interesting though. Here are some choice bits of the review:
Why do we need religious talk now to focus our freedom? Unger’s argument depends on the case he can make for religion’s privileged relationship to freedom. That he tries to make such a case distinguishes his project from many others concerning freedom that accept broadly humanistic assumptions. The core of the book can be seen as Unger’s attempt to free religion enough from its traditional connotations that he can work out the relationship. What he seems to maintain is the utopian moment in the religiousness of, say, Paul (281-82), converted to his activist vision: “the form of the world is passing away” (1 Corinthians 7:31) — only if we make it so.
This freedom must be marshalled in the face of a set of anxieties. These anxieties amount to a constant belittlement. Humanity must confront its role in fashioning itself in the face of this situation.
The common thread among the needs Unger assumes is our critical subjectivity. It is only because it is up to us to think about how we should live that we do not accept a fixed way to live, i.e., that the sense of life is open to revision constantly. It is not because existence is groundless that we are self-conscious, but because we are self-conscious, deciding what seems best, that existence must be given grounds, constantly.
The review is fairly critical, but it would be interesting to see someone outside the continental tradition toying with the concept of religion in this way.