Paperback / softback
March 3, 2020
9.00 Inches (US)
6.00 Inches (US)
1.04 Inches (US)
1.46 Pounds (US)
$52.00 USD, £43.00 GBP
v2.1 Reference
Electronic book text
March 3, 2020
9.00 Inches (US)
6.00 Inches (US)
$52.00 USD, £43.00 GBP
v2.1 Reference

Philosophy and the Turn to Religion

Originally published in 1999. If religion once seemed to have played out its role in the intellectual and political history of Western secular modernity, it has now returned with a vengeance. In Philosophy and the Turn to Religion, Hent de Vries argues that a turn to religion discernible in recent philosophy anticipates and accompanies this development in the contemporary world. Though the book reaches back to Immanuel Kant, Martin Heidegger, and earlier, it takes its inspiration from the tradition of French phenomenology, notably Emmanuel Levinas, Jean-Luc Marion, and, especially, Jacques Derrida. Tracing how Derrida probes the discourse on religion, its metaphysical presuppositions, and its transformations, de Vries shows how this author consistently foregrounds the unexpected alliances between a radical interrogation of the history of Western philosophy and the religious inheritance from which that philosophy has increasingly sought to set itself apart.

De Vries goes beyond formal analogies between the textual practices of deconstruction and so-called negative theology to address the necessity for a philosophical thinking that situates itself at once close to and at the farthest remove from traditional manifestations of the religious and the theological. This paradox is captured in the phrase adieu (à dieu), borrowed from Levinas, which signals at once a turn toward and a leave-taking from God—and which also gestures toward and departs from the other of this divine other, the possibility of radical evil. Only by confronting such uncanny and difficult figures, de Vries claims, can one begin to think and act upon the ethical and political imperatives of our day.

About the Author

Hent de Vries is Paulette Goddard Professor of the Humanities. He is Professor of German, Religious Studies, Comparative Literature, and Affiliated Professor of Philosophy. He received his BA/MA in Judaica and Hellenistic Thought (Theology), Public Finance and Political Economy (Law), at Leiden University, and obtained his PhD there in Philosophy of Religion, with a study on Theodor W. Adorno and Emmanuel Levinas, Jürgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida, entitled Theologie im pianissimo: Zwischen Rationalität und Dekonstruktion. Before joining NYU, de Vries directed The Humanities Center at Johns Hopkins University, holding the Russ Family Chair in the Humanities with a joint appointment in Philosophy. He also taught in the Philosophy departments of Loyola University in Chicago and the University of Amsterdam, where he long held the Chair of Metaphysics and its History and co-founded and directed the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis. He received visiting positions and fellowships at Harvard, Chicago, Princeton, Brown, Columbia, the Paris Collège International de Philosophie, the Université Saint Louis in Brussels, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the Université de Paris, Panthéon-Sorbonne. Hent de Vries is currently serving his second term as Director of the summer School of Criticism and Theory at Cornell University (SCT), Ithaca. In 2018, he was the Titulaire of the Chaire de Métaphysique Étienne Gilson at the Institut Catholique, Paris. He is the Editor of the book series "Cultural Memory in the Present," published by Stanford University Press.


"A quasi-magisterial work, both insofar as its phenomenological rigor gives the reader a comprehension of Derrida's religious writings that transcends their quotability and also insofar as it goes beyond Derrida in its treatment of the relationship between philosophy and religion."

- Martin Kavka - MLN


"Where—or where not?—does religion exist in contemporary culture, and in what forms or by what symptoms does its perennial encounter with philosophy now manifest itself? Following the leads of Derrida, Heidegger, and Levinas, and of those whose leads they follow, Hent de Vries proposes these new/old questions as tracing the most sensitive seismograph of the state of our worldwide culture. His extraordinary learning, his sophisticated sympathy with various disciplines and with competing modes of philosophizing, and his patient, engaged, courteous voice, make this book a place of profit not alone for those already convinced of the gravity of its topics, but for those who may well seek a way into matters that they sense they have been keeping at bay."

- Stanley Cavell, Harvard University

"Hent de Vries has given us a very comprehensive, thoughtful, and instructive study of the relation between negative theology and its recent analogues in the writings of Levinas, Heidegger and Derrida. Those puzzled by Derrida's discussion of religion in his recent work will find de Vries' book very useful indeed."

- Richard Rorty, Stanford University
Johns Hopkins University Press
From 17

9781421437392 : philosophy-and-the-turn-to-religion-vries
Paperback / softback
498 Pages
$52.00 USD
9781421437408 : philosophy-and-the-turn-to-religion-vries
Electronic book text
498 Pages
$52.00 USD

Other Titles by Hent de Vries

Religion and Violence

Hent de Vries
Mar 2020 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$52.00 USD - Electronic book text
$52.00 USD - Paperback / softback

Minimal Theologies

Hent de Vries - Geoffrey Hale
Dec 2019 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$62.00 USD - Paperback / softback
$62.00 USD - Electronic book text

Other Titles in PHILOSOPHY / Movements / Phenomenology

Being, Man, and Death

James M. Demske
Mar 2025 - University Press of Kentucky
$30.00 USD - Paperback / softback
$12.95 USD - Electronic book text

Introduction to Philosophy

Martin Heidegger, translated by William McNeill
Apr 2024 - Indiana University Press
$60.00 USD - Hardback

The Personalism of Edith Stein

Robert McNamara
Nov 2023 - The Catholic University of America Press
$75.00 USD - Hardback

Other Titles in Philosophy


Pia Lauritzen
Sep 2023 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$8.95 USD - Paperback / softback
$8.95 USD - Electronic book text

Nietzsche's Voices

John Sallis, edited by Richard Rojcewicz
Jan 2023 - Indiana University Press
$75.00 USD - Hardback
$35.00 USD - Paperback / softback

Duns Scotus on Time and Existence

translated by Edward Buckner, Jack Zupko
Aug 2022 - The Catholic University of America Press
$34.95 USD - Paperback / softback