Theory of Religion
Zone Books, 1989 - 126 páginas
Theory of Religion brings to philosophy what Georges Bataille's earlier book The Accursed Share brought to anthropology and history, namely, an analysis based on notions of excess and expenditure. No other work of Bataille's, and perhaps no other work anywhere since Weber's Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, has managed to draw so incisively the links between man's religious and economic activities.
"Religion," according to Bataille, "is the search for a lost intimacy." In a brilliant and tightly reasoned argument, he proceeds to develop a "general economy" of man's relation to this intimacy: from the seamless immanence of animality to the shattered world of objects and the partial, ritual recovery of the intimate order through the violence of the sacrifice. Bataille then reflects on the archaic festival, in which he sees not only the glorious affirmation of life through destructive consumption but also the seeds of another, more ominous order -- war.
Bataille then traces the rise of the modern military order, in which production ceases to be oriented toward the destruction of a surplus and violence is no longer deployed inwardly but is turned to the outside. In these twin developments one can see the origins of modern capitalism.
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But this personally distinct power has at the same time the divine character of a
personal , indistinct , and immanent existence . In a sense , the world is still , in a
fundamental way , immanence without a clear limit ( an indistinct flow of being
The sense of continuity that we must attribute to animals no longer impressed
itself on the mind unequivocally ( the positing of distinct objects was in fact its
negation ) . But it had derived a new significance from the contrast it formed to the
And insofar as the will to clear consciousness is involved , intimacy will
immediately given in the sphere of distinct knowledge . The difficulty of making
distinct knowledge and the intimate order coincide is due to their contrary modes