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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What is offered the reader , in fact , cannot be an element , but must be the
ensemble in which it is inserted : it is the whole human assemblage and edifice ,
which must be , not just a pile of scraps , but rather a self - consciousness . In a
This continuity , which for the animal could not be distinguished from anything
else , which was in it and for it the only possible mode of being , offered man all
the fascination of the sacred world , as against the poverty of the profane tool ( of
This is the sense in which it is gift and relinquishment , but what is given cannot
be an object of preservation for the receiver : the gift of an offering makes it pass
precisely into the world of abrupt consumption . This is the meaning of “