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Beyond Secular Order: The Representation of Being and the Representation of the People

ISBN: 978-1-118-82530-3
304 pages
December 2013, Wiley-Blackwell
Beyond Secular Order: The Representation of Being and the Representation of the People (1118825306) cover image


Beyond Secular Order is the first of a two-volume work that expands upon renowned theologian John Milbank’s innovative attempt to understand both theology and modern thought begun in his previously published classic text Theology and Social Theory

  • Continues Milbank’s innovative attempt to understand both theology and modern thought begun in Theology and Social Theory – considered a classic work in the development of systematic theology
  • Authored by one of the world’s most influential and highly regarded contemporary theologians
  • Draws on a sweep of ideas and thinkers to argue that modern secularism is a form of Christian heresy that developed from the Middle Ages and can only be overcome by a renewed account of Christendom
  • Shows how this heresy can be transformed into a richer blend of religion, modernity and politics
  • Reveals how there is a fundamental homology between modern ideas about ontology and knowledge and modern ideas about political action, expressed in both theory and practice
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements ix

Preface: The Hidden Dimension of Humanity 1

Sequence on Modern Ontology 19

1 From Theology to Philosophy 19

2 The Four Pillars of Modern Philosophy 28

3 Modern Philosophy: A Theological Critique 49

4 Analogy versus Univocity 50

5 Identity versus Representation 57

6 Intentionality and Embodiment 66

7 Intentionality and Self hood 72

8 Reason and the Incarnation of the Logos 77

9 The Passivity of Modern Reason 81

10 The Baroque Simulation of Cosmic Order 86

11 Deconstructed Representation and Beyond 88

12 Passivity and Concursus 99

13 Representation in Philosophy 106

14 Actualism versus Possibilism 108

15 Influence versus Concurrence 112

16 Transition 113

Sequence on Political Ontology 114

1 Cosmos, Law and Morality 114

2 Metaphysics and Modern Politics 128

3 The Fate of the Rational Animal 137

4 The Irony of Representation 142

5 On Legal Concurrence 152

6 The Fate of the Social Animal 154

7 Representation and Mixed Government 170

8 Bureaucracy and the Formal Distinction 176

9 Form, Matter and Contract 177

10 The Antiquity of Historicism 184

11 The Sovereignty of the Artist 189

12 Eucharistic Creativity and Political Power 195

13 The Conundrum of Kingship 198

14 The Truth of Political Fiction 206

15 The Two Rival Constructions 208

16 Creativity and Mixed Government 211

17 Christological Constitutionalism 214

18 The Fate of the Fabricating Animal 218

19 The Fate of the Beast-Angel 220

20 The Death of Charity 225

21 Augustine’s Three Cities 228

22 Church as Cosmopolis 236

23 Aquinas and Kingship 240

24 The Theology of Ruling 247

25 The Ecumenico-Political Problem 254

26 Supernatural Charity and Global Order 257

27 Socialism Beyond the Left 261

28 Critique of All Materialisms 264

Index 271

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Author Information

John Milbank is Professor of Religion, Politics and Ethics at the University of Nottingham, where he also directs the Centre of Theology and Philosophy. Considered one of the leading contemporary theologians, Milbank first gained international recognition with Theology and Social Theory (1990), which laid the theoretical foundations for the movement which later became known as Radical Orthodoxy. In recent years he has collaborated on three books with Creston Davis and the controversial philosopher Slavoj ?i?ek: Theology and the Political: The New Debate (2005), The Monstrosity of Christ: Paradox or Dialectic (2009), and Paul’s New Moment: Continental Philosophy and the Future of Christian Theology (2010).

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“Readers familiar with Milbank’s work will appreciate his focused prose while extensive footnotes referencing his previous work provide background information for others.”  (Religious Studies Review, 7 December 2015)

“...Interesting, creative, suggestive, and beguiling… [Milbank] is fearless in his cross-examination of modern secularist assumptions about the autonomy of philosophy and its much-heralded liberation from theology’s apron strings.”  (Church Times, 24 August 2015)

“Such a vision is partial and imperfect, but it’s a signpost that, as we continue to watch modern metaphysics and politics develop, will be an important critical and constructive dialogue partner for a long time to come.”  (Mockingbird, 14 February 2014)

"Here, in Beyond Secular Order, he offers a more concise systematic analysis focusing on the ontological and political dimensions of modernity. He lays bare the deep connections between metaphysical assumptions, on the one hand, and political and social implications, on the other." (SOPHIA 2015)


“Exploratory, daring, irritating and illuminating by turns, John Milbank cannot be compared with anything else in the intellectual life of our times ... It will become the cardinal text for interpreting him and arguing with him.”
Oliver O’Donovan, University of Edinburgh

“New and exciting avenues of exploration open again and again in this richly suggestive work.”
Charles Taylor, McGill University

“In a careful and thorough canvassing of both ontological and political consequences, John Milbank displays the peculiar density which participation bestows on reality, by contrast with the binary oppositions latent in many current alternatives. By tracing everything to a free creator, Milbank confirms George Steiner’s prescient thesis in Real Presences, as well as offers extensive confirmation of his own probing inquiries since Thelogy and Social Theory. Daunting in its scope yet utterly focused in what it delivers.”
—David Burrell, University of Notre Dame

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