Deconstructing God By Gary Gutting

This is the third in a series of interviews about religion that I am conducting for The Stone. The interviewee for this installment is John D. Caputo, a professor of religion and humanities at Syracuse University and the author of “The Prayers and Tears of Jacques Derrida: Religion Without Religion.”

Gary Gutting

You can read this interview here . Depending on your background you might look at this interview as mindless quibble or an interesting example of Deconstruction. I will begin by saying that Caputo is not one for pointless games but is a serious philosopher and is seriously articulating the outcome of his Deconstruction on his religious faith.

Deconstruction is one of those topics that is hard to articulate and the moment you make a definitive statement about it you have just negated it. See what I mean?

Think for a moment about any claim that one would make. “It is dark outside”. That claim has meaning to us in so far as it relates to the outside when its light out. Statements tend to have this binary oposition to one another and most often the former is preferred over the latter. So for example, “good” / “bad”, “truth” / “false”, “right” / “wrong”. What if these binaries didn’t exist or were “Deconstructed”. This is what Caputo is getting at when he says things like, “After making a distinction in deconstruction, the first thing to do is to deconstruct it, to show that it leaks, that its terms are porous and intersecting, one side bleeding into the other, these leaks being the most interesting thing of all about the distinction.”

What I see as problematic in this interview is the assumption that God can be deconstructed. Obviously this depends on what we mean by “God”. In other words, it is possible to generate a conception of deity that is less than God and more like a figment of our imagination. In such a case deconstruction is very possible. Caputo didn’t go into the type of deity he is referring to. Once he begins to qualify a deity for us then we have a better understanding of whether or not such a deity can be deconstructed.


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