The thought of Jean-Louis Chrétien is most familiar to those who have taken up the theological turn in French phenomenology, yet it defies reduction to either phenomenology or theology, or for that matter spirituality, literature, or Greek thought. Written in beautiful French prose and argued with unsurpassed erudition, Chrétien’s works defy easy interpretation. One nonetheless finds a center of gravity in attempts to define and then elaborate an original account of human being in terms of call and response, from which there follow penetrating studies of language and body, as well as illuminating approaches to a range of themes including temporality, prayer, and religious reading.
This volume gathers original work from leading scholars in the fields of philosophy, theology and poetics, including Chrétien’s collaborators, successors, and Anglophone interpreters. They engage his work along its main lines, at once presenting it in summary fashion and exploring its strengths and weaknesses for our understanding of some of the topics and problems that held his prolonged attention. Readers new to Chrétien will easily find a number of points of access, while more advanced readers will find that their understanding is both deepened and enriched.
Contributors: Rudolf Bernet, Jeffrey Bloechl, Emmanuel Falque, Jérôme de Gramont, Crina Gshwandtner, Emmanuel Housset, Stephen E. Lewis, Jean-Luc Marion, Catherine Pickstock, Andrew Prevot
Jeffrey Bloechl is professor and chair of the department of philosophy at Boston College. He is also honorary research fellow of the Australian Catholic University. His research and teaching is concentrated in contemporary European thought, philosophy of religion, philosophical anthropology, and ethics.
Editor’s Introduction, Jeffrey Bloechl
1. Knowing the Secret After and According to Jean-Louis Chrétien, Jean-Luc Marion
2. Blessed Failing, Jérôme de Gramont
3. Fatigue, Illness and Joy, Rudolf Bernet
4. Wrestling with the Angel, Emmanuel Falque
5. Hospitality and Responsibility. The Possibility of an Antiphonal Ethics in Jean-Louis Chrétien, Crina Gschwandtner
6. The Body of the Response, Emmanuel Housset
7. The Poetics of the Symbolic Body in Chrétien’s “Symbolique du Corps”, Stephen E. Lewis
8. Praying with Jean-Louis Chrétien, Andrew Prevot
9. The Cosmic Poetics of Jean-Louis Chrétien, Catherine Pickstock
About the Contributors
A poet and a philosopher, a retiring and humble man, Jean-Louis Chrétien did not live for fame but for toil and the service of truth. This collection of essays is a fitting tribute by scholars who learnt much from him and know very well what his work still has to teach.
Jean-Louis Chrétien was one of the most lucid and provocative of major French authors in recent times. He was perhaps the Socrates of our day. It will take decades to come to terms with his achievements: his work on the secret, on fatigue, on response and responsibility, not to mention his poetry, his theory of the novel, his thoughts about prayer, and his understanding of Scripture. The essays by distinguished authors gathered in Fragility and Transcendence give us a splendid first introduction to Chrétien's important work.
This truly superb collection of essays on the boundary-breaking work of the French phenomenologist and poet, Jean-Luis Chrétien is a fitting memorial for a thinker who continues to be received. Its thinking of the French thinker's concepts such as call and response, memory and hope, fragility, and prayer is indeed a form of thanking. The thinking through and again of his concepts is necessarily a sounding that is a resounding, since the concepts do not have hard edges and call forth other concepts albeit under the sign of the impossibility of intellectual mastery. Marvelously, there is nothing hagiographical about the volume. The authors think Chrétien, think with him, and on occasions think against him. All see him as an invitation to think and speak with love, hope, and gratitude as well as make love, hope, and gratitude objects of speech, objects of testimony and witness.
Thanks to a handful of translations, the philosophy of Jean-Louis Chrétien has become increasingly recognized by anglophone readers; nevertheless, it remains sorely underappreciated. Fragility and Transcendence is a major contribution that introduces and explores the rich landscape of Chrétien’s work. Here, the reader will find insights regarding major themes of Chrétien’s philosophy, not only fragility and transcendence, but also language, the body, religion, prayer, and more. A joy to read and an illuminating engagement with an essential voice in the philosophy of religion.
Reading Jean-Louis Chrétien is challenging: he presents us with exquisitely complex analyses that shatter our preconceptions. Perhaps it is not surprising that this enigmatic figure remains little known in the English-speaking world. But this collection of sparkling essays provides a superb entrée to the many facets of his thought. It will, no doubt, become a major resource for anyone wanting to understand and interact with Chrétien’s remarkable thinking.