American Exceptionalism


For a philosopher, ethnic roots, national identity, and so on, are simply not a category of truth-or, to put it in precise Kantian terms, when we reflect upon our ethnic roots, we engage in a private use of reason, constrained by contingent dogmatic presuppositions; that is to say, we act as “immature” individuals, not as free human beings who dwell in the dimension of the universality of reason. This, of course, does not in any way entail that we should be ashamed of our ethnic roots; we can love them, be proud of them; returning home may warm our hearts-but the fact remains that all this is ultimately irrelevant. We should act like Saint Paul who, while he was proud of his particular identity (a Jew and a Roman citizen), was nonetheless aware that, in the proper space of the Christian absolute Truth, “there is neither Jew nor Greek.” … The struggle which truly engages him is not simply “more universal” than that of one ethnic group against another; it is a struggle which obeys an entirely different logic: no longer the logic of self-identical substantial group fighting another group, but of an antagonism that cuts diagonally across all particular groups.
-Slavoj Zizek, The Parallax View

I’m not usually fond of Zizek’s musings as related to religion, but this one is quiet applicable to the American religious experience.


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