Faith between reason and affect: thinking with Antonio Gramsci

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This article argues that faith is a crucial concept for understanding the relationship between reason and affect. By allowing people to learn from religious faith for secular ends, it can help generate political action for emancipatory change. Antonio Gramsci's underexplored secular-political and materialist conception of faith provides an important contribution to such a project. By speaking to common sense and tradition, faith avoids imposing a wholly external set of normative and political principles, instead taking people as they are as the starting point for generating emancipatory change. It also allows us to imagine the construction of alternative institutions (the Church provides an interesting model for challenging existing state authority). Theorists should therefore pay attention not just to the rationalist logic of discursive justification but also to the complex processes of social, collectively held emotions and how these influence political action as forms of affect. The article provides a detailed reconstruction of Gramsci's conception of faith and analyzes the instruments it provides for bridging the gap between reason and affect.
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Archival date: 2021-08-18
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