Feminist criticism recognises two rival sacrifices in the Western philosophical- theological tradition: the motherly sacrifice of childbirth and the near-sacrifice of Isaac (the so-called Akedah; Gen 22). In this paper, I investigate both sacrifices as a self-emptying and transformative process that aims to offer oneself in the place of the other. The argument proceeds in three steps: first, I present the self-sacrifice of childbirth as the moment of identity split and the “being for the other”; second, I interpret Gen 22 as a self-sacrifice (“Here I am”; Gen 22:1c) which calls to responsibility as a possible route to non-sacrificial relations; finally, I question the essentialism that accompanies the Akedah and childbirth in order to liberate both from gender stereotypes and to present them as two different forms of self-sacrifice which seek to break the sacrificial logic of our Western society.
This paper focuses on the idea of the so-called sacrifice for nothing in Jan Patočka. Firstly, I clarify the concept and explain its place in the context of Patočka’s thought and its surrounding historical conditions. Secondly, I critically apply Patočka’s concept to some particular examples, such as a free-willing sacrifice of a mother for her child and a forced-violent sacrifice of political oppression. Thirdly and finally, I argue that despite the language of nothingness, it is possible to draw a positive program from these reflections, and thus to turn the negativity of sacrifice into a being transforming experience.
The sacrificial story in Genesis 22:1–19, the Aqeda or “Binding of Isaac,” has generated a large body of research literature. This is due to its irresolvable ambiguity: God commands the sacrifice of Isaac and stops it. The reader is not informed about reasons or intentions of the characters involved. After analyzing some possible approaches to the text’s ambiguity, I offer a new performative reading of the passage with Giorgio Agamben’s and Judith Butler’s theories of gesture. I argue that this approach effectively deals with ambiguity, because it neither erases violence nor justifies it. It rather exposes violence by interrupting and redirecting it. Abraham’s raised hand with the knife thus becomes an interrupted gesture. It makes the text a monument to violence that teaches to see the same situation in a different light and to interrupt the continuous repetition of violent behaviour.
The concept of sacrifice poses an interesting challenge to feminist theory. On the one hand, it seems that women must reject self-sacrificing practices. On the other hand, certain recent feminist analyses have recognized sacrifice as a potential empowering tool for women, so long as it is freely chosen and experienced as positively transformative.
In this paper I argue that it is possible to relate to childbirth either as an event calling for women to sacrifice themselves in the patriarchal sense or, alternatively, as one that allows for a “feminist sacrifice” – a deeply embodied and painful but also creative and redeeming self-sacrifice, chosen by a woman herself.
I show that while the patriarchal sacrifice of women’s birthing bodies in the labor room through shame, blame, objectification, and abuse must be clearly rejected from a feminist perspective, there is nevertheless room for “feminist sacrifice” in childbirth.
This article explores the Scuola di Meditazione (School of Meditation) established in Sardinia in 1983, one of the earliest instances in Italy of the use of ‘Eastern’ techniques by Roman Catholic religious professionals to promote the practice of meditation for lay people. Against the backdrop of ongoing religious diversification in the Italian context, this case study provides an insight on religion under globalization as a complex and multilayered phenomenon. In particular, the formation and activities of the Scuola di Meditazione show to be ingrained in the working of the global cultural network, with both direct and indirect cultural imports from Asia through mediatization, missionization, and mobility; to build upon the broader global repositioning of the Roman Catholic Church towards Asian and other ‘world’ religions through the adoption of a soft inclusivist approach; and to provide a meaningful framework for glocal practices resulting in the globally-oriented reshaping of individual religious worlds.
The theological question of the recognition of the legitimacy of ‘other’ religious traditions is today a relevant issue not only for the religious sciences, but also for politics and those dealing with social issues. This contribution deals with this issue starting from some considerations of the Abu Dhabi Declaration, signed by Pope Francis and Imam Ahmad al-Tayeb, in which there is a bold statement on the theological goodness of religious pluralism. This statement is re-read in a sapiential key and with an inductive and experiential theological perspective.
Sacrifice, originally a religious-cultic concept, has become highly secularized and used in various instances for different social phenomena. The current issue puts forward a selection of papers that offer insights into sacrifice and self-sacrifice and focus on the process of transformation of the sacrificial individual. Three main axes put the concrete papers into a dialogue with one another: first, there is the philosophical-theological and gender reflection of the experience of the paradigmatic sacrificial story of the western tradition, i.e., the Akedah (Gen 22); second, the existential-phenomenological interpretation of self-sacrifice in the secular world which nevertheless aims to reveal a higher good – Freedom, Love, or the Good; third, the gender and feminist reflection of the motherly sacrifice of childbirth both in the religious-cultic context and in the secular context which presents childbirth both as a moment of autonomy loss and submission and a moment of women self-emancipation.
This paper aims to analyze the notions of sacrifice and existential entrapment in the early writings of Søren Kierkegaard. I look at two female characters that appear in Kierkegaard’s Either/Or – Marie Beaumarchais and Donna Elvira – and I argue that an encounter with a deceptive individual (a seducer) forced these two women to sacrifice their capacity for existential-spiritual growth. Donna Elvira and Marie Beaumarchais remain trapped – as Kierkegaard frames it – within the aesthetic existential sphere. The goal of my paper is twofold: first, I describe in detail the nature of their sacrifice and the reasons for their existential entrapment, and, secondly, I determine whether Kierkegaard believes this to be an existential affliction that affects exclusively women, i.e., whether it is gendered or not.
Victims of an uncanny legal system pervade Kafka’s writings. Whether the representation of the law in these works implies a sacrificial logic depends significantly on the meaning assigned to Kafka’s idea of the law. Despite the innumerable interpretations of Kafka’s law-related texts it remains uncertain whether the law in his works is to be understood primarily in juridical, social, and political terms or in metaphysical, theological, and religious ones. This uncertainty, besides eliciting myriad, sometimes contradictory, interpretations, has inspired numerous views, themselves often disparate and conflicting, about the relationship between law and sacrifice in Kafka’s works. The present article explores this relationship and how it has been regarded by some of his most important interpreters.