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Abstract

This article provides an introduction to “deconstruction and religion” by focusing on the late writings of Jacques Derrida, in which religious and ethical themes become particularly prominent. The author explains why Derrida’s writings do not constitute a “theory” or “method” for the study of religion, but rather an attempt to show how “religion” itself is impossible. Derrida’s treatment of “religion” is explicated through an analysis of the key concepts of “faith” and “holiness,” and interpreted as fundamentally an engagement with the question of ethics. The article culminates in an examination of Derrida’s notion of “messianicity,” a key concept in his late texts. Throughout the course of this analysis, attention is paid not only to Derrida’s reading of a number of important philosophical figures (Kant, Levinas, and Austin), but also to the way in which his writings have been appropriated in the attempt to think God and religion after or beyond the Kantian critique of metaphysics and the Heideggerian destruction of onto-theology.