Europaeische Gesellschaft fuer Katholische Theologie
ET Bulletin vol:18 issue:1/2 pages:144-154
ET Conference edition:6 location:Leuven date:13-16 September 2007
The crisis of the European subject (Kristeva), to be understood as a major identity-crisis, has everything to do with religion. On a political level, there is the debate on whether or not Christianity as roots of the European identity should be referred to in the European Constitution. Some people (esp. in Poland and the Mediterranean member states) fear that Europe as a community on different levels (first of all economical, but more and more also on a political and cultural level) won’t have enough legitimacy from its citizens when the constitution doesn’t refer to the Christian heritage of Europe: we end up, they predict, with an empty identity.
This emptiness, I will argue, allows us to think about other ways of binding the European community – other than a positive commitment to Christianity. The Christian subject is imago Dei, this ‘imago’ revealed by God in Jesus, thus making the subject dependent on God. Eventually, freedom is formulated in terms of identity: God is the defined cause of this freedom. But another formulation of freedom leads to another conception of the subject: freedom in terms of difference. Kristeva finds examples of this last conception of identity in certain orthodox spiritualities, but also in psychoanalysis.
I will argue that the crisis of the European subject cannot be fixed with a return to Christianity (Catholicism), but maybe can be thought through referring to this other form of intersubjectivity/interconnectedness, one that is not linked to a specific religion.
I believe that the building of a political union cannot occur without free subjects and reflecting on ‘free subjectivity’ is as much a spiritual as a political task.
For my paper, Julia Kristeva, Jacques Derrida and Martin Heidegger will provide a language and inspiration to talk about the crisis of European identity and its manifold relation to religion.