The (Limit) Experience of the Impossible: On the Religious Dimension of Deconstruction


Author: WANG Hai, Associate Professor, School of Liberal Arts, Renmin  University of China.


The "religious turn" of deconstruction does not truly exist because deconstruction inherently possesses a religious orientation from its inception. Religious experience and theological discourse serve as the preconditions that enable deconstructive thought. The formation of this religious orientation was primarily influenced by a group of pioneers in deconstructive thought—an "impossible community" comprised of thinkers such as Bataille, Blanchot, Klossowski, Levinas, and Weil. These intellectuals creatively introduced their distinctive radical religious ideas, which Derrida termed "religion without religion." Through this concept, they explored the "experience of the limit" and sought to subvert the Western metaphysical tradition. Derrida was significantly inspired by their exploration of the "experience of the limit," leading him to propose that "deconstruction is the experience of the impossible." Examining the radical religious thought of this community and its impact on Derrida will enhance our understanding of deconstruction and elucidate the diverse possibilities within the religious direction of deconstructive thought.


deconstruction, liminal experience, Derrida, Blanchot, Bataille

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