A postsecular agonism? Religion and metaphysics in Chantal Mouffe

Article by Joel Gillin in Studia theologica.

This article examines the place of religion and metaphysics in the agonistic political theory of Chantal Mouffe. The first section introduces Mouffe’s agonistic project and points to its normative postsecular implications. The second section presents her key engagements with religion and shows a development in her thought from a more restrictive secularist model toward a more open approach to religion in the public sphere. I suggest that an uncritical adoption of a modern view of religion is a hindrance to her account and in tension with her agonistic assumptions. In the final section I examine how Mouffe deals with the limits of pluralism and religious interventions in politics and argue that her agonistic theory has insufficiently recognized the inescapability of faith and metaphysics in political theorizing. I suggest that adopting a more postsecular agonism would promote rather than squash pluralism and increase the terrain of political contestation and democratic possibilities.