Terrorism and Eschatology

By Markus Weidler.

Published by The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Terrorism can manifest in a variety of ways. One of its most disturbing features across the board, however, is its diabolical presumptuousness, namely, an ‘extra-moral’ sense of entitlement toward sacrificing the innocent. From the critic’s perspective, what makes the immorality of terrorists hard to pin down is that their horrific performance tends to defy moral discourse altogether. In this essay, I proffer an account of a particular brand of terrorism, which expands on Terry Eagleton’s analysis of how terrorists ‘use death as a commentary’ on human existence. Eagleton’s findings, I argue, point us to a novel understanding of terrorist mentality based on the perpetrators’ conception of time in relation to their deeds, within a specific salvation-historical framework. This emphasis on eschatological temporality, in turn, opens out new possibilities for forestalling the mutual reinforcement between terroristic practice and a growing culture of fear. Finally, this line of inquiry is meant to furnish some fine-tuned criteria for determining what understanding of religion is at work, when certain instances of terrorism are identified as ‘religiously motivated.’

Keywords: Terrorism, Eschatology, Salvation History, Death, Religious Motivation, Strategies for Prevention

The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society, Volume 2, Issue 3, 2012, pp.1-8. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 462.925KB).

Markus Weidler

Full-time Lecturer, Department of Mathematics and Philosophy, Columbus State University, Columbus, Georgia, USA

A native of Berlin, Germany, Markus Weidler received his MA and his Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Texas at Austin. After teaching at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, for two years, he joined the faculty of Columbus State University in 2007. His special interests include the dynamics and different manifestations of extremist thought associated with the notions of fundamentalism, fanaticism, and terrorism. In philosophy of religion he is working, and has published, on issues related to divine hiddenness.