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With the World at Heart

Studies in the Secular Today

What is the role of love in opening and sustaining the temporal worlds we inhabit? One of the leading scholars in philosophy and the history of religious thought, Thomas A. Carlson here traces this question through Christian theology, twentieth-century phenomenological and deconstructive philosophy, and nineteenth-century individualism. Revising Augustine’s insight that when we love a place, we dwell there in the heart, Carlson also pointedly resists lines of thought that seek to transcend loss and its grief by loving all things within the realm of the eternal. Through masterful readings of Heidegger, Derrida, Marion, Nancy, Emerson, and Nietzsche, Carlson shows that the fragility and sorrow of mortal existence in its transience do not, in fact, contradict love, but instead empower love to create a world.

256 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2019

History: History of Ideas

Philosophy: Philosophy of Religion

Religion: Philosophy of Religion, Theology, and Ethics


“Carlson… does an excellent job of explaining the notoriously difficult thinkers that he reads in this meditation on the meaning of love in a secular age.”

Reading Religion

“Thomas Carlson’s With the World at Heart is masterful. With exceptional clarity, conceptual rigor, and creative thinking, Carlson brings one phase of the Continental philosophy of religion to culmination and opens up new avenues for future work.”

Tyler Roberts, author of Encountering Religion: Responsibility and Criticism after Secularism

“This is a work of Continental philosophy at its best—erudite, historical, analytical, and insightful. In deep dialogue with some of the most interesting thinkers of the past half century, Carlson offers nothing less than a ‘philosophy of spirit’ for our age, where spirit appears as the world-forming power of love as well as the love-preserving power of world. A major contribution to our understanding of human finitude in its existential openness to time and world.”

Robert Pogue Harrison, author of Juvenescence: A Cultural History of Our Age

Table of Contents

Abbreviations of Main Texts Cited

Preview: The Demands of the Day
1 When We Love—A Place: World’s End with Cormac McCarthy
2 Mourning Places and Time in Augustine
3 The Conversion of Time to the Time of Conversion: Augustine with Marion
4 The Time of His Syllables: Dying Together with Derrida and Augustine
5 Thinking Love and Mortality with Heidegger
6 World Loss or Heart Failure: Pedagogies of Estrangement in Harrison and Nancy
7 Ages of Learning . . . the Secular Today with Emerson and Nietzsche
Last Look


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