“The category of the religious in Cioran’s discourse” (Rodrigo I. R. Sá Menezes)

Anale Seria Drept, Universitatea Tibiscus, Timișoara, Romania, n° XXV, 2022, p. 49-80.

Abstract: We aim at demonstrating the hermeneutic plausibility of reading Cioran as a heterodox religious thinker, a hypothesis that sits comfortably well alongside the assumption of him being a secular spirit–one with a concern for religious matters and an appeal for some ever-problematic transcendence. As the author puts it himself, all he ever thought and wrote stems from one and only feeling of existence, a feeling we shall qualify as being of a religious nature. Thus, we aim at analyzing such religious feeling of existence, demonstrating its manifold expressions throughout the works of Cioran, both Romanian and French. In a second moment, we shall confront the underlying connection between the category of the religious and that of the mystic in Cioran’s works, so as to show that they actually coincide in a deep, essential level of understanding. We shall further develop, in subsequent essays, the thesis of Cioran as a sui generis gnostic type of thinker: a modern-day Gnostic without any pretension to salvation whatsoever. If Cioran’s viewpoint with regard to the divine realm of a good, alien God (Hans Jonas) draws him close to an agnostic stance, his recurring statements about the world as a demiurgic Creation “submerged in evil” (History and Utopia) could not be more unequivocally gnostic. Beyond all skepticism, even though it cannot be overlooked, Cioran is a radically dualistic, metaphysical and religious thinker concerned with the problems of evil and nothingness when it comes to reflecting upon human existence and condition.

Keywords: Religious, Mystic, God, Absolute, Evil, Demiurge, Gnosticism, Dualism, Atheism, Redemption

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