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John D. Caputo (born October 26 1940) is the Thomas J. Watson Professor of Humanities at Syracuse Universitymarker and the founder of weak theology. Much of Caputo's work focuses on hermeneutics, phenomenology, deconstruction, and theology.


Caputo received his B.A. in 1962 from La Salle Universitymarker, his M.A. in 1964 from Villanova Universitymarker and his Ph.D. in philosophy in 1968 from Bryn Mawr Collegemarker.


Caputo is a specialist in contemporary continental philosophy, with a particular expertise in phenomenology, hermeneutics, and deconstruction. Over the years he has developed a deconstructive hermeneutics he calls radical hermeneutics. Additionally, Caputo has developed a distinctive approach to religion he calls weak theology. Recently, his most important work has been to rebut the charges of relativism made against deconstruction by showing that deconstruction is organized around the affirmation of certain unconditional ethical and political claims.

Caputo has a special interest in continental approaches to the philosophy of religion. Some of the ideas Caputo investigates in his work include the religion without religion of Jacques Derrida; the "theological turn" taken in recent French phenomenology by Jean-Luc Marion and others; the critique of ontotheology; the dialogue of contemporary philosophy with Augustine of Hippo and Paul of Tarsus; and medieval metaphysics and mysticism. In the past, Caputo has taught courses on Søren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Emmanuel Lévinas, and Jacques Derrida.

Caputo's book The Prayers and Tears of Jacques Derrida has provoked a widespread rereading of Derrida's work and has also sparked considerable interest in deconstruction in theology and religious studies.

Positions held

Caputo was the David R. Cook Professor of Philosophy at Villanova Universitymarker from 1968 to 2004. Since 2004, Caputo has been the Thomas J. Watson Professor of Humanities at Syracuse Universitymarker, where he teaches in both the departments of philosophy and religion. He is active in the American Philosophical Association, the American Academy of Religion, and chairs the board of editors for the Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory.

Selection of works

Books by Caputo

  • (1982) Heidegger and Aquinas: An Essay on Overcoming Metaphysics
  • (1986) The Mystical Element in Heidegger's Thought
  • (1987) Radical Hermeneutics: Repetition, Deconstruction and the Hermeneutic Project
  • (1992) Modernity and its Discontents, with James Marsh and Merold Westphal
  • (1993) Against Ethics - Contributions to a Poetics of Obligation with Constant Reference to Deconstruction
  • (1993) Demythologizing Heidegger
  • (1997) The Prayers and Tears of Jacques Derrida
  • (1997) Deconstruction in a Nutshell: A Conversation with Jacques Derrida, ed./auth.
  • (2000) More Radical Hermeneutics: On Not Knowing Who We Are
  • (2001) On Religion
  • (2001) The Religious
  • (2001) Questioning God with Mark J. Scanlon and Mark Dooley
  • (2004) In Deference to the Other, with Jim Kanaris and Mark J. Dooley
  • (2005) Augustine and Postmodernism: Confessions and Circumfession
  • (2006) Philosophy and Theology
  • (2006) The Weakness of God
  • (2007) After the Death of God, with Gianni Vattimo
  • (2007) How to Read Kierkegaard
  • (2007) Transcendence and Beyond: A Postmodern Inquiry, with Michael J. Scanlon
  • (2007) What Would Jesus Deconstruct?: The Good News of Postmodernism for the Church

Books edited by Caputo

  • (1992) Modernity and Its Discontents, ed.
  • (1993) Foucault and the Critique of Institutions, ed.
  • (1997) Deconstruction in a Nutshell: A Conversation with Jacques Derrida, ed./auth.
  • (1999) God, the Gift and Postmodernism, ed.
  • (2001) The Religious, ed.
  • (2001) Questioning God: Religion and Postmodernism II, ed.
  • (2004) Augustine and Postmodernism, ed.

Secondary works

  • (1997) The Very Idea of Radical Hermeneutics, ed. Roy Martinez
  • (2002) A Passion for the Impossible: John D. Caputo in Focus, ed. Mark Dooley
  • (2002) Religion With/Out Religion: The Prayers and Tears of John D. Caputo, ed. James Olthuis
  • (2009) Religion, Metaphysics, and the Postmodern: William Desmond and John D. Caputo, Christopher Ben Simpson

Journal articles and book chapters

See also

External links

Academic homepage

Online writings


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