Guilt and Christianity


In Georges Bataille: Essential Writings, Michael Richardson says that “the condition of existence is silence” and our coming into being (through discourse, work, etc.) necessarily violates this silence.[1] In coming into being, we give the formless universe (which is existence i.e. all that there is: the totality, the general economy) form. It is from this that “we suffer from this primordial sense of violation by a sense of guilt that manifests itself as a fundamental anguish of being. This is not a guilt that can be assuaged or transcended, since it does not inhere in us as individuals … but is present in human existence as a whole. There is therefore no possibility of redemption or salvation”.[2]

Christianity “embodies a will not to be guilty” for Bataille, and thus, Christianity is “a will that denies the fundamental impulse of human life and social solidarity”.[3] Christianity thus is a denial of existence, it is negativity incarnate. It is a no to life and death.

In his critique of Christianity, Bataille is not at all being prescriptive, he is just noting that “[p]roblems emerge when we try to deny this sense of guilt, when we try to instill the idea that it could be possible to not be guilty”.[4]


Richardson, Michael, and Georges Bataille. “Introduction.” Introduction. In Georges Bataille: Essential Writings, edited by Michael Richardson, 1–4. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications Inc, 1998.


[1]: Georges Bataille and Michael Richardson, “Georges Bataille: Essential Writings,” in Georges Bataille: Essential Writings, ed. Michael Richardson (Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications Inc, 1998), pp. 1–4, 2.

[2]: Ibid.

[3]: Ibid.

[4]: Ibid.

How sweet terror is, not a single line, or a ray of morning sunlight fails to contain the sweetness of anguish. - Georges Bataille