Friday, January 20, 2006

Habermas and religious pluralism

This article has some comments on the issue of Habermas and religious pluralism "Political philosopher Jurgen Habermas has remarked of religious beliefs that they require "striking cognitive dissonances," since, as he puts it, "the complex life circumstances in modern pluralistic societies are normatively compatible only with a strict universalism in which the same respect is demanded for everybody — be they Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, or Buddhist, believers or nonbelievers." So their various "truths" are self-evidently in difficulty, undermined by the very conditions of their continuance.

But religious followers have it easy: After all, many religious folk are not in "modern pluralistic societies" and so can remain undisturbed by Habermas's paradox. But even if they are, they have many bulwarks against crisis: the confidence of a way of life that has been around for centuries; the support of a community of believers; the leadership of charismatic figures; above all confidence in some kind of god or spirit that speaks directly to their situation, both individually and collectively. For many, of course, there is the additional consolation of an afterlife.

By comparison, the human rights believer is lonely and vulnerable. They seek Heaven on earth for all, not just (or even mainly) for themselves or the chosen few. And there is no pre-modern refuge: It is firmly and only within "the complex life circumstances in modern pluralistic societies" that they must ply their trade. The genuine human rights believer cannot thrive outside pluralism."

link via here

2 comments:

Woody Waits said...

The followers of the aforementioned religions share one distinctive factor in common, they are Human. While this is self-evident it is often overlooked or trivialized. It is my belief that the 'afterlife' refers to genetic continuity, i.e. the survival of the species. It is a practical aim, that of reproduction! We are descendents from individuals who, rightly so, believed that there was something beyond themselves in the future (i.e. their children and grandchildren). The hominins of the past of failed to acknowledge this and so did not reproduce or even took their lives, have perished taking their genes with them. Thus a pluralistic approach must at least acknoledge that common basis - human nature. Moreover preachers and fighters of human rights, historically were affiliated to a congregation and a good proportion celibate. So it is not correct to claim that it is at odds with religion. To deny the afterlife is to deny the wealth of evidence of biological nature.

Woody Waits said...

And one question:

Do you think the Habermasian concept of Public Sphere is at odds with debates of scientific nature?? Can the public with the scarce material from the mainstream press form valid opinions about policy making in matters related?

 
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