Monday, November 05, 2007

Habermas and the `Post-Secular Society'

Austin Harrington
The article appraises Habermas's recent writings on theology and social theory and their relevance to a new sociology of religion in the `post-secular society'. Beginning with Kant's Religion Within the Limits of Reason Alone, Habermas revisits his earlier thesis of the `linguistification of the sacred', arguing for a `rescuing translation' of the traditional contents of religious language through pursuit of a via media between an overconfident project of modernizing secularization, on the one hand, and a fundamentalism of religious orthodoxies, on the other. Several questions, however, must be raised about this current project. How far can Habermas engage adequately with religious ideas of the absolute while still retaining certain broadly functionalist theoretical premises? Is the notion of an ongoing secularization process in the `post-secular society' a contradiction in terms? What appropriate `limits and boundaries' are to be accepted between the domains of knowledge and faith, and how strictly can they be drawn? How coherent is the notion of `methodological atheism', and how consistently can Habermas pursue the project of a `religious genealogy of reason'?

Key Words: functionalism • Habermas • Kant's philosophy of religion • modernization • secularization • theology • universalism and particularism

from here

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