Friday, December 05, 2008

:: Selection of Habermas’ works in 5 volumes

In June 2009 Suhrkamp Verlag will celebrate Jürgen Habermas’s 80th birthday by publishing a selection of Habermas’ works in 5 volumes – Philosophische Texte: Studienausgabe in fünf Bänden. Each volume will have a new introduction by Jürgen Habermas.

The 5 volumes are:
1. Sprachtheoretische Grundlegung der Soziologie
2. Diskurs- und Sprachtheorie
3. Diskursethik
4. Politische Theorie
5. Kritik der Vernunft

Suhrkamp Verlag:
”Am 18. Juni 2009 feiert der Philosoph und Soziologe Jürgen Habermas seinen 80. Geburtstag. Zu diesem Anlaß hat er eine systematische Auswahl von wichtigen Texten zusammengestellt, einige davon bislang unveröffentlicht, die den philosophischen Kern seines umfangreichen Werks freilegen. Jürgen Habermas hat zu jedem Band eine ausführliche Einleitung verfaßt, in der er die Grundzüge und Motive seines philosophischen Denkens zu Themen wie Sprache und Wahrheit, Vernunft und Moral, Recht und Demokratie umreißt, wie sie sich in Auseinandersetzung mit den Einzelwissenschaften herausgebildet haben. Die Bände, die auch einzeln erhältlich sind, können somit an die Stelle ungeschriebener philosophischer Monographien treten und bieten einen umfassenden Einblick in ein Denken, das die Geistesgeschichte der Gegenwart wie kaum ein zweites geprägt hat.”

1. Sprachtheoretische Grundlegung der Soziologie

Vorwort
Einleitung
1. Vorlesungen zu einer sprachtheoretischen Grundlegung der Soziologie
2. Erläuterungen zum Begriff des kommunikativen Handelns
3. Handlungen, Sprechakte, sprachlich vermittelte Interaktionen und Lebenswelt
4. Individuierung durch Vergesellschaftung. Zu G.H. Meads Theorie der Subjektivität
5. Aspekte der Handlungsrationalität
6. Rekonstruktive vs. verstehende Sozialwissenschaften
7. Konzeptionen der Moderne. Ein Rückblick auf zwei Traditionen

2. Diskurs- und Sprachtheorie

Vorwort
Einleitung
1. Hermeneutische und analytische Philosophie. Zwei komplementäre Spielarten der linguistischen Wende
2. Zur Kritik der Bedeutungstheorie
3. Rationalität und Verständigung. Sprechakttheoretische Erläuterungen zum Begriff der kommunikativen Rationalität
4. Kommunikatives Handeln und detranszendentalisierte Vernunft
5. Wahrheitstheorien
6. Wahrheit und Rechtfertigung. Zu Richard Rortys pragmatischer Wende
7. Realismus nach der sprachpragmatischen Wende

3. Diskursethik

Vorwort
Einleitung
1. Diskursethik – Notizen zu einem Begründungsprogramm
2. Diskursethik und Gesellschaftstheorie. Ein Interview mit T. Hviid Nielsen
3. Erläuterungen zur Diskursethik
4. Eine genealogische Betrachtung zum kognitiven Gehalt der Moral
5. Vom praktischen, ethischen und moralischen Gebrauch der praktischen Vernunft
6. Richtigkeit und Wahrheit. Zum Sinn der Sollgeltung moralischer Urteile und Normen
7. Zur Architektonik der Diskursdifferenzierung. Kleine Replik auf eine große Auseinandersetzung)

4. Politische Theorie

Vorwort
Einleitung
1. Volkssouveränität als Verfahren
2. Drei normative Modelle der Demokratie
3. Hat die Demokratie noch eine epistemische Dimension? Empirische Forschung und normative Theorie
4. Über den internen Zusammenhang von Rechtsstaat und Demokratie
5. Der demokratische Rechtsstaat – eine paradoxe Verbindung widersprüchlicher Prinzipien?
6. Vorpolitische Grundlagen des demokratischen Rechtsstaates?
7. Kulturelle Gleichbehandlung – und die Grenzen des Postmodernen Liberalismus
8. Zur Legitimation durch Menschenrechte
9. Hat die Konstitutionalisierung des Völkerrechts noch eine Chance?
10. Konstitutionalisierung des Völkerrechts und die Legitimationsprobleme einer verfaßten Weltgesellschaft
5. Kritik der Vernunft

5. Kritik der Vernunft

Vorwort
Einleitung
1. Die Philosophie als Platzhalter und Interpret
2. Was Theorien leisten können – und was nicht. Ein Interview
3. Noch einmal: Zum Verhältnis von Theorie und Praxis)
4. Metaphysik nach Kant
5. Motive nachmetaphysischen Denkens
6. Die Einheit der Vernunft in der Vielfalt ihrer Stimmen
7. Von den Weltbildern zur Lebenswelt
8. Das Sprachspiel verantwortlicher Urheberschaft und das Problem der Willensfreiheit: Wie läßt sich der epistemische Dualismus mit einem ontologischen Monismus versöhnen?
9. Die Revitalisierung der Weltreligionen - Herausforderung für ein säkulares Selbstverständnis der Moderne ?
10. Ein Bewußtsein von dem, was fehlt
11. Exkurs: Transzendenz von innen, Transzendenz ins Diesseits
12. Glauben und Wissen. Replik auf Einwände

Link courtesy Thomas Gregersen

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Life after Bankruptcy

The interview in "Die Zeit" on the financial crisis is now available in an English translation:

Life after Bankruptcy

original German here


Link courtesy of Thomas Gregersen

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Habermas on foreclosure gloom

Die Zeit 06.11.2008

"I hope that the neoliberal agenda will no longer be taken at face value, but will put up for negotiation. The entire programme of uncontrolled subjugation of everyday life to the imperatives of the market must be put to trial," says philosopher Jürgen Habermas in a lengthy conversation with Thomas Assheuer. Habermas watched the impact of the financial crisis with his own eyes, as a guest lecturer in the USA. "The screens flickered with the Hopperesque melancholy of an endless loop of abandoned houses in Florida and elsewhere – with "Foreclosure" signs on the front lawns. Then came the buses full of prospective buyers from Europe and Latin America followed by estate agents who gave guided tours of bedrooms ransacked in fits of anger and desperation. After my return I was surprised at the difference between US jumpiness and the business-as-usual equanimity here in Germany."

from here

The original interview here

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Future(s) of Critical Theory

The Future(s) of Critical Theory
Erste Graduiertenkonferenz, Frankfurt am Main, 19.-21.März 2009

Call for Papers

Kritische Theorie muss mit kleinem "k" geschrieben werden. Nicht nur
deshalb, weil die Ansätze, die sich heute in der Tradition der so
genannten "Frankfurter Schule" sehen, so divers geworden sind, dass es
fragwürdig erscheint, noch von einem einzigen einheitlichen Ansatz zu
sprechen, auch aus inhaltlichen Gründen verbietet sich die Reduzierung
kritischen Denkens auf ein akademisches "Lager". Viel eher als ein
einheitliches philosophisches Denkgebäude bezeichnet der Begriff
"kritische Theorie" unterschiedliche Formen der radikalen
Infragestellung, die bis heute in den geistes- und
gesellschaftswissenschaftlichen Disziplinen, aber auch in den Debatten
um eine emanzipatorische politische Praxis höchst lebendig geblieben
sind. Wie sich an der Vielzahl aktueller Publikationen zum Thema ablesen
lässt, wird gegenwärtig jedoch auch eine rege Diskussion darüber
geführt, was überhaupt noch ein angemessener Begriff von Kritik und
kritischer Theorie sein kann. Dies mag man als Ausdruck einer Krise und
Orientierungslosigkeit der kritischen Theorie sehen, vielleicht aber
auch als Chance für eine erneute Lagebestimmung und als eine
Aufforderung zur Reflexion.

Die Graduiertenkonferenz, die im nächsten Jahr erstmalig stattfinden
wird, will dazu einen Beitrag leisten. Sie bietet Doktorand/innen und
Postdoktorand/innen aus Geistes- und Sozialwissenschaften die
Gelegenheit, eigene Forschungsprojekte zu diskutieren und sich mit den
Herausforderungen der kritischen Theorie auseinanderzusetzen. Weil sich
erst am Gegenstand erweisen kann, was kritische Theorie ist, sind dabei
einzelwissenschaftliche Studien ebenso willkommen wie metatheoretische
Überlegungen. Wir laden ausdrücklich auch ein zur Einsendung von
work-in-progress, exposéhaften Präsentationen oder in Kooperation
entstandenen Arbeiten.

Eingereicht werden können Abstracts für Vorträge zu folgenden (oder
anderen) Themen:

__Was ist Kritik? Was ist kritisch an der kritischen Theorie? Wie
kritisch ist die kritische Theorie?
__K/kritische Theorie(n): 1, 2, 3,... ganz viele Generationen;
Anerkennung, Rechtfertigung und Verständigung; kritische Theorie und
Poststrukturalismus; Kritik, Geneaologie, Dekonstruktion; Kantianismus,
Hegelianismus, Nietzscheanismus; Postcolonial Studies, Feminismus und queer
__Kritik mit Methode: Theorie und Empirie; Philosophie und Soziologie;
Erkenntnis und Interesse; militante Untersuchung
__Kritik und das Gute Leben: Begehren, Liebe, Intimität, Affekte, "das
Private" und natürlich Freundschaft
__Kritische Theorie und Kritik der Politik: Demokratie, Sozialismus,
Liberalismus; Macht und/oder Herrschaft; Recht, Staat, Polizei und
Souveränität
__Versöhnung mit dem Kapitalismus? (Ir)rationalität, Entfremdung und
Verdinglichung; alter und neuer Geist des Kapitalismus; Umverteilung
oder Enteignung; Reform oder Revolution
__Die Kultur der Kritik: Sub-, Pop- und Mainstreamkultur(industrie);
Kultur- und Medientheorie; Hegemonie und Diskurs; Narratologie,
Semiotik, Rhetorik

Technics

Abstracts sollten die Länge von 300 Wörtern nicht überschreiten.
Deadline ist der 31. November 2008. Die Auswahl der Beiträge erfolgt bis
spätestens 1.1.2009. Eine Publikation ausgewählter Beiträge nach der
Konferenz wird angestrebt. Die Vorträge werden in einem blind review
ausgewählt, allerdings wird bei der endgültigen Auswahl darauf geachtet,
dass mindestens 50 % der Vorträge an Frauen vergeben werden. Bitte die
Abstracts ohne Name oder sonstige Hinweise auf die Autorin/den Autor
einreichen sowie im Anschreiben Titel des eingereichten Vorschlags
nennen. Konferenzsprachen sind Deutsch und Englisch, Abstracts können in
beiden Sprachen eingereicht werden. Die Vorträge sollen eine Länge von
ca. 20 Minuten haben.

Keynote

Keynote Speaker der Konferenz sind Bonnie Honig (Chicago), Axel Honneth
(Frankfurt) und Emmanuel Renault (Paris/Lyon).

Kontakt

Abstracts können per E-Mail eingereicht werden an
info@graduateconferencefrankfurt.de

Nähere Information: www.graduateconferencefrankfurt.de

_____________________

The Future(s) of Critical Theory
First Graduate Conference in Frankfurt am Main, 19.-21 March 2009

Call for Papers

Whether or not "critical theory" constitutes a well-defined, easily
identifiable and self-contained school of thought has been a matter of
debate. For the organizers of this conference, given the plurality of
theoretical projects that consider themselves in the tradition of the
"Frankfurt School," critical thinking cannot be reduced to one academic
'camp' in any meaningful way. Rather than representing one coherent
philosophical paradigm, 'critical theory' embodies a diverse set of
practices of radical questioning exercised in various discourses
including that of arts, social and political sciences as well as radical
political debate. Moreover critical theory is a highly self-reflexive
process. Thus, rather than being a sign of crisis or lack of
orientation, the increasing number of publications about the meaning and
significance of "critique" and "critical theory" in recent years point
to a vibrant and diverse intellectual community constituted around
similar theoretical and political commitments. The existence of
different theoretical positions and disagreements within that community
can be best interpreted as an invitation to reconsider one's own stance
in relation to other ways of critical thinking and to reflect on common
grounds.

"The Future(s) of Critical Theory" Graduate Conference in Frankfurt aims
to serve as a forum for this ongoing debate. We invite PhD students and
postdocs from the humanities and the social sciences to discuss their
work in relation to the challenges posed by the current debates on the
status of critical theory today. Critical theory proves itself only in
relation to its concrete object of investigation. We are therefore
equally looking forward to the presentation of empirical research as to
theoretical reflections.

Contributions may include -- but need not be limited to -- the following
themes:

__What is Critique? What makes critical theories critical? How critical
is Critical Theory?

__C/critical Theory(ies): 1,2,3...many Generations of critical
theory(ies); Critical Theory and Post/structuralism; Critique,
Genealogy, Deconstruction; Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche; Postcolonial Studies,
Feminism, queer.

__Methodologies of critique: Theory and Practice; Philosophy and
Sociology; Knowledge and Human Interest; Militant Investigation,
Collective Theorization.

__Critique and the Good Life: Desire, Love, Intimacy, Affect, 'The
Private' and of course Friendship.

__Critical Theory, The Political and Politics: Democracies, Socialisms,
Liberalisms; Power and/or Domination; Law, State, Police and Sovereignty.

__Theorizing Capitalism: (Ir)rationality, Alienation and Reification;
Old and New Spirit of Capitalism; Redistribution or Expropriation;
Reform or Revolution.

__Cultures of Critique: Sub-, Pop- and Mainstream- Culture (industries);
Media and Cultural Studies; Hegemony and Discourse; Narratology,
Semiotics and Rhetoric.


Submission Information

Please submit abstracts of a maximum of 300 words to the following
e-mail address: info@graduateconferencefrankfurt.de
. We accept proposals until
the 31. November 2008. Languages of the conference will be German and
English, abstracts can be submitted in either language. Papers presented
at the conference should not exceed the duration of twenty minutes and
will be followed by a brief discussion.
Papers will be selected through a blind review process therefore please
do not mark your name or other indications of the author on abstracts
and make sure to clearly state the title of your proposal in the email.
Candidates will be informed by January 1st whether their paper has been
accepted for presentation.

The publication of a selection of conference papers is intended.

Keynote speakers

Keynote speakers are Bonnie Honig (Chicago), Axel Honneth (Frankfurt)
and Emmanuel Renault (Paris/Lyon).

Contact

For further information see www.graduateconferencefrankfurt.de
.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Habermas' Method: Rational Reconstruction

Habermas' Method: Rational Reconstruction
Jørgen Pedersen

University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway

Given the prominent position Habermas' philosophy has gained, it is surprising that his method, rational reconstruction, has not caused more debate. This article clarifies what this method consists of, and shows how it is used in two of Habermas' research programs. The method is an interesting, but problematic way of confronting some of the basic epistemological questions in the social sciences. It represents an alternative to both the empirical-analytical and the hermeneutic tradition. On the basis of this methodology, Habermas' work is situated between the transcendental and the empirical approach. A fundamental problem is that it remains unclear how to test the hypothesis put forward through rational reconstruction.

Key Words: Philosophical method • rational reconstruction • critical theory • formal pragmatics • development theory • Jürgen Habermas

from here

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Communicative Reason and Intercultural Understanding

Communicative Reason and Intercultural Understanding
A Critical Discussion of Habermas
Mihaela Czobor-Lupp

Georgetown University, mihaelaclupp@aol.com

Although Habermas sees intercultural understanding as a political task, his model of communicative rationality cannot satisfactorily explain how this could happen. One reason is the definition of the aesthetic, form-giving, moment of imagination, which reflects deeper epistemological and linguistic assumptions of discourse ethics. Despite sporadic attempts to recognize the role of rhetoric and poetry as an indispensable part of the communicative praxis, at the end of the day, Habermas sees language as fundamentally geared toward transparency and clarity, and not as endowed with poetic power and polyphonic creativity. My article aims to further develop, with the help of Vico and Bakhtin, the incipient thread in Habermas's discourse ethics that recognizes the importance of linguistic creativity and of imagination in communicative practice. This would help one to argue that, even when rational consensus and agreement cannot be achieved, dialogue is still not abandoned. This is the case because, through a larger definition of the dialogical, which adds to the discursive aspect, an aesthetic, rhetorical, and metaphorical dimension, it is possible to say that, even when conflicting, different voices and languages are still creatively and imaginatively interilluminating and hybridizing each other. Thus, they still transform each other, creating, at the same time, a prediscursive commonality, that can function as a necessary prerequisite for intercultural understanding.

Key Words: aesthetics • Bakhtin • discourse ethics • Habermas • imagination • intercultural understanding • Vico

here

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Redeeming Labor: Making Explicit the Virtue Theory in Habermas's Discourse Ethics

Redeeming Labor: Making Explicit the Virtue Theory in Habermas's Discourse Ethics
Leland L. Glenna

The Pennsylvania State University, Pennsylvania, USA, llg13@psu.edu

The assertion that neo-classical economics is value-neutral is not just problematic because it is false, but also because it masks the origins of neo-classical economics as a moral science that has had a normative influence on social interaction. However, critics need to move beyond merely exposing the value-laden nature of neo-classical economics if the social sciences are to counter the emotivism of neo-classical economics and to reclaim their foundation as the moral sciences. A social theory of action is needed that acknowledges people's capacity to act virtuously. As a product of the German Enlightenment Tradition, Habermas relies upon an implicit Lutheran neighbor-love ethic when he constructs his theory of communicative action and discourse ethics. A theory that recognizes the capacity of people to collectively generate virtues which then govern their actions offers the potential to redeem labor from emotivism.

Key Words: discourse ethics • emotivism • neo-classical economics • virtue theory

from here

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Who are the citizens of Europe?

Europe needs a binding moral foundation not a pan-European referendum, argues Alfred Grosser

The Irish referendum raises many questions. Now I don't mean the ones concerning the circumstances of the 'No' vote. Questions such as: Was the economy slowing down instead of thriving on EU assistance as it had been until recently? Or: Was the advertising for the 'No' campaign funded by conservative anti-European Americans of Irish descent? No, the issues I want to discuss are commentaries which say: This is what happens when you disregard the people and submit a treaty which has been drawn up undemocratically and is incomprehensible to boot! Philosopher Jürgen Habermas also recently expressed his doubts about democratic practice in the EU. He suggested combining next year's European elections with a European referendum.

full here

Emancipation or accommodation?: Habermasian vs. Rawlsian deliberative democracy

Emancipation or accommodation?
Habermasian vs. Rawlsian deliberative democracy
Christian F. Rostbøll
University of Copenhagen, Denmark

The development of the theory of deliberative democracy has culminated in a synthesis between Rawlsian political liberalism and Habermasian critical theory. Taking the perspective of conceptions of freedom, this article argues that this synthesis is unfortunate and obscures some important differences between the two traditions. In particular, the idea of internal autonomy, which was an important, implicit idea in the ideology critique of the earlier Habermas, falls out of view. There is no room for this dimension of freedom in political liberalism and it has largely disappeared from the later Habermas. In so far as others have followed Rawls and Habermas, deliberative democratic theory has converged around a less critical and more accommodationist view of freedom. If we want to keep deliberative democracy as a critical theory of contemporary society, we should resist this convergence. Our starting point should not be `the fact of reasonable pluralism' but rather `the fact of unreflective acquiescence'. This article argues for incorporating internal autonomy in a complex theory of freedom to which deliberative democracy should be normatively committed.


Key Words: autonomy • deliberative democracy • freedom • Jürgen Habermas • ideology critique • John Rawls


from
here

Sunday, August 17, 2008

European prize goes to philosopher Habermas

The European Prize of Political Culture has been awarded to the German philosopher and sociologist Jürgen Habermas at the Locarno Film Festival.


Habermas' theories have greatly contributed to the evolution of modern social sciences, the Hans Ringier Foundation, patrons of the €50,000 prize said.

The philosopher, born in 1929, is best known for his work on the concept of the public sphere, the topic and title of his first book.

Last year the prize went to Serbian president Boris Tadic; Jean-Claude Juncker, Luxembourg's prime minister received the honour in 2006. The prize is in its third year.

from here

H/T Continental Philosophy

Monday, June 30, 2008

Ohne Muslime kein Europa

"Arno Widmann witnessed a memorable meeting at Schloss Elmau, between Tariq Ramadan, the controversial voice of European Muslims, and Jürgen Habermas, the "leading theorist of the new world confusion." Extremely impressed by Ramadan, Widmann was inspired to consider whether German Jews were not the first Germans. "Most Germans saw themselves as Hesseners, Frankfurters, Bavarians, Pfalzians rather than Germans. The Jews were not given the opportunity to see themselves as Bavarians. They wanted to be Germans. Perhaps Europe is in a similar situation today. The Irish are first and foremost Irish, the Danish are Danish, the Germans Germans and the Belgians are primarily Flemish or Walloon. Immigrants who are prevented from becoming Irish, Danes and Germans but who are called upon to be more European that Europeans ever were, have no option other than to become Europeans. They will be the first true Europeans. No Europe without Muslims."

from here


also see this

Friday, June 20, 2008

And the Wheels Stopped Turning

A SEARCH FOR EUROPE'S FUTURE
And the Wheels Stopped Turning

By Jürgen Habermas

European governments are at their wits' end. It is time for them to admit it -- and let the public decide about the future of the European Union.
and everything comes to a grinding halt.

The farmers are upset about falling global prices and the new regulations constantly coming from Brussels. Those at the bottom of the social ladder are upset about the growing gap between rich and poor, especially evident in a country where both groups live in close proximity. The citizens despise their own politicians, who promise the world but who lack perspective and do not (cannot) deliver.

And then along comes a referendum over a treaty that is too complicated to be understood. EU membership has been more or less advantageous. Why should anything be changed? Doesn't the strengthening of European institutions necessarily lead to a weakening of democratic voices, which are only heard within the national public sphere?

The citizens sense that they are being patronized. Once again, they are to ratify something in the making of which they were not involved. The government has said that this time the referendum will not be repeated until the people give in. And aren't the Irish, this small, obstinate people, the only ones in all of Europe who are actually being asked for their opinions?

They don't want to be treated like cattle being driven to the voting booth. With the exception of three members of parliament who voted "no" on the issue, the Irish people and the entire Irish political class are entirely at odds. In a sense, it is also a referendum over politics in general, making it all the more tempting to send "politics" a message. This temptation is one felt everywhere today.


One can only speculate on the motives behind the Irish "no" vote. But the first official reactions have been clear. Suddenly roused out of complacency, European governments don't want to appear helpless. They are looking for a "technical" solution -- which would result in a repeat of the Irish referendum.

This, though, is little more than unadulterated cynicism on the part of the decision makers, especially given their protestations of respect for the electorate. It is also wind in the sails of those actively wondering whether semi-authoritarian forms of pseudo-democracy practiced elsewhere are perhaps more effective after all.

The purpose of the Lisbon Treaty was to finally achieve the organizational reform intended, but not completed, by the 2001 European Summit in Nice. That summit took place before the European Union's membership was expanded from 15 member states to 27. The eastward expansion, with the broadened prosperity gap and increased diversity of interests, has led to an even greater need for integration in the mean time.

These new conflicts and tensions cannot be addressed by European governing bodies in the manner to which they have become accustomed. After the failure of the proposed European constitution in 2005, the Lisbon Treaty represented a bureaucratically negotiated compromise to be pushed through behind the backs of the citizenry. With this most recent tour de force, European governments have callously demonstrated that they alone are shaping Europe's future. There remained only that one tiresome exception mandated by the Irish constitution.

The treaty itself was little more than a stalling response to the shock of 2005's failure. The ratification process came to a halt in France and the Netherlands before it could even reach the real hurdle in Great Britain. The predicament is even worse today. Business as usual? Or is it perhaps time to realize that, for European unity to deepen, Brussels must shift to a more participatory style of democracy.

Until Nice, the integration process, fuelled by economic liberalism, was pursued by the elites over the heads of the population. But since then, the successes of economic dynamism are increasingly perceived as a zero-sum game. There are more and more losers across Europe.

Justifiable socio-economic fears and consequent short-sighted reactions may explain the unstable mood. But the public's frame of mind can be influenced by political parties -- by offering the electorate a credible vision. Unsolved problems should be taken more seriously than transient states of feeling.

The failed referendums are a signal that the elitist mode of European unification is, thanks to its own success, reaching its limits. These limits can only be surmounted if the pro-European elites stop excusing themselves from the principle of representation and shed their fears of contact with the electorate.

The divide between the political decision-making authority granted to the EU in Brussels and Strasbourg on the one hand, and the nation state-bound opportunities provided by participatory democracy on the other, has become too large.

This is all the more awkward because competencies are unevenly distributed between the national governments and the super-national level. The sociopolitical and cultural side-effects of the welcomed market freedoms implemented across Europe are being passed on to the individual countries, which in turn are denied access to the conditions under which these external costs arose in the first place.

The upshot is that lost political leverage can only be regained at the European level. Only then can Jacques Delors' now-faded vision of a "social Europe" become the subject of meaningful political controversy.

A body politic cannot be designed such that the very act of its creation excludes alternatives to the prevailing market liberalism. However, the question of cautious harmonization of tax and economic policy and the gradual assimilation of social security systems within the EU touches on the contentious issues of deepening and widening that have crippled the union for years.

The governments' embarrassed silence over Europe's future conceals the fundamental conflict raging over the bloc's direction, a debate which robs European unification of its vision and appeal. Should Europe become a pro-active force, shaping policy at home and playing a greater role abroad? Or should its role focus more on ongoing expansion, thus encouraging improvements within neighboring countries that seek to join?

The price of this diffuse expansion project is a lack of political leverage in a global society that, while economically tightly knit, has been drifting apart politically since 2001. One only has to look at the miserable images of petty princes Gordon Brown, Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel, as they kowtow to US President George W. Bush, to realize that Europe is bidding adieu to the world stage.

But the problems of climate change, the extreme gaps between rich and poor, the global economic order, the violation of fundamental human rights and the struggle over dwindling energy resources affect everyone equally. Even as the world becomes increasingly interdependent, the global political stage is home to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and an increased willingness to turn to violence. Isn't it in the interest of a politically strong Europe to push for the constitutionalization of international law and an effective cooperation of the international community?

Europe, though, is unable to achieve political significance commensurate with its economic importance, precisely because its governments disagree over the purpose of European unification. Where the blame lies is clear. First and foremost, it can be pinned on the fact that governments themselves are at a loss -- and are thus spreading the malaise of a lackadaisical and morose "more of the same" attitude.

Naturally, the fundamental conflict over direction derives its explosive force from deeper-seated, historically-rooted differences. There are not grounds for criticism of any particular country. But in the wake of the Irish signal, we should expect two things from our governments. They must admit that they are at their wits' end. And they cannot continue to suppress their crippling dissent. In the end, they are left with no choice but to allow the peoples to decide for themselves.

This means that politicians have to roll up their sleeves to ensure that Europe becomes a critical topic of debate across the continent. Should a Europe that has regressed to nation state bickering transform itself into an entity capable of action on both a domestic and international scale?

One proposal to save the Lisbon Treaty is to offer the Irish a partial withdrawal from the European Union. This, at least, takes the decision of Irish voters seriously -- even though that was likely not the Irish intent. The mere mention of such an option sends the right message, however. A cooperative treaty with member states that wish to be temporarily relieved of the obligation to take part in certain institutions could help Europe move beyond the malaise.

The European train has come a long way, despite allowing the slowest member to determine overall speed. But from now on that is the wrong tempo. Even German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble's proposal that Europeans be allowed to directly elect an EU president goes well beyond the timid Lisbon Treaty. The European Council should take the plunge and tie a referendum to European elections next year.

The wording of the referendum would have to be sufficiently clear to allow voters to reach a decision on the EU's future direction. And all European citizens should cast their ballots on the same day, using the same procedure and on the same issue -- all across the continent. One of the shortcomings of referenda to date has been that the formation of opinion has remained stuck in individual national contexts.

With luck and commitment, a two-speed Europe could emerge from such a vote -- if the countries where the referendum is accepted joined forces to cooperate more closely in the areas of foreign, security, economic and social policy.

Were they confronted with an alternative, also those recently acceded countries in central and south-eastern Europe would seriously reflect on where their interests lie. And for skeptical member states, a politically successful core Europe could generate additional appeal. Finally, an internal differentiation -- as legally difficult as it may be -- could facilitate the controversial enlargement of the union.

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

from here



Link courtesy of Thomas Gregersen

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Notes on a post-secular society

Both religious and secular mentalities must be open to a complementary learning process if we are to balance shared citizenship and cultural difference.

By Jürgen Habermas


A "post-secular" society must at some point have been in a "secular" state. The controversial term can therefore only be applied to the affluent societies of Europe or countries such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand, where people's religious ties have steadily or rather quite dramatically lapsed in the post-War period. These regions have witnessed a spreading awareness that their citizens are living in a secularized society. In terms of sociological indicators, the religious behavior and convictions of the local populations have by no means changed to such an extent as to justify labeling these societies "post-secular". Here, trends towards de-institutionalized and new spiritual forms of religiosity have not offset the tangible losses by the major religious communities.(1)

Reconsidering the sociological debate on secularization

Nevertheless, global changes and the visible conflicts that flare up in connection with religious issues give us reason to doubt whether the relevance of religion has waned. An ever smaller number of sociologists now support the hypothesis, and it went unopposed for a long time, that there is close linkage between the modernization of society and the secularization of the population.(2) The hypothesis rests on three initially plausible considerations.

First, progress in science and technology promotes an anthropocentric understanding of the 'disenchanted' world because the totality of empirical states and events can be causally explained; and a scientifically enlightened mind cannot be easily reconciled with theocentric and metaphysical worldviews. Second, with the functional differentiation of social subsystems, the churches and other religious organizations lose their control over law, politics, public welfare, education and science; they restrict themselves to their proper function of administering the means of salvation, turn exercising religion into a private matter and in general loose public influence and relevance. Finally, the development from agrarian through industrial to post-industrial societies leads in average-to-higher levels of welfare and greater social security; and with a reductions of risks in life, and the ensuing increase in existential security, there is a drop in the personal need for a practice that promises to cope with uncontrolled contingencies through faith in a 'higher' or cosmic power.

These were the main reasons for the secularization thesis. Among the expert community of sociologists, the thesis has been a subject of controversy for more than two decades.(3) Lately, in the wake of the not unfounded criticism of a narrow Eurocentric perspective, there is even talk of the 'end of the secularization theory'.(4) The United States, with the undiminished vibrancy of its religious communities and the unchanging proportion of religiously committed and active citizens, nevertheless remains the spearhead of modernization. It was long regarded as the great exception to the secularising trend, yet informed by the globally extended perspective on other cultures and world religions, the United States now seems to exemplify the norm.

From this revisionist view, the European development, whose Occidental rationalism was once supposed to serve as a model for the rest of the world, is actually the exception rather than the norm – treading a deviant path. We and not they are pursuing a sonderweg. (5) Above all, three overlapping phenomena converge to create the impression of a worldwide 'resurgence of religion': the missionary expansion (a), a fundamentalist radicalisation (b), and the political instrumentalisation of the potential for violence innate in many of the world religions (c).

(a) A first sign of their vibrancy is the fact that orthodox, or at least conservative, groups within the established religious organizations and churches are on the advance everywhere. This holds for Hinduism and Buddhism just as much as it does for the three monotheistic religions. Most striking of all is the regional spread of these established religions in Africa and in the countries of East and Southeast Asia. The missionary successes apparently depends, among other things, on the flexibility of the corresponding forms of organization. The transnational and multicultural Roman Catholic Church is adapting better to the globalizing trend than are the Protestant churches, which are nationally organized and the principal losers. Most dynamic of all are the decentralised networks of Islam (particularly in sub-Saharan Africa) and the Evangelicals (particularly in Latin America). They stand out for an ecstatic form of religiosity inspired by charismatic leaders.

(b) As to fundamentalism, the fastest-growing religious movements, such as the Pentecostals and the radical Muslims, can be most readily described as 'fundamentalist'. They either combat the modern world or withdraw from it into isolation. Their forms of worship combine spiritualism and adventism with rigid moral conceptions and literal adherence to the holy scriptures. By contrast, the 'new age movements' which have mushroomed since the 1970s exhibit a 'Californian' syncretism; they share with the Evangelicals a de-institutionalized form of religious observance. In Japan, approximately 400 such sects have arisen, which combine elements of Buddhism and popular religions with pseudoscientific and esoteric doctrines. In the People's Republic of China, the political repression of the Falun Gong sect has highlighted the large number of 'new religions' whose followers are thought to number some 80 million. (6)

(c) Finally, the mullah regime in Iran and Islamic terrorism are merely the most spectacular examples of a political unleashing of the potential for violence innate in religion. Often smouldering conflicts that are profane in origin are first ignited once coded in religious terms. This is true of the 'desecularisation' of the Middle East conflict, of the politics of Hindu nationalism and the enduring conflict between India and Pakistan (7) and of the mobilisation of the religious right in the United States before and during the invasion of Iraq.

The descriptive account of a "post-secular society" – and the normative issue of how citizens of such a society should understand themselves

I cannot discuss in detail the controversy among sociologists concerning the supposed sonderweg of the secularized societies of Europe in the midst of a religiously mobilized world society. My impression is that the data collected globally still provides surprisingly robust support for the defenders of the secularization thesis.(8) In my view the weakness of the theory of secularization is due rather to rash inferences that betray an imprecise use of the concepts of 'secularization' and 'modernization'. What is true is that in the course of the differentiation of functional social systems, churches and religious communities increasingly confined themselves to their core function of pastoral care and had to renounce their competencies in other areas of society. At the same time, the practice of faith also withdrew into more a personal or subjective domain. There is a correlation between the functional specification of the religious system and the individualisation of religious practice.

However, as Jose Casanova correctly points out, the loss of function and the trend towards individualization do not necessarily imply that religion loses influence and relevance either in the political arena and the culture of a society or in the personal conduct of life.(9) Quite apart from their numerical weight, religious communities can obviously still claim a 'seat' in the life of societies that are largely secularized. Today, public consciousness in Europe can be described in terms of a 'post-secular society' to the extent that at present it still has to "adjust itself to the continued existence of religious communities in an increasingly secularized environment".(10) The revised reading of the secularization hypothesis relates less to its substance and more to the predictions concerning the future role of 'religion'. The description of modern societies as "post-secular" refers to a change in consciousness that I attribute primarily to three phenomena.

First, the broad perception of those global conflicts that are often presented as hinging on religious strife changes public consciousness. The majority of European citizens do not even need the presence of intrusive fundamentalist movements and the fear of terrorism, defined in religious terms, to make them aware of their own relativity within the global horizon. This undermines the secularistic belief in the foreseeable disappearance of religion and robs the secular understanding of the world of any triumphal zest. The awareness of living in a secular society is no longer bound up with the certainty that cultural and social modernisation can advance only at the cost of the public influence and personal relevance of religion.

Second, religion is gaining influence not only worldwide but also within national public spheres. I am thinking here of the fact that churches and religious organisations are increasingly assuming the role of "communities of interpretation" in the public arena of secular societies.(11) They can attain influence on public opinion and will formation by making relevant contributions to key issues, irrespective of whether their arguments are convincing or objectionable. Our pluralist societies constitute a responsive sounding board for such interventions because they are increasingly split on value conflicts requiring political regulation. Be it the dispute over the legalisation of abortion or voluntary euthanasia, on the bioethical issues of reproductive medicine, questions of animal protection or climate change – on these and similar questions the divisive premises are so opaque that it is by no means settled from the outset which party can draw on the more convincing moral intuitions.

Pushing the issue closer home, let me remind you that the visibility and vibrancy of foreign religious communities also spur the attention to the familiar churches and congregations. The Muslims next door force the Christian citizens to face up to the practice of a rival faith. And they also give the secular citizens a keener consciousness of the phenomenon of the public presence of religion.

The third stimulus for a change of consciousness among the population is the immigration of "guest-workers" and refugees, specifically from countries with traditional cultural backgrounds. Since the 16th century, Europe has had to contend with confessional schisms within its own culture and society. In the wake of the present immigration, the more blatant dissonances between different religions link up with the challenge of a pluralism of ways of life typical of immigrant societies. This extends beyond the challenge of a pluralism of denominations. In societies like ours which are still caught in the painful process of transformation into postcolonial immigrant societies, the issue of tolerant coexistence between different religious communities is made harder by the difficult problem of how to integrate immigrant cultures socially. While coping with the pressure of globalized labor markets, social integration must succeed even under the humiliating conditions of growing social inequality. But that is a different story.

I have thus far taken the position of a sociological observer in trying to answer the question of why we can term secularized societies "post-secular". In these societies, religion maintains a public influence and relevance, while the secularistic certainty that religion will disappear worldwide in the course of modernisation is losing ground. If we henceforth adopt the perspective of participants, however, we face a quite different, namely normative question: How should we see ourselves as members of a post-secular society and what must we reciprocally expect from one another in order to ensure that in firmly entrenched nation states, social relations remain civil despite the growth of a plurality of cultures and religious world views?

All European societies today face this question. While preparing this lecture last February, a single weekend offered me three different news items. President Sarkozy dispatched an additional 4,000 policemen to the infamous Parisian banlieus, so sorely afflicted by rioting Maghreb youths; the Archbishop of Canterbury recommended that the British legislature adopt parts of Sharia family law for its local Muslim population; and a fire broke out in a tenement block in Ludwigshafen in which nine Turks, four of them children, met their deaths – something that despite the lack of evidence of arson prompted deep suspicion among the Turkish media, not to say true dismay; this then persuaded the Turkish prime minster to make a visit to Germany during which his ambivalent campaign speech in an arena in Cologne in turn triggered a strident response in the German press.

These debates have assumed a sharper tone since the terrorist attacks of 9/11. In the Netherlands the murder of Theo van Gogh kindled a passionate public discourse, as did the affair with the Mohammed cartoons in Denmark. These debates assumed a quality of their own (12); their ripples have spread beyond national borders to unleash a European-wide debate.(13) I am interested in the background assumptions that render this discussion on "Islam in Europe" so explosive. But before I can address the philosophical core of the reciprocal accusations, let me outline more clearly the shared starting point of the opposing parties – a proper interpretation of what we are used to call "the separation of church and state".

From an uneasy modus vivendi to a balance between shared citizenship and cultural difference

The secularization of the state was the appropriate response to the confessional wars of early modernity. The principle of "separating church and state" was only gradually realised and took a different form in each national body of law. To the extent that the government assumed a secular character, step by step the religious minorities (initially only tolerated) received further rights – first the freedom to practice their own religion at home, then the right of religious expression and finally equal rights to exercise their religion in public. An historical glance at this tortuous process, and it reached into the 20th century, can tell us something about the preconditions for this precious achievement, the inclusive religious freedom that is extended to all citizens alike.

After the Reformation, the state initially faced the elementary task of having to pacify a society divided along confessional lines, in other words to achieve peace and order. In the context of the present debate, Dutch writer Margriet de Moor reminds her fellow citizens of these beginnings: "Tolerance is often mentioned in the same breath as respect, yet our tolerance, and its roots date back to the 16th and 17th centuries, is not based on respect – on the contrary. We hated the religion of the respective other, Catholics and Calvinist had not one iota of respect for the views of the other side, and our Eighty Years' War was not just a rebellion against Spain, but also a bloody jihad by the orthodox Calvinists against Catholicism."(14) We will soon see what kind of respect Margriet de Moor has in mind.

As regards peace and order, governments had to assume a neutral stand even where they remained bound up with the religion prevailing in the country. In countries with confessional strife the state had to disarm the quarreling parties, invent arrangements for a peaceful coexistence of the inimical confessions and monitor their precarious existence alongside each other. In confessionally split countries like Germany or the Netherlands, the opposing sub-cultures then each nested in niches of their own and subsequently remained foreign to one another in society. Precisely this modus vivendi (and this is what I would like to stress) proved to be insufficient when the constitutional revolutions of the late 18th century spawned a new political order that subjected the completely secularized powers of the state to both the rule of law and the democratic will of the people.

This constitutional state is only able to guarantee its citizens equal freedom of religion under the proviso that they no longer barricade themselves within their religious communities and seal themselves off from one another. All subcultures, whether religious or not, are expected to free their individual members from their embrace so that these citizens can mutually recognize one another in civil society as members of one and the same political community. As democratic citizens they give themselves laws which grant them the right, as private citizens, to preserve their identity in the context of their own particular culture and worldview. This new relationship of democratic government, civil society and subcultural self-maintenance is the key to correctly understanding the two motives that today struggle with each other although they are meant to be mutually complementary. For the universalist project of the political Enlightenment by no means contradicts the particularist sensibilities of a correctly conceived multiculturalism.

The liberal rule of law already guarantees religious freedom as a basic right, meaning that the fate of religious minorities no longer depends on the benevolence of a more or less tolerant state authority. Yet it is the democratic state that first enables the impartial application of this principled religious freedom.(15) When Turkish communities in Berlin, Cologne or Frankfurt seek to get their prayer houses out of the backyards in order to build mosques visible from afar, the issue is no longer the principle per se, but its fair application. However, evident reasons for defining what should or should not be tolerated can only be ascertained by means of the deliberative and inclusive procedures of democratic will formation. The principle of tolerance is first freed of the suspicion of expressing mere condescension, when the conflicting parties meet as equals in the process of reaching an agreement with one another.(16) How the lines between positive freedom of religion (i.e., the right to exercise your own faith) and the negative freedom (i.e., the right to be spared the religious practices of people of other faiths) should be drawn in an actual case is always a matter of controversy. But in a democracy those affected, however indirectly, are themselves involved in the decision making process.

"Tolerance" is of course not only a question of enacting and applying laws; it must be practiced in everyday life. Tolerance means that believers of one faith, of a different faith and non-believers must mutually concede one another the right to those convictions, practices and ways of living that they themselves reject. This concession must be supported by a shared basis of mutual recognition from which repugnant dissonances can be overcome. This recognition should not be confused with an appreciation of an alien culture and way of living, or of rejected convictions and practices.(17) We need tolerance only vis-a-vis worldviews that we consider wrong and vis-a-vis habits that we do not like. Therefore, the basis of recognition is not the esteem for this or that charateristic or achievement, but the awareness of the fact that the other is a member of an inclusive community of citizens with equal rights, in which each individual is accountable to the others for his political contributions.(18)

Now that is easier said than done. The equal inclusion of all citizens in civil society requires not only a political culture that preserves liberal attitudes from being confused with indifference; inclusion can only be achieved if certain material conditions are met. These include full integration and compensatory education in kindergartens, schools and universities, and equal opportunities in access to the labor market. However, in the present context what is most important to me, is the image of an inclusive civil society in which equal citizenship and cultural difference complement each other in the right way.

For example, as long as a considerable portion of German citizens of Turkish origin and of Muslim faith have stronger political ties to their old homeland than their new one, those corrective votes will be lacking in the public sphere and at the ballot boxes which are necessary to expand the range of values of the dominant political culture. Without the inclusion of minorities in civil society, the two complementary processes will not be able to develop hand in hand, namely the opening of the political community to a difference-sensitive inclusion of foreign minority cultures, on the one hand, and on the other, the reciprocal opening of these subcultures to a state where they encourage their individual members participate in the political life at large.

Kulturkampf between radical multiculturalism and militant secularism: philosophical background assumptions

In order to answer the question of how we should understand ourselves as members of a post-secular society, we can take our cue from these two interlocking processes. The ideological parties that confront each other in public debates today seldom take any notice of how both processes fit each other. The party of the multiculturalists appeals to the protection of collective identities and accuses the other side of representing a "fundamentalism of the Enlightenment", whereas the secularists insist on the uncompromising inclusion of minorities in the existing political framework and accuse their opponents of a "multiculturalist betrayal" of the core values of the Enlightenment. In some European countries a third party plays a major role in these battles.

The so-called multiculturalists fight for an unprejudiced adjustment of the legal system to the cultural minorities' claim to equal treatment. They warn against a policy of enforced assimilation with uprooting consequences. The secular state, they say, should not push through the incorporation of minorities into the egalitarian community of citizens in such a manner that it tears individuals out of their identity-forming contexts. From this communitarian view, a policy of abstract integration is under suspicion of subjecting minorities to the imperatives of the majority culture. Today, the wind is blowing in the multiculturalists' faces: "Not only academics, but politicians and newspaper columnists likewise consider the Enlightenment a fortress to be defended against Islamic extremism."(19) This reaction, in turn, brings a critique of a "fundamentalism of the Enlightenment" into play. For example, Timothy Garton Ash argues in the New York Review of Books (Oct. 5, 2006) that "even Muslim women contradict the way in which Hirsi Ali attributes her oppression to Islam instead of the respective national, regional or tribal culture."(20) In fact, Muslim immigrants cannot be integrated into Western society in defiance of their religion but only with it.

On the other hand, the secularists fight for a color-blind inclusion of all citizens, irrespective of their cultural origin and religious belonging. This side warns against the consequences of a "politics of identity" that goes too far in adapting the legal system to the claims of preserving the intrinsic characteristics of minority cultures. From this "laicistic" viewpoint, religion must remain an exclusively private matter. Thus, Pascal Bruckner rejects cultural rights because these would give rise to parallel societies – to "small, self-isolated social groups, each of which adheres to a different norm."(21) Bruckner condemns multiculturalism roundly as an "anti-racist racism", though his attack at best applies to those ultra-minded multiculturalists who advocate the introduction of collective cultural rights. Such protection for entire cultural groups would in fact curtail the right of their individual members to choose a way of life of their own.

Thus the conflicting parties both pretend to fight for the same purpose, a liberal society that allows autonomous citizens to coexist in a civilized manner. And yet they are at loggerheads in a Kulturkampf that resurfaces at every new political occasion. Although it is clear that both aspects are interlinked, they argue bitterly over whether the preservation of cultural identity has priority over the enforcement of shared citizenship or vice versa. The discussion gains its polemical acuity from contradictory philosophical premises which the opponents rightly or wrongly attribute to one other. Ian Buruma has made the interesting observation that following 9/11 an academic debate on the Enlightenment, on modernity and post-modernity, was taken out of the university and floated in the marketplace.(23) The fiery debate was stoked by problematic background assumptions, namely a cultural relativism beefed up with a critique of reason on the one side, and a rigid secularism pushing for a critique of religion on the other.

The radical reading of multiculturalism often relies on the notion of the so-called "incommensurability" of world views, discourses or conceptual schemes. From this contextualist perspective, cultural ways of life appear as semantically closed universes, each of which keeps the lid on its own standards of rationality and truth claims. Therefore, each culture is supposed to exist for itself as a semantically sealed whole, cut off from dialogues with other cultures. With the exception of unsteady compromises, submission or conversion are the only alternatives for terminating conflicts between such cultures. Given this premise, radical multiculturalists cannot discern in any universalist validity claim, such as the claim for the universality of democracy and human rights, anything but the imperialist power claim of a dominant culture.

This relativistic reading inadvertently robs itself of the standards for a critique of the unequal treatment of cultural minorities. In our post-colonial immigrant societies, discrimination against minorities is usually rooted in prevailing cultural prejudices that lead to a selective application of established constitutional principles. If one then does not take seriously the universalist thrust of these principles in the first place, there is no vantage point from which to understand how the constitutional interpretation is bound up with the prejudices of the majority culture. I need not go into the philosophical issue of why cultural relativism, derived from a postmodern critique of reason, is an untenable position.(24) However, the position itself is interesting for another reason; it lends itself to an opposite political conclusion and explains a peculiar political change of sides.

Ironically, the very same relativism is shared by those militant Christians who fight Islamic fundamentalism while proudly claiming the Enlightenment culture either as part and parcel of the tradition of Roman Catholicism or as the specific offshoot of Protestantism. On the other hand, these conservatives have strange bed-fellows, since some of the former leftist "multiculturalists" turned into war-hungry liberal hawks. These converts even joined the ranks of neocon "Enlightenment fundamentalists".(25) In the battle against Islamic fundamentalists they were evidently able to adopt the culture of the Enlightenment, which they had once fought in the name of their own "Western culture" because they had always rejected its universalist intent: "The Enlightenment has become attractive specifically because its values are not just universal, but because they are 'our', i.e., European, Western values." (26)

Needless to say, this reproach does not refer to those "laicistic" intellectuals of French origin for whom the pejorative term "Enlightenment fundamentalists" was originally coined. But it is again a philosophical background assumption which can explain a certain militancy on the part of these truly universalist guardians of the Enlightenment tradition. From their viewpoint, religion must withdraw from the political public sphere into the private domain because, cognitively speaking, it has been historically overridden as an "intellectual formation" ("Gestalt des Geistes", as Hegel puts it). In the light of a liberal constitution, well, religion must be tolerated, but it cannot lay claim to provide a cultural resource for the self-understanding of any truly modern mind.

Complementary learning processes: Religious and secular mentalities

This secularistic position does not depend on how one judges the empirical suggestion that religious citizens and communities still make relevant contributions to political opinion and will formation even in largely secularized societies. Whether or not we consider the application of the predicate "post-secular" appropriate for a description of West European societies, one can be convinced, for philosophical reasons, that religious communities owe their persisting influence to an obstinate survival of pre-Modern modes of thought – a fact, that begs an empirical explanation. From the viewpoint of secularism, the substance of faith is scientifically discredited either way. As such, discussions about religious traditions and with religious figures, who still lay claim to a significant public role, escalate into polemic.

In the use of terms I distinguish between "secular" and "secularist". Unlike the indifferent stance of a secular or unbelieving person, who relates agnostically to religious validity claims, secularists tend to adopt a polemical stance toward religious doctrines that maintain a public influence despite the fact that their claims cannot be scientifically justified. Today, secularism is often based on "hard" naturalism, i.e., one based on scientistic assumptions. Unlike the case of cultural relativism, here I need not comment on the philosophical background.(27) For what interests me in the present context is the question of whether a secularist devaluation of religion, if it were one day to be shared by the vast majority of secular citizens, is at all compatible with that post-secular balance between shared citizenship and cultural difference I have outlined. Or would the secularistic mindset of a relevant portion of the citizenry be just as unappetizing for the normative self-understanding of a post-secular society as the fundamentalist leaning of a mass of religious citizens? This question touches on deeper roots of the present unease than the "multiculturalist drama". Which kind of problem do we face?

It is to the credit of the secularists that they, too, insist on the indispensability of including all citizens as equals in civil society. Because a democratic order cannot simply be imposed on its authors, the constitutional state confronts its citizens with the demanding expectations of an ethics of citizenship that reaches beyond mere obedience to the law. Religious citizens and communities must not only superficially adjust to the constitutional order. They are expected to appropriate the secular legitimation of constitutional principles under the premises of their own faith.(28) It is a well-known fact that the Catholic Church first pinned its colors to the mast of liberalism and democracy with the Second Vaticanum in 1965. And in Germany, the Protestant churches did not act differently. Many Muslim communities still have this painful learning process before them. Certainly, the insight is also growing in the Islamic world that today an historical-hermeneutic approach to the Koran's doctrine is required. But the discussion on a desired Euro-Islam makes us once more aware of the fact that it is the religious communities that will themselves decide whether they can recognize in a reformed faith their "true faith".(29)

When we think of such a shift from the traditional to a more reflexive form of religious consciousness, what springs to mind is the model of the post-Reformation change in epistemic attitudes that took place in the Christian communities of the West. But a change in mentality cannot be prescribed, nor can it be politically manipulated or pushed through by law, it is at best the result of a learning process. And it only appears as a "learning process" from the viewpoint of a secular self-understanding of Modernity. In view of what an ethics of democratic citizenship requires in terms of mentalities, we come up against the very limits of a normative political theory that can justify only rights and duties. Learning processes can be fostered, but not morally or legally stipulated.(30)

But shouldn't we turn the question around? Is a learning process only necessary on the side of religious traditionalism and not on that of secularism, too? Do the selfsame normative expectations that rule an inclusive civil society not prohibit a secularistic devaluation of religion just as they prohibit, for example, the religious rejection of equal rights for men and women? A complementary learning process is certainly necessary on the secular side unless we confuse the neutrality of a secular state in view of competing religious world views with the purging of the political public sphere of all religious contributions.

Certainly, the domain of a state, which controls the means of legitimate coercion, should not be opened to the strife between various religious communities, otherwise the government could become the executive arm of a religious majority that imposes its will on the opposition. In a constitutional state, all norms that can be legally implemented must be formulated and publicly justified in a language that all the citizens understand. Yet the state's neutrality does not preclude the permissibility of religious utterances within the political public sphere, as long as the institutionalized decision-making process at the parliamentary, court, governmental and administrative levels remains clearly separated from the informal flows of political communication and opinion formation among the broader public of citizens. The "separation of church and state" calls for a filter between these two spheres – a filter through which only "translated", i.e., secular contributions may pass from the confused din of voices in the public sphere into the formal agendas of state institutions.

Two reasons speak in favor of such liberal practice. First, the persons who are neither willing nor able to divide their moral convictions and their vocabulary into profane and religious strands must be permitted to take part in political will formation even if they use religious language. Second, the democratic state must not pre-emptively reduce the polyphonic complexity of the diverse public voices, because it cannot know whether it is not otherwise cutting society off from scarce resources for the generation of meanings and the shaping of identities. Particularly with regard to vulnerable social relations, religious traditions possess the power to convincingly articulate moral sensitivities and solidaristic intuitions. What puts pressure on secularism, then, is the expectation that secular citizens in civil society and the political public sphere must be able to meet their religious fellow citizens as equals.

Were secular citizens to encounter their fellow citizens with the reservation that the latter, because of their religious mindset, are not to be taken seriously as modern contemporaries, they would revert to the level of a mere modus vivendi - and would thus relinquish the very basis of mutual recognition which is constitutive for shared citizenship. Secular citizens are expected not to exclude a fortiori that they may discover, even in religious utterances, semantic contents and covert personal intuitions that can be translated and introduced into a secular discourse.

So, if all is to go well both sides, each from its own viewpoint, must accept an interpretation of the relation between faith and knowledge that enables them to live together in a self-reflective manner.



Footnotes

(1) D. Pollack, Säkularisierung – ein moderner Mythos? (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2003)

(2) H. Joas, "Gesellschaft, Staat und Religion," in: H. Joas (ed.), Säkularisierung und die Weltreligionen, (Frankfurt/M.: Fischer, 2007), pp. 9-43

(3) J. Hadden, "Towards desacralizing secularization theory," in: Social Force, vol. 65, 1987, pp. 587-611

(4) H. Joas, op. cit., pp. 9-43

(5) P.L. Berger, in: Berger (ed.), The Desecularization of the World: A Global Overview, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2005), pp. 1-18

(6) J. Gentz, "Die religiöse Lage in Ostasien," in: Joas (2007), pp. 358-75

(7) cf. the essays by H.G. Kippenberg and H. v. Stietencron in Joas (2007), pp. 465-507 and pp. 194-223

(8) P. Norris & R. Ingelhart, Sacred and Secular. Religion and Politics Worldwide,(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004)

(9) J.Casanova, Public Religions in the Modern World, (Chicago, 1994)

(10) J. Habermas, Glauben und Wissen (Frankfurt: special edition of edition Suhrkamp, 2001), p. 13

(11) Francis Schüssler Fiorenza, The Church as a Community of Interpretation, in: D. Browning & F. Schüssler Fiorenza (eds.), Habermas, Modernity, and Public Theology, (New York: Crossroad, 1992), pp. 66-91

(12) G. Mak, Der Mord an Theo van Gogh. Geschichte einer moralischen Panik, (Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp, 2005)

(13) Th. Chervel & A. Seeliger (ed.), Islam in Europa, (Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp, 2007)

(14) M. de Moor, "Alarmglocken, die am Herzen hängen," in: Chervel & Seeliger (2007), p. 211 (Alarm bells in Muslim hearts)

(15) For the history and a systematic analysis see the comprehensive study by R. Forst, Toleranz im Konflikt, (Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp, 2003)

(16) J. Habermas, "Religiöse Toleranz als Schrittmacher kultureller Rechte," in: my Zwischen Naturalismus und Religion, (Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp, 2005), pp. 258-78

(17) See my debate with Ch. Taylor, Multikulturalismus und die Politik der Anerkennung, (Frankfurt/Main: Fischer, 1993), in: J. Habermas, "Kampf um Anerkennung im demokratischen Rechtsstaat," in: my Die Einbeziehung des Anderen, (Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp, 1996), pp. 237-76

(18) On the public use of reason see J. Rawls, Politischer Liberalismus (Suhrkamp), Frankfurt/Main 1998, 312-366

(19) I. Buruma, Murder in Amsterdam: The Death of Theo Van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance (New York: Atlantic Books, 2006) (Carl Hanser Verlag), München 2006, 34

(20) Timothy Garton Ash in: Chervel & Seeliger (2007), 45f.

(21) P. Bruckner in: Chervel,Seeliger (2007), 67 (Enlightenment fundamentalism or racism of the anti-racists?)

(22) P. Bruckner, op. cit., p.62: "Multiculturalism guarantees all communities the same treatment, but not the persons who go to make up the communities, because it denies them the freedom to abandon their own traditions." (Enlightenment fundamentalism or racism of the anti-racists?) See: B. Barry, Culture and Equality, (Cambridge UK: Polity, 2001); and J. Habermas, "Kulturelle Gleichbehandlung und die Grenzen des Postmodernen Liberalismus," in my Zwischen Naturalismus und Religion, (Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp, 2005), pp. 279-323

(23) Buruma (2006), 34

(24) The decisive critique of the proposed incommensurability goes as far back as D. Davidson’s famous Presidential Address of 1973 “On the very Idea of a Conceptual Scheme (deutsch: Was ist eigentlich ein Begriffsschema? in: D. Davidson & R. Rorty, Wozu Wahrheit?, (Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp, 2005, pp. 7-26)

(25) Maybe the new London based Magazine "Standpoint" will become a collecting tank for this heterogenous group of intellectuals

(26) Buruma (2006), p. 34. Buruma describes the motivation of the Leftist converts as follows (p. 123f.): "The Muslims are the spoil-sports who turn up at the party uninvited... Tolerance has its limits even for the progressivists in Holland. It is easy to be tolerant towards those whom we instinctively think we can trust, whose jokes we understand and who share our use of irony... It is far harder to apply this principle to people in our midst who find our way of life as disturbing as we find theirs..."

(27) See the critique in my essays on H.P. Krüher (ed.), Hirn als Subjekt? Philosophische Grenzfragen der Neurobiologie (Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 2007), pp. 101-120 and pp. 263-304

(28) This is the key issue for John Rawls when he calls for an overlapping consensus between groups with different world views to accept the normative substance of the constitutional order: Rawls (1998), pp. 219-64

(29) I. Buruma, "Wer ist Tariq Ramadan," in: Chervel & Seeliger (2007), pp. 88-110; B. Tibi, "Der Euro-Islam als Brücke zwischen Islam und Europa," ibid., pp. 183-99

(30) J. Habermas, Religion in der Öffentlichkeit, in: ders.(2005),119-154


This text originally appeared in German in Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik, in april 2008. Er lag einem Vortrag zugrunde, den Jürgen Habermas am 15. März 2007 im Rahmen der Veranstaltungen des Nexus Instituts an der Universität Tilburg, Niederlande, gehalten hat.

from here

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Habermas on the crisis of the EU

In "Süddeutsche Zeitung", June 16, 2008, you can read a comment by Jürgen Habermas on the crisis of the EU:

Europa muss eigenständig werden – für die "Wiedergeburt" des Kontinents warb der Philosoph und Soziologe Jürgen Habermas 2003, nach dem Irak-Krieg, mit dem französischen Philosophen Jacques Derrida. Nach dem Nein der Iren zum Lissabon-Vertrag redet der 78-jährige Intellektuelle den Regierungen und Parteien ins Gewissen: Sie müssen Europa zu einem lebenswichtigen Thema auf den Marktplätzen machen.

article here


Link courtesy of Thomas Gregersen

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Habermas and Postmodernism

A reader writes:

"I was looking at some posts on your blog and I was wondering if I could ask you a very elementary question about Habermas. (I'm writing a book on American multiculturalism and I have a chapter on "postmodern multiculturalism.")

My question is what the objection would be to putting Habermas under the heading of "postmodernism." I realize this is a crude question - and I confess I know almost nothing about Habermas (and I realize postmodern is a crude term).

By "postmodernist" all I mean is:
1) begins from diversity of cultural worldviews; sense of problem of relativity of truth-claims; sense that human understanding is derivative from culture and, hence, from politics/struggle
2) the "usual suspects" of those lumped under this category (many protesting of course): Foucault, Derrida, Lyotard, Rorty, Fish.

My sense is that Habermas would NOT be considered a postmodern - even though (as your blog suggests) there is a lot of overlap. My sense that H would NOT be considered a postmodernist is based on 2 crude facts:

1) his attempt to sketch an ethics [or is communicative ethics precisely a kind of attempt at an ethics on postmodernist assumptions?]
2) his overtures to Rawls

And so you see my judgement is based on very crude grounds - and (to repeat) on almost no actual understanding of Habermas.

I am only looking for a general reaction to my question - and I would be grateful for any response that might tell me whether to look into Habermas as a postmodernist (which from your blog it looks like you might be inclined to say?) or continue to assume that Habermas stands outside the camp of postmodernists as much as someone like Rawls would (tho on different grounds).

I'd be much obliged to hear whatever you might have time to say about this."


==

My response:


I have never considered Habermas a postmodernist but he has this remarkable tendency to not only learn from his adversaries but also in a sense overstates their case (and accepts it). He then moves on to defend his own position given the valid (even over exaggerated) critique of his adversaries. What Haberams accepts from the so called postmodernists is their critique of the philosophy of subject. The critique of the philosophy of subject can mean different things for different people but in this context I take it to be a critique of the notion of rationality which locates rational standards outside space and time, in other words outside "this" world. Habermas accepts this critique of otherworldly notions of rationality which linger on in modern and late modern philosophy. However, from the above Habermas doesn’t draw the conclusions which are drawn by most postmodernists. Specifically, Habermas doesn’t accept the claim that with the demise of the philosophy of subject all hope for "objective" standards of rationality is gone and we are ensnared in the immanence of our own worldviews. In Habermas' view a this-worldly "transcendence from within" is possible. For this Habermas develops his theory of communicative rationality which is based on his views of linguistic communication. Habermas thinks that a look at linguistic communicative action aimed at mutual understanding can give us access to criteria that are this worldly (since there is no supposition of a subject located outside space and time, language is a thing of this world), shared by every human being (since we are linguistic beings). These rationality criteria can help us overcome parochialism into which postmodernism inevitably leads. Thus we can defend a version of universalism and objectivity even after we have given up the philosophy of subject. This is Habermas' position anyway!


Any further thoughts from dear readers are most welcome!
[cross posted at FR]

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Habermas spoke on 'post-secularism' in Turkey

From "Turkish Daily News”, June 10, 2008

Secularism, Islam and democracy became the main topics of a series of panels at Bilgi University last week drawing top names from the world's political science and philosophy departments.

The meeting was co-hosted by Rome-based think tank, Reset's "Dialogues on Civilizations" which takes place annually in an effort to promote a network of cultural, intellectual and academic relationships for mutual understanding and interaction among democratic intellectuals and opinion makers belonging to different geo-political and cultural areas of the “East” and the “West.”

The list of distinguished guests and panelists included world-renowned philosopher and author, Jürgen Habermas, assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Yale University, Andrew March, scholar and professor at Boston College known for his work on Islam and Democracy, David Rasmussen, Islamic thinker and author, Abdlmajid Charfi, Agos editor-in-chief, Etyen Mahçupyan, and Murat Belge among many others.

Below is an excerpt of the speech given by Habermas, a German philosopher and sociologist in the tradition of critical theory and American pragmatism. His work has focused on the foundations of social theory and epistemology, the analysis of advanced capitalistic societies and democracy, the rule of law in a critical social-evolutionary context, and contemporary politics. The paper he presented was first prepared for the annual Nexus lecture at the University of Tilburg, The Netherlands, March 15, 2007, titled: “What do we mean by ‘post-secular' society?”

"Whether or not we consider the application of the predicate “post-secular” appropriate for a description of West European societies, one can be convinced, for philosophical reasons, that religious communities owe their persisting influence to an obstinate survival of pre-Modern modes of thought – a fact, that begs an empirical explanation. From the viewpoint of secularism, the substance of faith is scientifically discredited either way. On this side the status of religious traditions as not being worth of any serious concern provokes a polemical attitude against religious persons and organizations who still lay claim to a significant public role.

In the use of terms I distinguish between “secular” and “secularist”. Unlike the indifferent stance of a secular or unbelieving person, who relates agnostically to religious validity claims, secularists tend to adopt a polemical stance toward religious doctrines that maintain a public influence despite the fact that their claims cannot be scientifically justified. Today, secularism is often based on “hard” naturalism, i.e., one based on scientistic assumptions. Unlike the case of cultural relativism, this time I need not comment on the philosophical background. For what interests me in the present context is the question whether a secularist devaluation of religion, if it were one day to be shared by the vast majority of secular citizens, is at all compatible with that post-secular balance between shared citizenship and cultural difference I have outlined. Or would the secularistic mindset of a relevant portion of the citizenry be just as appetizing for the normative self-understanding of a post-secular society as the fundamentalism of a mass of religious citizens in fact is? This question touches on deeper roots of the present unease than the “multiculturalist drama”. Which kind of problem do we face?

It is to the credit of the secularists that they, too, insist on the indispensability of including all citizens as equals in civil society. Because a democratic order cannot simply be imposed on those who are its authors, the constitutional state confronts its citizens with the demanding expectations of an ethics of citizenship that reaches beyond mere obedience to the law. Religious citizens and communities must not only superficially adjust to the constitutional order. They are expected to appropriate the secular legitimation of constitutional principles under the very premises of their own faith. It is a well-known fact that the Catholic Church first pinned its colors to the mast of liberalism and democracy with the Second Vaticanum in 1965. And in Germany, the Protestant churches did not act differently. Many Muslim communities still have this painful learning process before them. Certainly, the insight is also growing in the Islamic world that today an historical-hermeneutic approach to the Koran's doctrine is required. But the discussion on a desired Euro-Islam makes us once more aware of the fact that it is the religious communities that will themselves decide whether they can recognize in a reformed faith their “true faith”.

[....]

Without doubt, the domain of a state which controls the means of legitimate coercion may not be opened to the strife between various religious communities, as otherwise the government could become the executive arm of a religious majority that imposes its will on the opposition. In a constitutional state, all norms that can be legally pushed through must be formulated and publicly justified in a language that all the citizens understand. Yet the state's neutrality does not preclude the permissibility of religious utterances within the political public sphere as long as the institutionalized decision-making process at the parliamentary, court, governmental and administrative levels remains clearly separated from the informal flows of political communication and opinion formation among the broader public of citizens. The “separation of church and state” calls for a filter between these two spheres – a filter through which only “translated”, i.e., secular contributions may pass from the confused din of voices in the public sphere onto the formal agendas of state institutions."

Thomas Gregersen

from Habermas Forum

Levinas, Habermas and modernity

Levinas, Habermas and modernity
Nicholas H. Smith
Macquarie University, Australia

This article examines Levinas as if he were a participant in what Habermas has called `the philosophical discourse of modernity'. It begins by comparing Levinas' and Habermas' articulations of the philosophical problems of modernity. It then turns to how certain key motifs in Levinas' later work give philosophical expression to the needs of the times as Levinas diagnoses them. In particular it examines how Levinas interweaves a modern, post-ontological conception of `the religious' or `the sacred' into his account of subjectivity. Finally, the article looks at some problems that arise for Levinas once his position in the philosophical discourse on modernity is made explicit.


Key Words: Jürgen Habermas • Emmanuel Levinas • modernity • ontology • otherness • religion • social relation

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Heidegger, Lafont and the necessity of the transcendental

Heidegger, Lafont and the necessity of the transcendental
R. Matthew Shockey
Indiana University, South Bend, USA

Cristina Lafont's recent reading of Heidegger offers a powerful formulation of the widespread view that once one recognizes our `facticity' and the role of language in shaping it, there is no room left to talk about transcendental structures of meaning or experience. In this article I challenge this view. I argue that Lafont inaccurately conflates what Heidegger calls our `understanding of being' with that which language discloses. In order to show that the philosophical motivation for this conflation is unsound, I also argue that Lafont's own positive theory of meaning itself tacitly assumes a distinction between factical and transcendental, and so rests on exactly what she finds problematic in Heidegger. This still leaves a puzzle as to how factical individuals are actually able to grasp anything transcendental, so I conclude by sketching Heidegger's method of `formal indication', which is meant to show precisely how this can be done.


Key Words: facticity • Martin Heidegger • language • transcendental philosophy

from here

On the psychogenesis of the a priori

On the psychogenesis of the a priori
Jean Piaget's critique of Kant
Horst Pfeiffle
Vienna Institute of Economics and Business Administration

The seal of the a priori is imprinted on the reception of Kant's philosophy. Piaget's epistemological argumentation seems to ascribe knowledge a more fruitful constructiveness than Kant, seeing the a priori as rooted in unvarying reason. Yet, it seems, he failed to recognize the complexity of Kant's theory, which does not always follow a quid iuris line. Moments of experience, analysis and self-observation played more than a marginal role in his discovery of the a priori. Indeed, Kant himself raises the question of ontogenetic category assimilation in a review which pre-empts Piaget, borrowing the category of `original acquisition' from the doctrine of the laws of natural right. And although Kant should not be elevated to the harbinger of the knowledge on development issues delivered thus far by the history of science and experiments, he did recognize the temporal reference of their categories in principle without resolving their validity in psychogenetic terms.


Key Words: a priori • categories • genetic epistemology • Geneva School • neo-Kantianism • original acquisition • Jean Piaget • psychogenesis • self-observation

from here

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Politics of Our Selves: Power, Autonomy, and Gender in Contemporary Critical Theory

Amy Allen, The Politics of Our Selves: Power, Autonomy, and Gender in Contemporary Critical Theory, Columbia University Press, 2008, 230pp., $34.50 (hbk), ISBN 9780231136228.

Reviewed by J. Jeremy Wisnewski, Hartwick College

In her recent book, Amy Allen tackles one of the persistent problems of post-Foucaultian critical theory: how can we acknowledge the pervasive mechanisms of power in the formation of our identities, and yet still allow for an ideal of autonomous action? This problem -- one that has been a sticking point in the discussion between Foucaultians and Habermasians -- has also come to be an issue of much importance in the feminist literature. The Politics of Our Selves is a persuasive and well-reasoned account of how we might find our way through some difficult -- some might say 'intractable' -- problems of contemporary feminism and critical theory. The book demonstrates that the perceived opposition between power and knowledge is something of a red herring. Recognizing this, moreover, has important consequences for some of feminism's most serious debates -- as well as for understanding the appropriate parameters of a critical theory.

The Politics of Our Selves begins by rethinking the Foucault/Habermas debate -- a debate that centers on the place of critique in the network of power. In reading Foucault's work, where power 'is everywhere' and is that in virtue of which agents are constructed and placed within systems of normalization and subordination, a persistent worry seems to arise: if power is absolutely everywhere, how is it possible to engage in the critique of power in such a way that we might (at least partially) liberate ourselves from the oppressive aspects of power? If power pervades everything, it follows that it pervades rationality, and hence that the use of rationality itself is riddled with the very means of subordination we are trying to overcome. It is precisely this criticism that has been leveled against the Foucaultian enterprise by philosophers like Habermas and Charles Taylor.


full here

Friday, May 09, 2008

Sunday, April 27, 2008

New book on Habermas and religion

A new book on Habermas’ recent view on religion has just been published on ”Suhrkamp Verlag”:

Michael Reder & Josef Schmidt (eds.) - ”Ein Bewusstsein von dem, was fehlt. Eine Diskussion mit Jürgen Habermas”.

The book has two short contributions by Habermas.

Contents:

1. Michael Reder and Josef Schmidt – ”Habermas und die Religion” (pp. 9-25)

2. Jürgen Habermas – ”Ein Bewusstsein von dem, was fehlt” (pp. 26-36) [from ”Neue Zürcher Zeitung” February 10, 2007]

3. Norbert Brieskorn – ”Vom Versuch, eine Beziehung wieder bewusstzumachen” (pp. 37-50)

4. Michael Reder – ”Wie weit können Glaube und Vernunft unterschieden werden?” (pp. 51-68)

5. Friedo Ricken – ”Nachmetaphysische Vernunft und Religion” (pp. 69-78)

6. Josef Schmidt – ”Ein Dialog, in dem es nur Gewinner geben kann” (pp. 79-93)

7. Jürgen Habermas – ”Eine Replik” (pp. 94-107) [new]

The essays are based on a discussion at "Hochschule für Philosohie", München, January, 2007.

"Mit seiner Friedenspreisrede eröffnete Jürgen Habermas 2001 die Auseinandersetzung mit Vertretern der katholischen Kirche: Er traf sich mit Joseph Kardinal Ratzinger. Unter dem Titel »Ein Bewußtsein von dem, was fehlt« führte er nun ein Gespräch mit renommierten Philosophen der Hochschule für Philosophie der Jesuiten. Habermas betont, daß die moderne Vernunft sich selbst nur verstehen könne, wenn sie ihre Stellung zum religiösen Bewußtsein kläre. Hintergrund für seine Argumentation ist u.a. auch die Verhältnisbestimmung von Glaube und Vernunft, die Papst Benedikt XVI. in seiner Regensburger Rede formuliert hatte. Der Band versammelt den Essay sowie die Beiträge der Debatte. Die Einleitung gibt einen Überblick über Habermas’ religionsphilosophische Interventionen."

Information courtesy of Thomas Gregersen

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Charles Taylor: Secularism and critique

"As for Habermas, he has always marked an epistemic break between secular reason and religious thought, with the advantage on the side of the first. Secular reason suffices to arrive at the normative conclusions we need, such as establishing the legitimacy of the democratic state, and defining our political ethic. Recently, his position on religious discourse has considerably evolved; to the point of recognizing that its “Potential macht die religiöse Rede bei entsprechenden politischen Fragen zu einem ernsthaften Kandidaten für mögliche Wahrheitsgehalte.” But the basic epistemic distinction still holds for him. Thus when it comes to the official language of the state, religious references have to be expunged. “Im Parlament muss beispielsweise die Geschäftsordnung den Presidenten ermächtigen, religiöse Stellungnahmen und Rechtfertigungen aus dem Protokoll zu streichen.”

I think that these positions of Rawls and Habermas show that they have not yet understood the normative basis for the contemporary secular state. I believe that they are on to something, in that there are zones of a secular state in which the language used has to be neutral. But these do not include citizen deliberation, as Rawls at first thought, or even deliberation in the legislature, as Habermas seems to think from the above quote. This zone can be described as the official language of the state: the language in which legislation, administrative decrees and court judgments must be couched. It is self-evident that a law before Parliament couldn’t contain a justifying clause of the type: “Whereas the Bible tells us that p.” And the same goes mutatis mutandis for the justification of a judicial decision in the court’s verdict. But this has nothing to do with the specific nature of religious language. It would be equally improper to have a legislative clause: “Whereas Marx has shown that religion is the opium of the people,” or “Whereas Kant has shown that the only thing good without qualification is a good will.” The grounds for both these kinds of exclusions is the neutrality of the state."

full here

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on John Rawls

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on John Rawls has been published recently (here). Rawls' relevance for Habermas is obvious, though the article doesn't mention Habermas or Habermas-Rawls debate.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Moral Education and Cosmopolitanism

Kieran Keohane
National University of Ireland, Cork,

The central problem of citizenship and political culture in the `postnational constellation' is the cultivation and institutionalization of cosmopolitanism as a political identity. The cultivation of citizenship in the postnational constellation echoes the problem Durkheim confronted at the turn of the twentieth century, when he faced the task of developing a systematic programme of moral education as a basis for social solidarity in a secular national French republic; a programme that would perform the same functions of social integration previously organized in terms of a religious discourse. While nationalism provided a discourse of political identification throughout the twentieth century, critical theory and psychoanalysis (for example, the Frankfurt School's studies in prejudice and the authoritarian personality) have shown how nationalism has now become a problematic basis for political identification and citizenship. This article explores Habermas's and Beck's present problem through an examination of Kant and Durkheim. It suggests that an appropriate pedagogical model of cosmopolitanism, one that combines elements of transcendental and situated reason, may be found in Joyce's representation of Leopold Bloom; a pedagogical representation wherein transcendental ideals grounded in universal reason are combined with various discursive and communicative encounters with the Other, in cosmopolitanizing experiences of the workplace and organizational life, international travel and migration, and urban neighbourhoods and milieus.


Key Words: cosmopolitanism • Durkheim • Habermas • Joyce • Kant • moral education

from here
 
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