Wednesday, November 10, 2010

An Awareness of What Is Missing

Jűrgen Habermas et al.
An Awareness of What Is Missing
Trans. Ciaran Cronin. Polity, Cambridge, 2010. 96pp., £12.99 pb
ISBN 9780745647210
Reviewed by Tom Angier
This slim volume is the outcome of a discussion held in 2007 between Jürgen Habermas and philosophers from the Jesuit School for Philosophy in Munich. Since Habermas’ contribution occupies a mere twenty-one pages, the book is effectively even slimmer than it appears. Indeed, anyone interested in Habermas’ views on the relation between faith and reason will find little here that goes beyond his much more substantial collection of essays, Between Naturalism and Religion (Polity 2008). Nonetheless, the present volume is worthwhile reading, and this for two main reasons. First, it was inspired in part by Pope Benedict’s Regensburg address in 2006, which, besides upsetting many people in the Muslim world, was itself an attempt to elaborate the relations between faith and reason. And second, it represents an attempt to engage a section of the academic world – viz. philosophers in Catholic universities – who rarely appear on the radar of philosophers in mainstream, de facto (if not de jure) secular institutions. So despite what I will argue are severe shortcomings, especially from a left-political perspective, this collection of brief exchanges is valuable, if only as a brave attempt to challenge the self-imposed constraints of current academia.
Full review here

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