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The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere represents a rare opportunity to experience a diverse group of preeminent philosophers confronting one pervasive contemporary concern: what role does--or should--religion play in our public lives? Reflecting on her recent work concerning state violence in Israel-Palestine Judith Butler explores the potential of religious perspectives for renewing cultural and political criticism while J rgen Habermas best known for his seminal conception of the public sphere thinks through the ambiguous legacy of the concept of 'the political' in contemporary theory.
Charles Taylor argues for a radical redefinition of secularism and Cornel West defends civil disobedience and emancipatory theology. Eduardo Mendieta and Jonathan VanAntwerpen detail the immense contribution of these philosophers to contemporary social and political theory and an afterword by Craig Calhoun places these attempts to reconceive the significance of both religion and the secular in the context of contemporary national and international politics.
Access options available:. New York: Columbia University Press, ISBN: One might anticipate that a book entitled The Power of Religion in the Public Square, had it been published fifty or even twenty-five years ago, would be a mostly defensive, populist polemic against the increasing, antireligious secularism of the political culture, with the author a nonacademic, devout, conservative Christian.
It is a sign of how drastically the intellectual climate has changed that in some of the most sophisticated and earnest critics of antireligious secularization and proponents of a religion-with-a-public-face are secularist academics, many of them nonreligious. While secularization is an overwhelmingly evident phenomenon in the West, it is a notoriously difficult one to capture intellectually—theologically, philosophically, sociologically—as well as to accommodate politically.
My fave words when Butler said we cant choose with whom we gonna live in this earth. Plurality is a given. As theory its include every ideal state should be. Neutral state. Accomodating between religious and non religious need. The question should be asked later is how the implementation will be? Because so far its really hard to be applied. Jan 11, Kevin Gregory rated it really liked it. I love watching smart people go to town on one another and so to be able to read people like Judith Butler and Cornel West converse together is really awesome.
Really cool to see the four different perspectives of the persons participating in the conference this work came from.
Great anthology. Aug 17, Utility rated it liked it Shelves: political-theory. An interesting, if uneven and somewhat underwhelming volume.
I expect that readers will primarily be interested in the contributions of Habermas and Taylor given their prominence in recent discussions about religion and its place in contemporary democratic societies. Habermas' piece functions as a polemic against the recent renewal of interest in An interesting, if uneven and somewhat underwhelming volume. Habermas' piece functions as a polemic against the recent renewal of interest in political theology and reaffirms the impossibility and undesirability of relying on a homogenous religious foundation for the state in contemporary societies marked by value-pluralism.
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Sadly, the paper adds little to Habermas' position as outlined in the German Peace Prize address "Faith and Knowledge" and elaborated in his groundbreaking work Between Naturalism and Religion His thesis is provocative and constitutes an unmistakeable challenge to Habermas' position: Religion does not constitute a special case to be set apart from nonreligious value-systems; as such, a new definition of secularism is required that avoids disproportional fixation on religion and it purported incommunicability.
Butler's paper, "Is Judaism Zionism?
Although her paper touches on some of these indirectly, her thesis - that a Jewish ethics of cohabitation might serve as a framework for the criticism of Israeli state violence against Palestinians - is not obviously relevant to the questions discussed by the other contributors. West's piece is a bit of an oddity, perhaps constituting more of a performance piece than an conceptual inquiry into religion and politics. West highlights the role of prophetic religion and the value of its interventions into the public sphere with a view to disrupting the status quo and making us more sensitive to the sting of social realities to which we have become habituated and desensitized.
West's contribution is underdeveloped and takes up a mere nine pages, which is disappointing, since his position is exciting and innovative, and would have benefitted immensely from increased elaboration. The discussions - especially the first Habermas and Taylor and the third Habermas, Taylor, Butler, and West - are often more interesting than the papers themselves and force the authors to elaborate and clarify their views.
Calhoun's excellent afterword is also a high point and performs the unlikely function of tying all four papers together. Readers interested broadly in the role of religion in the public sphere would do well to concentrate on Taylor's piece and to read the two discussions in which he participates, as well as the afterword, which ends by summarizing all four contributions anyway.
The rest can safely be skipped. Jun 02, Scott Neigh added it. A neat little collection that I read because it is relevant to one of my current courses. It includes contributions from two aging white liberal men who are superstar philosophers and who happen to be the source of some of the core theory in said course, as well as contributions from Judith Butler and Cornell West -- also superstar philosophers -- who are both activist scholars whom I have immense respect for. I think Butler's piece in particular has some ideas that I will be able to use in my A neat little collection that I read because it is relevant to one of my current courses.
I think Butler's piece in particular has some ideas that I will be able to use in my writing for the course. Also, though I have some fundamental differences with him, there were a couple of ideas from Charles Taylor that I found quite useful.
And, of course, West is always an inspiration. Mar 17, Faez rated it it was amazing.
The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere (A Columbia / SSRC Book)
A deep, short and to the point introduction to revisiting the problematic relationship between religion and secularity. Instead of the common outlook which finds them exclusive and in continuous conflict, the participants all prominent philosophers are trying to accommodate religion in a post secular world. It opens a wide and original field of relevant studies. Jan 14, Robert D. Cornwall rated it really liked it Shelves: politics , religion , social-justice , social-sciences. Recommended by a friend, I found this to be a provocative and interesting read.
The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere | Columbia University Press
It's a transcript of a conference, with presentations and conversations. Habermas, Taylor, Butler, and West -- theory and practice. Aug 11, James Smith rated it liked it. Interesting exchange between Habermas and Taylor on place of religion in the public sphere of secular democracies. As usual, West is sort of intellectual tamale candy: sweet going down but burns afterwards. Dec 03, Jasbeer Musthafa rated it really liked it Shelves: secularism.
An academically relevant discourse on Religion and Secularism by the eminent philosophers who reasoned the birth of the concept of Postsecularism.