Sunday, May 27, 2007

Salvaging and secularizing the semantic contents of religion: the limitations of Habermas's postmetaphysical proposal

Author: Cooke, Maeve


The article considers Jürgen Habermas's views on the relationship between postmetaphysical philosophy and religion. It outlines Habermas's shift from his earlier, apparently dismissive attitude towards religion to his presently more receptive stance. This more receptive stance is evident in his recent emphasis on critical engagement with the semantic contents of religion and may be characterized by two interrelated theses: (a) the view that religious contributions should be included in political deliberations in the informally organized public spheres of contemporary democracies, though translated into a secular language for the purposes of legislation and formal decision making and (b) the view that postmetaphysical philosophy should seek to salvage the semantic contents of religious traditions in order to supply the evocative images, exemplary figures, and inspirational narratives it needs for its social and political projects. With regard to (a), it argues that the translation requirement impairs the political autonomy of religious believers and other metaphysically inclined citizens, suggesting that this difficulty could be alleviated by making a distinction between epistemologically authoritarian and non-authoritarian religious beliefs. With regard to (b), it argues that the salvaging operation is not as straightforward as Habermas seems to suppose and that social and political philosophy may not be able to tap the semantic power of religious traditions without relying on metaphysical assumptions; it concludes that, here, too, a distinction between authoritarian and non-authoritarian approaches to knowledge and validity may be useful.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

CFP Society for European Philosophy

Call for Papers:

Society for European Philosophy &
Forum for European Philosophy
3rd Annual Joint Conference

The University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton, UK
September 8th, 9th,10th 2007

Plenary Speakers:
Frederick Neuhouser (Columbia)
Cristina Lafont (Northwestern)
Alex Düttmann (Goldsmiths)
Rüdiger Bittner (Bielefeld)

Abstracts of no more than 300 words to be submitted by June 1st 2007
in electronic form to or by mail to:

Forum for European Philosophy
Room J5, Cowdray House
Portugal Street
London School of Economics, London, WC2A 2AE

For more information see