Habermas and Postsecularism: The Liberal State and the Religious Scources of Normativity

Dr. Peter Richard Sedgwick
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This paper explores the ramifications of Habermas's account of the religious resources of normativity for our understanding of the legitimacy of the modern liberal state. Its points of departure are the meeting of Jurgen Habermas and the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) on 19th January 2004, at the Catholic Academy of Baveria and Habermas's recent analysis of the significance of religion in a post-9/11 world. The paper thus uses the Habermas-Ratzinger exchange as a starting point from which to provide a critical discussion of Habermas's recent analysis of the role of religion and religious norms in Western political liberalism. Central to this discussion will be an analysis of Habermas's attempt at a 'translation' of religious ideas and moral judgements into what he considers to be the neutral discursive space of the liberal state in oder to provide the basis for an illumination of the creative role that religious belief can and should play in contemporary liberal-democratic social formations. The paper concludes with some critical reflections on the possibility of this notion of 'translation', principally concerning the belief that the liberal public sphere represents the kind of neutral discursive space that Habermas contends.

Keywords: Liberalism, Normativity, Religion, Political Theory, Philosophy, Ethics, Habermas, Lyotard, Nietzsche
Stream: Anthropology, Archaeology, Cultural Studies, Humanities
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
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Dr. Peter Richard Sedgwick

Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, Cardiff University
Cardiff, UK

Peter Sedgwick is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Cardiff University. He is author of 'Descartes to Derrida' (Blackwell, 2001) and 'Nietzsche's Economy: Modernity, Normativity and Futurity' (Macmillan, forthcoming 2007). He is also co-author/co-editor with Andrew Edgar of 'Cultural Theory: The Key Concepts' and 'Cultural Theory: The Key Thinkers' (Routledge). His primary research interests are in European philosophy (especially the work of Nietzsche, Habermas, Lyotard, Levinas, and Heidegger), philosophy of language, political theory, and postmodernism. He is also interested in bridging the so-called divide separating the continental and analytic traditions of philosophy.

Ref: I07P0429