Thursday, September 29, 2005

Suspend your narcissism

"One of the novelties of Habermas's ...presentation 'Religion in the Public Sphere' was the commendable idea that 'toleration' -- the bedrock of modern democratic culture -- is always a two-way street. Not only must believers tolerate others' beliefs, including the credos and convictions of nonbelievers; it falls due to disbelieving secularists, similarly, to appreciate the convictions of religiously motivated fellow citizens. From the standpoint of Habermas's 'theory of communicative action', this stipulation suggests that we assume the standpoint of the other. It would be unrealistic and prejudicial to expect that religiously oriented citizens wholly abandon their most deeply held convictions upon entering the public sphere where, as a rule and justifiably, secular reasoning has become our default discursive mode. If we think back, for instance, to the religious idealism that infused the civil-rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, we find an admirable example of the way in which a biblical sense of justice can be fruitfully brought to bear on contemporary social problems".

From J├╝rgen Habermas and Post-Secular Societies.

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