The Dialectics of Secularization: On Reason and Religion [Joseph Ratzinger, Jürgen Habermas] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Two of . Habermas warns about external threats to secular society. Once citizens act in My Take on the Habermas/Ratzinger Debate. It is surprising to. The debate – which later became a book, published in various languages Both Habermas and Ratzinger –like Böckenförde before them.

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A Decade Later: Lessons from the Habermas and Ratzinger Debate

On 19th January last year, two old men came to the Catholic Academy of Bavaria to debate the imposing-looking topic: But here the resemblance ends. His antagonist, Cardinal Ratzinger, came to prominence as an enforcer of doctrinal orthodoxy throughout the Catholic church. But the duel never took place.

The transcript of the debate instead reveals the strange spectacle of philosopher and cardinal bending over backwards to accommodate each other. This conciliatory tone will come as a particular surprise to English readers. There, the long tradition of Kulturprotestantismus —a diffuse, non-denominational religiosity—guarantees the churches widespread respect, if not attendance. The German philosophers, although rarely conventionally pious, always took religion seriously.

Not for them the sneering scepticism of Hume or Russell. Habermas is in this tradition. Habermas has not abandoned his belief in the moral autonomy of the liberal state, however.

The democratic process generates its own grounds of allegiance; it does not feed off a pre-political ethnic or religious solidarity. It suggests the possibility of a civic pride purged of history.

The new parliamentary buildings in Berlin, chastely functional yet with a certain subdued splendour, are a fitting monument to this renovated German spirit. But how does religion fit into the gleaming new world of constitutional patriotism? Such translations are not—as Habermas himself has admitted—always successful.

But even if imperfect, the translation of religious ahbermas secular language still remains our best hope of avoiding the savage conflicts that so often beset the passage of modernity. This should be habermaz surprise. The Catholic church has always been more open to the varieties of wisdom than orthodox Protestantism. Thus while Habermas makes his peace with religion, Ratzinger bestows his blessing on the modern multicultural state.


Significant differences remain, of course. Ratzinger is less friendly to democracy than Habermas. Popular support does not constitute legitimacy, he notes, for majorities can be blind or wicked. Although associated with Catholic philosophy, the doctrine of natural law does not rest upon specifically Christian foundations. It appeals to human nature; it comprises that body of principles binding on all humans in virtue of their membership of the species.

First developed by classical philosophers, natural law was only later given a Christian inflection. Now, argues Ratzinger, it should be restored to its original cosmopolitan breadth. For Christians, it would have to do with the creation and the creator. However, one serious difficulty stands in the way of this cosy cultural convergence. Natural law theory presupposes a concept of nature which, although not specifically Christian, is nonetheless theistic or metaphysical in inspiration.

It rests, that is to say, upon the premise that nature provides us with rational grounds for action. And this view of nature has—as Habemras himself admits—long since fallen victim to evolutionary theory. If we are not creatures of God, but merely clever monkeys, then how can the accidents of our constitution dictate what we ought to do and be?

The spectre of religious terrorism offers a partial explanation. And this in turn demands some kind of reconciliation with its own religious inheritance. Although his position does not rest upon theological premises, he acknowledges its debt to the Judeo-Christian view of life as a divine gift, immune to human manipulation.

Habermas Writes to Ratzinger, and Ruini Responds. Allies against the “Defeatism” of Modern Reason

The image of divine creation corresponds, in secular terms, to the unpredictability of our genetic make-up—an unpredictability which places absolute limits on the power of any one human being over another. He is no longer a gift of nature or the Creator; he is his own product. Anxiety over genetic technology is widespread in Germany, where it evokes memories of Nazi breeding programmes.

But the root of the disquiet lies deeper. Here, the debate over gene technology has been dominated by practical questions of health and economics. Principled objections are to be appeased or pacified; it never occurs to us that they might contain a point of general philosophical value. We in Britain have much to learn from these two old men in Bavaria. We’ll even send you our e-book— Writing with punch —with some of the finest writing from the Prospect archive, at drbate extra cost!

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Your password will then be emailed to you. Thank you for your support of Prospect and we hope that you enjoy everything the site has to offer. Wolfram Huke On 19th January last year, two old men came to the Catholic Academy of Bavaria to debate the imposing-looking topic: Europe’s messy violent past—and confused present. Simon Jenkins’s new history of Europe is peppered with counter-intuitive takes. How can we reverse Brexit when Europe doesn’t want us back? Officially, the leaders of the EU are disappointed that Britain is headed for the door Share with friends Facebook Twitter Linkedin Email.

Comments No comments yet. Edward Skidelsky is a lecturer in philosophy at Exeter University. His book “Ernst Cassirer: More by this author. Words that think for us: Art by any other name.

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