Religion in the 21st century: revisiting the discussion around the post-secular society

Країна: Франція

Місто: Aix-en-Provence

Тези до: 30.06.2016

Дати: 17.11.16 — 18.11.16

Область наук: Філософські;

Е-мейл Оргкомітету:

Організатори: University of Aix-Marseille


чReligion in the 21st century: revisiting the discussion around the post-secular society

Although for a long time it may have seemed that the secularization of the West was inevitable and unstoppable, it now seems obvious – much to the dismay of numerous ‘enlighteners’ ” – that we have been witness, since the end of the 20th century, to a clear shift, as unexpected as it is remarkable. A new interest in religion and in questions of transcendence seems to have been reawakened in parts of society, as evidenced in political debate, sociological analyses or in philosophical reflections, calling into question the long held conviction that religion and ideas of (at least vertical) transcendence would disappear both from the West and ultimately, in the wake of globalization, throughout the world. As observed by Hartung and Schlette (2012), even in the countries that gave birth to the Enlightenment (“Kernländer der Aufklärung”), it is no longer possible “to speak of a linear and inevitable process of secularization”.

If certain aspects of this renewed interest in the religious stand out by their rather reactionary and anti-modern character (as represented, for example, by the fundamentalist Christians or Muslims in the United States and in the Arab world, respectively), other manifestations of this phenomenon are equal to the challenge posed by the complexities and the stakes of the modern world at the beginning of the 21st century. Thus, certain sociologists and philosophers, such as Jürgen Habermas or Niklas Luhmann, highlight the ethical-moral potential of religious conviction and the value of religious orientation when facing the contingence of the modern world (“Kontingenzbewältigung“). At a more fundamental level, this discussion is also concerned with the issues that arise when reason is reduced to its mere scientific, technological and economic aspects. In this sense, Thomas Rentsch defends the idea of a truly enlightened reason, which is capable of accounting for undeniable phenomena of transcendence, while Alvin Plantinga aims “to show how it can be that Christians can be justified, rationally […] not just ‘ignorant fundamentalists’ but sophisticated, aware, educated, turn-of-the millennium people who have read their Freud and Nietzsche, their Hume and Mackie” (2000).

Thus, one important source for the recent interest in new perspectives of transcendence and the religious seems to be the narrowing down of the concept of reason to its positivistic and functionalistic dimension, bringing forth an erosion of meaning, which leads to a growing need of fundamental forms of self-reassurance (“Selbstvergewisserung”) of Man that go beyond the limits of a purely instrumental reason.

The new interest in religious and metaphysical issues thus cannot be understood only as a reactionary comeback of religion, in which the dichotomy between knowing and believing is reevaluated with the aim of reestablishing belief as superior to knowledge (see Nagl 2001). Particularly since the turn of the century, the comeback of religion has inspired numerous academic publications, but much of this work remains within disciplinary boundaries. The planned workshop intends to offer a forum for an interdisciplinary dialogue and intends to be a potential starting point for the development of a larger research project which aims to bring together an international team of researchers with a common interest in different aspects of the role played by religion and transcendence in modern society.   

We are interested in abstracts from researchers working in the Humanities (including, but not limited to, philosophers, sociologists, psychologists and specialists in the field of religious studies). Papers could be developed around topics such as:

-          The possible interpretations of the “comeback of religion” as seen from different fields of study (including the relativization of this phenomenon or even the rejection of the existence of such a phenomenon)

-          The role of religion in society: has religion (or could religion) become a simple fait culturel?

-          The (in)compatibility of faith and reason, religion and science in the (post)modern world

-          The (in)compatibility of functionalist and hermeneutic interpretations of religion

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