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Spaces Of Postsecularism

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Chapter Summary

In The Sociology of Philosophies, Randall Collins describes how the initial binary structure of an intellectual field typically broadens out into a more fluid and contested 'space of attention', then settles down into something like six more nuanced 'nodes', before eventually passing away as the priorities of a new epoch take over. In this chapter, the author deploys Collins's schema heuristically to shape the spreading idea of postsecularism, identifying and appraising four positions - 'epistemic dialogism', 'spiritualized progressivism', 'poststructuralist vitalism', and 'new feminist politics' - that are situated between two others, 'immanent transcendentalism' and 'ironic modernism'. He produces Ernest Gellner's ironic modernism as an effective foil. The author has also built up to a sustained critical commentary on Taylor, because A Secular Age has been hailed as a masterwork, seemingly beyond reproach. Gellner's ironic modernism for its part might be thought to fall outside the postsecular spectrum altogether.

Keywords: Ernest Gellner; immanent transcendentalism; ironic modernism; Postsecularism; Randall Collins; Sociology of Philosophies



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