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How Ethnocentric Is The Concept Of The Postsecular?

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Chapter Summary

In recent years, the concept of the postsecular - made popular, by the German philosopher Jürgen Habermas - has steadily gained ground as a way of calling attention to new, or renewed, forms of public and politicized religiosity. In this chapter the author argues that it is a less than fully elaborated or defined, let alone explanatory, concept; and that - in its formulation by Habermas at least - it smuggles all kinds of unwarranted and indeed unwanted assumptions into the debate. Habermas's use of the term is deeply problematic: the postsecular is not a neutral analytical category but a normative notion that has deep secularist and modernist assumptions; besides its empirical and historiographic shortcomings it presupposes a residual secularism and a problematic public-private distinction, and takes the (Western European) liberal nation state as a self-evident framework. It also carries unwarranted, and indeed misleading, assumptions of a linear temporality and a dubious spatial imaginary of societal spheres.

Keywords: empirical shortcomings; historiographic shortcomings; Jürgen Habermas; postsecular



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