Three discourses on religion in neo-pragmatism
Pragmatist treatment of "religious" and postmodern criticism of radicalized post-Kantian forms of enlightenment, leading directly to atheism. Dewey's socio-philosophical ideas. Study of religious experience, various doctrinal and spiritual practices.
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Three discourses on religion in neo-pragmatism
PhD, Ao. Professor of Philosophy i. r. University of Vienna
The presentation focuses, first, on Richard Rorty's debate with the Italian philosopher Gianni Vattimo in The Future of Religion (2005): that is to say on a debate which - taking into account pragmatism's attitude towards Уthe religiousФ as well as to the postmodern critique of those radicalized (post-Kantian) modes of Enlightenment that without much hesitation affirm УatheismФ - critically revisits the standard verdict of modernity regarding the unstoppable demise of religion. The paper discusses, secondly, Hilary Putnam's post-analytical conception of faith that he developed in his books Renewing Philosophy (1992) and Jewish Philosophy as a Guide to Life. Rosenzweig, Buber, Levinas, Wittgenstein (2008). Putnam's elaborate interest in Уthe religiousФ is, as will be shown, inspired by William James as well as by late Wittgenstein and by (elements of) John Dewey's social philosophy. Part three of the paper is dedicated to Charles Taylor's (both sympathetic and critical) analysis of William James's - individual-focused - survey of Уreligious experienceФ which was published in his 2002 Vienna Lecture, Varieties of Religion Today: William James Revisited. This segment of the talk primarily focuses on Taylor's renewed emphasis on the communal aspects of faith. The coda deals briefly with Hans Joas's pragmatist concept of the УoptionalФ character of religious belief Уin a secular ageФ (Faith as an Option, 2014). In the context of his (Taylor-inspired) analysis of modernity, Joas emphasizes (with reference to Robert N. Bellah, with whom he co-edited The Axial Age and Its Consequences, 2012), that in a globalized world no religion should insist, dogmatically, on the absolute validity of Уits own take on the divine,Ф since such an insistence can easily trigger a fanatic rejection of Уthe other.Ф While avoiding abstract relativism, religions should rather mutually focus on their best sides, trying to learn from each other: from their different - and at all times fragile and unfinished - attempts to explore (as James put it) Уthe relation of man to the divine.Ф The core thesis of the paper is thus twofold. Firstly, neo-pragmatic attempts to explore Уthe religiousФ have the potential to critically distance the (strict as well as dogmatic) verdict of older secularization theoties that (in view of today's scientific progress) religion is (or will soon be) Уa matter of the past.Ф Secondly, pragmatist as well as neo-pragmatist re-readings of religion - while focusing on the individual and taking a critical stance vis-a-vis religious institutions - do not (ultimately) shy away from a careful re-investigation of the social embeddedness of all religious experience, thought, and practice.
Keywords: neo-pragmatism, atheism, humanism, faith as an option, Rorty, Putnam, Taylor, Joas
“ри религиозных дискурса в неопрагматизме
¬енский университет. University of Vienna. Austria
ѕерва€ часть статьи посв€щена философской дискуссии –ичарда –орти с италь€нским мыслителем ƒжанни ¬аттимо (ЂThe Future of Religionї, 2005), темой которой €вл€етс€ прагматистска€ трактовка Ђрелигиозногої и постмодернистска€ критика радикализированных посткантианских форм просвещени€, пр€мо ведущих к атеизму. ƒанна€ дискусси€ позвол€ет критически переосмыслить распространенное представление о €кобы неизбежном Ђзакатеї религии в современном обществе. ¬о второй части рассматриваетс€ постаналитическа€ концепци€ веры ’илари ѕатнэма, представленна€ в его книгах ЂRenewing Philosophyї (1992) и ЂJewish Philosophy as a Guide to Life. Rosenzweig, Buber, Levinas, Wittgensteinї (2008). Ёти тексты показывают, что интерес ѕатнэма к Ђрелигиозномуї имеет в своей основе философию ƒжеймса, размышлени€ о религии позднего ¬итгенштейна, а также некоторые социально-философские идеи ƒьюи. ¬ третьей части исследовани€ основное внимание удел€етс€ критической реконструкции и интерпретации „арльзом “ейлором джеймсовой теории Ђрелигиозного опытаї. ¬ книге ЂVarieties of Religion Today: William James Revisitedї (2002) “ейлор главным образом критикует ƒжеймса за излишний акцент на религиозных переживани€х отдельного индивида и недооценку Ђколлективнойї (communal) составл€ющей веры. «аключительна€ часть статьи содержит краткий обзор прагматистской теории ’анса …оаса, согласно которой религиозна€ вера в так называемую секул€рную эпоху приобретает Ђфакультативныйї и плюралистический характер (ЂFaith as an Optionї, 2014). јнализиру€ современное общество (вслед за “ейлором и вместе с –обертом Ѕеллой, соредактором сборника ЂThe Axial Age and Its Consequencesї, 2012), …оас подчеркивает, что в глобализированном мире ни одна религи€ не вправе догматически настаивать на абсолютной истинности своего Ђпонимани€ божественногої, ведь подобна€ установка может легко спровоцировать фанатическую нетерпимость по отношению к Ђдругомуї. »збега€ этого догматизма, но не впада€ в другую крайность абстрактного рел€тивизма, религии, по мнению …оаса, должны открытьс€ друг другу, обратив взоры на лучшие стороны своих учений, чтобы расширить понимание верующими Ђотношени€ человека к божественномуї, понимание всегда ограниченное и неокончательное, как указывал ƒжеймс. √лавный тезис/вывод статьи заключает в себе две констатации: 1) неопрагматистские исследовани€ Ђрелигиозногої позвол€ют критически дистанцироватьс€ от догматического секул€ризма с его противопоставлением научного знани€ вере и убеждением в том, что врем€ религий прошло (или проходит); 2) несмотр€ на сильный акцент на индивидуальных аспектах веры и в целом критическую позицию по отношению к религиозным институтам, прагматистска€ и неопрагматистска€ философи€ религии с полной серьезностью подходит к исследованию и описанию религиозного опыта, различных вероучительных и духовных практик в их укорененности (embeddedness) в социальном.
лючевые слова: неопрагматизм, атеизм, гуманизм, выбор веры, –орти, ѕатнэм, “ейлор, …оас
Rorty and Vattimo on The Future of Religion (2005)
religious atheism philosophical pragmatist
In his essay УAnticlericalism and AtheismФ which precedes his debate with Gianni Vattimo in Paris on 16 December 2000,1 Rorty describes the contemporary intellectual situation in terms close to William James's famous ending of Lecture 1, Pragmatism, where James argued that the controversies between the Уtough mindedФ and the Уtender mindedФ can be settled by means of a new post-metaphysical approach focusing on the analysis of human practice. Rorty, R., Vattimo, G. The Future of Religion. New York, 2005, pp. 29-41. James, W. Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking. Cambridge, Mass.; Lon-don, 1975, p. 23. Reflecting on the (internally complex) Уlinguistic turnФ which, in the decades after James, has dominated the philosophical discourse, Rorty writes: УThe anti-positivist tenor of post-Kuhnian philosophy of science has combined with the work of post-Heideg- gerian theologians to make intellectuals more sympathetic to William James's claim that natural science and religion need not compete with one another.Ф Rorty, R., Vattimo, G. The Future of Religion, p. 30.
Does Rorty thus claim that the time when a rigid rejection of religion was considered a proof of Уscience-mindednessФ and Уintellectual honestyФ is over - that the era of an (as Habermas once said) УEnlightenment not enlightened about itselfФ has come to an end? Yes and no. As a result of the crisis of rigid (neo-)positivistic takes on reality, the contemporary situation, for Rorty, has, on the one hand, changed. Recent developments, he notes, Уhave made the word `atheist' less popular than it used to be. Philosophers who do not go to church are now less inclined to describe themselves as believing that there is no God. They are more inclined to use such expressions as Max Weber's `religiously unmusical.'Ф Ibid. There are many old-fashioned УatheistsФ still around, however: those who, according to Rorty, Уstill think that belief in the divine is an empirical hypothesis and that modern science has given better explanations of the phenomena God was once used to explain.Ф Challenging this view, Rorty agrees Уwith Hume and Kant that the notion of `empirical evidence' is irrelevant to talk about God... Neither those who affirm nor those who deny the existence of God can plausibly claim that they have evidence for their views. Being religious, in the modern West,Ф he continues, Уdoes not have much to do with the explanation of specific observable phenomena.Ф Ibid., p. 33.
This is not the whole story, however, since in another sense - that of УanticlericalismФ - ideas central to former УatheismФ remain important. УFor secularists like myself,Ф Rorty writes, Уreligion is unobjectionable as long it is privatized,Ф Ibid. that is to say tied to Уthe fuzzy overlap of faith, hope, and loveФ that he calls Уromance.Ф Rorty, R. УReligious Faith, Intellectual Responsibility, and RomanceФ, The Cambridge Com-panion to William James. Cambridge, 1997, p. 96. At the same time Rorty takes up what Dewey claims in his main publication on religion, A Common Faith: УOf course, we anti-clericalists who are also leftists in politics,Ф Rorty writes, Уhave a . reason for hoping that institutionalized religion will eventually disappear. We think otherworldliness dangerous because, as John Dewey put it, `Men have never fully used the powers they possess to advance the good in life, because they have waited upon some power external to themselves and to nature to do the work they are responsible for doing' (УA Common Faith,Ф in Later Works of John Dewey, vol. 9, p. 31).Ф Rorty, R., Vattimo, G. The Future of Religion, pp. 40-41.
Post-secularist defenders of religion (like Vattimo) will find this thesis strange, insisting that it was never the point of religious teachings that lived up to their own best standards to encourage inactivity in situations that can be actively changed (as Dewey and Rorty assume). They see the power of religion, quite to the contrary, in its capacity to restore strength, in individuals as well as commu - nities, in situations where they experience not just imaginary, but real limits. Milton R. Konvitz, in his УIntroductionФ to Dewey's A Common Faith, criticizes Dewey along these lines: УThe record would show,Ф he writes, Уthat many persons, believing in a transcendent God, worked on the earth to do what God had left undone; that a belief in the supernatural inspired them with the courage and strength they needed to fulfill their ideals, which they saw as goals set for them by GodФ (Konvitz, M.R. УIntroductionФ, Later Works of John Dewey, Vol. 9. Carbondale, 1986, p. XXIX).
For Rorty, the approach to religion that Vattimo advocates in Credere di credere, is strongly influenced by Kant: УThat we view God as a postulate of practical reason ... cleared the way for thinkers like Schleiermacher..., Kierkegaard, Barth and Levinas.Ф Vattimo's УweakФ re-reading of the Christian faith has (inexplicit) connections with what Kant called УZweifelglaubeФ (Уdoubting faithФ) and УHoffnungsglaubeФ (faith, based on hope). For a close reading of these Kantian reflections see: Langthaler, R. Geschichte, Ethik und Religion im AnschluE an Kant. Philosophische Perspektiven Уzwischen skeptischer Hoffnungslosig- keit und dogmatischem TrotzФ, Bd. 2. Berlin, 2014, S. 555-570. Rorty, R., Vattimo, G. The Future of Religion, pp. 35, 40. It culminates, as Rorty emphasizes, not in УknowledgeФ but in an action horizon that the modern secularist can, in significant parts, share with the believer: in those ideas of love, that, inelaborate mode, are expressed - as Rorty points out in agreement with Vattimo11 - in the First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians, chapter 13. УThough I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have no charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know it in part: but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charityФ (The King James Bible [Authorized Version], 1 Corinthians ch. 13, v. 1).
If we take a closer look at the background to this horizon of action, we find, however, that it is split into two non-congruent pictures: on the one hand, Rorty argues, there is the religious, theistically-dimensioned image of hope, on the other (after Feuerbach's criticism of religion as a human УprojectionФ) a horizon of hope that is УhumanisticallyФ and УnaturalisticallyФ configured. Rorty strongly supports the second image: УThe kind of religious faith which seems to me to lie behind the attractions of pragmatism is a faith in the future possibilities of mortal humans, a faith which is hard to distinguish from love for, and hope for, the human community.Ф This Уfuzzy overlap of faith, hope, and love ... may crystallize around a labor union as easily as around a congregation, around a novel as easily as around a sacrament, around a God as easily as around a child.Ф Rorty, R. УReligious Faith, Intellectual Responsibility, and RomanceФ, p. 96.
Rorty concedes that Уwe allФ fluctuate between these two images of hope: УWe fluctuate between God as a perhaps obsolete name for a possible human future, and God as an external guarantor of some such future.Ф Sometimes, Dewey's naturalistically dimensioned УpiousФ humanism seems to offer enough hope, Уsometimes it does not.Ф Ibid., pp. 98-99.
Ultimately Rorty, however, chooses the option of a (non-dogmatic) secularism: for the (УunjustifiableФ) hope that Уsomeday, any millennium now, my remote descendants will live in a global civilization in which love is pretty much the only law.Ф Rorty, R., Vattimo, G. The Future of Religion, p. 40.
In his conversation with Vattimo in Paris, Rorty refers, in this context, to the metaphysics-distant re-reading of a core category of Christianity, УkenosisФ, The concept УkenosisФ (which, as Vattimo explains, means the incarnation of God, his Entaufierung, i.e. his lowering to the human level) originates in the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Philippians, ch. 2, v. 7. See in this context: Vattimo, G. Glauben - Philosophieren. Stuttgart, 1997. offered by Vattimo: Уthe gradual weakening of the worship of God as power and its gradual replacement with the worship of God as love.Ф Rorty, R., Vattimo, G. The Future of Religion, p. 56. In such a re-reading, Rorty argues, the genuine sense of God's incarnation is better understood than in the older УtriumphalisticФ images of God, and Уkenosis,Ф read in this manner, comes close to the УhumanisticФ detachment of our horizon of hope from all modes of transcendence. Vattimo does not follow Rorty at that point of his argument. For a short presentation of Vattimo's philosophy of religion see: Vattimo, G. УDie christliche Botschaft und die Auflosung der MetaphysikФ, Religion, Moderne, Postmoderne. Philosophisch-theologische Erkundungen. Berlin, 2002, S. 219-228.
In contrast to Rorty, Vattimo points out that all religious views of the world express a sense of finitude that we cannot - either individually or collectively - overcome in toto. The various interpretations of this Уfeeling of dependenceФ Rorty, R., Vattimo, G. The Future of Religion, p. 77. are (in their religious mode) interwoven with constellations of the Уobjective spiritФ (as Vattimo, with recourse to Hegel, writes), Ibid., p. 70. that is to say with socially mediated and historically structured explication attempts of faith. Most of these traditions of interpretation tend to be, as a careful investigation shows, deeply interwoven with theological as well as philosophical reflection and critique. All this tends to disappear, in its rich detail, in Rorty's (as well as in Dewey's) humanistically УnaturalizedФ perspective of hope. УWhen I speak of the God of the Bible,Ф Vattimo writes, УI speak of the God which I know only through the Bible. My dependence on God is my dependence only on the biblical traditionФ (Ibid., p. 77). Religion, with necessity, takes on a concrete social shape, manifesting itself in communities, churches, etc.: УWhen we talk about the future of religion, I also think about another question,Ф Vattimo says: УWhat about the future of the Church, the visible, disciplinary, and dogmatic structure of the Church?Ф (Ibid., p. 69). A careful analysis of the social stature of Уthe religiousФ is, for Vattimo, central to any in-depth analysis of religion. Within modern societies (that increasingly focus on individual self-aggrandizement) serious problems tend to occur. УHere I always come back to the example of Comte, who founded a sort of positivistic church,Ф Vattimo writes, Уbecause he wanted people to go somewhere on Sunday, at least to do something that had an attitude comparable to religious preachingФ (Ibid.). That there exists a structurally deep connection between a living mode of religion and religious УcommunitiesФ (which, in Rorty's concept of a privatized Уreligious,Ф remains out of sight) was - within Classical pragmatism - carefully analyzed, by Josiah Royce. (See Nagl, L. У`Community': Erwagungen zum `absolute pragmatism' in der Spatphilosophie von Josiah RoyceФ, in: L. Nagl, Das verhullte Absolute. Essays zur zeitgenossischen Religionsphilosophie. Frankfurt a/M., 2010, S. 221-258).
Summarizing, we may note: while Rorty's horizon of hope (the idea that we can overcome finitude, collectively, by having recourse to the idea of a social apotheosis of mankind that keeps clear of all Уsupernatural transcendenceФ) may, Уin a secular age,Ф sound plausible to many, pragmatists such as Peirce, Royce and James actually investigated our finitude and its religious perspective differently. For a detailed analysis of the special status of John Dewey's discourse on religion within pragmatism (a status which differs significantly from the views of Royce, Peirce and James on religion, and is defined by Dewey's Уa priori negative wallФ against all modes of a Уsuper-humanФ) see Oppenheim, F.M. Reverence for the Relations of Life. Re-imagining Pragmatism via Josiah Royce's Interaction with Peirce, James, and Dewey. Notre Dame, 2008, pp. 320-348, especially 324. In the context of neo-pragmatism, Hilary Putnam revived James's complex analyses of religion, and this new interest in James was recently further strengthened by Charles Taylor and Hans Joas.
Putnam on religion as a guide to life
In his book Renewing Philosophy (published in 1992), Putnam started to investigate religious themes referring to James and Wittgenstein. See Putnam's defense of William James's argumentation in УThe Will to BelieveФ in: Putnam, H. Renewing Philosophy. Cambridge, Mass.; London, 1992, pp. 181-187, as well as his two essays УWittgenstein on Religious BeliefФ and УWittgenstein on Reference and RelativismФ in the same book (pp. 134-179). He continued these explorations in his essay УPladoyer fur eine Verabschiedung des Begriffs `Idolatrie'Ф (published in Vienna in 20 03), See Putnam, H. УPladoyer fur eine Verabschiedung des Begriffs `Idolatrie'Ф, Religion nach der Religionskritik. Vienna, 2003, S. 58. and, in 2008, dedicated an entire book, Jewish Philosophy as a Guide to Life. Rosenzweig, Buber, Levinas, Wittgenstein, to questions of faith. In this study he develops, with reference to Buber's Ich und Du, an inter-subjectively dimensioned conception of religion, while exploring, at the same time, with (and beyond) Dewey, the deep structure of humanism. In his defense of the Уright to believe,Ф Putnam argues - following Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations - that the Уspeaking of languageФ as Уpart of an activity, or of a form of lifeФ comprises a multiplicity of language games - for instance Уasking, thanking, cursing, greeting, praying,Ф Wittgenstein, L. Philosophical Investigations, І 23. thus allowing for the expression, as well as the exploration, of the horizons of hope which orient our (finite, frail and faltering) human actions. The religious language game - according to Putnam in agreement with Wittgenstein - Уmakes use of a picture.Ф Putnam, H. Renewing Philosophy, 1992, p. 156. Life-orienting imagologies of faith - while having cognitive contents - are, in their deep structure, practical, since for the believer the religious picture is, Putnam says, Уa way of regulating all of [his] decisions.Ф Ibid., p. 154. Along the lines of classical Pragmatism, Putnam argues as follows: УI believe that what Wittgenstein (in company with Kierkegaard) is saying is this: that religious discourse can be understood in any depth only by understanding the form of life to which it belongs.Ф Ibid. The actual motivating force of religion becomes manifest only in its practical consequences. The religious language game is not focused on the (vain) attempt to articulate (extra-empirical) quasi-objects that constitute the contents of faith. As Putnam points out, meaningful speech, in religious con - texts, often resorts to modes of Уindirectness.Ф Thus, Kierkegaard's method of discursively encircling the divine while pointing out that it remains beyond all final (theoretical) explanation is of great importance for (most) neo-pragmatic at - tempts to investigate (the possibility of) religion. To resort, in the investigation of faith, to the complex double-structure of УindirectnessФ (this should be mentioned here briefly) is not at all new, however: in modern times it was Kant who, after criticizing all Уtheoretical proofsФ of God's existence, resituated religion in the field of our (praxis-orienting) Уpostulates.Ф And even in premodern theological discourses (in Thomas Aquinas, for instance) the divine that we try to encircle in our thought, remains, ultimately, Уveiled.Ф Aquinas expresses this in the core line of his Corpus Christi hymn: УAdoro te devote, latens deitas.Ф УIndirectnessФ characterizes most recent attempts (from Adorno to Derrida) to reintroduce (traces of) the УdivineФ as a topic for philosophy.
Putnam elaborates his reflections on hope and religion (which are signifi - cantly different from Dewey's and Rorty's Уexclusively humanisticФ images of hope) with reference to Buber's Ich und Du. Like Buber he emphasizes that God cannot be understood as a mere aggregate of regulative ideals (i.e. not as a quasi- Feuerbachian projection of our own images of perfection): УGod is not an ideal of the same kind as Equality and Justice. ... The traditional believer - and this is something I share with the traditional believer. - visualizes God as a supremely wise, kind, just person.Ф Putnam, H. Jewish Philosophy as a Guide to Life. Rosenzweig, Buber, Levinas, Wittgenstein. Bloomington, 2008, p. 102. This Уpersonal,Ф as well as УtheisticФ picture - the picture of a divine which we can understand (albeit only in part, not in toto) - is for Putnam more convincing than the idea that the infinite which limits us is a nonpersonal natural entity, or the idea that - as a Уnegative theologyФ claims - any reference to the divine has to be kept free from all our (always already anthropologically contaminated) speech.
Putnam opts, with Buber, for a УpersonalisticФ interpretation of the divine that imagines God, as the Уtraditional believerФ does, as a Уvery wise, loving and just person.Ф In spite of the fact that Уmany intellectuals are afraid of this sort of `anthropomorphism' because they are afraid ... that it will be taken literally,Ф Putnam says, УI feel that it need not to be `taken literally', but is still far more valuable than any metaphysical concept of an impersonal God, let alone a God who is `totally other'.Ф Ibid. In any of the three Abrahamic religions the relation between man and God entails a double negation: that the finite person and the divine person are neither identical nor in toto different, but stand to each other in the relationship of (partial) УlikenessФ (УEbenbildlichkeitФ).
Religions, for Putnam, are multifaceted non-relativistic horizons of action. Like James, Putnam insists on the importance of plurality: All religions, however, also suffer from dogmatism and, as James pointed out, tend to support Уtribal instinctsФ under the cover of Уreligiosity.Ф no religion can legitimately claim a superior value that would allow it to dominate all others. Putnam, H. УPladoyer fur eine Verabschiedung des Begriffs `Idolatrie'Ф, S. 58. Religions misunderstand themselves, according to Putnam, if they act in a triumphalist manner, denigrate and even fight one another: they should, on the contrary, seek to learn from one another regarding those modes of religious sensibility that they themselves had not been able to develop fully.
Taylor's re-reading of James
In chapter 15 of his seminal study A Secular Age (2006), Charles Taylor looks back on his comprehensive account of the genesis of contemporary secular - ity, Taylor, C. A Secular Age. Cambridge, Mass., 2007, p. 539. For a short overview of the different meanings of secularity in Taylor's study see: Nagl, L. У`The Jamesian open space'. Charles Taylor und der PragmatismusФ, Unerfullte Moderne? Neue Perspektiven auf das Werk von Charles Taylor. Berlin, 2011, S. 118-119, n. 4. that is to say on his attempt to answer the core question of his entire study: УWhy is it so hard to believe in God in (many milieux of) the modern West, while in 1500 it was virtually impossible not to?Ф Taylor, C. A Secular Age, p. 539. Taylor explores the history of the formation of the modern idea that Уthe immanent order can slough off the transcendent,Ф Ibid., p. 543. that is to say the idea that the human history can terminate, self- sufficiently, in an Уexclusive humanismФ (or, alternatively, in an anti-humanism/ post-humanism in the manner of Nietzsche). For a brief sketch of Taylor's three options (Уexclusive humanism,Ф УantihumanismФ and УfaithФ) see: Taylor, C. УDie immanente Gegenaufklarung: Christentum und MoralФ, Religion nach der Religionskritik. Vienna, 2003, S. 60-85. He does not stop there, however, but shows that the Уimmanent frameФ - although it is, as Taylor writes, Уcommon to all of us in the modern WestФ Taylor, C. A Secular Age, p. 543. - is nowhere, with necessity, closed: УSome of us want to live it as open to something beyond; some live it as closed. It is something which permits closure, without demanding it.Ф Ibid., p. 544. As Taylor shows, there exist, in advanced modernity, routes of thought that neither simply affirm today's civilization in a progressivist mode, nor reject it regressively, but rather - without distancing themselves from modernity's Уimmanent frameФ - move towards a positive relation with УtranscendenceФ (thus forming, within modernity itself, a Уloyal oppositionФ to modern civilization). Ibid., p. 745. In his analyses of Ivan Illich's writings, Charles Taylor presents an impressive example of such an innovative Уroute to faith,Ф Illich's advocacy of a Уnetwork of agapeФ (Ibid., 737-743). See in this context also: Nagl, L. У`The Jamesian open space'. Charles Taylor und der PragmatismusФ, pp. 120-121, n. 11.
One outstanding protagonist of such a complex attitude, Taylor argues, is the American pragmatist William James who clearly saw that, in Уa secular age,Ф human beings with regard to religion face an existential choice. Taylor, Ch. A Secular Age, p. 549. James, according to Taylor, explores the deeply ambivalent character of our modern condition: the Уopen spaceФ in which contemporary subjects are situated - a space Уbetween belief and unbelief.Ф In his Vienna Lecture Varieties of Religion Today. William James Revisited, Taylor writes: James Уtells us more than anyone else about what it's like to stand in that open space and feel the wind pulling you now here, now there.Ф Taylor, Ch. Varieties of Religion Today. William James Revisited. Cambridge, Mass.; London, 2002, p. 59. It took Уvery exceptional qualities to do this,Ф Taylor continues: УVery likely it needed someone who had been through a searing experience of `morbidity' This, it seems, was the attractiveness of James for Wittgenstein. See: Nagl, L. У`James's book The Varieties of Religious Experience does me a lot of good'. Wittgensteins therapeutische James-LekturenФ, Wittgenstein-Studien. Internationales Jahrbuch fur Wittgenstein-Forschung, Bd. 8. Berlin, 2017, S. 185-209. and had come out the other side.Ф Taylor, Ch. Varieties of Religion Today, p. 59-60.
In defending the Уright to believe,Ф James - as Taylor rightly points out - ex - clusively focuses on the individual, defining religion as Уthe feelings, acts and experiences of individual men in their solitude, so far as they apprehend them - selves to stand in relation to whatever they may consider the divine.Ф James, W. The Varieties of Religious Experience. Middlesex, 1982, p. 31, quoted in: Taylor, Ch. Varieties of Religion Today, p. 5. Accordingly, for James Уchurches play at best a secondary role in transmitting and com - municating [religious experience].Ф Taylor, Ch. Varieties of Religion Today, p. 5. Since ecclesiastical institutions often are corrupted by the Уspirit of politics and the lust of dogmatic rule,Ф Ibid., p. 6. James notes that Уto some persons the word `church' suggests so much hypocrisy and tyranny and meanness and tenacity of superstition that in a wholesale undiscerning way they glory in saying that they are `down' on religion altogether.Ф James, W. The Varieties of Religious Experience, p. 335.
James's focus on the individual, while being of great importance, is at the same time the weak point in James's conception of faith. A) It is certainly true that in the context of the shared Уimmanent frameФ which is constitutive of modern Western societies Уreligious experienceФ has to pass the test of authenticity, and is thus individualized to a high degree. This is the result of modernity's focus on reason and ethical autonomy, as well as on the УromanticФ affirmation of undistorted emotions. B) However, if authenticity is thereby not understood in a УtrivialФ mode Taylor, Ch. Varieties of Religion Today, p. 101. those very questions are bound to recur which James's friend and discussion partner at Harvard, Josiah Royce, who was a fierce critic of any exclusively УindividualizedФ approach to religion, had already posed. Do we not have to acknowledge the fact that (as Hegel put it) all immediacy is mediated, that all individual experience includes, in a non-thematic manner, УcommunalФ presuppositions?
Elaborating the first aspect, Taylor argues that today no continuous tradition УwarrantsФ faith in a stable manner: УMost of us (I speak for myself again) went through some period of break with the faith we were brought up in (in case we were brought up in a religious faith at all), before returning through a different route. We are `believing again' rather than `believing still' (W.H. Auden)Ф Taylor, Ch. УShapes of Faith TodayФ, Renewing the Church in a Secular Age. Holistic Dialogue and Kenotic Vision. Washington, D. C., 2016, p. 278..
With regard to the second aspect, Taylor notes that this process by no means leads of necessity to an abstract УauthenticityФ devoid of any historical roots. For any Уbelieving again,Ф the collective history of religious creeds remains important, Уnot because we want to continue its structures or repeat all its solutions to our ethical problems, but rather because it is a rich field of seeds which are still working in us.Ф Taylor, Ch. УShapes of Faith TodayФ, Renewing the Church in a Secular Age. Holistic Dialogue and Kenotic Vision. Washington, D. C., 2016, p. 279. What emerges from this Уis new in some ways, but it also recuperates facets of [the] historical faith which have been relatively neglectedФ: for instance, Уthe notion that faith is a journey,Ф the recovery of Уthe value of doubt,Ф and an Уoecumenism of friendship.Ф Ibid., p. 280. In many respects we, today, live in a post-Durkheimean situation which - as James rightly points out - puts strong emphasis on expressivity and individuality. James (over-)emphasized this trait of modernity, however, and, according to Taylor, left the УcollectiveФ side of religion un-analyzed. Even in a world characterized by the emphasis on individuality, so Taylor, Уmany people will find their spiritual home in churchesФ (Taylor, Ch. Varieties of Religion Today, p. 112). In the modern world, this allegiance - while being Уunhooked from that to a sacralized society (paleo style), or some national identity (neo style)Ф - Уwill still be a collective connectionФ (Ibid.).
Thus for Taylor both traits of the contemporary understanding of religion, both the Jamesian, individualistic approach, as well as the emphasis on community, are of importance. In a post-Durkheimian world, the Уnew frameworkФ of belief, Taylor writes, Уhas a strongly individualist component, but this will not necessarily mean that the content will be individuating.Ф Ibid. The second, communal trait is analyzed - more extensively than in Taylor - in the publications of the mature Josiah Royce, who, in his magnum opus, The Problem of Christianity (1913), argues (with critical reference to James, whose exclusive individualism he qualifies as Уindeed chaoticФ) Royce, J. William James and Other Essays on the Philosophy of Life. New York, 1911, p. 25. that, in the field of religion, Уall experience must be at least individual experience; but unless it is also social experience, and unless the whole community which is in question unites to share it, this experience is but as sounding brass, and as a tinkling cymbal. This truth is what Paul saw.Ф Royce, J. The Problem of Christianity (with a new Foreword and a revised and expanded Index by Frank M. Oppenheim). Washington, D. C., 2001, p. 41. See also: Nagl, L. УAvoiding the Dichotomy of `Either the Individual Or the Collectivity': Josiah Royce on Community, and on James's Concept of ReligionФ, The Varieties of Transcendence. Pragmatism and the Theory of Religion. New York, 2016, pp. 236-252.
Coda: Hans Joas, Faith as an Option
Taylor's (James-inspired) idea that religion - in a secular age - acquires the status of an УoptionФ was further elucidated, in the past decade, by Hans Joas, the German pragmatism scholar who started his career with analyses of the work of George Herbert Mead, and in 2012, published the book Glaube als Option. Zukunftsmoglichkeiten des Christentums. Joas, H. Glaube als Option. Zukunftsmoglichkeiten des Christentums. Freiburg, 2012. English translation: Faith as an Option: Possible Futures for Christianity. Stanford, 2014. In his most recent essay, УThe Church in a World of Options,Ф Joas writes: УI rely on two great religious thinkers..., on Charles Taylor and on William James. The main accomplishment in Charles Taylor's monumental work A Secular Age is to have studied the rise of the so-called secular option.Ф For an in-depth analysis of this new situation, Joas continues, Уwe need conceptual distinctions originally introduced by William James. Options, James said, `may be of several kinds. They may be: 1. living or dead; 2. forced or avoidable; 3. momentous or trivial; and for our purposes we may call an option a genuine option when it is of the forced, living and momentous kind'.Ф Joas, H. УThe Church in a World of OptionsФ, Renewing the Church in a Secular Age. Holistic Dialogue and Kenotic Vision. Washington, D. C., 2016, p. 90. James and Taylor are right, because, as Joas puts it: УWe are living today in a world of options.Ф Ibid., p. 82. This holds true in at least two senses: with regard not only to the confrontation between УfaithФ and Уwidespread irreligion in Europe,Ф but also to the plurality of religions in a globalized world, in particular to the religions Уbased on the innovations of the Axial Age. All these religions,Ф Joas maintains, Уhave a certain potential for a utopian order that they preserve in special types of institutions... In India, the tradition was carried by the hereditary caste of the Brahmins, while the Buddhists invented monasticism and the ancient Greeks and Chinese philosophical schools.Ф Ibid., p. 95. See also Bellah, R.N., Joas, H. (eds.) The Axial Age and Its Consequences. Cambridge, Mass.; London, 2012, and Nagl, L. УRe-reading Traditional Chinese Texts: The Axial Age Debate, Various Forms of Enlightenment, and Pluralism-sensible (Neo-) Pragmatic Philosophies of ReligionФ, Songshan Forum On Chinese and World Civilizations 2014: Col-lected Papers. Beijing, 2014, pp. 164-180. In the study he co-edited with Robert N. Bellah, The Axial Age and Its Consequences, Joas emphasizes, that the Axial Age (which, as Bellah points out, Уhas given us the great tool of criticismФ) Bellah, R.N. УThe Heritage of the Axial Age: Resource or Burden?Ф, The Axial Age and Its Consequences. Cambridge, Mass.; London, 2012, p. 465. has left us a Уheritage of explosive potentialities for good and for evil,Ф since it has, inter alia, opened up the opportunity to Уconnect empirical research on the history of religionФ with investigations that go far Уbeyond empirical questionsФ and concern Уour contemporary self-understanding.Ф Joas, H. УThe Axial Age Debate as a Religious DiscourseФ, The Axial Age and Its Consequences. Cambridge, Mass.; London, 2012, p. 24. УThe question of the Axial AgeФ - according to Bellah and Joas in the joint УIntroductionФ to their book - Уis not just academic; the deep self-understanding of educated people of all the world cultures is at stake.Ф Bellah, R.N., Joas, H. (eds.) Op. cit., p. 6.
Joas invites us to view the pluralism of religions not, primarily, as a danger: not as an appeal to insist, dogmatically, on Уthe own take on the divineФ - an in - sistence that easily triggers a fanatic rejection of Уthe other.Ф In a globalized world, religions should rather mutually focus on their best sides, trying to learn from each other: from their different - and at all times fragile and unfinished - exploration attempts of (as James put it) Уthe relation of man to the divineФ: a relation which today, while being highly Уindividualized,Ф continues to be informed by the critical reception, as well as the re-affirmation, of community-related religious traditions. The concept of social practice, as a language- (or, in Peirce's terminology, sign-) mediated experience, remains of great importance in all (neo-)pragmatic conceptions of religion. Dewey's society-oriented УhumanismФ focuses primarily on a theory of politics, but this secular center of gravity (which forms the core, also, of Rorty's neo-pragmatic conception of УhopeФ) is open to further specifications along the lines of Putnam's, as well as Taylor's and Joas's (James-in-
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12. Nagl, L. У`James's book The Varieties of Religious Experience does me a lot of good.' Wittgensteins therapeutische James-LekturenФ, Wittgenstein-Studien. Internationales Jahrbuch fur Wittgenstein-Forschung, Bd. 8, hrsg. von W. Lutterfelds, S. Majetschak, R. Raatzsch, W. Vossenkuhl. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2017, S. 185-209.
13. Nagl, L. УRe-reading Traditional Chinese Texts: The Axial Age Debate, Various Forms of Enlightenment, and Pluralism-sensible (Neo-) Pragmatic Philosophies of ReligionФ, Songshan Forum On Chinese and World Civilizations 2014: Collected Papers. Beijing: Institute for Advanced Humanistic Studies at Peking University, 2014, pp. 164-180.
14. Nagl, L. У`The Jamesian open space'. Charles Taylor und der PragmatismusФ, Unerfullte Moderne? Neue Perspektiven auf das Werk von Charles Taylor, hrsg. von M. Kuhnlein, M. Lutz-Bachmann. Berlin: Suhrkamp Verlag, 2011, S. 117-160.
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