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.

25.11.2021
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Three discourses on religion in neo-pragmatism

Ludwig Nagl

PhD, Ao. Professor of Philosophy i. r. University of Vienna

Annotation

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 the religious as well as to the postmodern critique of those radicalized (post-Kantian) modes of Enlightenment that without much hesitation affirm atheism - 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 the religious 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 religious experience 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 optional character of religious belief in a secular age (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 its own take on the divine, since such an insistence can easily trigger a fanatic rejection of the other. 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) the relation of man to the divine. The core thesis of the paper is thus twofold. Firstly, neo-pragmatic attempts to explore the religious 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) a matter of the past. 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

. University of Vienna. Austria

(The Future of Religion, 2005), , . . , Renewing Philosophy (1992) Jewish Philosophy as a Guide to Life. Rosenzweig, Buber, Levinas, Wittgenstein (2008). , , , - . . Varieties of Religion Today: William James Revisited (2002) (communal) . , (Faith as an Option, 2014). ( , The Axial Age and Its Consequences, 2012), , , . , , , , , , , , . / : 1) , ( ); 2) , , (embeddedness) .

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Rorty and Vattimo on The Future of Religion (2005)

religious atheism philosophical pragmatist

In his essay Anticlericalism and Atheism 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 tough minded and the tender minded 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) linguistic turn which, in the decades after James, has dominated the philosophical discourse, Rorty writes: The 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. 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 science-mindedness and intellectual honesty is over - that the era of an (as Habermas once said) Enlightenment not enlightened about itself 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, have 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.' Ibid. There are many old-fashioned atheists still around, however: those who, according to Rorty, still 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. Challenging this view, Rorty agrees with 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, he continues, does not have much to do with the explanation of specific observable phenomena. Ibid., p. 33.

This is not the whole story, however, since in another sense - that of anticlericalism - ideas central to former atheism remain important. For secularists like myself, Rorty writes, religion is unobjectionable as long it is privatized, Ibid. that is to say tied to the fuzzy overlap of faith, hope, and love that he calls romance. Rorty, R. Religious Faith, Intellectual Responsibility, and Romance, 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: Of course, we anti-clericalists who are also leftists in politics, Rorty writes, have 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' (A Common Faith, in Later Works of John Dewey, vol. 9, p. 31). 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 Introduction to Dewey's A Common Faith, criticizes Dewey along these lines: The record would show, he writes, that 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 God (Konvitz, M.R. Introduction, 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: That we view God as a postulate of practical reason ... cleared the way for thinkers like Schleiermacher..., Kierkegaard, Barth and Levinas. Vattimo's weak re-reading of the Christian faith has (inexplicit) connections with what Kant called Zweifelglaube (doubting faith) and Hoffnungsglaube (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 zwischen skeptischer Hoffnungslosig- keit und dogmatischem Trotz, 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 knowledge 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. Though 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 charity (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 projection) a horizon of hope that is humanistically and naturalistically configured. Rorty strongly supports the second image: The 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. This fuzzy 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. Rorty, R. Religious Faith, Intellectual Responsibility, and Romance, p. 96.

Rorty concedes that we all fluctuate between these two images of hope: We fluctuate between God as a perhaps obsolete name for a possible human future, and God as an external guarantor of some such future. Sometimes, Dewey's naturalistically dimensioned pious humanism seems to offer enough hope, sometimes it does not. Ibid., pp. 98-99.

Ultimately Rorty, however, chooses the option of a (non-dogmatic) secularism: for the (unjustifiable) hope that someday, any millennium now, my remote descendants will live in a global civilization in which love is pretty much the only law. 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, kenosis, The concept kenosis (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: the gradual weakening of the worship of God as power and its gradual replacement with the worship of God as love. 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 triumphalistic images of God, and kenosis, read in this manner, comes close to the humanistic 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. Die christliche Botschaft und die Auflosung der Metaphysik, 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 feeling of dependence Rorty, R., Vattimo, G. The Future of Religion, p. 77. are (in their religious mode) interwoven with constellations of the objective spirit (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 naturalized perspective of hope. When I speak of the God of the Bible, Vattimo writes, I speak of the God which I know only through the Bible. My dependence on God is my dependence only on the biblical tradition (Ibid., p. 77). Religion, with necessity, takes on a concrete social shape, manifesting itself in communities, churches, etc.: When we talk about the future of religion, I also think about another question, Vattimo says: What about the future of the Church, the visible, disciplinary, and dogmatic structure of the Church? (Ibid., p. 69). A careful analysis of the social stature of the religious 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. Here I always come back to the example of Comte, who founded a sort of positivistic church, Vattimo writes, because he wanted people to go somewhere on Sunday, at least to do something that had an attitude comparable to religious preaching (Ibid.). That there exists a structurally deep connection between a living mode of religion and religious communities (which, in Rorty's concept of a privatized religious, remains out of sight) was - within Classical pragmatism - carefully analyzed, by Josiah Royce. (See Nagl, L. `Community': Erwagungen zum `absolute pragmatism' in der Spatphilosophie von Josiah Royce, 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 supernatural transcendence) may, in a secular age, 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 a priori negative wall against all modes of a super-human) 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 The Will to Believe in: Putnam, H. Renewing Philosophy. Cambridge, Mass.; London, 1992, pp. 181-187, as well as his two essays Wittgenstein on Religious Belief and Wittgenstein on Reference and Relativism in the same book (pp. 134-179). He continued these explorations in his essay Pladoyer fur eine Verabschiedung des Begriffs `Idolatrie' (published in Vienna in 20 03), See Putnam, H. Pladoyer fur eine Verabschiedung des Begriffs `Idolatrie', 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 right to believe, Putnam argues - following Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations - that the speaking of language as part of an activity, or of a form of life comprises a multiplicity of language games - for instance asking, thanking, cursing, greeting, praying, Wittgenstein, L. Philosophical Investigations, 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 - makes use of a picture. 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, a way of regulating all of [his] decisions. Ibid., p. 154. Along the lines of classical Pragmatism, Putnam argues as follows: I 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. 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 indirectness. 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 indirectness (this should be mentioned here briefly) is not at all new, however: in modern times it was Kant who, after criticizing all theoretical proofs of God's existence, resituated religion in the field of our (praxis-orienting) postulates. And even in premodern theological discourses (in Thomas Aquinas, for instance) the divine that we try to encircle in our thought, remains, ultimately, veiled. Aquinas expresses this in the core line of his Corpus Christi hymn: Adoro te devote, latens deitas. Indirectness characterizes most recent attempts (from Adorno to Derrida) to reintroduce (traces of) the divine as a topic for philosophy.

Putnam elaborates his reflections on hope and religion (which are signifi - cantly different from Dewey's and Rorty's exclusively humanistic 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): God 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. Putnam, H. Jewish Philosophy as a Guide to Life. Rosenzweig, Buber, Levinas, Wittgenstein. Bloomington, 2008, p. 102. This personal, as well as theistic 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 negative theology 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 personalistic interpretation of the divine that imagines God, as the traditional believer does, as a very wise, loving and just person. In spite of the fact that many intellectuals are afraid of this sort of `anthropomorphism' because they are afraid ... that it will be taken literally, Putnam says, I 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'. 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) likeness (Ebenbildlichkeit).

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 tribal instincts under the cover of religiosity. no religion can legitimately claim a superior value that would allow it to dominate all others. Putnam, H. Pladoyer fur eine Verabschiedung des Begriffs `Idolatrie', 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. `The Jamesian open space'. Charles Taylor und der Pragmatismus, 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: Why is it so hard to believe in God in (many milieux of) the modern West, while in 1500 it was virtually impossible not to? Taylor, C. A Secular Age, p. 539. Taylor explores the history of the formation of the modern idea that the immanent order can slough off the transcendent, Ibid., p. 543. that is to say the idea that the human history can terminate, self- sufficiently, in an exclusive humanism (or, alternatively, in an anti-humanism/ post-humanism in the manner of Nietzsche). For a brief sketch of Taylor's three options (exclusive humanism, antihumanism and faith) see: Taylor, C. Die immanente Gegenaufklarung: Christentum und Moral, Religion nach der Religionskritik. Vienna, 2003, S. 60-85. He does not stop there, however, but shows that the immanent frame - although it is, as Taylor writes, common to all of us in the modern West Taylor, C. A Secular Age, p. 543. - is nowhere, with necessity, closed: Some 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. 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 immanent frame - move towards a positive relation with transcendence (thus forming, within modernity itself, a loyal opposition to modern civilization). Ibid., p. 745. In his analyses of Ivan Illich's writings, Charles Taylor presents an impressive example of such an innovative route to faith, Illich's advocacy of a network of agape (Ibid., 737-743). See in this context also: Nagl, L. `The Jamesian open space'. Charles Taylor und der Pragmatismus, 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 a secular age, 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 open space in which contemporary subjects are situated - a space between belief and unbelief. In his Vienna Lecture Varieties of Religion Today. William James Revisited, Taylor writes: James tells 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. Taylor, Ch. Varieties of Religion Today. William James Revisited. Cambridge, Mass.; London, 2002, p. 59. It took very exceptional qualities to do this, Taylor continues: Very 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. `James's book The Varieties of Religious Experience does me a lot of good'. Wittgensteins therapeutische James-Lekturen, Wittgenstein-Studien. Internationales Jahrbuch fur Wittgenstein-Forschung, Bd. 8. Berlin, 2017, S. 185-209. and had come out the other side. Taylor, Ch. Varieties of Religion Today, p. 59-60.

In defending the right to believe, James - as Taylor rightly points out - ex - clusively focuses on the individual, defining religion as the 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. James, W. The Varieties of Religious Experience. Middlesex, 1982, p. 31, quoted in: Taylor, Ch. Varieties of Religion Today, p. 5. Accordingly, for James churches play at best a secondary role in transmitting and com - municating [religious experience]. Taylor, Ch. Varieties of Religion Today, p. 5. Since ecclesiastical institutions often are corrupted by the spirit of politics and the lust of dogmatic rule, Ibid., p. 6. James notes that to 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. 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 immanent frame which is constitutive of modern Western societies religious experience 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 romantic affirmation of undistorted emotions. B) However, if authenticity is thereby not understood in a trivial 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 individualized 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, communal presuppositions?

Elaborating the first aspect, Taylor argues that today no continuous tradition warrants faith in a stable manner: Most 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) Taylor, Ch. Shapes of Faith Today, 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 authenticity devoid of any historical roots. For any believing again, the collective history of religious creeds remains important, not 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. Taylor, Ch. Shapes of Faith Today, Renewing the Church in a Secular Age. Holistic Dialogue and Kenotic Vision. Washington, D. C., 2016, p. 279. What emerges from this is new in some ways, but it also recuperates facets of [the] historical faith which have been relatively neglected: for instance, the notion that faith is a journey, the recovery of the value of doubt, and an oecumenism of friendship. 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 collective side of religion un-analyzed. Even in a world characterized by the emphasis on individuality, so Taylor, many people will find their spiritual home in churches (Taylor, Ch. Varieties of Religion Today, p. 112). In the modern world, this allegiance - while being unhooked from that to a sacralized society (paleo style), or some national identity (neo style) - will still be a collective connection (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 new framework of belief, Taylor writes, has a strongly individualist component, but this will not necessarily mean that the content will be individuating. 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 indeed chaotic) Royce, J. William James and Other Essays on the Philosophy of Life. New York, 1911, p. 25. that, in the field of religion, all 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. 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. Avoiding the Dichotomy of `Either the Individual Or the Collectivity': Josiah Royce on Community, and on James's Concept of Religion, 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 option 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, The Church in a World of Options, Joas writes: I 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. For an in-depth analysis of this new situation, Joas continues, we 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'. Joas, H. The Church in a World of Options, 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: We are living today in a world of options. Ibid., p. 82. This holds true in at least two senses: with regard not only to the confrontation between faith and widespread irreligion in Europe, but also to the plurality of religions in a globalized world, in particular to the religions based on the innovations of the Axial Age. All these religions, Joas maintains, have 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. Ibid., p. 95. See also Bellah, R.N., Joas, H. (eds.) The Axial Age and Its Consequences. Cambridge, Mass.; London, 2012, and Nagl, L. Re-reading Traditional Chinese Texts: The Axial Age Debate, Various Forms of Enlightenment, and Pluralism-sensible (Neo-) Pragmatic Philosophies of Religion, 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, has given us the great tool of criticism) Bellah, R.N. The Heritage of the Axial Age: Resource or Burden?, The Axial Age and Its Consequences. Cambridge, Mass.; London, 2012, p. 465. has left us a heritage of explosive potentialities for good and for evil, since it has, inter alia, opened up the opportunity to connect empirical research on the history of religion with investigations that go far beyond empirical questions and concern our contemporary self-understanding. Joas, H. The Axial Age Debate as a Religious Discourse, The Axial Age and Its Consequences. Cambridge, Mass.; London, 2012, p. 24. The question of the Axial Age - according to Bellah and Joas in the joint Introduction to their book - is not just academic; the deep self-understanding of educated people of all the world cultures is at stake. 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 the own take on the divine - an in - sistence that easily triggers a fanatic rejection of the other. 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) the relation of man to the divine: a relation which today, while being highly individualized, 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 humanism 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 hope) is open to further specifications along the lines of Putnam's, as well as Taylor's and Joas's (James-in-

References

1. Bellah, R.N. The Heritage of the Axial Age: Resource or Burden?, The Axial Age and Its Consequences, ed. by R.N. Bellah, H. Joas. Cambridge, Mass.; London: Harvard University Press, 2012, pp. 447-467.

2. Bellah, R.N. & Joas, H. (eds.) The Axial Age and Its Consequences. Cambridge, Mass.; London: Harvard University Press, 2012. 548 pp.

3. James, W. Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking. Cambridge, Mass.; London: Harvard University Press, 1975. 369 pp.

4. James, W. The Varieties of Religious Experience. Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1982. 534 pp.

5. Joas, H. Glaube als Option. Zukunftsmoglichkeiten des Christentums. Freiburg: Herder Verlag, 2012. 257 S.

6. Joas, H. The Axial Age Debate as a Religious Discourse, The Axial Age and Its Consequences, ed. by R.N. Bellah, H. Joas. Cambridge, Mass.; London: Harvard University Press, 2012, pp. 9-29.

7. Joas, H. The Church in a World of Options, Renewing the Church in a Secular Age. Holistic Dialogue and Kenotic Vision, ed. by C. Taylor, J. Casanova, G.F. McLean, J.J. Vila-Cha. Washington, D.C.: Council for Research in Values and Philosophy, 2016, pp. 85-96.

8. Konvitz, M.R. Introduction, Later Works of John Dewey, Vol. 9, ed. by J.A. Boydston. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1986, pp. XI-XXXII.

9. Langthaler, R. Geschichte, Ethik und Religion im AnschluR an Kant. Philosophische Perspektiven zwischen skeptischer Hoffnungslosigkeit und dogmatischem Trotz, Bd. 2. Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2014. 681 S.

10. Nagl, L. Avoiding the Dichotomy of `Either the Individual Or the Collectivity': Josiah Royce on Community, and on James's Concept of Religion, The Varieties of Transcendence. Pragmatism and the Theory of Religion, ed. by H. Deuser, H. Joas, M. Jung, M. Schlette. New York: Fordham University Press, 2016, pp. 236-252.

11. Nagl, L. `Community': Erwagungen zum `absolute pragmatism' in der Spatphilosophie von Josiah Royce, in: L. Nagl, Das verhullte Absolute. Essays zur zeitgenossischen Religions- philosophie. Frankfurt a/M.: Peter Lang, 2010, S. 221-258.

12. Nagl, L. `James's book The Varieties of Religious Experience does me a lot of good.' Wittgensteins therapeutische James-Lekturen, 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. Re-reading Traditional Chinese Texts: The Axial Age Debate, Various Forms of Enlightenment, and Pluralism-sensible (Neo-) Pragmatic Philosophies of Religion, 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. `The Jamesian open space'. Charles Taylor und der Pragmatismus, Unerfullte Moderne? Neue Perspektiven auf das Werk von Charles Taylor, hrsg. von M. Kuhnlein, M. Lutz-Bachmann. Berlin: Suhrkamp Verlag, 2011, S. 117-160.

15. Oppenheim, F.M. Reverence for the Relations of Life. Re-imagining Pragmatism via Josiah Royce's Interaction with Peirce, James, and Dewey. Notre Dame: Indiana University Press, 2008. 498 pp.

16. Putnam, H. Jewish Philosophy as a Guide to Life. Rosenzweig, Buber, Levinas, Wittgenstein. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008. 121 pp.

17. Putnam, H. Pladoyer fur eine Verabschiedung des Begriffs `Idolatrie', Religion nach der Religionskritik, ed. by L. Nagl. Vienna: Oldenbourg Verlag, 2003, S. 49-59.

18. Putnam, H. Renewing Philosophy. Cambridge, Mass.; London: Harvard University Press, 1992. 234 pp.

19. formed as well as James-critical) community-related conception of the (pluralistically dimensioned) option of faith in a secular age.

20. Rorty, R. Religious Faith, Intellectual Responsibility, and Romance, The Cambridge Companion to William James, ed. by R.A. Putnam. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1997, pp. 84-102.

21. Rorty, R. & Vattimo, G. The Future of Religion, ed. by S. Zabala. New York: Columbia University Press, 2005. 91 pp.

22. Royce, J. The Problem of Christianity (with a new Foreword and a revised and expanded Index by Frank M. Oppenheim). Washington, D. C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2001. 426 pp.

23. Royce, J. William James and Other Essays on the Philosophy of Life. New York: Macmillan, 1911. 301 pp.

24. Taylor, Ch. A Secular Age. Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007. 874 pp.

25. Taylor, Ch. Die immanente Gegenaufklarung: Christentum und Moral, Religion nach der Religionskritik, hrsg. von L. Nagl. Vienna: Oldenbourg Verlag, 2003, S. 60-85.

26. Taylor, Ch. Shapes of Faith Today, Renewing the Church in a Secular Age. Holistic Dialogue and Kenotic Vision, ed. by C. Taylor, J. Casanova, G.F. McLean, J.J. Vila-Cha. Washington D.C.: Council for Research in Values and Philosophy, 2016, pp. 267-280.

27. Taylor, Ch. Varieties of Religion Today. William James Revisited. Cambridge, Mass.; London: Harvard University Press, 2002. 127 pp.

28. Vattimo, G. Die christliche Botschaft und die Auflosung der Metaphysik, Religion, Moderne, Postmoderne. Philosophisch-theologische Erkundungen, hrsg. von K. Dethloff, L. Nagl, F. Wolfram. Berlin: Parerga, 2002, S. 219-228.

29. Vattimo, G. Glauben - Philosophieren. Stuttgart: Reclam, 1997. 121 S.

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