23 November 2009

Habermas on political theology (audio)

This autumn, renowned German philosopher Jürgen Habermas gave a doctoral seminar at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook, "From Political Theology to the Political Philosophy of Religion".

In addition, on 22 October 2009 a symposium took place at New York University (NYU) titled "Rethinking Secularism: The Power of Religion in the Public Square", with presentations by Habermas, Judith Butler, Charles Taylor, and Cornel West. Habermas' paper bore the title: "'The Political' – The Rational Sense of a Questionable Inheritance of Political Theology".

The US Social Science Research Council (SSRC), a co-sponsor of the symposium, has now made the audio of all presentations at this conference (including Habermas' thoughts on political theology) available online:


Here's Habermas' course description for Stony Brook (a concise summary of his philosophical programme in this area): "This seminar will begin with a systematic comparison of two great German figures in first half of the last century, Leo Strauss and Carl Schmitt. Both stand for polar positions, one putting Classical Antiquity against monotheism, the other defending a return to a pre-Hobbesian Catholicism. Then we will engage the work of two important theologians, each representing different version of political theology, from the theological camp: Gustavo Gutierrez and Johann Baptist Metz. These comparisons then will be juxtaposed to recent discussions in the United States about public role of religion, especially as it is taken up in the work of Wolterstorff. The seminar, thus, moves from political theology formulated from without theology, to political theology formulated from within, to then conclude with a political philosophical analysis of religion in the public sphere that is agnostic and abstemious about theological claims."

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