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The Intolerability of Meaning: Myth, Faith, and Reason in Philosophical Responses to Moral Atrocity

Dews, P (2009) 'The Intolerability of Meaning: Myth, Faith, and Reason in Philosophical Responses to Moral Atrocity.' In: Brudholm, T and Cushman, T, (eds.) The Religious in Responses to Mass Atrocity: Interdisciplinary Persepectives. Cambridge University Press, 60 - 76. ISBN 9780521518857

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Abstract

In recent years the philosopher and social theorist J�rgen Habermas, long known for his championing of Enlightenment ideals, has begun to endorse the suggestion that the erosion of the ?power of articulation? of religious traditions has left a gap in the ethical vocabulary of predominantly postreligious, individualistic, modern societies. "Secular languages," Habermas claims, "which simply eliminate what was once intended leave behind feelings of discomfort. As sin was transformed into guilt, and the transgression of divine commands into the breaking of human laws, something was lost." If we enquire more specifically what has been lost, then Habermas's answer seems to be the eye-opening and heart-opening, the ethically inspirational power of symbolic modes of expression, such as religion once made available to many. Habermas, in fact, has become increasingly concerned that, no matter how deeply the aspiration to universal justice may be anchored in modern consciousness, as an ideal it is simply too abstract and formal to inspire the level of commitment required to advance humankind toward it. In his view, "Pure practical reason can no longer be so confident of countering a process of modernization which is running out of control, empty-handed except for the insights of a theory of justice. For such a theory lacks the creativity of linguistic world disclosure, which would enable it to regenerate a normative consciousness which is withering on all sides."

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > Philosophy and Art History, School of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 02 Dec 2011 09:37
Last Modified: 17 Aug 2017 18:14
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/1700

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