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The Dialectics of Secularization: On Reason and Religion Hardcover – January 10, 2007

4.4 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Is a public culture of reason and ordered liberty possible in our post-metaphysical age? Is philosophy permanently cut adrift from its grounding in being and anthropology? Does this decline of rationality signal an opportunity or a deep crisis for religion itself? These are truly urgent questions, discussed by two of the greatest thinkers of our time, Jurgen Habermas and Joseph Ratzinger. -- Russell Hittinger

This book may be small in its number of pages, but it is large in its warning of a disintegration of western culture as it enters the global age. -- Dr. Raymond Dennehy

About the Author

Pope Benedict XVI is widely recognized as one of the most brilliant theologians and spiritual writers of our age. He has written many acclaimed spiritual and theological works that cover a broad range of important topics for modern man.

Jrgen Habermas is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Frankfurt and Professor of Philosophy at Northwestern University. He was recently awarded the 2004 Kyoto Prize for Arts and Philosophy by the Inamori Foundation. The Kyoto Prize is an international award to honor those who have contributed significantly to the scientific, cultural, and spritual betterment of mankind.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 85 pages
  • Publisher: Ignatius Press (January 10, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586171666
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586171667
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #370,107 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Habermas and Ratzinger (now Benedict XVI) are two of the greatest minds of their times. This short work is their take on the interctions of democratic culture, political liberalism, religion and God. These two separate essays are the summation of a discussion between these two men. They were written well after the conversation had taken place and so ovbiously they're a little less satisfying than if we were able to read a transcript of the conversation, or perhaps response papers written immediately thereafter. However these are still two excellent essays, written by two brilliant men, who give the reader much to ponder about the current state of modern life.
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Format: Hardcover
Undoubtedly, these authors are the gold standard in their respective arena. The first is a Kant-based neo Marxist and the latter a theologian steeped in Augustine and leader of the Catholic world.

If you are in search of a page-turner with a climatic ending, keep looking. Otherwise, this is a smartly presented text divided into a chapter for each speaker who makes their case with calculated passion. The reader without a basic foundation for philosophy may find this one a bit over the top. If not, the book is succinct and delves into man's reason and existence in contemporary times.

In the end, the book achieves its intention. If it was meant to leave the reader undecided-it failed. However, this is not the case as one cannot continue to remind ones self that one chapter reinforces a philosophy that has been tried and exhausted within a century and another that has been tested two millennia and beyond. Both make their cases on man, politics, religion and our state of the world; however, it is clear which rings with hope, love and idealism.
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Very rarely do I believe that a human dialogue approaches its subject from two very different poles. However, in the case of Habermas and Ratzinger's dialogue, one could say that the subject of their talk (on secularization's dialectic with religion) is really the form of their interaction. These two authors come from two very different starting points with regard to the state, although no dialectic is undertaken without a uniting point, even if it is the midpoint between two very extreme poles.

Habermas' speech considers the possibility of there being a weight to those precursors to the constitution. Although he reaches out toward the possibility of such, one can tell that his thought is much more centered upon the self-referential rationality from which the ongoing nature of the state springs. However, his considerations also come upon the post-modern realization self-reflection of reason upon reason, admitting that there are proto-rational foundations to rationality, at least because such exist in the liberal society and hold weight. However, one can see his markedly post-Enlightenment mentality insofar as these questions hold much more weight for him with regard to addressing the rational situation in which society "derails" itself. He leaves the question open as to where these two are placed, which seems a bit overly self-referential but also appropriate for this short consideration.

The speech given by Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) is perhaps a bit lighter and more open its presentation of questions for consideration. The theologian considers the relationship of the "poles" of reason and faith which forms each, making them intertwined in extra-referential dialogue which prevents pathologies in either.
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Format: Hardcover
As I was reading the contribution of Habermas, I found myself thinking of a boat anchored on a very wavy sea. The waves keep passing beneath the boat, there is lots of movement, but the boat is not going anywhere. Harbermas is clearly a first-class intellectual and I kept finding myself engaged by and admiring of his positions; but I had to finally ask: what's the foundation for all this?

Along comes Pope Benedict XVI's (then Cardinal Ratzinger) contribution and I find him immediately and articulately addressing the difficulty I had with Habermas:

"The question of what the good is (especially in the given context of the world) and of why one must do the good even when this entails harm to one's own self - this fundamental question goes generally unanswered.

It seems to me obvious that science as such cannot give birth to such an ethos. In other words, a renewed ethical consciousness does not come about as the product of academic debates."

This got my hopes up, but, in fairness, never to actually be satisfied. Pope Benedict XVI, in his essay, gives a subtle nod to the truth of the faith as the source of a moral foundation, but rather than exploring the foundation, examines it's resulting framework, asks questions of it, entertains problems that it faces, and proposes considerations it needs to take in relation to other cultures.

The biggest problem I have with the book is it seems to be lacking any teeth. Both of these men obviously have the greatest respect for one another and both show a great respect and delicacy for the importance and implications of this topic; but I think it's possible that too much respect may have turned into a bit of a hesitation to "spill the beans" and perhaps more should have been said by both men.
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