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An Awareness of What is Missing: Faith and Reason in a Post-secular Age


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An Awareness of What is Missing: Faith and Reason in a Post-secular Age

Jürgen Habermas

ISBN: 978-0-745-64721-0 March 2010 Polity 96 Pages


In his recent writings on religion and secularization, Habermas has challenged reason to clarify its relation to religious experience and to engage religions in a constructive dialogue. Given the global challenges facing humanity, nothing is more dangerous than the refusal to communicate that we encounter today in different forms of religious and ideological fundamentalism.

Habermas argues that in order to engage in this dialogue, two conditions must be met: religion must accept the authority of secular reason as the fallible results of the sciences and the universalistic egalitarianism in law and morality; and conversely, secular reason must not set itself up as the judge concerning truths of faith. This argument was developed in part as a reaction to the conception of the relation between faith and reason formulated by Pope Benedict XVI in his 2006 Regensburg address.

In 2007 Habermas conducted a debate, under the title ‘An Awareness of What Is Missing', with philosophers from the Jesuit School for Philosophy in Munich. This volume includes Habermas's essay, the contributions of his interlocutors and Habermas's reply to them. It will be indispensable reading for anyone who wishes to understand one of the most urgent and intractable issues of our time.

List of Contributors vi

Preface vii

1 Habermas and Religion 1

2 An Awareness of What is Missing 15

3 On the Attempt to Recall a Relationship 24

4 How Far Can Faith and Reason Be Distinguished? 36

5 Postmetaphysical Reason and Religion 51

6 A Dialogue in Which There Can Only Be Winners 59

7 A Reply 72

References 84

"Social scientists spent most of the past century trying to work out why the world was failing to live up to their expectations: why was there still so much rural idiocy, and why was religion refusing to go away? No one has brought more intellectual heft to these problems than Jürgen Habermas."
Jonathan Rée, New Humanist

"A very significant contribution to the renewed faith–reason dialogue."
Reviews in Religion and Theology

"The book contains five insightful essays and begins with an excellent overiew of Habermas's new view of religion, its development, and the subsequent discussion."
The Ecumenist

"The value of this slim but suggestive volume lies as much in what it does — bringing the voices of reason and faith together in respectful debate — as in what it says. If not more so."
Common Knowledge

• A major new contribution by one of the leading philosophers and social thinkers in the world today
• In this important book Habermas develops his views on the relation between reason and faith in a ‘post-secular' society
• This book forms part of Habermas's dialogue with Pope Benedict XVI and represents his response to the views expressed by the Pope in his 2006 Regensburg address
• The volume includes an excellent introduction to Habermas's views on religion; a major new text by Habermas; four essays by Jesuit philosophers interrogating Habermas's views; and Habermas's reply