måndag, februari 06, 2012

Taylor om religion och akademi

“I am not arguing some “post-modern” thesis that we are each imprisoned in our own outlook, and can do nothing to rationally convince each other. On the contrary, I think we can marshal arguments to induce others to modify their judgments and (what is closely connected) to widen their sympathies. But this task is very difficult, and what is more important, it is never complete. We don’t just decide once and for all when we enter sociology class to leave our “values” at the door. They don’t just enter as conscious premises which we can discount. They continue to shape our thought at a much deeper level, and it is only a continuing open exchange with those of different standpoints which will help us to correct some of the distortions they engender.

For this reason we have to be aware of the ways in which an “unthought” of secularization, as well as various modes of religious belief, can bedevil the debate. There is, indeed, a powerful such unthought operative: an outlook which holds that religion must decline either (a) because it is false, and science shows this to be so; or (b) because it is increasingly irrelevant now that we can cure ringworm by drenches; or (c) because religion is based on authority, and modern societies give an increasingly important place to individual autonomy; or some combination of the above. This is strong not so much because it is widely supported in the population at large—how widely seems to vary from society to society—but because it is very strong among intellectuals and academics, even in countries like the U.S.A. where general religious practice is very high. Indeed, the exclusion/irrelevance of religion is often part of the unnoticed background of social science, history, philosophy, psychology. In fact, even unbelieving sociologists of religion often remark how their colleagues in other parts of the discipline express surprise at the attention devoted to such a marginal phenomenon. In this kind of climate, distortive judgments unconsciously engendered out of this outlook can often thrive unchallenged.”

- Charles Taylor. A Secular Age, s. 428-429

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