RELIGION SECULARIZATION AND POLITICAL THOUGHT THOMAS HOBBES TO J S MILL ROUTLEDGE LIBRARY EDITIONS PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION
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Author : James E. Crimmins
ISBN : 9781134047468
Genre : Philosophy
File Size : 74.80 MB
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The increasing secularization of political thought between the mid-seventeenth and mid-nineteenth centuries has often been noted, but rarely described in detail. The contributors to this volume consider the significance of the relationship between religious beliefs, dogma and secular ideas in British political philosophy from Thomas Hobbes to J.S. Mill. During this period, Britain experienced the advance of natural science, the spread of education and other social improvements, and reforms in the political realm. These changes forced religion to account for itself and to justify its existence, both as a social institution and as a collection of fundamental articles of belief about the world and its operations. This book, originally published in 1990, conveys the crucial importance of the association between religion, secularization and political thought.
This book answers questions about secularization: Does it dissolve religion, or transform it into faith in a universally valid value? Is it restricted to the west or can it occur everywhere? Using ideas of Max Weber, the book conceives secularization as a process comparable to the rational development of science and production. What is the value secularization propagates? Sifting historical texts, Steinvorth argues the value is authenticity, to be understood as being true to one’s talents developed in activities that are done for their own sake and provide life with meaning, and as unconditionally commanded. How can a value be unconditionally demanded? This question leads to an investigation of the self that combines Kant’s ideas on the conditions of the possibility of experience with modern brain science, and to the metaphysical deliberation whether to prefer a world with creatures able to do both good and evil to one without them. It is not enough, however, to point to facts. We rather need to understand what secularization, religion and their possible rationality consist in. Max Weber’s sociology of religion has provided us with the conceptual means to do so, which this book develops. Secularization is rediscovered as the same progress of rationality in the sphere of religion that we find in the development of the spheres of science, art, the economy and politics or public affairs. It proves to be the perfection rather than the dissolution of religion – a perfection that consists in recognizing authenticity as the successor of the absolute of religion.