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Role of Religions in Public Discourse:

Recent Development in the Thought of Jurgen Habermas
           March 26-April 6
, 2012                                                             Washington, D.C.



Throughout his lifetime Jurgen Habermas has stood firmly for the role of reason in philosophy and indeed in life itself. This has led him to take a positive interest in the role of reason in social communication. It has also constituted him as the ever vigilant guard against any efforts seeming to compromise the role of reason in public life, whether in terms of an historical and cultural hermeneutics or the role of religion. Hence his efforts to find a possible proper role for religion in relation to the liberal state have been especially significant.


The present seminar will not only review Habermas? relatively recent efforts to see how religion can serve as an auxiliary to public discourse. It will go further and deeper by examining especially his most recent study of myth and ritual. Presented in Washington in October 2011, this was an archeology of the very constitution of human consciousness through myth, symbol and ritual as these made it possible for our ancestry to transcend the ego and become human through establishing social relations. This takes religion beyond a periphery and auxiliary role recognize its role in the very germination of all social life.

In turn this might be extended by the series of studies done in the context of The Council for Research in Values and Philosophy(RVP) in the 1970s and 1980s. These followed the further evolution of social patterns according to the ways human consciousness of a transcendent unity was central to the development of totemic societies and how the evolution of this consciousness enabled the development of mythic societies with their rituals and sacred texts, upon which we live to this day.

Hence, this seminar on ?Religion in Public Discourse? will treat such issues as the relegation of religious horizons behind Rawls? veil of ignorance, and the resultant search for ways in which it can re-enter the public sphere. Especially it will focus on Habermas? latest hypothesis that indeed religion can never be separated from public life because it has been foundational thereof ?from the beginning,? as is recounted in the Hindu and the Abrahamic creation narratives.

Application for Participation

Applications for participation in this seminar should be sent by email by December 30, 2011, to cua-rvp@cua.edu and include:


(1) a vita describing one?s education, professional positions and activities,

(2) a list of the applicants? publications,

(3) a letter stating your interest and involvement in this theme and the relation of participation in this seminar to your past and future work in philosophy and related studies, and

(4) an abstract of a study(s) you might present as an integral part of the seminar.









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