jump to navigation

Habermas on Rawls on Religion December 14, 2010

Posted by Nina Rosenstand in Ethics, Nina Rosenstand's Posts, Political Philosophy, religion.
Tags: , , ,
trackback

In his blog on Habermas and Rawls, Thomas Gregersen has published a link to a new afterword by Habermas about the young Rawls’ analysis of religion in his senior thesis from 1942, “A Brief Inquiry into the Meaning of Sin and Faith.” This piece apparently wasn’t known to exist until after Rawls’ death in 2002. In 1942 Rawls was 21, and since I’m right now grading what seems like a stack of several thousand papers 🙂 from students in that age-bracket, I am acutely aware of the quality of writing and argumentation…however, I’ll pursue Rawls’ own text at a later date, and leave it to Habermas to “grade” Rawls!

I thought you might find it interesting to (1) see Gregersen’s blog, (2) read the Habermas piece .

An excerpt from Habermas’ review, quoted by Gregersen:

“I will limit myself here to four observations. (1) This confident work, which is strikingly mature for a twenty-one-year-old, merits interest in the first instance as a surprising biographical testimony concerning the work and personality of the most important political theorist of the twentieth century. (2) The philosophical substance of the senior thesis consists in a religious ethics which already exhibits all of the essential features of an egalitarian and universalistic ethics of duty tailored to the absolute worth of the individual. (3) At the same time the posthumous insight into the biographical sources of the author’s work offers an outstanding example of the philosophical translation of religious motives. It is as if one were examining the religious roots of a deontological morality based on reason alone under a magnifying glass. (4) The student’s senior thesis also foreshadows his later recognition that the secularisation of state power must not be confused with the secularisation of civil society. Rawls owes his unique standing in the social contract tradition to the systematic attention he devotes to religious and metaphysical pluralism.”

Of course it is always fascinating when precursors to a thinker’s prominent contributions can be found in his or her early writings. But that shouldn’t detract from the significance of a good thinker being able to change his or her mind…

Advertisements

Comments»

1. Jin - December 16, 2010

Just wanted to say I enjoyed your class this semester and thank you for the fond memories.

I’m fascinated by the tendency of academic circles to immortalize snapshots of a person’s philosophy at certain periods in their lives. We don’t give very much thought to the transformation that occurs through mortal experiences. Something that we often try to abstract ourselves away from

The internet has transformed how we perceive the tracking of applied information in perception. For previous generations, much of their knowledge and skill was acquired through physical experience. Our generation has the internet.I suppose one interesting question that might be posed is if life (or experience) is still the greatest teacher?

I guess if I am to immortalize my thoughts in someway out in cyberspace, I’d end on a note to remind myself that my personal philosophy is to let my conscience be my guide, and let life be my teacher. And that knowledge without wisdom is the answer to a problem without knowing.

Happy Holidays 🙂

Jin


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: