Monday, July 21, 2008

Habermas on a "post-secular' society

“Tolerance” is of course not only a question of enacting and applying laws; it must be practiced in everyday life. Tolerance means that believers of one faith and another and non-believers must mutually concede one another the right to those convictions, practices and ways of living that they themselves reject. This concession must be supported by a shared basis of mutual recognition from which repugnant dissonances can be overcome. The required kind of recognition must not be confused with an appreciation of an alien culture and way of living, or of rejected convictions and practices (n18). We need tolerance only vis-à-vis worldviews that we consider wrong and vis-à-vis habits that we do not like. Therefore, the basis of recognition is not the esteem for this or that property or achievement, but the awareness of the fact that the other one is a member of an inclusive community of citizens with equal rights, in which each is accountable to everybody else for her political contributions (n19).

Extract from an essay* presented by Jürgen Habermas at the Istanbul Seminars organized by Reset Dialogues on Civilizations in Istanbul from June 2nd to the 6th 2008.

* A "post-secular" society - what does that mean?

On a personal note:
I intended to offer my Turkish readers a link, so that they could read this essay in their language. To my surprise and regret I could not find one.

It would make sense if the organisators of a 'Dialogue on Civilisations' taking place in Istanbul made the effort to let translate such contributions into Turkish, wouldn't it?


  1. you are right in your questions, but this event seemed to be a dialogue for a group of respected scholars who are already in dialogue. At least, the local organizers did not seem to make it public at all. Heidegger talked right in the upper floor where my office is. However, I heard him coming in the last minute...

  2. Hi, Erkan,
    My question was rather a suggestion, of which I hope it would be seized.
    By translating such interesting essays into Turkish the organisators and !) the respected scholars would certainly increase the chance of a dialogue.
    Why should "only" those Turkish get the chance to listen/read, reflect and discuss who had and took the chance to learn English?
    Simply spoken: Respected scholars should not (only) philosophise in their circles.
    Now am I not a respected scholar, but from own experience I do know that with what you are doing you can reach both the academic and the market wo)man.
    Yes, sometimes the market (wo)man sounds wiser than some respected scholars. :)

    And now, bon voyage, and safe return from Erzurum. :)

  3. I'm probably out of context, but I wish to thank you for introducing Jurgen Habermas, mostly because he confronted the revisionists of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust History.

    The only scholar I'm familiar with in the group "Dialogue Civilisations" is Dr. Hans Kochler who delivered the interesting essay, "Education and Intercultural Dialogue" at Carleton University, Ottawa.(June 12, 2008). A friend attended the lecture, and (as most papers in my country) it was available in English and in French.

    I'm sorry that I'm anonymous. I have no blog, and no URL. My comments are accepted nicely everywhere. I thought your post on anonymity, and your friend's comment were very humourous. I missed the boat. It's your prerogative to delete anonymous comments. It's also mine to maintain my privacy.

    To your good health.

  4. Sean,
    Tolerance seems like an impossible endeavor. How can society show tolerance to other faiths, when there is such division within a faith?

    Ultra-Orthodox Jews do not like the liberal Jews

    Although Muslim, Shites do not like Sunni, Sunni prefer not to intermarry with Alevi and Shite.

    Although they are Christians, Mennonite and Amish live in their own community and do not socialize or marry outside their faith.

    If society is not focused on religion, then it is skin color, nationality, political conviction, shape of nose, etc.

    It is a very sad world that we live in.

  5. Maybe there is not so much interest in philosophy in Turkey.
    I find the Turkish culture a 'conflict culture' (you are or defender or accuser) in contrary with Europe and the America's where 'consensus' prevails. Although Bush, on political level will let you believe something different.

    Ardent the 'Amish' are an ethnic group, and the Mennorites are so small...I rather would say: compare the Orthodox Christian church with the traditional one aka Roman Catholic. There is widespread marriages between people from the different Christian group, at least for the last 200 years they dont prosecute each other, in contrary with Islam which is soo divided that they bomb each other for 1400 years now.
    I don't even want to go in detail how Bahai's are perceived and prosecuted, or Alevi's and some other fractions in Indonesia for example. And ex Muslims are free to kill.
    Habermas his speech is perfectly made for Turkey with its rigid laicism and some fundamentalistic Muslim tendencies.

  6. thanks for the link, sean. even though i couldnt find the chance to fully read it, it seems like a very interesting article.

  7. All,
    sorry, I am very tired. Tomorrow, I shall hopefully find time to thoroughly reply to your comments.

    The peace of the night.

  8. Hans, you have great selective memory.

    'There is widespread marriages between people from the different Christian group, at least for the last 200 years they don’t persecute? each other.'

    What about the Catholic and Protestants in Ireland?
    What about the Serbians (Orthodox) and the Croatians (Catholic)?

    The Rwandans that killed each other ... they were all Christians.

    There is good and bad in every society. The Muslims have never had a Klu Klux Klan, that was the reserve of White American Christians.

    I hate to shock you Hans but there is even discrimination amongst the Jewish community.

  9. Good morning, sunshine!
    Yes, I slept well, dreamt sweet and do feel much better now. Thanks. :)

    That is why,
    I'd like to end this: Choose any name you wish to be (constantly) addressed by, and you are welcome.
    Don't try to teach me jurisprudence, though, f.e. such surprising things as 'This is your blog' and 'it's your prerogative'.
    By the way, I do not claim prerogatives. :)
    As for the Habermas' essay, I'm glad it could gain your interest.
    Thanks for mentioning Dr. Köchler's essay. As soon as it will be online available, I shall read it.

    Ardent & Hans,
    as mostly your opinions seem not to differ, albeit visitors dropping by for the first time could think so. :)

    Yes, global mutual tolerance seems impossible. It's, of course, easier to demand tolerance from others than to practise it oneself.
    Yes, it's sad what people are doing to others. And unfortunately, by one maniac's end he will be replaced by another. I have not many doubts that amongst those lovely cute babies born today there will be quite a few who will get 'educated' in the school of hatred.
    Yes, all this is sad, the more as this planet could be a nice place to live.
    This is - and herewith I do already :) come to this post's topic - one reason I'd like "respectable scholars" trying to reach more 'ordinary' people.
    And it is one reason, I'd like to see this essay translated into Turkish, the more as I do agree with you, Hans, this speech is perfectly addressing the situation in Turkey.

    welcome, as always, my dear Turkish seanachie and philosopher. :)
    Indeed, I think, once you have found the leisure you will afterwards find it was a worthwhile read.
    Looking forward to 'hear' your opinion. Yakında görüşmek üzere. :)

  10. Thanks!
    Dr.Kochler's lecture is already online.
    I clicked:"Dr.Hans Kochler: Education and Intercultural Dialogue. Carleton University. Ottawa."
    What I understand is that for education to give one a cultural identity, "it must contain a dialogue with other cultures or civilizations."
    Considering that most of us grow up in isolated communities, a real effort is needed to meet so-called "strangers."
    I was very fortunate that, as a 24 y.o. nurse, I left my province(and my language) to go in the Northern Territories, and work with Autochtones and Inuits. What I learned from them, in exchange of nursing care, cannot be measured in cold human terms.

    Interesting post. The vow of tolerance has to be renewed everyday, even in one's own home, and with one's best friends...

    I'm Claude. Not to confuse English-speaking people, who think it's a man's name, I tell them: Claudia. Sometimes I forget. Forgive me if I do sometimes and sign Claude.

  11. Before falling into the feathers, just a quick welcome again, Claudia,
    :) if you don't mind, I prefer Claude.

    I'd like to learn more about what you experienced in the Northern Territories.

    As for Dr. K's essay: Visiting his homepage I did not find it. Will try again tomorrow, but now: The peace of the night.

  12. What I experienced on James Bay and Baffin Island? I'll try...

    When I moved from my own circle of people and entered another culture, at first I was disoriented. I lost my balance. I was quite lonely. Isolated. Insecure as to my own worth.

    Then, they needed me, and I felt my own civilisation a bit superior. Distinct knowledge is an asset in a group of strangers.

    Then, I witnessed that native people have incredible skills in the art of survival on their own land. They taught me much. A mutual respect was born.

    Then, I discovered that we had much in common: hunger and thirst for food, water, warmth, laughter and friendship. And we cried the same tears for pain. Mutual acceptance.

    The Latin poet Terence said: Homo sum: humani nihil a me alienum puto. Nobody is a stranger to me. Je suis homme. Rien de ce qui est humain ne m'est étranger.

    For Dr.K. I just googled his name and the title of his Essay. It came readily. I would like to drop him a note.I don't know if this is being done...

    A good day to you...

  13. Dear Claude,
    I see - if not a novel - many short stories / tesserae which being merged could result in a fascinating mosaic / volume.
    What do you think? :)

  14. Dear Sean.
    Thank you! Your attention is so very kind. I have bits and pieces written about those days. So much has happened since...Different experiences, other joys, deeper pain. I have never truly believed that anyone would be interested. It's late in life...

    Bonne et douce nuit.

  15. Claude,
    in case you wish to let me read (some of) your 'bits and peaces' you reach me under:
    seanjeating at gmail dot com

    Some of your words sound a bit like defeatism. Surely you will (think you) have your reasons.

    And what's when you are wrong? :)

    The peace of the night.