November 04, 2007
Secularism, Religion, and the Public Sphere
There is a discussion of Charles Taylor's new book A Secular Age at The Immanent Frame, which is a blog of the Social Science Research Council. Charles Taylor himself is posting there:
1. One great problem is that the term “secular” is a western term, and corresponds to a very old distinction within Christendom. Then it goes through a series of changes in order to surface in such neologisms as “secularization,” and “secularism.” But even so, some of the original meanings carry over. These terms are then applied unreflectingly to what are seen as analogous processes and ideas elsewhere, and the result can be great confusion. (Example: discussion of Indian “secularism”, whether or not the BJP is “secular”, etc.)
My way of dealing with this has been a prudent (or cowardly) approach of trying to examine the processes we call secularization primarily in the Western context. This however is not a clean and simple solution either, because a) the religious life of other cultures has impacted on the developments in the West (as Peter van der Veer has pointed out), and also one of the facets of contemporary religious life in the West is the borrowing of forms of devotion, meditation and worship from other parts of the world; and b) there has also been borrowing in the other direction, that is by non-Western societies from the West (hence the fact that certain arrangements of the Indian constitution are captured under the cover name “secularism”).
Posted by S. Abbas Raza at 10:49 AM | Permalink