Monday, May 9, 2011

Review :: The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere :: Judith Butler, Jürgen Habermas, Charles Taylor, & Cornel West, et. al.

Englewood Review of Books just published my review of The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere by Judith Butler, Jürgen Habermas, Charles Taylor, & Cornel West.

I'll post here the first few paragraphs of the review, but to hear my full take on this interesting volume, you'll have to head over to ERB.

When I hear a sermon or a lecture, I often wonder what sort of script the speaker is using. Not just prepared remarks propped on the lectern or stored in the memory. I’m curious about the cultural scripts that shape and guide what she has to say, the tacitly assumed goals, strategies, evaluative criteria of public discourse.
The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere is less scripted than most essays collections in ethics or political philosophy. That’s because The Power of Religion isn’t an essay collection. It’s a conversation, minimally edited by Eduardo Mendieta and Jonathan VanAntwerpen, between Judith Butler, Jürgen Habermas, Charles Taylor, and Cornel West. And conversation occasionally careens outside the parameters of the lecture hall.
The October 22, 2009, event this volume recapitulates sought to carry forward dialogue about religion, secularism, and the way we talk about the common good. Fittingly, the event was less four renowned public intellectuals reading four papers and more three discussions between the participants.
Language, deliberation, and translation are key themes that run throughout the four essays and all three discussions. The public sphere is the realm of public conversation about the common good. But a second, unnamed theme runs alongside this consistent concern with language: a concern with power. . . .
For more, head over to ERB. Check out the rest of the issue for other reviews of some good books.

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