Do We Need Religion?: On the Experience of Self-Transcendence

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The old assumption that modernization leads to secularization is outdated. Yet the certainty that religion is an anthropological universal that can only be suppressed by governments is also dead. Thus it is now a favorable moment for a new perspective on religion. This book takes human experiences of self-transcendence as its point of departure. Religious faith is seen as an attempt to articulate and interpret such experiences. Faith then is neither useful nor a symptom of weakness or misery, but an opening up of ways of experience. This book develops this basic idea, contrasts it with the thinking of some leading religious thinkers of our time, and relates it to the current debates about human rights and universal human dignity.

About the Author:
Hans Joas is Professor of Sociology at the University of Chicago, where he belongs to the influential Committee on Social Thought

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“At a time when public discussion of religion seems polarized between religious fundamentalists and hard secularists, who in their own way are equally fundamentalist, it is refreshing to have a book that reminds us that religion is not a kind of primitive and false scientific theory, but a kind of experience, the experience of self-transcendence. Joas’s reflections on religious experience and the ways it can be articulated are developed in dialogue with major contemporary thinkers such as Charles Taylor, Paul Ricoeur and Jürgen Habermas. Open-minded and sensitive both to religious claims and to secular criticisms, Joas has made an enormous contribution to the serious discussion and understanding of religion.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594514388
  • Publisher: Paradigm Publishers
  • Publication date: 11/28/2007
  • Series: The Yale Cultural Sociology Series
  • Pages: 164
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Hans Joas is Professor of Sociology at the University of Chicago, where he belongs to the influential Committee on Social Thought. He also director of the Max Weber Center for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies in Erfurt, Germany. Among his recent English books are: The Genesis of Values (University of Chicago Press 2000) and Social Theory (with W. Knoebl, Cambridge University Press 2008).
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Table of Contents

Preface     vii
Religious Experience
Do We Need Religion?     3
Religion in the Age of Contingency     21
On the Articulation of Experience     37
Between Theology and Social Science
Sociology and the Sacred: Key Texts in the Sociology of Religion     51
Sophisticated Fundamentalism from the Left? On John Milbank     65
A Catholic Modernity? Faith and Knowledge in the Work of Charles Taylor     81
God in France: Paul Ricoeur As Theoretical Mediator     91
Post-Secular Religion? On Jurgen Habermas     105
Human Dignity
Decency, Justice, Dignity: On Avishai Margalit     115
Respect for Indisposability: A Contribution to the Bioethics Debate     125
Human Dignity: The Religion of Modernity?     133
Index     149
About the Author     153
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