Secularization revisited: Tocqueville, Asad, Bonhoeffer, Habermas

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    Abstract

    I have been asked to set out Girard’s account of religion with reference to four significant thinkers who come down variously on the contested question of secularization. These are the brilliant French envoy to a young American republic, Alexis de Tocqueville; the New York-based Muslim “anthropologist of secularism” Talal Asad; the martyr-activist and prophet of a Christ-permeated secularity, Dietrich Bonhoeffer; and the German philosopher and advocate for post-secularism, Jürgen Habermas. Where Girard’s discussion intersects theirs, we will note similarities and differences with a view to understanding the place of secularization in mimetic theory. Accordingly, the distinctiveness of mimetic theory’s approach to religion—its origins, function, and behavior under modern conditions (i.e., where secularization theories focus)—will emerge more clearly.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe Palgrave handbook of mimetic theory and religion
    EditorsJames Alison, Wolfgang Palaver
    Place of PublicationNew York
    PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
    Chapter45
    Pages343-350
    Number of pages8
    Edition1st
    ISBN (Electronic)9781137538253
    ISBN (Print)9781137552808
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2017

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