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Aftering critical theory: reimagining civil “religion”

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Why haven’t the insights of critical theory been more widely incorporated into the work of religious studies scholars in particular, and humanists more generally? Conversely, why have critical theorists missed the cross-cultural patterns of signification that have shaped post-tribal hierarchies for millennia, when they are so adept at finding hidden epistemological linkages within western political hegemonies? The answers to both of these questions are important because humanists are in desperate need of a more expansive theoretical hermeneutic with which to better “read” the contemporary world. It turns out, we don’t have to wander too far into the intellectual wilderness to find a viable track. It lies hidden in plain sight, in the well-known but insufficiently understood discourse on civil religion. Indeed, there are clues at the very epicenter of the Enlightenment. Book IV, Chapter 8 of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s The Social Contract—which first articulates the idea of a civil. . .

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News source: OUPblog » Philosophy

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