Philosophia

, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 237–252 | Cite as

Reason and Religion in Rawls: Voegelin’s Challenge

Article

Abstract

This article argues that we must abandon the still predominant view of modernity as based upon a separation between the secular and the religious - a “separation” which is allegedly now brought into question again in “postsecularity”. It is more meaningful to start from the premise that religion and politics have always co-existed in various fields of tension and will continue to do so. The question then concerns the natures and modalities of this tension, and how one can articulate a publically grounded reason with reference to it. It will first be argued that this question cannot be articulated, let alone fully answered, from the position developed by John Rawls. A different approach will then be developed, building on the writings of Eric Voegelin. This involves a much more serious engagement with the classical tradition in thought and philosophy than found in Rawls. It also implies much more than a “pragmatic” recognition of religion as a possible source for overlapping consensus, since for Voegelin a true, balanced rationality can only depart from an experientially grounded encounter with the transcendent.

Keywords

Rawls Eric Voegelin Metaxy Modernity Political religion Transcendental reason 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The author wishes to thank Tom Bailey for precious comments on earlier versions of this article.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of International RelationsThe American University of RomeRomeItaly

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