Global Religious and Secular Dynamics

– Good afternoon, everybody. And welcome to the first in a discussion series on Global Religious and Secular Dynamics. My name is Jose Casanova and I’m a sociologist, Professor of Sociology and Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at Georgetown University as well as a Senior Fellow at the Berkeley Center

For Religion, Peace and World Affairs, which sponsors these series. Good afternoon here in the East Coast where both Charles Taylor and I am but I know some of you is good morning in the West Coast, for others is good evening in Europe in the Middle East

Goodnight in Asia and even past midnight in Australia. Welcome all. We are fortunate to have as the first speaker in our series, in our conversations, the great living philosopher, Canadian, Quebecker Charles Taylor. Charles, welcome to our conversation. We are going to have a conversation between both of us,

We are going to cover four topics, The Secular Age, The Crisis of Democracy, Linguistic Anthropology or Global Human Condition in a Catholic Modernity. It will be first conversation perhaps a bit superficial, but I think that it blends well key aspects of Charles Taylor’s life work. After our conversation, we’ll have a 20 minute

Period for question and answer. And so please, you have there a chat. And you can write your questions and answers. And we’ll try to give you the opportunity to for Charles Taylor to respond. Without further ado, Charles, good afternoon. Again, it’s a great pleasure to have you with us,

It will be much better if we could be physically together. But this is a still a substitute is important that we keep socially connected an intellectual conversation under those conditions of physical distance. So again, let’s begin with “A Secular Age.” This is a book that obviously made you famous beyond philosophy.

It became almost you could say an intellectual best seller. Did you expect such a response to the book “A Secular Age” when you were writing? – No, I didn’t, I thought it would be largely ignored by most people but just specialists in the field might find some interesting ideas.

You remember, when we worked it out together, I finished the draft in discussions with you and Hans Joas very intensely in Berlin. And I thought then it’s a continuation of that kind of discussion among sociologists and philosophers. And suddenly, to my surprise it– – Well, it certainly went beyond anybody’s expectation

And I’m so pleased that it happened. So now one of the concepts you develop in the book you had already begun developing, is this of the imminent frame. Explain what we what we mean by the imminent frame. And how is it connected with our secularize.

– Yes, well, I’m trying to get out there they what we all understand that we all understand. People’s understanding of what they share in their understanding of their situation. Now if you go back to the Middle Ages, Early Modern Period in Europe, there was a biblical story that everyone accepted

There was a fight between different versions of Christianity, there was a sense that we also lived in a Cosmos with moral orders that the various kingdoms and so on were based on these cosmic realities et cetera. And today, it’s really very, very different. What we all understand, that we all understand

Across all civilizations, is roughly speaking the natural science view of the natural world, the sense that our different societies have all been created by human beings at a certain time revolutions and so on. The sense that we live in in man’s timeframe, stretching back unimaginably millions of years

And in the evolution of the universe then we have different positions within that we some of us are into certain faiths. Others are against faith and so on. But everybody understands that that’s what everybody understands starting point. And that’s what I call the, if you like the frame

And I call an imminent frame because it’s elements are totally imminent and they transcend. – So okay, so this the imminent frame meaning is based on horizontal institutions, without any reference to transcendence? They all operate as if God would not exist, right? But as if there was none directly. And obviously, in Europe,

The emergence of this imminent frame, perhaps because it was there that you could be develop had very negative consequences for the survival of traditional forms of Christianity. The spectation was that is the imminent frame becomes globalized to other civilizations, the same will happen, the same process of decline of religion, and basically,

Rather, purely secular is the only option of normal life could also happen. But this has not been the case. So how can we explain that within such an imminent frame, such a diversity of possibilities of global religious and secular dynamics are possible? – Yeah, well, I think he was to turn it around

Why should that change people’s mind? It means, of course, that one’s religious faith is in a quite different context. I mean, think of religious faith 16th century world of magic, of magic forces, God is a being that could defend us against that. But it’s perfectly possible to turn it around

And say within this imminent frame, people are searching for meaning, they’re searching for a sense of what human beings can become, how they can grow and so on. And some people are gonna see that growth, that development, that journey towards something greater in terms of religious faiths,

And indeed, what we find in the imminent frame now is a tremendous growth and diversification of different ideas of what the spiritual development is. So it’s in a sense, it’s a different context it inflects all faith positions differently but it doesn’t rule out the possibility of faith quite the contrary. – Right.

And yet you in your lifetime you’ve experienced personally the rate transformation of Quebecker Society from being a uniformly Catholic, and then suddenly almost a homogeneous radically secular. So it seems that Quebec is almost a confirmation of the European notion of a self fulfilling prophecy of secular modernity.

And yet, we see the parallel to that in Latin America, you see, the transformation of the societies, their own silent revolutions, leading into all kinds of religious pluralism. So how do we explain under which conditions then one seems to, this imminent frame it seems to lead to homogeneous secularity.

And when does it open up the possibility for precisely all forms of pluralism? – Yeah. Well you see if the previous period in which there was this sole unanimous belief in this case, the Catholic Church in Quebec, if it was a period in which people really suffered is certain kinds of restriction, oppression

Being forced to do things they didn’t want to do and so on, then, the change in the global understanding of where we are at, is seen as a possibility, where we can get rid of all this, we can throw it all away. And that’s what of course,

Was lived in my society in Quebec. But if you take a society on the other end of the spectrum, like the United States, which in a sense became plural, roughly around the time of the Great Awakening or the Great Awakenings, maybe the second one in the early 19th century

Then it’s a quite different situation. And so you see these very, very different ways of responding and again, and in the Latin American case in Brazil and so on it’s something different again what’s clear in all these cases is you get plural pluralism, glorification, growth of different possibilities. And that exists here too,

Because in the generation after the one that threw the church out there are young people that are saying, “well, what are we gonna do with our lives?” Well, I mean, we’re searching for some kind of meaning for some kind of, in some cases, spiritual growth and that’s happening in all sorts of ways.

So it depends if the experience prior to pluralism was very negative, then it’s reached to this rejection of religion. – Right. So it seems that it’s also, as you point out a radical transformation. Pluralism was viewed as a negative fact these what explains the Wars of Religion. Nobody could imagine the possibility of

Different religious beliefs in the same society. There had to be homogeneity, thus the Westphalian model. While we’ve moved from this model, it was for plurality of beliefs, which are heresies, or false doctrines to a positive recognition of plurality is a positive development into pluralism to which extent this is one of the factors

Of our global condition recognition of a kind of hereditament plurality, especially in the field of the world system of religions. – Yes, well, I think that this has causes its reactions and we have various parts of the world in which is still thought to be a disaster

So now it’s thought as something that has to be stamped out and really, you know, very, very tight discipline. If you look at the evolution of a society like Pakistan, It’s really very, very worrying. But it’s very much a lesson of that, Pakistan was started with the idea of

An Islamic state that was Islamic State culturally that was connected to the culture of the moguls and so on. And it’s slowly evolved towards a state that is permitting people, Islamic in the narrowest possible sense of Wahhabi time discipline around, they’re a very narrow notion of the Sharia.

So you get people who are on death row, now for being accused of blasphemy and so on. So there are reactions to this kind of pluralism in various parts of the world. And they become in a certain sense, even more viciously narrow (laughs) than the original, raw, the conformist societies that–

– But of course, paradox here is that we know the Jinnah the founder of the idea of Pakistan himself was really an atheist. He didn’t take Islamic religion seriously. Muslim identity yes but not Islamic beliefs. – Even worse than that, he was a member of a sect

That would be probably victims of drive by killings of Ultra Shia sect, and yet he’s still revered. There’s a kind of tremendous cognitive distance in Pakistan so he was both not really a believer but he was connected to a sect which is considered not really Islamic anymore, by most, anyway, lots of Pakistanis.

– These resets to the next topic of The Crush of Democracy and to a large extent it has also to do with attempts to impose the kind of religious or ethno-religious homogeneity, that of course, was also the mother of Westphalia this is what happened in Europe

And to to a large extent, there has been a tragic repetition of this model of ethno-religious uniformity for the sake of the nation or state and of religious nationalism, this is one of the crisis of democracy. But there are many others which have to do with even populist rejections of liberal democracy

In the West, you’ve been working with your friends with Craig with Philip on a new book, precisely analyzing this crisis of democracy and how we can somehow respond to it. You’ve been involved in democracy both as a political thinker but also as an activist, you’re one of the founding members

Of the New Democratic Party of Canada, you have been a social democrat before Bernie Sanders was a social democrat. And to a certain extent, you’ve been always very much involved both intellectually but also politically involved in democracy. So how do you see our contemporary moment and what is the fundamental for you the most fundamental crisis of democracy today? – Well, I think the faith of Western democracy

The crisis is the rise of what we call not really very apathetic populism, And that is, there is a sense among the idea that one has to mobilize the people defined as ordinary people who are not part of the elites but the mobilization is around extremely

As you say, extremely narrow, and notions of identity and that exclude others that exclude people with varieties of ways of approaching. And I think that this has different sources. One of the sources in our Western societies has been that a lot of ordinary people were neglected in the era you might see

A new liberalism where there was globalization carried through without a concern for whether they were victims losers as well as gainers from this without any attempt to inflect the gains so that makes sure that everybody was on board and I think the United States is a key example

Of that kind of cause where the society moved more and more towards galloping inequality and tremendous deprivation and that’s one of the things that could easily turn into populism. Then if you go to the other end of the Western world and you look at a country like Poland, it’s somewhat different,

Is that they have this experience of their nationalism, which is very much linked with the Catholic church or older now, ideally the Catholic Church, suppressed for years for decades under communist regime. And so when the liberation comes back, it’s easier to argue by people who have this kind of view that

That’s really what Poland is all about and that it’s not about being open, liberal, plural and so on. So there are different kinds of origin of this thing but it happens that we are in a, I don’t know why, in a constellation in the world in which these bad movements are winning

And even India is not connected to the Western world at all. Indian democracy is moving in a very worrying direction with Modi with a kind of very narrow notion of Hindu persecuting the largest minority, the second largest Muslim society in the world in terms of population has just

Had a law passed where doesn’t recognize Muslims as Indian citizens. So, we have this– – You mentioned Poland, what is to me evident in these contemporary regime in Poland is a very clear critique of rule of law, of justice former justice by experts but also of liberalism, for in the name

Of majoritarian democracy. So you get a affirmation of the rule of the majority but without concern for minority rights and without concern really for a fundamental constitutional order that protects everybody. To me, it’s a dissociation of three elements of democracy that were also separate in the 19th century. Liberals used to be anti-democrats,

Democrats used to be anti-liberals. And you will have a rule of law in Prussia that was neither liberal nor democrat. So part of the problem and we see it in Trump is very majoritarian rule without any also concern for institutions, legal institutions rule of law, and also a certain totally dis-concern

For the rights of minorities. So to which extent is a fundamental problem today how to bring together because one understands a critique of liberal elites, but in the critiques of basically pure expertise, legal formalist but when it goes to undermining the fundamental legal constitutional structures and minorities, professional minorities rights

Then there is a fundamental problem. So to which extent this is a fundamental issue today? – I think it’s absolutely fundamental but how to defeat it is the big question. What powers it, is a sense of the national identity, which is very much this in a narrow sense

It anchored in mostly in the past, and a tremendous fear. So the fear around losing that is what makes all these illiberal regimes try to make their power irreversible. So what you see in all of them in Hungary, they succeeded in doing that. In Poland, the fight now is that they,

You know, the reigning party is trying to change the judicial system, fire judges and so on. The idea is to make it irreversible what you see in the Trump regime with the Republicans in the United States Well, Republicans in general have been trying to have this kind of irreversibility

By both suppressing and so on. And in the case of Trump who go to any length to make sure that he doesn’t get turned out, there’s completely abandon the idea of as a democratic society, which well, we rule for a while, and then you take over

And you rule for a while but you open the possibility of it continuing. So how you undermine that immense fear around a certain identity which makes it just inconceivable or horrible to think that one could ever change. That is the big challenge today. – And of course, too, as you point out

The growing, global problem of growing economic inequality and social inequality to these we are the global pandemic and it is also precisely made clear manifest the consequence of these inequalities but then in has produce a retrenching towards presenting national autarkic you know almost Americantlism right even the European Union,

Closing its inner borders once again abandoning the Schengen model and retracting to a purely national a unit Black Lives Matter protest that under those conditions despite the fear of well contagion, you have people risking their health for the sake of an idea, is not any more simply Blacks,

African Americans, but now you see a very wide spread other populations supporting the both participating but also majority of the American population supporting the demonstration. So do you see here a point of influx or revitalization of democracy? – Yes, I think I do. And, you know, there was one good thing

That came from the COVID crisis, one good thing, which was in many, many societies an immense wave of solidarity which precisely bridged the divisions in many cases that existed before. And I think that that sense of solidarity greater solidarity you know, we’re faced with the same crisis,

With the same danger, with the same enemy, as it were. People said, the beginning is like a wartime and I think that’s very true. It’s like the, you know, declaration of wartime, which I was old enough to remember in the Second World War, when a lot of lines of division were closed

Because people thought we have a common enemy and we have to get together and fight them. And I think that that stronger sense of solidarity is partly explaining the wonderful reaction to the killing of George Floyd I mean, it’s partly the horrible scene in which he was killed.

But I think it’s also because there’s a sense that we have to hang together now we have to create a kind of unity and that’s why, not just in the United States but worldwide in Canada and elsewhere there is this very strong feeling, no we can’t carry on like this

With these kinds of hierarchical views of who really matters. And we have to do something about it. I think that comes from the very context of the COVID crisis in which it arose. – Right, especially the realization to the extent to which discriminated racial minorities have been disproportionately impacted

By this inequality, by the crisis when this is big. This is a very positive aspect. For me the fundamental question remains however, that the answers have been purely national so far and we know that these crises are global crises that required also transnational solidarity, also in their response.

And so part of the problem I see today is that we can innovate transnational international structure partly because of the United States that was the leader abandoned it, and partly because of the growth of authoritarian regimes in China, in Russia, in India, et cetera that are not interested in creating these transnational structures.

So the point is, to which extent we need to go beyond internal democracy precisely towards developing a structures of transnational solidarity because it’s not only the global pandemic, it’s of course, the global ecological crisis, is a crisis of global refugees, is the crisis of base, equally global inequality.

None of these problems can be solved in one single country. If you associate democracy in one country is not possible today, for economic reasons for many reasons. So how can we go both reinforce national democracies to make them lively and that responsive to people,

But at the same time be able to transcend them? So how can we do that? – Well, I think we have some of the basis for doing that in the way we’ve responded to the the Coronavirus crisis, because the idea is we want, first of all the solidarity within the society.

But secondly, the idea that here’s something really overriding our normal concerns for my own prosperity or my own job and so on. It’s something that goes beyond that. And that can only be fought on an international level. So you could imagine we could emerge from this

With a sense that yeah, we have to pull together not only within societies, but between societies. And we could start a new kind of movement, which would mean that we would have a more effective fight against global climate change as well. Then what tells against that

Is that we’ve spent a tremendous amount of money, rightly keeping people afloat, who’ve lost their jobs or businesses that couldn’t function and so on. And I know there’ll be people who will be saying at the end of all this, if ever there is an end to all this

“look, we’re so much in debt, “we can’t possibly afford a program “of really fighting for global, “against global climate change, and so on.” And I think Left and Right are gonna line up as we leave this crisis around that issue. Does this I mean, one thing is to say

What it showed us that we were terribly unprepared to face this kind of thing ’cause we ran down our health systems or old folks homes and so on, let’s never do that again. And the other response would be well, Oh be spend so much money, we’re so much in debt.

We can’t afford it. So let’s run the beam further down in order to get back to our level of production before the crisis. And I think we, you know, I don’t know exactly who is gonna win this battle. (laughs) I know it’s not long but we have a real chance

We have a real chance because of what’s the mindset created in the crisis of doing the right thing or once. (laughs) – But there was a time, obviously, where you talk over international social democracy in Europe, it gave a new light to European Union beyond what had originally been at least

A democratic project. But now really, really social democracy transnational is in serious crisis throughout Europe we see it. And so, how can we somehow recover this tradition and how can we revitalize it for our contemporary global condition? I’m not sure but obviously, you’ve been at this fight for a long time.

So do we have any idea of how– – We need new kinds of alliances in a way. there were moments in our history, like the New Deal, the first New Deal of the United States was a recreation of a new kind of alliance to fight a crisis that hadn’t existed before.

And people are talking now in the United States about our Green New Deal (laughs) that’s the same idea. But in countries of Europe, we have to have a new alignment. I mean, for instance, in Germany, it has to be an alignment of various Left parties and the Greens.

You know, the Greens are a very important possible vehicle. This when you think of the election of Bavaria last year that a lot of the votes lost by the Right wing went to the Greens. So it won’t be simply a social democratic or in France, a Socialist Party has virtually disappeared.

But it could be a realignment which produces a new situation, a new political course and I think the possibility is there the were a lot of young people are at in all our societies at this point, politically is they’re ready to move in that direction

But we have to be creative in bringing about the new kinds of alignments. – And if we can move now to your life work, you’ve basically been a consistent critique of what could be called any form of naturalism. Naturalism, your first critique in your book, “The Explanation of Behavior” in 1963, 64,

Against precisely the model of the natural sciences to understand human societies from the social science, human sciences. You develop a critique of communitarian critique of liberalism, which has also some of these elements a critique of purely formalist epistemologies and now in your new book, “The Language Animal,”

A book which I do recommend everybody to read this the book that at the base of which you receive one of the last big prizes, right? You got the Templeton Prize and the Kyoto Prize, the Kluge Prize together with Jürgen Habermas from the Library of Congress and then the Berggruen Prize

Now this is a book in which you tried to it’s called “The Language Animal” very clearly we are could be called “The Language Mammal” we are an animal species, and the attempt to any type of epistemology any type of understanding of reason, which is disembodied and dis-embedded from social context will not work.

The subtitle is the “Full Shape of the Human Linguistic Capacity” and you develop as a critique of you put two different types of linguistic anthropology one right HLC, Hobbes Locke Condillac and then the three aids of German romanticism, Harmond Humbolt Hargen. What do you mean by this critique of a purely,

Designative theory of language that only is an utensil is again, useful, but really is not considerative of fascist humans. Can you explain? – You see the Hobbes, Locke, Condillac all those three thinkers, what they were interested in language for was language enables us to formulate information,

You know, record it and communicate it to others. They were thinking always of how does it help us build a science of the world right, and their followers in the modern analytic philosophy, theories of language with a certain number of very important changes really introduced by Fregean

Are really focusing on the same thing. But if you look at human beings in language, just obvious that it’s doing other things for us. It’s I mean, if you look at art, if you look at literature, if you look at the role of metaphor, incidentally, metaphor is the enemy for Hobbes

And Locke and Condillac their customs say, you know, this is their confusing science if you use this word for that. See, but metaphor, we live by metaphors but also what language does, is it relates us to each other. So we thinking of linguistic anthropologists like Michael Silverstein in Chicago

Who really shown that language creates a communication between people and therefore sets up all kinds of relations of people including hierarchical relations between people and so you know, a when I was a kid in Quebec everybody, we used to speak to our parents with the familiar with French tu.

And they would speak to us with vous. And between classes, it was also like that, right? And we’ve had a revolution in the modern world in which people have struggled against that. And in places like Sweden, I understand everyone calls her What else tu or do now, right?

So what is language doing here? Language is framing how people relate to each other. And it does all sorts of things of this kind all sorts of functions in human life other than simply collecting information, building sciences, which is not to say that that’s not important is tremendously important.

But you have to see this capacity, scientific capacity as it were placed within a much broader range. That’s why I use that, you know, subtitle “The Full Range of the Human Linguistic Capacity.” I wanted to bury that kind of theory once and for all. – So let’s talk about the global pandemic

And how these reinforces these issues on the one hand, our embeddedness in the live world of nature and the violence we are part of the live world and so on, right? Then the other the lack of communication or the physical separation but then the connectivity through media but one of the strengths

Of the new media is of course, the focus on artificial intelligence and big data the kind of thing that precisely reinforces the other notion of reduced linguistic capability. So, to which extent what we are doing now, despite doing it through media, it still is able to reinforce this notion

Of a linguistic capacity goes beyond precisely gathering information, big Data, are purely a kind of mechanistic artificial intelligence that machines are more rational than we are and therefore they are better than we are. So what are the lessons of the pandemic in this respects? – Well, I think that, you know,

They, there’s a perpetual temptation it’s a great technological temptation to be able to reduce everything to machine intelligence and so on. And I think we’re gonna find with the pandemic, it’s gonna work in both directions for exactly the usual reasons that there’s a certain kind of mindset,

Which is gonna say, “well, let’s you know, “let’s have a systems of control “working out what people should be allowed to do “or not do, by machine intelligence.” And then they’re going to be other people who are saying, “well, these are never going to work “because human beings have to be

“brought to motivated towards have to “in virtue of the certain notions of “what they owe to other people in their society,” like the sense of solidarity we have today that’s an important part of it. And you can’t talk about a machine intelligence which is feels Solidarity.

I mean, you can’t talk about a machine that feels anything That’s why there’s a perpetual fall back falling short of these claims that are made for artificial intelligence. Now, there are certain needs that it really can very well do it can, you know, like, can calculate, calculate in a much more quickly than ordinary human beings. But there are certain functions

That it just can’t take over. So what we get is, in my long life, I’ve seen there are booms and busts. There was a theory of psychology which was a behaviorist when I was younger and I wrote a book saying it was no good. And it collapsed.

And I thought for a moment I did it, but I didn’t do it. It collapse of its own weight. But then people who have a mechanistic mindset needed something so they found the computer. Oh, the computer that’s it, nothing, simply looking at behavior but looking at the computers

And there’s a whole wave of that and then that collapsed. And then you see there is this motivation always to find a certain mindset. It’s the kind of Cartesian being masters and possessors of nature mindset that pushes people and we’re going to have this series of booms and busts,

Booms and busts, booms and busts. But there’s always going to be a version Of the mechanistic outlook, which is riding high. – Let’s move then onto the question of different narratives. Precisely, it’s not only that we need feelings and machines, but also narratives are parts of what is constitute of ourselves in group identities, and as you point out in your big, big narrative

Of a secular aids, the question is not to get rid of narratives, but simply you have to come up with better, more compelling more basically hermeneutically full narratives. One of them is you develop a text is not well known “A Catholic Modernity.” What did you mean with this narrative of a Catholic modernity.

What were you after? – I was after trying to find ways of being Catholic that made sense in the world we’re now in, right? And I felt that the ways of being Catholic that we were offered by the established churches remember that I was brought up in Quebec

Before the revolution before this make up. (laughs) We’re just designed to repel people particularly young people and send them out elsewhere. So I was trying to struggle through to the idea of modes of being Catholic that would make sense today and of course, that led me to the surrounding idea

That what it means to be a Catholic has been very different in different ages it’s evolved and has changed and so on. And in that I was partly inspired by the theology that underlay Vatican Two the theology of people like Judy Burke and Econ Gollins.

Their idea was let’s go back to the Fathers of the Church and see what was going on then. And then we’ll have a point of view outside our present situation in which to ask if our ways of operating now and as against the anti-modernism, which was really itself very recent.

It was based on the Tridentine mindset. They had a way of understanding that we were gonna have different ways of being Catholic, but let’s find the one that makes sense for us. That’s really what got me going and eventually led to my making this lecture and then from there (laughs) the discussion —

– If we can continue in this vein obviously you’ve always insisted that Medieval Catholicism was much more openly pluralist than even later Catholicism right? Although we see there’s the Golden Age of Catholicism it was much more precisely pluralist that the one that comes out of the Tridentine

And then of course of Vatican One. You refer to Vatican Two, for me always, what is obvious from reading Vatican Two is the associated fathers who are from all over the world, suddenly, are aware of these global condition, the sign of the times that globalization they don’t use the name yet

But whether it is Nostra Aetate whether it is Dignitatis Humanae whether it is Gagument Space. This idea of the science of the times of a new global age is very, very powerful. Now in these lecture, you refer to Matteo Ricci as a possibility of an alternative form of Catholicism.

Indeed, for me, as you know, I’ve been working on Jesuit and globalization looking for an alternative form of competing models of Catholic organization that of inspired by the Catholic Kings, right, the Portuguese, the Spanish, the French, or by Rome that will come with propaganda fitted. Here you have this model of

Based on open communication, accommodation to other cultures partly the same way that is, you say the Daniel Lou and Congarme have gone to the patristic. They went to San Paul and the Gentiles. And they realize that if early Christianity could be Latin and Greek to radically different forms of Christianity,

It could also be Chinese, it could also be Indian Hindu, and therefore the idea is that of multiple Catholicisms. So, the Christian story itself is universal but it is embedded in very particular cultures and understandings and contexts. And so Christian universalism cannot be the globalization of Roman centralism.

But it will have to be some form of understanding of the multiplicities of Catholicism through history and today now in the globe. So, we know that part of the project of this Pope Francis, precisely the acceptance of these multiple local churches. How do you think that this is something

Which still can be brought back by the very stronger systems of Catholic uniformity? – Well, I think it’s what’s gonna make it irreversible is the fact that the majority of Catholics are rapidly if they aren’t already the case outside of Europe, outside of Europe and North America outside of the Old West.

And what we’re also looking at is the effect of the decline of the Imperial West. Right? When, you know, the history, modern history of the West is more complex than people think. In the 18th century and the 17th century, there wasn’t necessarily this certainty

That Europe is absolutely the be all and end all right? There was a, on the contrary, you get the end of the 18th century, people like Burke who are horrified at the way the British Imperialist are creating the Indian Empire and so on because they’re destroying another culture.

You go through the 19th century and you get this total belief that Europe has the answers to everything. Right and Left Marks and John Stuart Mill both agreed that is a good thing that the Indians are under British rule because they’ll get shaped up properly so that they can be modern men.

And I think the disappearance of that and it’s reflected in the Catholic Church by the fact that the majority of, close to the majority of Catholics are outside this original imperial core means that the idea of imposing the European model, I think he’s utterly, there’s no chance at all

It’s it can’t possibly succeed. I know, I know that there are holdouts in the Vatican still and there are holdouts in certain parts of the European and North American Catholicism, but the movement of history is just not gonna make this possible. – Okay you know, I’m sure that the audience

Has been very much quiet listening to us. I think it’s time to end our conversation between both of us our dialog and to open up to some of the panelists. I already see some questions coming from some close friends, common friends. Let’s see, I see a question from Paolo Costa,

Who is the translator of “A Secular Age” into Italian. And he has the question, has the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic and of how the various religions handle the health emergency affected in some ways your understanding of secularization? – Well, no, I don’t think it has really

I think that what I found interesting and encouraging in the COVID crisis, as I said earlier, is a creation of a new kind of solidarity in societies, but I don’t think that it’s had any effect at all on the really big evolution that I was talking about,

Which is the evolution towards the world of and which is an immense number of spiritual people on the spiritual search on a spiritual journey. The number of these people are growing, but the number of possible journeys is also growing. And I think that the whole COVID crisis could only accentuate this further, right?

People are very often in the face of all this people are turning to issues of what was my life really mean? What is my life based on? What is my whole moral view based on? And I think that that will just accentuate the spread of this kind of this kind of searching.

– Okay, there is another question from Bill Barbieri again a common friend who recently brought you and Michael Walzer together to American Catholic University to discuss the “Crisis of Democracy.” And Bill asked Charles, I’d be interested in any thoughts you might have in this moment

About race and racism, and how they are implicated in first, the dynamics of secular modernity second, our pressing democratic crisis and third, our linguistic anthropology and how deep racial categories help restructure modern thought. – I think it’s very, very interesting, but very, very hidden. I think what you have in a great number

Of Western countries, including ours, is a kind of unspoken, unstressed sense of hierarchy. Who comes first, who comes second, right? There is not the old racism of you know, we don’t want these people all around us. But the new kind of racism that, well,

This kind of person counts, people who came first count more than people who came later or the people of this race count more than the people race, you know, and we have certain amount of racism in Canada but we also have this in relation to Aboriginals in Canada, a lot of mainstream Canadians

Coming from elsewhere, originally had that have that sense. And it doesn’t emerge until the people who are thus disadvantaged protest, and then you get a lot of very harsh reactions, but not an awful lot of theorization because you can’t say these things. I mean, there are white supremacists who do say things

But there are a small minority of those who share these responses. So the big question, the big challenge for us is how to overcome these largely unspoken attitudes, which even the people who have them don’t quite recognize that they have them. They don’t quite recognize they’re being racist.

They just think it’s kind of normal. So when you know Black Lives Matter movement start a lot of people, a lot of whites are tremendously indignant of this so they’ve rationalized that you know, like Trump or against disorder or against looting and so on. But actually what it comes from

Is a sense that why are these people objecting? They’re in their proper place of getting their due desserts. And that I think, is that the insidious kind of racism is something we have to defeat. Now there’s this whole other things we can do about that. But I think that’s the that’s a fact

We have to see in our societies. – Okay, there is a question from Aristotle Papa Nicolau, from the Public Orthodoxy Center at Fordham University, and they are related to again Orthodoxy but the most broader question of “The Secular Race” how do you respond to the critique that culture of secular is Western,

In the sense constructed in use for colonial interests? And then how can you speak to how secularization is taking shape in pos-communist countries and in particular, Orthodox countries? – Yes. Well, I think that’s something that I didn’t tackle in the book. And I deliberately didn’t tackle it

Because I think that processes that we can call secularization are very different, in very different parts of the world. And it’s even not the same thing in, for instance, Latin America, as it is, so I was claiming, they were talking about the civilization that emerges from Latin Christendom,

And even a big part of that in Latin America I couldn’t really touch on. And ’cause I realized, I think I could explain I could justify myself by saying that I for a long time in political science department, people talked about secularization as a world movement, which happens in certain countries

Like our countries first and other countries afterwards. And it’s always seemed to me to be absurdly Western-centric, that this whole situation in China the whole situation in the Muslim world is something very, very different. And there are analogs, but we have to understand them in their own terms.

So now that includes I didn’t really talk about it the Eastern Orthodox Christian world. And in a certain sense, I’ve lacked more sense because I’ve had the kind of conversations that I hope the book as it would spark, where an Indian friend of mine said “it’s very interesting book you wrote on Europe.

“But that didn’t happen here.” And I said, “good lets have a talk “and discuss what did happen there.” And I think that that’s the talk that I still have to have with friends and colleagues in the in the world of Eastern Greek and Eastern Orthodox. – There is a question similar questions

On Catholic modernity. Into which extent the Agg is precisely something that is very much linked to this notion of the Catholic modernity. And the other question about aspiring Catholic theologian who has studied the history of Western philosophy and post-modernism, increasing the strength within the church. I have found it ought to be wanting

It is safe to say that the Catholic modernity will be an authentic response to the call for aggiornaménto from Pope John 23rd. What I mean is a comparison or metanoia, where we returned to the sources in such a way that there’s not prima facie reject the modern world

Nor blindly accepts past views of reality. – I subscribe to that, that’s very convincing. I mean, I think that what goes along with the aggiornaménto is another attitude towards the past, where it doesn’t become simply normative but where are you see in the past an immense possible repository of spiritualty

That we can can nourish us today if we connect up to them in our own way, and I think that’s going on all the time that people are, you know, rediscovering the importance of (speaking in a foreign language) rediscovering the importance of the Desert Fathers and so on.

And seeing that is very much related to their particular path as growing in the Christian faith. So it’s not a matter of we either follow slavishly the past, or we totally reject it. On the contrary, we have to hold aggiornaménto of the Vatican Two

Was we have to think of what’s appropriate in our time. But in working out what’s appropriate in our time, we can find resources, right to the whole history of the church and right across across the whole geography of the church and then think of how someone like myself have been tremendously helped

And fed by a certain dimension of lets go again to talk about Eastern Orthodox theology that crept through to me and had been very meaningful to me even though they’re not part of my immediate background as a Catholic. – And then we have a question from David Lemon, Prominent Sociologists of Religion

From Cambridge University work in Latin America and Israel his question is, we are the finding that the authority of experts, judges bureaucracy is quite fragile. Is this because religion is not providing the glue, if it ever did but rather has in many places become a force for polarization

Precisely at a time when political participation has been spreading and intensifying as advocated by Citizenship Theory? – Well, I think that religion is not a single thing it’s split. I think we are virtually all confessions are split between very often as this is the kind of split between people who really want

To return to a past of much greater conformity and greater unanimity around church, mosque, whatever Oma et cetera. And people who find this new world in which there’s a plurality of searchers in which the searchers are interested in a kind of a e-communism of exchange with each other right?

So there’s an opening their horizons, I think we find these two reactions, and they’re, they break rather hostile to each other. So there isn’t a single phenomenon called religion operative here, there is a different kinds of faith different kinds of ways of entering into faith, which have tremendously different consequences.

I would say that the one that I was writing about, but the one that I also feel I belong to the world of searchers is, of course, much more open and much more favorable to the idea of a re-diverse society of mutual respect. Whereas we find that in many cases,

The more reactive kind of circling the wagons religiosity is supporting the reason why they turn back to various kinds of populism, even to certain Catholics in the states voting for Donald Trump (laughs) on that basis. – There’s a question for Salma Rodriguez, who is a PhD candidate at Columbia University

And she writes deeply diverse democracies like India have negotiated the dilemmas with an Indian form of secularism. But in the process, Islamic justifications for post-colonial democracy, or other similar minority justificatory discourses have had to constantly encounter Hindutva majoritarianism. Can rejecting mythological nationalism be one way of dealing with this dilemmas?

– Well, no, I think again, we’re dealing with one of these fights between different notions of the national identity. And there was a few like Gandhi narrow idea of the Indian national identity, which we meant to include all the different faiths and for a long time it was dominant.

I mean, what is really worrying is that you go back to the 1960s, the kind of thing represented by the present ruling party, the BJP was represented by the Hindu Maha Sabha which was a tiny group, it was a virtually no members of parliament. And it’s since grown.

So the issue is always in all these cases, not nationalists, like not national identity, but to the two very different versions of the national identity, fighting it out. And what I find very worrying and I don’t have the explanation to it is why in the present constellation,

What I consider the bad side of national identity is winning out everywhere. See, I mean, there are individual explanations in all these countries, but why is it all happening now? Is there any kind of common cause or common factor here? – We have a question from Iban Garthone

From let me look for the question. From Colombia, who is asking, what do you think of the fact that during the COVID-19 pandemic, in many Western countries, people can go to a church to pray even alone? Is this some kind of secularism imposed by public authorities and the protest of public health?

As you know, this has been a controversial issue about maintaining churches open or not gathering churches. So what do you think of his controversies? What is valid of the critique? What is not valid? – Well, I don’t think it’s a valid critique that for instance, you know,

There are no more Friday mosque prayers and the no more people getting together for mass. It’s is something that is obviously very dangerous for you if spreading could be a dangerous locus of spreading the the virus opening churches where people can go as individuals to pray is another matter and that’s happening

In a lot of countries, right? Provided people keep social social distance from each other. But I think that it’s not in any way I got a secularist blog or a secular ploy to close churches and it’s something that a great many churches and religious communities have quite freely accepted as being something necessary.

– Then we have two questions which are similar political theory. One comes from me, name Blaisdon, Jason Blakely, a Professor of Political Theory at Pepperdine. And he writes, you seem to affirm aspects of the liberal tradition, especially pluralism. Yet many of the new socialist millennials in the USA think of themselves as post-liberals.

How do you conceive of the relationship between your social democratic commitments and liberalism? In what sense are you a liberal? Should we be liberals or post-liberals? – Well, I think that liberal is one of these words that has so many different meanings, that you can’t take a stance towards liberalism without specifying it.

So let me specify, I think there is a kind of liberalism could be called that which I’m calling pluralism, the acceptance of difference and the belief that a difference enriches us and not impoverishes us and that we should be open, and we should exchange.

And then there’s a kind of thing that which you can call maybe neoliberalism, which is a quite unjustified faith in markets, not only to maximize production but also to make sure that everybody benefits from the results of production benefits from well. That has been an immense illusion, which somehow,

People I hire can force it on the world, together with the political movements on Reagan and Thatcher and so on. And I think we see the utter refutation of that in the present crisis that we just have not prepared ourselves. We starved various public services, we have increased radically increased inequality,

We have increased the plight of deprivation, which we thought we had no obligation to relieve. And this is more the case in the United States than anywhere else in the Western world. And so if that is if neoliberalism is liberalism, I’m totally against it, and I think this is what the young millennials are saying in the United States today, who are part of the, you know, the big Democratic victory in the Midterms and I hope will be part of the Democratic victory in next November. But they’re thinking of that as liberalism

But it’s a terrible confusion to think that all these different things openness, willingness to exchange sense of enrichment by difference. And Reagan Thatcher or US Republicans are part of the same world, the same idea. It’s just the single word which unites those different views. – Then we asked a question from a student

Of political theory is a Ukrainian doing his PhD at Leuven University, Victor Poletco who writes, “in your work some political secularism, “you often expressed an optimistic attitude “as to the prospects of reaching an overlapping consensus “and a set of central liberal notions “in the sense that they get support “from diverse intellectual traditions

” despite some opposing metaphysical claims “of those intellectual traditions. “Do you remain optimistic on that?” – Yes, I am. I mean, I do because I realized is a danger because as we see, various people turn their version of the national identity into something which is seen to be absolutely essential

To living that national identity and they then not only wanna win out but they wanna make their gains irreversible. So they end up destroying democracy, but there can be this kind of unity of citizens across difference. So I would say my notion of democracy and liberalism

Can be summed up by going back to the original French Republican Trinity. Liberty, Equality, I would replace fraternity with a gender neutral term of solidarity, I think if your notion of democracy doesn’t include a very powerful sense of solidarity between all citizens, then you have a very inadequate democracy, which is heading for one of these terrible populists deviations.

So I think that if we include solidarity in our picture of what democracy requires, then we have a really adequate view. And we can we can be in solidarity with people that are not exactly carbon copies of our outlook. We’re asked to the every time we open our frontiers to refugees from very,

Very different cultures, and we’re asked to do that whenever we unite together with citizens of very different cultures, different origins, and share with them in order to make sure that everybody has a decent life. – Very good. And then Gloria Moran is scholar of Canon Law,

Would like to ask you about the role of mediation, in particular religious mediation in the narratives of consensus and democracy. – Oh, well, I think yeah, mediation I can see I think I can see what the question is getting at. Mediation is very important

Because one of the things we find one of the real, you know, diseases we find in our society is that people are seem to be more and more convinced that they understand what other people are about. And this is what gets intensified in one of these populace situations because they,

Populace appeals demonize the elite so it’s clear that they are simply interested in themselves and not sense of the good of the people in heart and on the other side, you get these same elites who are dismissing populace voters as ignoramuses, as deplorables and so on.

What we really need much more in our societies is a attempt to understand what is motivating people, including what’s motivating people to do things that we totally disapprove of. I mean, this is something that I’ve been very engaged in in Quebec because we’ve had a fight about certain legislations

Which have been discriminatory against Muslims for instance. But if you dig into the reasons for this, you find a very complex set of reasons not all of which are bad. And one has to have that kind of attempt to understand what makes the opponent tick. What the deeper motivations are,

’cause a lot of them are perfectly good, perfectly acceptable and it’s that which is missing in our societies and unfortunately, not just missing it’s being driven to the margins. The kind of polarizations we now live in, encourage people to caricature and misunderstand their opponents to the point where

The possibility of finding some kind of common ground, I would say the possibility in very many cases of converting the other side to one’s own side, disappear completely. – In the same vein, Marco Ferrario ask, the need of recognition how is it connected with the crush of democracy you mentioned?

Would you like to add something about the need for recognition in the importance of this concept? – Yeah, well, I think that the Yeah, I think the recognition is precisely the opposite of this kind of alienation I’m talking about where we have a completely caricatural view of the other so that the sense that the other has, he or she has is that when faced with us, they’re faced with some kind of stereotype

Being plucked on them and what they really are like, is totally unrecognized. The kinds of mediation I was talking about can lead to this sense of mutual recognition, a sense of yeah, I get you I don’t fully agree with what you’re driving at

But I sort of get where you’re at as a human being. And it’s that kind of mutual understanding that can help to dissolve some of these deep, deep divisions. So I think that recognition is still absolutely one of the really important issues in our society.

– I will ask you for a brief personal question asked by Brooke Valve in a Duke. Take it into the final reflections in any direction you want. So she asks, what inspired you to study religion? – Very big question. Well, I mean– – You have four minutes to answer it. – Ill be faster than that. I break the question down into two, what inspired me to begin to think about the Christian Catholic faith. And that’s really very simple, that I was brought up in this extremely narrow authoritarian in church. And I couldn’t, I just couldn’t see the point in any of this and I, but I had several questions and so I wanted to ask myself, how to articulate it. And then the next part of the question is how I got interested in something beyond my faith.

And that’s because I had the great luck to have a magnificent teacher as an undergraduate Wilfred Cantwell Smith who later became famous as a student of Islam set up the Islamic Institute. And he gave a course on comparative religion, which is absolutely riveting in which he made these different faiths comprehensible to us

Young undergraduates in the 1950s, 40s and 50s, in Montreal, and I was carried away by that. I’ve never come back from that kind of interest in economism and understanding the other. – Well, on this great note, I want to thank you, Charles, very much for your openness

To have this conversation with all of us. I would like to again, thank you all of you for participating and for your interest. As I mentioned, this is the first in our series we already can confirm it will appear it will be eventually appear in our website,

But we know that the next conversation is going to be on July 9th. Is it July 9 Thursday? I believe so, let me make sure that they got it right. Yes and July 9th, the prominent sociologist German sociologist Hans Joas will be the next conversationalist.

Hans Joas is actually the one who brought us together as three together, Charles Taylor, me and him to be together for one year at the Brandenburgische in Berlin. And this is where basically Charles Taylor wrote his manuscript, A Secular Race conversation with many of us. There was a larger group and since then,

Hans Joas really, really written very significant works on the sociology of religion. Two new books are coming out. “The Power of the Sacred” and the new book is writing on religion freedom. And we’ll be discussing those issues. I can say it’s an anecdote the three of us

Three Catholics in a very secular Protestant city Berlin a few times we appear together in forum discussions, and we began to be known as the Three Catholic Tenors. Charles, would you like to add something to that? – No, I didn’t know that. (laughs) – You didn’t know that?

– Or I forgot my memory suppressed me. (laughs) (mumbles) no, not a base or something like that. – Well, and these note again, thank you very much to everybody. Thank you, especially Charles, stay safe and we are looking forward in a few years to celebrate your 90 years anniversary.

I still remember the big celebration we’re in Montreal the fantastic conference and your work, both as a philosopher as an intellectual as a politician in Canada, and we are looking forward to again, celebrate your 90th anniversary in a few years. So keep safe, stay healthy, and keep us

Illuminating us on the complexity of the human condition as you’ve done through many decades. We are still looking for many important books from you as they are coming in your mature age. Thank you so much.

#Global #Religious #Secular #Dynamics

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