Academic journal article Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies

Religious Pluralism: A Habermasian Questioning and a Levinasian Addressing

Academic journal article Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies

Religious Pluralism: A Habermasian Questioning and a Levinasian Addressing

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

In the contemporary world the concept of religious pluralism is highly problematic. Disagreements over how we best lay the foundation of the inclusive-pluralistic society are manifold. The religious expressions often impart choices on the political arena, and these choices sometimes clash. The task of dealing with this challenge, and negotiating this religious plurality, is complicated due to the incompatible approaches addressing religious pluralism. This problem calls for careful examination on the idea and nature of dealing with religious pluralism. Several answers have been formulated in this line of questioning, and in this article we will first of all examine the problematic conception of religious pluralism which sometimes risks catalysing relativism, before turning to explore the Habermasian ideas on addressing religious pluralism through rational political unification. We will though show the existing problems in the Habermasian approach, which lead us to find a way to address this problem from the point of view of Emmanuel Levinas. The unique notion of pluralism in Levinas shows us an alternative way to see religious pluralism. Instead of searching for a way to unify the sometimes conflicting practices of different religions, Levinas offers us a model to perceive pluralism based upon face-to-face encounter, which prioritizes peace, a peace that is achieved through responding to the other religion with charity and love. We will begin with a brief discussion of the problems in the contemporary discussions on religious pluralism which will be shown as lacking of willingness to search for a dimension for solidarity as well as an ontological unexamined philosophical conceptualization.

2. The problems of religious pluralism in the contemporary world

Understanding the concept of religious pluralism is a complex matter, and confusion often arises in the appearance of various incompatible conceptions that appear in the modern society. Religious pluralism is commonly referred to the coexistence of religious and secular individuals and worldviews. The mainstream idea of religious pluralism rejects privileging any value of one religion over others to avoid any prejudices. In liberal political tradition, pluralism is often seen as a fact or as an instrumental value (Galston 2002, 26-27). The liberal society has to uphold pluralism in order to achieve societal stability, which is presented in the genealogy of pluralism as a natural consequence of autonomous reason within the democratic system (Rawls 2005, 48-63). After the Enlightenment, philosophers praise diversities and pluralism without reservation. John Stuart Mill argues that the (religious) pluralism serves our search for truth, which is helpful to develop our individuality, which is also essential to social progress (Mill 1991). And in contemporary thoughts, according to John Rawls, autonomous reasoning and plurality are compatible and complementary in liberalism which provide the fundamental provisions needed for this pluralism to thrive (Rawls 1971, 2005). Within these approaches, we clearly sense that they imply a certain value neutrality, which develops into the relative conception of all are welcomed, where the values are not properly examined in their own context. However, these values are sometimes in conflict and therefore we are forced to choose from a diversity of competing choices. Ultimately this choice is a choice among anonymous possibilities, which is a choice intimately connected with pluralism that dismisses the particular value, which underlines the freedom found in liberal states (Raz 1986, 17).

The contemporary discourse on religious pluralism is often presented as, firstly, the coexisting of various religious traditions, where the focus of disagreement is placed on which religion, dogma or worship, provides a 'true' belief, which should be seen as the primary source of divination. It is also discussed in an inter-religious manner, where difference of opinions regarding specific texts, event, ritual or practice within the same (singular) tradition is the main locus. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.