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The Return of Religious Embodiment: On Post-Secular Politics

Chapter in book
Authors Ola Sigurdson
Published in The Body Unbound: Philosophical Perspectives on Politics, Embodiment and Religion
Pages 19-36
ISBN 978-1-4438-1984-8
Publisher Cambridge Scholars Publishing
Place of publication Cambridge
Publication year 2010
Published at Department of Literature, History of Ideas, and Religion
Pages 19-36
Language en
Subject categories Practical philosophy, Faith and reason, Sociology of religion, Philosophy of religion


In this chapter, I discuss the very concept of religion which, since the time of Kant and Schleiermacher, has dominated the perception of religion in general, and the philosophy of religion in particular. Both Kant and Schleiermacher locate religion in the interior person, in religious feeling and consciousness. This view went on to dominate religious studies, philosophy, and theology. I detect a similar concept of religion in William James, Rudolph Otto, and Mircea Eliade. However, during recent years, scholars from Charles Taylor to Jürgen Habermas and Mark Lilla have argued that while the influence and position of religion changed, it was never absent from the public sphere. Following these scholars, I describe the post-secular condition and argues that it presupposes a new perception of religious embodiment: only when perceived as a social body, may religion regain its public significance. However, I argue that in a post-secular world, this social body is not necessarily in competition with the state when it comes to territory. Hence, some conflicts concerning political power may be avoided, whereas others, e.g. concerning the human body, become all the more controversial.

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