Friday, June 24, 2011

What "Pluralists" Don't Get About Islam

Ripped from the review of a book, found at Pertinacious:

One of the many insights of Thaddeus Kozinski's valuable contribution to the on-going conversation about the relationship between Faith and politics is to articulate with precision how secular democratic modernity can only claim not to have a religious pluralism problem because it has already implicitly solved this problem by subtly emasculating traditional religious identity and establishing, under the false veil of political neutrality, institutional arrangements charged with theological and metaphysical significance.

Thus, only by becoming enculturated to re-interpret religious belief in such a way that it can have no substantive implications for the social and political order, and correspondingly, by becoming miseducated to not notice the tacit establishment of a quite partisan sense of the good, freedom, and selfhood, do the citizens of secular democracies think that they have a neutral social order that need not view religious pluralism as politically problematic. For those whose religious creed is not merely an emotional accoutrement, this situation is obviously deeply troublesome, for the logic of secular liberalism, as Kozinski makes clear, would force the believer to treat his Faith commitments as merely therapeutic preferences of an autonomous self.

Muslims happen to fall within the group 'whose religious creed is not merely an emotional accoutrement....'. The same can be said for Orthodox Jews, and many Catholics.

There's a lot more meat in the essay. For example:

...Rawls' primary aim in this book is to articulate how, given the "fact of a reasonable pluralism," citizens with rival "comprehensive views" can equally affirm a unified democratic political order. Paradoxically, Rawls attempts to accomplish this by self-consciously not providing an account of the truth or goodness of his liberal conception of justice. Consequently, he invites each private citizen to affirm and justify it from within their own particular comprehensive view.

One might reasonably ask: what precisely is the "it" that such citizens are being asked to affirm, and where does the recognition of "it" come from? Rawls' answer is the purely political conception of justice implicitly embedded in the public political culture animating contemporary liberal democracies and giving us our sense of what is "free," "equal," and "fair." In other words, there simply is a customary way we democratic liberals politically order our lives that does not, and need not, have any intrinsic theoretical foundation or justification.

...which happens to be the long version of Justice Kennedy's 'create your own world' blather in Lawrence.

...What contemporary secular democracies actually have is an inconsistent and ultimately incommensurable mélange of fragmentary moral and political concepts derived from diverse and incompatible traditions (e.g., Biblical, Lockean, Puritan, Thomistic, Utilitarian, Marxist, Weberian, Feminist). What we do have in common is what MacIntyre calls a "common moral rhetoric," but this only serves to disguise our deep and interminable disagreements and confusions. If this is, in fact, the case, then Rawls cannot invoke the "public political culture" supposedly operative within modern democracies, as though there were actually such a thing providing us with a common understanding of liberal justice. What we really get from Rawls is not a formulation of our common political culture, but Rawls' own tendentious Ivy League brand of secular democratic socialism.

Yup. But it's the model we have, currently.

There are also some words about Maritain and McIntyre which are worth the time.

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