Religion and Politics

International Studies in Religion and Society

Religion and Politics
Cultural Perspectives

Edited by

Bernhard Giesen and Daniel ”uber


.. .







This book is printed on acid-free paper. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Religion and politics : cultural perspectives /edited by Bernhard Giesen and Daniel Suber. p. cm.—(International studies in religion and society, ISSN 1573-4293 ; v. 3) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 90-04-14463-3 (pbk. : alk. paper) 1. Religion and politics—Congresses. I. Giesen, Bernhard, 1948–. II. Suber, Daniel. III. Series. BL65.P7R43232 2005 201’.72—dc22 2005045742

ISSN 1573-4293 ISBN 90 04 14463 3 © Copyright 2005 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands. Koninklijke Brill NV incorporates the imprints Brill Academic Publishers, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers and VSP. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, translated, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission from the publisher. Authorization to photocopy items for internal or personal use is granted by Brill provided that the appropriate fees are paid directly to The Copyright Clearance Center, 222 Rosewood Drive, Suite 910, Danvers, MA 01923, USA. Fees are subject to change. printed in the netherlands

CONTENTS Acknowledgements ...................................................................... Politics and Religion: An Introduction .................................... Bernhard Giesen and Daniel ”uber

vii 1

POLITICS AND RELIGION: CONCEPTUAL PERSPECTIVES The Transformations of the Religious Dimension in the Constitution of Contemporary Modernities .......................... Shmuel N. Eisenstadt ‘Axial’ Breakthroughs and Semantic ‘Relocations’ in Ancient Egypt and Israel .................................................................... Jan Assmann Politics and Religion from an Anthropological Point of View: An Interview with Mary Douglas ........................ Daniel ”uber and Marco Kaiser Religion and Morality in Modern Europe Compared to the Religious Situation in the United States of America .................................................................................. Thomas Luckmann Tales of Transcendence: Imagining the Sacred in Politics .... Bernhard Giesen






RELIGIOUS ORIGINS OF MODERNITY Monotheism and Its Political Consequences ............................ 141 Jan Assmann



The Religious Origins of Modern Radical Movements .......... 161 Shmuel N. Eisenstadt Political Theology: Religion as Legitimizing Fiction in Antique and Early Modern Critique .................................... 193 Jan Assmann

ASPECTS OF MODERN SECULARIZATION Temporal Foreshortening and Acceleration: A Study on Secularization .................................................................... 207 Reinhart Koselleck Secularization: German Catholicism on the Eve of Modernity ................................................................................ 231 Rudolf Schlögl Religion, Philosophy and Social Science: The Rise of Modern Social Science from the Point of View of Conceptual History ................................................................ 249 Daniel ”uber Politics and Religion in European Nation-States: Institutional Varieties and Contemporary Transformations ...................................................................... 291 Matthias Koenig Index ............................................................................................ 317

Lord Ralf Dahrendorf has continuously been a source of inspiration and spiritual encouragement. We are also indebted to Dr. Alexander. Finally our thanks go out to all ‘fellows’ who have helped to create the unique social intellectual atmosphere which has turned the ‘Konstanzer Meisterklasse’ into such a stimulating event to look forward to each year. Over the years we received a continuous funding by the DFG research center ‘Norm & Symbol ’ chaired by Rudolf Schlögl and the ‘Zeit-Stiftung’.’ Our original idea was to provide an interdisciplinary forum where two generations of scholars. Eisenstadt). Bernhard Giesen and Daniel ”uber . but also the ‘masters’ who. Karl Otto Hondrich and Claus Offe. of course. Martin Sauter. Zygmunt Bauman. did not contribute to this book. 2004. They are Jeffrey C. James Ingram. and Sigmar Papendick for organizational assistance. We thus want to thank not only those participants who provided us with a written testimony of their scholarly force. could join in a mutually stimulating dialogue. graduate and post-graduate students on the one side and master figures of specific academic fields on the other. to Matthew W.’ the ‘Konstanzer Meisterklasse’ relied on the work and the support of colleagues and institutions that shall not be neglected. to Robin Celikates. Lord Ralf Dahrendorf. Miller who polished the language in all manuscripts (exept those by Shmuel N. Clifford Geertz. Ever since the first ‘edition.ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The present volume assembles the results of work that a number of colleagues and collaborators have committed over the last six years. Wiebke Ernst. and. It originated from a series of conferences organized at the university of Konstanz between 1999 and 2003 under the label ‘Konstanzer Meisterklasse. to Joed Elich for his patience in waiting for the finalized versions. solely for reasons of substantial consistency. and Angela Davies for linguistic assistance. Dec. Over the span of six years it gave us the chance to discuss some of the most thrilling questions of the humanities with probably the most outstanding and influential representatives within this domain.


Durkheim’s study on suicide as well as the venture to explain modern capitalist Western societies against particular historical-religious roots. Sombart and E.L. It not only provides a classificatory clue to cultural evolution and. S. 3 For a general overview see Krech and Tyrell (1995). Neuland. Sztompka (2000). 1 We are referring to a newly established concept of collective and cultural trauma. Olivier and Venter (2002). Luckmann. Shils.2 Few of them. Rather. for a century.3 Authors like E. knew that they were leaning on issues which had already been raised well before. Hunter (2004). had been removed from the center-stage of public attention came to the fore. (2004) and Giesen and Schneider (2004) and Giesen (2004). See for instance Caruth (1996). Troeltsch. 2 See among others Hoffmann and Schöller (2001). ‘religion’ is most often reduced to a side-category. 2003: 13).POLITICS AND RELIGION: AN INTRODUCTION Bernhard Giesen and Daniel ”uber The distinction between politics and religion has entered a core position in contemporary intellectual debates. Trauma1 and disorientation in the aftermath of September 11. are only the most prominent cases in point. and require not only practical action but also theoretical reassessment. Eisenstadt. P. 2001 have yielded a boost of quickly launched publications by self-appointed analysts. Berger. ‘religion’ has been among the most prominent subject matters of sociology since its establishment during the second half of nineteenth century. Gökay and Walker (2003). T. Brunn (2004). Sauermann (2002). Weber. Douglas. Issues that. Neil (1998). Exploring the position of religion in modern society is not a recent and unprecedented turn of scholarly interests. Alexander et al. For an overview see Minkenberg and Willems (2002: 6.N. Benoist (2002). however. to the evolutionary threshold that separates tradition and modernity. W. but it has become increasingly salient in the analysis of contemporary political crusades and violent conflicts: fundamentalism and its terrorist offshoots are commonly related to a breakdown of the boundary that is to separate politics from religion in modern societies. It should be mentioned that the career of ‘religion’ on the field of political science tells a distinct story. Even today. manifest in the works of M. M. in particular. .

as well as in the domain of culture and world views. religion and politics have been continually disconnected and decoupled on the level of institutions and social structure. but also in their evaluation of the cultural roots of modern Western society. 1986). In particular. Instead. 1970. 4 Shils (1975). Bellah have continued this classical heritage. as shall be sketched at least roughly. Luckmann (1967). Douglas (1966. sometimes considerably. yielded insights which differ. since the beginnings of modernity. 6 This line of reasoning can be traced back. It has even been suggested that science has replaced religion as the warrant of truth invoked by politicians.6 A casual look at the membership figures of Central European Protestantism and Catholicism seems to justify and support this position. at least. Proponents of the secularization thesis agree that. 1969).’ . Functional differentiation rejects politics’ claim to represent the totality of society. and ‘multiculturalism’ reigns as a semi-official public commitment in many Western societies. The new European constitution is to dispense with any reference to religion. Berger (1967. even in contemporary social science we can face a confrontation between defenders of the secularization paradigm on the one side and so-called de-secularization theorists on the other.4 Their research has. 1987). and focused on the significance of religion in contemporary Western societies. separate domains and different logics are assigned to politics and religion. to Comte’s ‘Law of the Three Stages. Luckmann’s reappraisal of the Weberian thesis about the secularization of the modern world is a thoroughly critical assessment of the classical position. 1970. confessional divides are no longer mirrored by political party lines. The two positions differ substantially. and their intermingling is regarded as a pathological deviation from the clinically pure pattern of modernity. not only in their portrayal of the current global political situation. Moreover. however. Eisenstadt (1968. as well as religions’ claim to comprehend the totality of the world.2 bernhard giesen and daniel “uber and R. they display opposite notions of ‘religion.’ An overview of their respective assessments can be helpful in delineating and fixing the contributions collected in this book. from Weber’s and Durkheim’s presumptions. Bellah (1967. 1975. Luckmann (1967). 5 Weber (1922: 536–573).5 Speaking in general terms.N. 1986). Attendance to religious service in churches has been dwindling almost everywhere in Europe. 1975.

Catholic Croats. the essays of this volume posit the persistence of a religious or transcendental core in modern societies. and Muslim Bosnians. Fukuyama (1992).’10 the world witnessed some of the most brutish war atrocities committed in Burundi and Rwanda by Hutu and Tutsi. in Israel by Jews and Muslims. in Northern Ireland by Protestants and Catholics. Proponents of that view occasionally lament this ‘renaissance of religion’12 as a passing relapse into a dark and bygone period that had been overcome by Enlightenment and science. which have gained adherents among most of the great religious civilizations. ethical relativism and commercialization in modern society as negative byproducts.11 Along the lines of classical sociological reasoning. modernity would eventually once again give birth to those traditional forms of religion that it set about to replace. put on an effective vehicle for liberalization and democratization. Against this resolutely modernist stance. as the cases of former Communist regimes had shown. for the anomie and disorientation that came along with modern individualism. this tendency towards a strict separation of religion and politics is challenged from manifold directions.politics and religion: an introduction 3 Today. however.’8 He held that notably Christianity. Huntington (1996). While not denying the profound transformations and translations that accompanied processes of modernization. however. in former Yugoslavia by Orthodox Serbs. The return of religious divide and ethnic hatred.9 Soon after the declared ‘end of history. by Weigel (1992). amongst others. Marty and Appleby (1991–1995). See for an elaborate account of that thesis Zeidan (2003). these movements are explained as the attempt to compensate for the decay of communal ties. most of the scholars contributing to this volume are skeptical with respect 7 8 9 10 11 12 For an overview see Gorski (2000). Critics of the secularization thesis can also point to the rise of new forms of fundamentalist movements. which insists on strictly assigning religion to pre-modern stages of evolution. and in Kashmir by Muslims and Hindus. shaded the vision of a coming “Golden era” of peace and prosperity. . in Sri Lanka by Buddhist Singhalese and Hindu Tamils.7 The desecularization thesis has spread since the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989 in the wake of Huntington’s proclamation of a forthcoming ‘clash of civilizations. Such a hope has been uttered. Thus.

questioned the pervasiveness of secularization by separating religious experience from its institutional forms: religious sentiments are constitutive for any human conception of the world. on the one hand.15 This civil religion is not only appealed to by politicians. these sentiments were taken up by novel. A third major argument against the decline of religion in modern society points at a different direction. Eisenstadt. Berger (1969).14 He coined the term ‘civil religion’ for the peculiar blending of religiously founded ethics and everyday virtues of American citizens. furthermore. Bellah (1967).4 bernhard giesen and daniel “uber to the neat separation between. An ‘invisible religion’ (Luckmann) had replaced the traditional ceremonial forms of religious practice. R. . Voegelin. S. Instead of a radical rupture and opposition. in contrast. They advocate a more refined and differentiated approach. secularized cultures. Berger and C. rationalized.N. on the other.’ Among others. Douglas and J. and. and therefore modern society. P. Taylor (2002). which confine religion to the private search for consolation in existential crisis. Bellah discovered a remarkable merging of religious and secular political principles in the US. which discloses the hidden religious core behind layers of secularization and tries to explore the manifold translations and amalgamations between what is commonly phrased as ‘religious’ and ‘anti-modern’ and what. Assmann have revealed the ‘elective affinities’ (M. but also referred to as the central values and practiced unquestionably by the American people. Scholars like T. Luckmann.13 Rather than disappearing with the dwindling practices in traditional churches.N. M. is termed ‘modern’ and ‘secular. Weber) between seemingly antimodernist movements and some ideas that are at the core of the Western project of political modernization. too. Instead of a strict separation between private religious commitment and public political commitment. It con- 13 14 15 Luckmann (1967). traditional religion which could claim to comprehend the world thoroughly.L. See Giesen and ”uber (2005) for a more detailed appraisal of Bellah’s thesis. authors like E. Taylor have. could not dispense with them. they discover hidden continuities and mutual references. privatized forms of religious experiences that stand beyond the confines of traditional institutional practices of churches.

for instance. ”uber). civil religion and the hidden religious core of modern politics converge in the claim that religion persists in modern society—although changing its dress. Skepticism towards the conventional master narratives prevails among most essays.politics and religion: an introduction 5 tained the ‘heart. . and Egyptology (Assmann). 17 Certainly the label Cultural Studies would neither be suitable to sum up the class of scholars presented here nor be approved by even the majority among them. Eisenstadt. it exclusively features authors who share a distinctive commitment to cultural analysis as a heuristic for historical explanation. comparative civilization (Eisenstadt). what claims to be anti-modern and anti-rational may be just the flipside of modernity. Although this volume brings together leading scholars from various methodological paradigms and academic fields. they do meet in a historical perspective. history of concepts and semantics (Koselleck). such as phenomenological sociology (Luckmann).16 Invisible religion. The big divide between 16 International varieties of civil religion are presented in Bellah and Hammond (1980). or transcendental visions and ideas for the shaping of contemporary social institutions. stable worldviews (Luckmann. Douglas). First. sacred scriptures (Assmann. Schlögl. cultural anthropology (Douglas). These three concepts sparked controversial debates that cannot be outlined here even in an incomplete and fragmented way. Rather. upon which the nation was built. Koenig). The German variety of civil religion has been explored by Vögele (1994). this perspective is well aware of the fundamental ambivalence of modernity: what presents itself as modern and secularized may be old religion in disguise. but also with regard to its analytical conception we have to admit a bewildering ‘non-contemporaneity of the contemporaneous. which is not confined to merely exploring the origins of contemporary society or pointing to their novelty.17 All of them focus on the significance of religious.’ The present volume contributes to the debate about the relationship between politics and religion with particular objectives. It would be a misleading simplification to assume a consensus or clearly delineated trend resulting from these debates. or as semantic and symbolic elements that vary their meaning depending on context and sequence (Koselleck.’ to use the metaphor Bellah adopted from Tocqueville. Such cultural presuppositions of institutions may be dealt with in various forms. philosophical. Not only with respect to the subject matter of religion and politics.

He doubts whether it would be possible even for contemporary liberal democracies to dispense with the primordial Jacobin elements at all. according to Eisenstadt. This has a bearing on the basic paradigms and metaphors of change: evolution and progress are replaced by translation and ambivalence. and possibly the most successful attempt in the history of mankind to implement on a macro-societal scale utopian visions with strong Gnostic components. be transformed through totalistic political action. The book is divided into three sections. The book starts with Shmuel N. In the Great Revolutions since the seventeenth century Eisenstadt detects “the most dramatic. in principle. the new fundamentalist movements appear as just another chapter of the old discourse on modernity. Hence.’ These tensions were generated by groups of heterodox intellectuals promoting a particular transcendental vision of an ideal society which they sought to install in the mundane realm. displayed a particular “Jacobin” ideology which assumed that society could. However. This was the right of the individual person to determine her own fate—be it political or private. Thus. The first presents basic conceptions of the relationship between politics and religion. and the neat divide between the logic of politics and the logic of religion is questioned. the common reference of the following essays results neither from a unified domain of research nor from a similar methodological commitment. Thus.6 bernhard giesen and daniel “uber tradition and modernity is challenged. the Great revolutions contained also a certain utopian element that was inconsistent with the Jacobin vision. even if they hardly present themselves in a programmatic mode. . but rather from what may be called an intellectual attitude towards the modern condition.” All these revolutionary movements. Eisenstadt concludes that the tension between these two elements and their corresponding views on politics and humanness has been the prime mover for the modern political dynamics in Western societies ever since. Most of them have achieved a classical status in this academic field and have stimulated research programs. the old Augustinian and also heterodox vision of ‘bringing the City of God to the City of man’ was turned upside down.’ Eisenstadt shows that even the contemporary discourse on modernity relied upon particular cultural tensions that date back to the emergence of the ‘Axial age civilizations. Eisenstadt’s outline of his famous thesis on the so-called ‘Axial Age civilizations.

politics and religion: an introduction 7 Jan Assmann continues the debate about the concept of ‘Axial Age. With a particular scorn for the popular concept of secularization (which he shares with M. become resituated from a more general outlook. however. (second) so-called . for Luckmann. Assmann shows in a compelling way that a “breakthrough into a kind of transcendence” already occurred in the aftermath of the decline of the Old Kingdom in Egypt since the last quarter of the third millennium BC.’ originally coined by Jaspers and A. Weber and elaborated by Eisenstadt to a major research program. Thus. The interview spans from the anthropological interpretation of the sacred scriptures to her conception of the impact of religion and transcendental visions on the forming of social institutions. Assmann concludes. he conceives of religion and morality as “constituent elements of human existence. Drawing on materials from Egyptology. Instead. This “semantic relocation” had responded to traumatic experiences in the political sphere. finds his conjecture of a link between political trauma and religious innovation confirmed. appeared only in Israel that had to cope with the traumatic breakdown of the Israeli Kingdom and the Temple.” Hence. the idea of ‘cultural bias’ and of various forms of ‘classification. Struggling with experts of theology not only on the conceptual but also on the substantive level. Douglas). As a cultural anthropologist she had turned to Biblical scholarship in the early 80s. He goes on to differentiate (first) archaic societies where religion was diffused throughout the various societal institutions. Corresponding questions are addressed in the interview conducted with Mary Douglas. classical concepts such as the ‘grid-group’ distinction. he argues for a chronological reassessment and a substantive reconsideration of the political implications of the concept. hence. The pure variety of monotheist theology. Thomas Luckmann outlines his phenomenological theory of transcendence and compares the relationship between religion and morality in contemporary Europe and the United States. assuming their disappearance through secularization is utterly misplaced. she eventually came up with highly stimulating and provoking arguments which had not even been considered yet by traditional scholars of the Old Testament. Assmann. he outlines the transformation of certain forms of religion and morality in relation to changing social structural and cultural conditions. The consequence was the emergence of personal forms of religiosity.’ which were at the heart of the discourse on the issue of politics and religion.

he compares new and traditional forms of religion in contemporary European and North-American societies and concludes: “America gives the impression of religious vitality.” Giesen purposefully does not claim that this transcendental core of politics amounts to religion in the strict sense of the term. The final essay in this section introduces a general perspective on the process of secularization. (third) those social arrangements where religion became confined to one specialized institution among others. construct “tales of transcendence.’ and finally the ‘void’ of meaning as experienced by the ‘victim. Europe of religious decline. Luckmann claims that privatized religion and morality is still a matter of social praxis.” The latter process. Giesen argues the positivism and immo- . according to Luckmann. but still holds that politics rests on a conception of the ‘sacred. unlike in Europe. the new forms of religion and morality intermingled with the established ones. Against the abiding enunciation of individualism. Thus.’ He outlines four archetypal figures in imagining this transcendental reference: ‘deviance’ as embodied in the figure of the ‘perpetrator.8 bernhard giesen and daniel “uber “hydraulic” societies of the Near East where transcendental visions legitimated the order of society in its totality. had not simply replaced the traditional forms of church religion. and finally (fourth) the modern era. which assumes that like other domains of social reality “all politics relies on a hidden transcendental reference. but redefined the general socialstructural and cultural context within which the churches were to coexist with other objectivations of religious experience.” He goes to show that the promotion of one particular tale of transcendence usually went along with devaluating or even demonizing other ones. which gave rise to “privatized social forms of religion” and which had been “erroneously interpreted as the spread of secularization.’ the ‘epiphany’ of meaning mediated by the figure of the ‘prophet. Based on this macro-sociological typology.” This difference is related to the particularly strict separation between church and state which had prevailed in the United States. In both regions. Bernhard Giesen advocates a “transcendentalist” perspective. from the very beginning of its constitution.’ the ‘sovereign constitution’ of order as imagined in the figure of the ‘hero.’ These figures of transcendence are related to distinct historical scenarios that. however. Likewise. by particular social carriers and their mode of discourse. the charismatic rule of the sovereign prince was demonized by the principled rule of the impersonal law which did not allow for exceptions and personal privilege.

the Mosaic distinction separates between ‘true. it gave rise to “a totally new form of religion” and bore a new type of violence that was directed against all those who.’ and ‘just’ religion on the one hand and the ‘false.’ ‘bad. Jan Assmann presents the “Mosaic distinction” as one of the most important cultural breakthroughs that went along with the advent of monotheism. Assmann concludes: “Monotheism requires a zealous attitude. for the first time it became legitimate and even mandatory to go to war for genuinely religious reasons. instead. in the light of that distinction. The second section of the book continues the theme of ancient roots of contemporary linkages between religion and politics. Both agree in interpreting the new fundamentalist form of religion as offspring of early modern movements. rather than hinting at the metaphoric character of biblical phrasings and ignoring their negative power. Eisenstadt is interested in analyzing the similarities and dissimilarities between the new religious programs . From a postmodern perspective the progress towards a ‘perfect society. Pointing to the persistence of the Mosaic distinction in modern Islam. appeared as enemies of God. he calls for a “resolute de-demonization of the other. Hence.politics and religion: an introduction 9 bility of legalist rule was. in its turn. that religious nationalethic components have reappeared vigorously in the centers of national and international politics. Assmann claims the merit of serious reflection when dealing with the implications of monotheism.’ as promoted by the collective epiphany of reason.’ and ‘unjust’ on the other. too. According to Assmann. the pursuit of total perfection is converted into its opposite: the void of suffering and death. Eisenstadt.” Anticipating potential objections. Again skepticism about the impact of secularization prevails.’ ‘good. Discontinuity and ruptures in the relationship between religion and politics are by no means denied but they are discovered more in ancient history than in the more recent process of secularization. Eisenstadt’s second contribution to the volume arrives at conclusions that come close to Assmann’s position. but. assumes that the impact of religion on contemporary collective identities and global politics had not been weakened in the course of modernization. put under pressure by the collective epiphany of reason as revealed by the public discourse of the Enlightenment.” Although arguing from a different perspective. Thus. Judaism and post-Christian secularism. is disclosed as producing victims. While the polytheism of the sacrificial cults allowed for the coexistence of different religions.

presumably authored either by Critias or Euripides. Finally. Eisenstadt reminds us that such ambitions were not novel phenomena. Nevertheless. who declared pagan religion to be illegitimate and biblical theology to be valid. they claim a modern restructuring of the public sphere and use new modes of symbolic representation. as an instrument at the service of the power-holders. with Schiller we meet with the modern tradition that dis- . they differ in what they conceive of as ‘truth’ and ‘legitimate’ religion. and they redefine citizenship in an inclusive way.e. the Egyptologist leaves the confines of his original academic field to trace back the classical conception of religion as ‘ideology. An opposite view was purported by Alexander Ross and William Warburton in the seventeenth and eighteenth century.10 bernhard giesen and daniel “uber and the Western project of modernization. represented for instance by Polybios. His investigation spans classical Greek and Roman ideas as well as early modern and contemporary variants of critique of religion. but were already prevalent during the heyday of the constitution of modern nation-states.” The section closes with another essay by Jan Assmann. In this contribution. He concludes that “all these movements do not signal a retreat from modernity but rather attempt to interpret it in new ways. It held that religion in toto was political fiction. Instead of declaring the ‘end of history’ or the decline of the modern era. Less radical positions. The most radical and at the same time most ancient attitude is assigned to the play Sisyphos. it would be unbecoming to ignore and disregard the genuinely innovative and groundbreaking elements in the contemporary religious movements: they strive for a mode of social integration that would be incompatible with the traditional concept of society. Although they all converge in a skeptical or decisively critical attitude towards political theology and political religion. presumed that a true and legitimate religion existed alongside of ‘false’ ‘popular’ religion. On the basis of a close reading of momentous sources of assorted descent. The Spinozistic tradition maintained ‘natural’ religion in opposition to ‘revealed’ religion as legitimate. Most of the fundamentalist movements strive for cultural autonomy and constructions of collective identity which go beyond the confines of the modern national and revolutionary state. Eisenstadt explores the similarities between the new religious movements and the Jacobin and Communist movements.’ i. he eventually derives at least five distinct positions concerning the political function of religion.

Assessing a vast amount of historical material. since modern times the historical process in general was held as a realm entirely devoid of any metaphysical force. In contrasting the Christian apocalyptic notion of ‘temporal foreshortening’ as a sign of the end of the world to the modern concept of ‘acceleration. Reinhart Koselleck’s ‘Study on secularization’ spotlights a dimension that has not been granted great attention so far: the basic temporal structures assumed in different historical periods. and Freud were the most prominent proponents of this conception. the modern concept of historical acceleration cannot be deduced from theological premises. Here. temporal foreshortening was not related to divine providence but produced by human action.politics and religion: an introduction 11 closes religion as a mere illusion. He compares the medieval theological conception of time on the one hand with the perception of modern times (‘Neuzeit’) on the other. focuses on institutional and social structural aspects of the process of secularization in Germany between the eighteenth and nineteenth century. A somewhat peculiar case is presented by Carl Schmitt. the essays of this section converge to underline the discontinuity and novelty that secularization brought about. the modern perception of acceleration was induced by technical and industrial innovations. in a modern context. Instead. He questions interpretations that underrate the impact of secularization by simply pointing to the changing function of religion in the transition from the ancien regime to modern civil society. deprived of all its former state-like qualities and reduced to the legal . Thus. Despite some semantic similarities. While the Catholic church had continued to be a sovereign state-like unit within the Holy Roman Empire. who applied the term “political religion” to a critique of politics. Bakunin.’ he raises the question whether the modern idea of temporal acceleration had to be interpreted as a secularization of Christian theological concepts. Koselleck finally rejects this conjecture. The final section deals with semantic. authored by the historian Rudolf Schlögl. Instead of revealing a hidden religious core beneath the surface of secularization. political theology is rendered into an exclusively polemical term. The second essay in this section. Symptomatically. intellectual and institutional aspects of secularization as it developed in Central Europe since the seventeenth century. which had left blatant imprints on everyday life. it was. Marx. after its decline.

deliberately and in opposition to the majority of philosophers. Simmel. transcendental ‘super-categories. Matthias Koenig examines the changes in the relation between politics and religion in contemporary Western societies on an institutional level by focusing on Britain.’ The latter was due to the lacking theory of historical knowledge which Dilthey and Rickert had failed previously to provide. He goes to remonstrate that the resurgence of religion on an individual as well as global-political level has to be explained from “the . and Mannheim.12 bernhard giesen and daniel “uber status of ‘one corporation among others. the Catholic church was gradually transformed into an efficient episcopal organization based on principles of bureaucratic organization.’ and ‘culture’ as promoted by various strands of neo-Kantianism. thus. science was turned into a secular and autonomous endeavor devoid of political and religious commitments. such as Hegel’s ‘Spirit.’ Finally. go beyond a depiction of religion as an autonomous social fact. Because individual piety on the one hand and church membership on the other were moving apart.’ Dilthey’s ‘life. Originally intertwined and conflated with theological ambitions.’ Against the contemporary history of science. ”uber marks the stepwise evolution of this genuinely modern concept of ‘science. Schlögl considers the integration of the church members into the traditional confessional forms to be the central problem of German Catholicism since the nineteenth century. and Germany. in the same way as their philosophical forerunners. Daniel ”uber examines the process of ‘scientization of knowledge’ from the late eighteenth century until the emergence of the social sciences. Applying a similar conceptual perspective as Koselleck. rejected any theoretical foundational system that would rest on nonempirical. Discussing several concepts of secularization prevalent in social science. Weber. new forms of observance and ministry gained genuine social salience and religious meaning. Thus the sociological classics. were striving for a theoretical solution of the ‘crisis of knowledge. France. ”uber discloses the philosophical impetus driving the epistemological writings of the founding-fathers of modern sociology. Thus secularization had changed the religious practices and attitudes in nineteenth century Germany. Focusing on quasi-theological notions. he argues for a conceptual perspective that would allow for a recognition of such institutional frame-works like the nation-state and.’ Additionally. He tells the story of the rise and decline of German Idealism and thus lays bare the theological-philosophical roots of modern human and social science.

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(1993 b). Mass. Sauermann. Sonderheft 33 der Politischen Vierteljahresschrift. Essays in macrosociology. (2003).. Remaking polities. ——. Wiesbaden: Westdeutscher Verlag. Neue Welt Kriegs Ordnung.W. New York: Oxford University Press. Gerrit Olivier and Daniel Johannes Venter (2002). Fundamentalisms and society. ——. Shils. The problem of religion in modern society. Leiden: Brill. ——. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. The fundamentalist challenge to the modern world. power and politics in the making of the modern Middle East. Michael and Ulrich Willems (2002). (1991 b). The resurgence of religion. (1995).14 bernhard giesen and daniel “uber Luckmann. Max (1922). David (2003). Fundamentalisms observed. 13–41. State. Roger (2004). Taylor. The glory and the power. . Ekkehard (2002). Center and periphery. Scott Appleby (1991 a). and R. The Resistance Church and the Collapse of Communism. Zeidan. Edward (1975). 11 September 2001. New York: Routledge. (1992). NY: Sharpe. The Final Revolution. and education. Bremen: Atlantik. Die Polarisierung nach dem 11. The Fundamentalism project. ——. Neil. Tübingen: Mohr. Weber. Thomas (1967). Martin E.). Cambridge. Boston: Beacon Press. E. Vögele. Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Religionssoziologie. Armonk. (1993 a). A comparative study of selected themes in Christian and Islamic fundamentalist discourses. The invisible religion. Tendenzen und Forschungsfragen am Beginn des 21. National Trauma and Collective Identity.” In: European Journal of Social Theory 3: 449–466. “Cultural Trauma: The Other Face of Social Change. Minkenberg. Charles (2002). Piotr (2000). William James revisited. Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlags-Haus. Weigel. “Neuere Entwicklungen im Verhältnis von Politik und Religion im Spiegel politikwissenschaftlicher Debatten. ——. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Politik und Religion.” In: Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte B 42–43: 6–14. Arthur (1998). Neuland. Reclaiming the sciences. New York: Macmillan. Pretoria: Protea Book House. Fundamentalisms and the state. George (1992). “Politik und Religion im Übergang.: Harvard University Press. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Michael and Ulrich Willems (eds. Sztompka. economies.” In: Minkenberg. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Fundamentalisms comprehended. ——. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Marty. Zivilreligion in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Wolfgang (1994). Owen. Varieties of religion today. Jahrhunderts. and militance. September 2001. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. the family. Strategic implications of the World Trade Centre attack.



among others. but rather a far-reaching reconstitution of the religious component in new modern settings which transcends the vision of the ‘classical’ cultural and political program of modernity and of the model of the modern nation-state. Eisenstadt I A far-reaching resurgence or reconstruction of religions is taking place in the contemporary world. thus greatly transforming the basic premises of the classical nation—and revolutionary state. especially fundamentalist and communal-national movements. In the first stages of the crystallization of the post WWII states and societies. in the rise of new religious. as well as far-reaching transformations of the major religious components in the constitution of contemporary collective identities and public arenas. The central focus of such reconstruction or reconstitution of the religious dimension is the transposition thereof from private or secondary public spheres into the various political and cultural arenas and in the central frameworks of collective identities of many societies. among many others. This resurgence is manifest. the growing differentiation and specialization of the religious sphere in the modern world. . second. in the crystallization of new diasporas with strong religious identities. the weakening or loss of the predominant place * The research on which this article is based has been helped by a grant from the Thyssen Foundation. this sphere having become just one institutional and semantic sphere.THE TRANSFORMATIONS OF THE RELIGIOUS DIMENSION IN THE CONSTITUTION OF CONTEMPORARY MODERNITIES* Shmuel N. first. it seemed as if several aspects of the religious development in modern societies which were usually stressed in the literature and which were often seen as heralding the continual secularization of modern societies—namely. This resurgence of religion does not entail a simple return of some traditional forms of religion.

first. and. these predictions have seemingly been on the whole borne out. Truly enough. Casanova (1994). eisenstadt of religion in the modern world view as compared to earlier periods. in fact the relation between the development of these different dimensions or components of religion has been very complex. Above all. thus often giving rise to new religious sensibilities. they have not given to the total disappearance of orientations to the transcendental realm. All these developments did not necessarily denote the disappearance of strong transcendental orientations from the cultural and political panorama. Asad (2003). . third.1 indeed to continual secularization. what has happened was the development of a multiplicity of orientations to the transcendental realm. Rather. yet connected with the development of. focusing in different ways on different arenas. or the more static utopian visions which promulgated a flight from various constraints of modern society. or rather a paradoxical combination of growing privatization of religion through weakening of the hitherto dominant religious organizations and institutions. Hadden and Shupe (1989). and. isolated communities or utopian components. the growing de-ritualization both of central public as well as of private life—became predominant. There took place a very important shift in the focus of the transcendental and utopian ori1 See Luckmann (1963). as distinct from other arenas of social life. All these developments did not give rise to most. Yet. more intensive private religious orientations and sensibilities. Closely related to these processes has been the transformation of the utopian dimensions or orientations that were predominant in modern societies—whether the totalistic Jacobin utopian orientations that were characteristic of many of the revolutionary movements. as well as in the multiple attempts at finding new definitions of different dimensions of ontological reality. of the results predicted or feared in the literature on “disenchantment” (Entzauberung) (Weber). Fubini (2003). There developed a rather paradoxical situation. Berger (1967). Such sensibilities have become most visible in the various new role enclaves.18 shmuel n. in terms of some of the basic structural trends to growing differentiation and specialization of religious organizations and activities. presenting an unattainable model of the good society—a model which could be tried out in small. with a growing permeation of religion in the public spheres of their respective societies. second. or at least to many.

between such visions. Thus. a growing multiplication and privatization of religious or transcendent visions and the enhancement of possibilities of choice.the transformations of the religious dimension 19 entations predominant in these societies from the construction of modern centers to more heterogeneous or dispersed arenas. first. one of the most important developments in the constitution of the political arenas and collective identities on the contemporary scene—attendant on the weakening of transformation of the nation and revolutionary scene—has been the ‘resurgence’ of the religious. These changes in the religious arena were closely connected with far-reaching internal developments within all the major religions in their relations to the political formations and arenas and the constitution of collectivities and collective identity. Religion has indeed acquired a prominent. often various multicultural and postmodern directions. their move. In fact. as well as national-ethnic components. of growing differentiation between different institutional spaces as bearers of such visions. However. . finally. into these areas. they were closely connected with the second major trend of development of the relations between religion and the broader social setting— namely with the reentering. at the same time changing greatly the relations between the local and the global as well as the relations between overall. into the centers of national and international political activity and in the constitution of collective identities. by individuals and groups. Indeed. in some cases even central role on the contemporary national and international scene. and. as it were. as it were. of religion. with utopian orientations becoming focused on a search for some creativity or authenticity within multiple dispersed institutional settings.2 In all the major religions there developed attempts to reformulate the relations between 2 See Eisenstadt and Giesen (1995). and very forcibly. a general tendency to the disestablishment of religious institutions and organizations. multicultural orientations. these developments did not necessarily give rise to the disappearance of religion from the public arenas of their respective societies and in the constitution of collective identities. there developed. grand narratives and more localized— whether in spatial or temporal terms—of such visions. connected with a growing trend to much more diversified. and in growing tendencies to new reflexivity within the religious groups.

Tessa and De Silva (1998). Brouwer. Burns (1996). among many Protestant groups in the U. Concomitantly. there developed in many societies new social sectors—especially new types of diasporas and minorities—which crystallized in the contemporary world in the identity of which the religious component was of great importance. are to be found among the Chinese and possibly Eisenstadt (1999). See Munson (1998). Although these movements developed above all in the non-Western societies—especially the fundamentalist ones in different Muslim societies—and the communal religious ones—in the Hinduist and Buddhist ones. 4 3 .S. or. the resurgence of trans-state religious organizations and a far-reaching shift in the modes of confrontation of the religious groups and their tendencies with the different political and secular institutions. II All these developments were most fully manifest in the growing power of fundamentalist movements and regimes throughout the Muslim world. Gifford and Rose (1996). the institutional-organizational ones. 1994. there developed within the major religions growing emphasis on their inherent internal authentic universalisms as being independent of. eisenstadt different dimension of religion—the transcendental. they became also visible in Europe and especially in the U. to be more precise.4 Concomitantly. yet with significant differences. Hansen (1999). 1995). Marty and Appleby (1991. Parallel developments..S. Caplan (1995). where indeed the first modern fundamentalist—Protestant—movements developed already towards the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century.S.3 and promulgated strong anti-modern.20 shmuel n. or distinct from—even if interwoven with—the universal orientations of programs of modernity as embodied in the nation or revolutionary state. 1993. of communal religious movements in India and in some Buddhist societies. the structure of authority and that of the individual religious sensibilities and orientations. The best known among such diasporas are the Muslim one or ones—especially in Europe and to some extent in the U. the cosmological. On modern protestant fundamentalism see Appleby (1997). anti-Enlightenment ones—and some of them also strong anti-Western themes.

and also in Europe. even in the period of the presumed hegemony of this model. Bien and Grew (1978). 1978). Craig (1955). Thomson (1943. In other societies such as Imperial Germany.’ religious. Stein (1975). there existed. even if often in subdued and subterranean ways. regional. Thomas (1978). linguistic identities and cultural space did not disappear—and they were naturally stronger in those societies like for instance England6 where multi-faceted patterns of collective identity prevailed. or in societies like France7 or the Scandinavian countries8 with their strong secular homogenizing premises. and transnationalcultural spaces and conceptions of collective identity—in general in the directions of postmodernity and multiculturalism far beyond the premise of the modern nation. The new types of minorities that we refer to are best illustrated by the Russian ones in some of the former Soviet Republics—especially in the Baltics and in some of the Asian ones. a much greater variety and heterogeneity of collective identities than was presumed in the homogenizing models of the nationstate.or revolutionary state—such as the educational system. especially the Catholic and to a smaller extent the Jewish ones—were in a way marginalized from the central public domain or arena. Dovring (1978). as well as among Jewish communities especially in Europe.the transformations of the religious dimension 21 Korean ones in East Asia. But however strong these variegated patterns were. Regional.and revolutionary states most of these identities—with the partial exception of the religious.5 These movements and sectors promulgated demands for growing cultural autonomy for the newly emerging local. Graubard (1986). King (2002). . the army and the different 5 6 7 8 9 Malia (1994). during the heydays of the constitution of nation. the U. Hamerow (1958. Kurtz and Barnes (2002). Gillis (1971. They did not constitute major components of the central cultural and political program as promulgated by the central socializing agencies of the nation. Closely related was the continual reconstruction of seemingly romantic or esoteric or mystic modes of cultural experience. 1969). Müller (1995).S. ‘cultural. 1951). and for instance such as the Hungarian ones in the former East European Communist states.9 they could become foci of political contestation.and revolutionary state. They were relegated to the private domain and at most accepted semipublicly in a very limited way. Truly enough.

as compared to classical models of assimilation. and of the various entitlements attendant on the acquisition of citizenship. Similarly. eisenstadt mass-media (newspapers and popular books) and of radio and television later on. For the most part. as illustrated among 10 Elias (1978–1982). Contrary to many implicit liberal assumptions. These demands entailed far-reaching changes in the constitution of collective identities and of political arenas and activities. . in the constitution of the civil society in relation to the state as culturally distinct groups. Citizenship usually entailed the participation in a distinct community or nation and the acceptance of. the ideal ‘civilized person. in this period the ideological cultural and institutional relations between various immigrant communities with their mother countries were to a very large extent mediated by the images of the new nation-state and by its model of citizenship presumably based on universalistic homogeneous criteria.and revolutionary state. some of its ways of life and collective identities.’ or as in the Romantic versions which shared the developments of the distinct cultural features of different collectivities. citizenship was never culture-blind or culturally neutral.10 and of the visions of modernity connected with it. part of their struggle is to become so domiciled. It is not that the new social movements or sectors do not want to be ‘domiciled’ in their respective countries. but on rather new. especially of ‘progress of reason.’ as the bearers of the civilizing processes and with the master historical and ontological narratives of modernity. they did not constitute the central pivot of the defining of formal membership in the nation-state— namely of citizenship. as well as with the ideal human type. But such ways of life and identities were usually defined in terms of the homogenizing premises of the nation or revolutionary state and of the ‘civilizing’ process or program of modernity. at least. and not to be confined only to the private sphere. The common denominator of many of these new movements and settings is that they do not see themselves as bound by the strong homogenizing cultural premises of the classical model of the nationand revolutionary state. But the demands of the new movements and settings went far beyond these ‘original’ premises of the nation. terms. especially by the places allotted to them in the public spheres of such states.22 shmuel n. Indeed. They aim to be recognized in the domestic public spheres. Moreover they do also make claims.

the transformations of the religious dimension 23 others in the recent debate about laïcité in France. Very often they are making also far-reaching claims with respect to the redefinition of citizenship and of rights and entitlements connected with it.and revolutionary states. for the reconstruction. often combined in universalistic themes. as well as among many of the new diasporas or new minorities. local. Rüschemeyer and Skocpol (1985). were often brought together in new ways. Thus.e. Soysal (1994). all of which went indeed far beyond the classical models of the nation. i. in public communications and media. while many of these new collective identities have emphasized local or particularistic themes against the homogenizing universalistic premises of the nation. even different branches of Christianity—reconstructed in modern ways. at the same time many of them also promulgated broader. the new social movements have also become active on the arena of world politics. as well as for instance the ecological movements. for the construction of new public spaces and for the reconstruction of the symbols of collective identity promulgated in their respective states.12 In this trans-national capacity. Tilly (1992). trans-national or trans-state. both. develop direct connections with trans-national frameworks Evans. identities—often couched in universalistic terms and going beyond those of the nation-state. Many of the separatist.and revolutionary state. of new public spaces as well as the reconstruction of the symbols of collective identity of their respective societies. such as new European ones. or regional settings. Buddhism. or those rooted in the great religions—Islam. contesting the hegemony of the older homogenizing programs of modernity or claiming their own autonomous places in the central symbolic and institutional spaces of their respective societies—be it in educational programs. trans-national or trans-state orientations.11 These developments posit far-reaching claims to the redefinition of citizenship and the rights and entitlements connected with it. In many of these movements. They entailed the transposition of most such hitherto subdued identities—albeit naturally in a highly reconstructed way—into the centers of their respective societies and into the international arenas. Piscatori (1987). They gave rise to strong tendencies to the redefinition of boundaries of collectivities and of new ways of combining local and global. 12 Eickelman (1993). 11 . the local and the trans-national orientations. Giddens (1987). Male“eviÆ and Haugaard (2002).

13 Wagner (2001). especially fundamentalist movements—Muslim. fourth. as well as into international arenas. eisenstadt and organizations such as the European Union. first. often in situations in which the perception of such weakening became relatively strong among active elites in the non-Western countries—as for instance after the October War and the oil shortage in the West. Protestant.—shifts which became continually connected with growing contestations between such centers around their presumed hegemonic standing.24 shmuel n. The most important characteristic of this new context was the combination of.S.’ Concomitantly. the various religious. the undermining of some of the ‘older’ Western hegemonies and of the modernizing regimes in different non-Western societies. Concomitantly. Ben-Refael and Sternberg (2002). of the growing demands of various social sectors for access into the centers of their respective societies. there took place continuous shifts in the relative hegemony of different centers of modernity—in Europe and the U. decline or transformation of the ideological and institutional premises of the modern nation—and revolutionary states with their strong impact on the place of the religious dimension in the constitution of these premises. first. Jewish—rose to prominence on the international scene through the utilization of intensive social networks of an intra-religious or inter-religious character. the development of new processes of globalization. A crucial event on the international scene was the demise of the Soviet Union and of the salience of the ideological confrontation between Communism and the West— a demise which was sometimes perhaps paradoxically interpreted as an exhaustion of the Western cultural program of modernity and as signaling the end of ‘history.S. developed in a specific historical context. moving to East Asia and back to the U. The most important aspect of the new international scene that developed in this period was..13 and. second. processes of internal ideological changes in Western societies. . third. changes in the international systems and shifts of hegemonies within them. III These far-reaching changes. far-reaching processes of democratization.

and of the concomitant continual decomposition of the relatively compact image of the ‘civilized man. Cognitive rationality—especially as epitomized in the extreme forms of scientism—has become dethroned from its relatively hegemonic position. On the cultural level these developments entailed. 1989). and the erosion of many middle-class sectors. of processes of intense social and economic dislocations of many social sectors. and to the societal centers in particular. . and tend to crystallize into continuously changing clusters with relatively weak orientations to such broad frameworks in general. as has been the idea of the conquest of mastery of the environment—whether of society or of nature. such as prostitution. which were connected with the first programs of modernity. family. and party-political frameworks. and hence also of the boundaries of family. or of spatial and social organization.the transformations of the religious dimension 25 Second. Occupational. 1981. of growing gaps between different sectors of the population. relatively rigid. there developed in this period multiple new processes of economic and cultural globalization. these developments were closely related to the development of what has been called “postmodern” or “post-materialist” orientations.14 These developments entailed changes both on the structural-institutional and on the cultural levels. Schluchter (1979. community. and of the concomitant development on an international scale of social problems. traffic in drugs and the like. first. homogenous definition of life patterns.15 Third. In the cultural arena the processes of globalization were closely connected with the expansion especially through the major media of what were often conceived in many 14 15 Hannerz (1992). a growing tendency to distinguish between Zweckrationalität and Wertrationalität. so aptly analyzed by Hannerz. of construction of life-worlds. giving rise to a much greater pluralization and heterogenization of such images and representations. gender. On the institutional level there developed a weakening of the former.’ of the styles of life. class. and to the recognition of a great multiplicity of different Wertrationalitäten. and of new patterns of differentiation and syncretization between different cultural traditions. and residential roles have become more and more dissociated from Stand. between global and local cities. delinquency. manifest in growing autonomy of world capitalist forces. Honneth (1992). of intense movements of international migrations.

Fourth. yet contrary to several interpretations. especially indeed of the fundamentalist as well as the communal-religious clearly indicate that. as is well known. these developments do not signal the ‘end of history’.16 Truly enough.26 shmuel n. and attempt to appropriate modernity on their own terms. the end of the modern program or a retreat from it—seemingly epitomized above all in the fundamentalist and the communal religious movements. these movements shared a preoccupation with modernity as their major reference frameworks. to growing democratization. even if they entail farreaching transformation of the visions of modernity and of their institutional repercussions. as Göle has shown. above all NorthAmerican. A closer examination of these movements. IV These processes and movements do indeed attest to a far-reaching shift from viewing the political centers and the nation-state as the basic arenas in which the charismatic dimension of the ontological and social visions of modernity are implemented. Göle (1996). yet they paradoxically share many Jacobin revolutionary components—sometimes in a sort of mirror image way—with the 16 17 Fukuyama (1992). Indeed. eisenstadt parts of the world as uniform hegemonic Western. significantly enough. A closer look at the fundamentalist movements indicates that they evince distinct modern Jacobin characteristics—albeit combined with very strong anti-Western and anti-Enlightenment ideologies—and that they promulgate distinct visions of modernity formulated in the terms of the discourse of modernity. all these developments were at the same time connected throughout the world with growing demands of many social sectors to greater access to participation in the central frameworks of their societies—i. these movements have been portrayed—and in many ways have also often presented themselves— as constituting indeed such a retreat.17 While extreme fundamentalist movements promulgate highly elaborate seemingly anti-modern—or rather anti-Enlightenment themes. present a much more complex picture. in fact most of these movements and visions are distinctively modern. cultural programs or visions. .e.

their universalistic messages and at the same time continually confronting them with other competing visions. Both. Hannerz (1992). Moreover. . in principle transcending any primordial. which facilitated the expansion of the social and cultural visions promulgated by them.19 All these movements shared the concern about the relations between their identities and the universalistic themes promulgated by the respective hegemonic programs of modernity. except that they do indeed promulgate very strongly the religious component in the construction of their national collective identity. Boli and Thomas (1999). one can identify some very significant parallels between these various religious. the Communist and the fundamentalist movements—mostly. including the fundamentalist movements with their seemingly extreme opposites. They share with the Communist movements the attempts to establish a new social order. national or ethnic units and new socio-political collectivities. (1996). yet they are in ideological and in some institutional dimension very similar to the earlier fascist one. do not exhibit such extreme Jacobin characteristics. while the contemporary communal-religious movements. Friedman (1994). trans-national ones—activated by very intensive networks. rooted in the revolutionary universalistic ideological tenets. Within all these movements there develop different combinations of diverse cultural themes and patterns. such as those which developed in Indian and in some South and South-East Asiatic societies. the carriers of the most extreme alternative model. In all these manners these movements and their programs constitute part and parcel of the modern political agenda. On the contemporary scene this concern about the relation between such ‘authentic’ identities is oriented—significantly enough even in Europe—against the presumed American cultural and political ideological hegemony. but not only the Muslim ones—have been international. the different postmodern ones with which they often engage in contestations about hegemony among different sectors of the society.18 Similarly.the transformations of the religious dimension 27 Communist ones. This theme of the danger attendant on the expansion of modern cultural and political program to the respective traditions of different 18 19 Eickelman and Anderson (2003). and they continually compete about who presents the proper ‘answer’ for the predicament of cultural globalization and ambivalences to the processes thereof.

especially those between the pluralistic and totalistic orientations. in the modern political program. Chinese. eisenstadt societies and groups is not new in modern history and in the discourse of modernity. are placed. between multifaceted as against closed collective identities. and Buddhist societies. yet indeed in a markedly . to appropriate it in their own terms. especially whether they develop in an open pluralistic way as well as the opposite. Indian. above all. and they became even more intensified with the expansion of European. Such attempts to appropriate and interpret modernity in their own terms have not been confined to the fundamentalist or communal-national movements. in most of these new religious and postmodern movements this fear of erosion of local cultures and of the impact of globalization and its centers was also continuously connected with an ambivalence towards these centers giving rise to a continuous oscillation between this cosmopolitanism and various ‘particularistic’ tendencies. between utopian or more open and pragmatic attitudes. with growing inter-ethnic or inter-religious conflicts. with the expansion of European modernity to the Americas. This problematique did develop already within the very onset of the Western program of modernity with different centers and becoming the foci and targets of such with different countries and centers being seen in different periods as constituting the bearers of the hegemonic tendencies. The mode in which these tensions work out. In all these movements and situations the basic tensions inherent in the constitution of modern regimes. albeit in a different vein. It constituted a basic component in this discourse as it developed with the crystallization and expansion of modernity from its very beginning.28 shmuel n. the Western modernity beyond the West—into Asian—Muslim. in Muslim. These confrontations continued as central foci of the discourse of modernity. depends greatly on the extent to which the aggressive and destructive potentialities inherent in these movements will become predominant or tamed and transformed. seemingly continuing. the major dangers to the cultural authenticity of other societies. Thus indeed all these movements do not signal a retreat from modernity but rather attempts to interpret it in new ways and. At the same time. They constitute a part of a set of much wider developments which have been taking place throughout the world. Hinduist and Buddhist societies and into the many societies in Africa. highly aggressive and totalitarian directions.

even radical. but they have reconstituted the problem of modernity in these new historical contexts.the transformations of the religious dimension 29 transformed way. entail an important. They all are deeply reflexive. lies in their perception of the confrontation between the basic premises of the cultural and political 20 Rudolph-Hoeber and Piscatori (1997). and the continual ambivalence to new centers of modernity toward the major centers of cultural hegemony attest to the fact that. and such dilemmas constitute a central component in their discourses. Thus. these new movements have not gone beyond the basic dilemmas of modernity. between multifaceted as against closed identities. shift in the discourse about the confrontation with modernity and in the conceptualization of the relation between the Western and non-Western civilizations. incontestable answers to modernity’s irreducible dilemmas. These movements as well as all the broader changes in the religious arena analyzed above. the contestations between different earlier reformist and traditional religious movements that developed throughout nonWestern societies. . reconstruction of the cultural program of modernity.20 V The continuing salience of the tensions between pluralist and universalistic programs. while going beyond the model of the nation-state. it does not of course mean that they do not evince some distinct characteristics which distinguish them from the earlier modern ones such as for instance the Communist or fascist ones. But even if the contemporary fundamentalist and communal-religious-national movements are indeed modern. The crucial difference between these contemporary movements from the communist and fascist ones with respect to the central component of the modern discourse. in new ways. of attempts by various groups and movements to re-appropriate modernity and redefine the discourse of modernity in their own new terms. aware that no answer to the tensions inherent in modernity is ultimate—even if each in its own way seeks to provide final. of the construction of multiple modernities and of multiple interpretations of modernity. all these developments and trends constitute aspects of the continual reinterpretation. religions or societies.

the contemporary fundamentalist and most communal religious movements promulgate a seeming negation of at least some premises. who were drawn to different socialist themes and movements became very active in the fundamentalist and also in some of the communal movements of the eighties and nineties. or at least a highly ambivalent attitude to them combined with the continual reinterpretation thereof that was characteristic of the earlier—such as the various socialist. the contemporary fundamentalist and religious communal movements promulgate a radically negative attitude to some of the central Enlightenment—and even Romantic—components of the cultural and political program of modernity—especially to the emphasis on the autonomy and sovereignty of reason and of the individual. if not in practice. as newly interpreted by them. Significantly enough. while minimizing in principle.’ ‘Slavophile’-like ones—but reinterpreted them in radical political modern communalnational ways.21 The communalnational movements built on the earlier ‘nativistic. and a basically confrontational attitude not only to Western hegemony but to the West as such. Jalal (1995). grounded their denial of the premises of the Enlightenment or their opposition to it in the universalistic premises of their respective religions or civilizations. In contrast to communist and socialist movements. to what was defined by them as Western civilization usually conceived by them in a totalistic and essentialist ways. As against the seeming acceptance and of the premises of this program.30 shmuel n. The fundamentalist ones promulgate a totalistic ideological denial of these ‘Enlightenment’ premises. In this context. These fundamentalist movements. eisenstadt program of modernity as it crystallized in the West and the nonWestern European civilization—with very far-reaching implications for the internal and international political arenas. Themes of social justice were usually promulgated in terms of their own traditions—often portrayed as inherently superior to the materialistic socialist ‘Western’ ones. including the Muslim or African socialists. communist and national movements and regimes which developed throughout the world. . as well as a markedly confrontational attitude to the West. in all these movements socialist or communist themes or symbols were no longer strongly emphasized. 21 Khosrokhavar (1996). especially in various Arab countries. it is very interesting to note that the activists. the particularistic components of the communal-national ones.

between multifaceted as against closed identities. In this broad context that European or Western modernity or modernities are seen not as the only real modernity but as one of multiple modernities—even if of course it has played a special role not only in the origins of modernity but also in the continual expansion and reinterpretation of modernities. above all. or of multiple interpretations of modernity and. Indian and Buddhist societies. yet indeed in a markedly transformed way. the West from monopoly of modernity.22 22 Eisenstadt (1978. 1992). as it were. 1983.the transformations of the religious dimension 31 Within these movements. In these movements the basic tensions inherent in the modern program. 1982. . but rather of attempting to appropriate the new international global scene and modernity for themselves. in Muslim. the contestations between different earlier reformist and traditional religious movements that developed throughout non-Western societies. VI All these developments do indeed attest to continual development of multiple modernities. Such attempts to appropriate and interpret modernity in their own terms have not been confined to the fundamentalist movements or communal national ones. between utopian or more open and pragmatic attitudes. the confrontation with the West does not take with them the form of searching to become incorporated into the new hegemonic civilization on its own terms. are played out more in terms of their own religious traditions grounded in their respective Axial religions than in those of European Enlightenment—although they are greatly influenced by the latter and especially by the participatory traditions of the Great Revolutions. for their traditions or ‘civilizations’—as they were continually promulgated and reconstructed under the impact of their continual encounter with the West. to the de-Westernization of the decoupling of modernity from its ‘Western’ pattern. seemingly continuing. 1980. of depriving. They constitute a part of a set of much wider developments which have been taking place throughout the world. especially those between the pluralistic and totalistic tendencies.

indeed the confrontations between modernity and the West. but these very terms—indeed the very term ‘civilization’ as constructed in such a discourse—are already couched in modernity’s new language. and they may entail a continual transformation of these identities and of the cultural programs of modernity. through the various media. and at the same time brings them into the central political arena. through numerous networks. often anti-Western. They deny the monopoly or hegemony of Western modernity and the acceptance of the Western modern cultural program as the epitome of modernity.32 shmuel n. eisenstadt VII Thus indeed these new interpretations of modernity that developed on the contemporary scene especially in conjunction with the new religious movements contain some very important new components which are indeed of crucial importance especially in their interpretations of the relations. especially from that of the nation-state to new areas in which these different movements and different societies continually interact with each other and cut across each other. All these movements aim for a worldwide reach and diffusion. continually reconstructing their collective identities in reference to the new global context. formulating their programs in highly political and ideological terms. is in these movements closely related to their attempts to appropriate modernity and the global system on their own non-Western.23 They are highly politicized. . These movements—including significantly many of the postmodern ones which developed in the West—attempted to dissociate completely Westernization from modernity. Indeed the very pluralization of life spaces in the global framework endows them with highly ideological absolutizing orientations. in totalistic. essentialist. to what is conceived as Western. The debates and confrontations in which they engage and confront each other may indeed be formulated in ‘civilizational’ terms. This highly confrontational attitude to the West. At the same time they entail a shift of the major arenas of contestations and of crystallization of multiple modernities from the arenas. 23 See Eickelman and Anderson (2003). modern terms. and absolutizing terms.

All these developments attested to the growing diversification of the visions and understanding of modernity. which cut across any single society or civilization among which there takes place continual flow and interaction. manifest in growing inter-religious or inter-ethnic conflicts. do not entail either the ‘end of history’ in the sense of end of ideological confrontational clashes between different cultural programs of modernity—or that of ‘clash of civilizations’ which seemingly deny the basic premises of modernity. in which they are constituting continual mutual reference points. Rather these different experiences influence the ways in which continually interacting modernities. crystallize in continually changing ways. Thus. yet at the same time it was closely connected—perhaps paradoxically—with the development of new multiple common reference points and networks—with a globalization of cultural networks and channels of communication far beyond what existed before. more recent developments gave rise to a multiplicity of cultural and social formations which go far beyond the very homogenizing and hegemonizing aspects of this original version. among them the resurgence of the religious component in the construction of national and international collective identities. The fundamentalist—and the new communal-national—movements constitute one of such new developments in the unfolding of the potentialities and antinomies of modernity. . All these movements may develop in contradictory directions—into the more open pluralistic way as well as the opposite hostile directions. The importance of the historical experiences of various civilizational ‘traditions’ and historical experience in shaping the concrete contours of different modern societies does not mean that these processes give rise on the contemporary scene to several closed civilizations. all the processes analyzed above which have been taking place in the contemporary scene. While such diversity has certainly undermined the old hegemonies. which constitute continuations of their respective historical pasts and patterns. of the basic cultural agendas of different sectors of modern societies—far beyond the homogenic and hegemonic vision of modernity that were prevalent in the fifties.the transformations of the religious dimension VIII 33 While the common starting point of many of these developments was indeed the cultural program of modernity as it developed in the West.

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Zoroaster. who postulated that a “grande revolution du genre humain” took place around 500 BCE. whose Kultursoziologie appeared in 1935. a scholar of Zoroastrianism. whose monumental Order and History in 1956 reformulated the theory. the philosopher Karl Jaspers. the term ‘Axial Age’ was only taken up and elaborated again after a more than 150 year period of latency by three thinkers: the sociologist Alfred Weber. Buddha. Voegelin’s term for the pre-Axial world was “cosmological.1 However. from ‘compactness’ to ‘differentiation. but it was only Voegelin who gave a comparably clear description of the ‘pre-Axial’ world. a mere ‘notyet’. I address the question whether and in what sense the ‘Axial Age’ led to a reformulation of the relation between politics and religion. the prophets in Israel and the early philosophers in Greece who founded new religions and philosophical systems. a positive alternative to monotheism and philosophy. whose Vom Ursprung und Ziel der Geschichte followed in 1949. .” Voegelin describes the decisive Axial transformation as a breakthrough (or ‘leap in being’) from the ‘cosmological myth. when in East and West great individuals arose such as Confucius and Laotse.’ leading to ‘history’ and monotheism in Israel. Of these three. assumed a positive coloring in Voegelin’s description as a world of its own right. the world which Israel and Greece left behind. and the political philosopher Eric Voegelin. The Axial Age theory was first formulated as early as the late eighteenth century by Anquetil DuPerron.’ Israel and Greece were able to recognize differences and draw distinctions where the oriental societies used ‘compact’ concepts blurring 1 Metzler (1991). What in Weber’s and Jaspers’ reconstruction was nothing more than a pale counter-image of Europe. Jaspers coined the term “Axial Age” and made the theory famous. and to philosophy and metaphysics in Greece. He described this breakthrough as a process of conceptual transformation.‘AXIAL’ BREAKTHROUGHS AND SEMANTIC ‘RELOCATIONS’ IN ANCIENT EGYPT AND ISRAEL Jan Assmann In the following contribution.

40 jan assmann these differences in a systematic way. and these forerunners may be explained historically by breakdowns and disappointments in the political sphere—historical experiences of a rather traumatic character.2 I think that the specific Axial transformation. there would neither be any trial. However. This finding must affect the chronological implications of the Axial Age concept. The Egyptian evidence confirms this viewpoint. The Judgment of the Dead The first of these traumatic experiences concerns the breakdown of the Old Kingdom (2800–2150 BCE). What Voegelin. which gave rise of the idea of a general judgment of the dead. and what only Egyptology is able to bring to light. but also with dead and divine accusers. This must therefore be reconstructed and interpreted in terms of political theology. But it was not yet considered to be the necessary and inevitable threshold or passage between life and afterlife. This form of postmortem litigation was considered one of the many dangers belonging to the liminal state between ‘this world’ and the next.3 In the Old Kingdom. failed to see. however. which the Bible represents as the children of Israel ’s exodus from Egypt and entering into a new religious and political order. A dead person had to be prepared for any possible accusation. in fact concerns the fundamental distinction between religion and politics. at the beginning of the second millennium BC. trauma and innovation? I Antecedents in Ancient Egypt 1. The idea that all who died had to pass an examination prior to entering the other world developed only after the fall of the Old Kingdom. Is there a relation between breakdown and breakthrough. judgment after death was modeled on a terrestrial court: it was only in session if there was a litigant. See Griffiths (1991). This examination took the form of a tribunal. to which all had to present 2 3 See Assmann (2000). especially with regard to the distinction between the political and the religious sphere. . is that this ‘Axial’ breakthrough had forerunners or foreshadowings in Egyptian history. the more so as he/she had to reckon not only with human. if there was no accuser.

rather. The breakdown of the Old Kingdom in the last quarter of the third millennium. might be interpreted as a breakthrough into a kind of transcendence. See Assmann (1990: ch. However. on the memory of future generations and their willingness to read the inscriptions and to recall the personality of the deceased. I prefer to speak not of ‘breakthroughs’ and ‘transcendental visions. he played the role formerly taken on by the king and the society. 6 See also Assmann (2000).5 Compared to this-worldly institutions such as king. from the socio-political sphere of social memory to the divine 4 5 For details see Goedicke (1962: 26) and Schenkel (1964: 11 pp.”4 The immortality of the tomb owner depended on the verdict of posterity. the Egyptians believed in the possibility to establish communication with posterity by means of a monumental tomb which would provide the possibility to future generations of visitors to read the inscriptions. as litigant and accuser. The significant difference between the old and the new concept. Regarding their immortality.). biographical inscriptions began to appear during the latter half of the third millennium in which a tomb-owner addressed posterity and rendered account of his achievements. Their judgment was to decide upon his immortality. A common proverb conveyed that “the true monument of a man is his virtue. however. other-worldly character.’ but of ‘semantic relocations’ or ‘transfers’. shattered this belief in the continuity of social memory and the durability of monuments. where divine authority made the decision about immortality or annihilation. The idea of such a general judgment of the dead. or at least a prolongation of their existence beyond the threshold of death. however. Johan Arnason suggested the English term “relocation” for the German concept of “Umbuchung. V). the Egyptians ‘divinized’ posterity’s verdict in the form of a divine judgment at the court of Osiris. regard the scenes and thus to become impressed enough by the virtue of the tomb-owner that would even recite a prayer for his soul. as per the Old Kingdom concept of judgment in the hereafter. was that now the accuser was a god.” .6 Here. the divine tribunal doubtlessly had a transcendent. ideas or semiologies are transferred from one sphere to the other— that is. society and posterity. In this situation of anxiety and reorientation.‘axial’ breakthroughs and semantic ‘relocations’ 41 themselves after death. In the tombs of the Old Kingdom. but this god did not succeed whoever appeared. the evil character will be forgotten.

.] But he whom he leads will not loose his way.. people had invested all their means into erecting a monumental tomb which they considered to be a safe fundament of immortality. 2. 75).” This new trend finds its first expression in prayers and tomb inscriptions of the fifteenth century where we read sentences like God is father and mother for him who takes him into his heart. in his magisterial and highly influential book The Development of Religion and Thought in Ancient Egypt (1912). and he continued to stay in office even after pharaonic monocracy was reestablished in the Middle Kingdom. In the Old Kingdom. The term “Persönliche Frömmigkeit” has been coined by Erman in 1910 and translated as “Personal Piety” by James Henry Breasted. He turns away from him who neglects his city. By means of such a tomb.8 7 See Assmann (1996: 259–277. Thus. and immortality were transferred from the political sphere of pharaonic competence to the divine sphere and laid into Osiris’s hands. [. Longing for safer warrants of immortality. . people looked beyond the social sphere. The god Osiris and his court filled the place vacated by the vanished pharaoh of the Old Kingdom. the ‘breakdown’ of political order caused a ‘breakthrough’ towards meta-political foundations of order. It concerns the rise and the final breakthrough of a religious trend. who. showed these hopes to be illusory. referring to the Ramesside Age (1300–1100 BCE). burial. From then on. In this case the semantic relocation resulted from severe disappointment in the political sphere. and in the memory of posterity. The breakdown of the Old Kingdom. tomb. they hoped to continue their existence in the vicinity of their lord. which Egyptologists call “Personal Piety. who became the lord of death and the afterlife. with the disappearance of kingship and the pilloring and destruction of the tombs. The Rise of Personal Piety Our next example represents the most conspicuous case of such a relocation in Egyptian religious history. 2002). identified this concept as the hallmark of a whole period of Egyptian history (“The Age of Personal Piety”). 1975: No. . which in Egyptian is paraphrased in formulas such as “putting god N into one’s heart” and “walking (or acting) on the water of god N. 8 Assmann (1983: 228 pp. the pharaoh.”7 An individual formed a special relationship with a certain deity.42 jan assmann sphere.

and served to describe the relation between god and man. where they describe the relation between patron and client. See also Posener (1975: 206 pp. called ‘loyalism. .10 Many expressions can be traced back to the First Intermediate Period (2150–2000 BCE). therefore. the other deities appeared as inert. contributing nothing to the explanation of reality. Behold: my fear has vanished. but he did not 9 10 11 12 Cairo CG 12217. in his eyes. .”.). fictitious and false. superfluous. .9 The language of these texts has a long history. Hornung (2000). the formulae of heart and water. . known to all of us from the beginning of the book of psalms. for modeling of the new relationship between king and official. Akhenaten was the first in the history of mankind to apply the distinction between true and false to religion. . Montserrat (2000).] You are my protector. .11–12). [. “blessed is the man who . virtue and responsibility: the heart. Typical of loyalism’s rhetoric is the opposition of wrath and mercy. Reeves (2001). led to a transformation of ‘Axial’ dimensions. the ruling dynasty adopted this relation. transferred to the divine sphere.12 Akhenaten closed the countless traditional cults and put the cult of the one single Aten in their place. and especially the stylistic device called ‘macarism’ or ‘beatitude’ (“Happy the man who . the same distinction which later. Akhenaten changed Egyptian cosmology in a most radical way. Akhenaten thought himself able to reduce the totality of reality to the workings of light and time.). together with its rhetoric. the god of light and time. in the form of biblical monotheism. See also Posener (1975: 206 pp. . Sandman (1938: 97. During the Middle Kingdom (2000–1750 BCE).”). This attitude. after the breakdown of the Amarna revolution. Cairo CG 12217. This was based on the latter’s interior core of motivation.‘axial’ breakthroughs and semantic ‘relocations’ 43 And in a prayer: I gave you into my heart because of your strength. The rhetoric of loyalism had an important revival in the Amarna age around the middle of the fourteenth century BCE where we often read sentences like: Blessed the man who puts you into his heart.’ was then.11 The Amarna period is known as an age of religious revolution in Egypt. For he will spend his old age in perfection.

Whereas Aton acted towards humanity as a cosmic energy.’ ‘judge. the beginnings of personal piety now developed into the dominant mentality and religious attitude of the time. without any personal and ethical traits. acting as ‘father’ and ‘mother to all’: ‘father of orphans.’ ‘husband of widows. Breasted (1972: 344–370). terrible for his enemies. For this reason.13 Whereas personal piety tended to form an immediate relationship between a deity and an individual outside the official institutions of cult and temple. God succeeds the role played by Akhenaten in the Amarna period and formerly by the king in the Middle Kingdom and by the patron in the First Intermediate Period. On the contrary.’ ‘protector of the poor. which he seems to have felt as a rift in the politico-religious unity. . he did not touch the ‘compact’ unity or indistinction of religion and politics. In prayers we often read sentences of this kind: 13 14 Sandman (1938: 86. it was Akhenaten who presented himself as the personal god of the individual and the object of personal piety: He shows his wrath against him who ignores his teachings And his favor to him who knows it. where they served to model the relationship between god and man. the Egyptians not only returned to their traditional deities.’ ‘good shepherd. from a deity. as early as 1912. protection was no longer sought on the ‘mundane’ plane.’ ‘pilot’ and ‘rudder. His god was the sun. and this failure led to a complete resurgence of what he originally strove to suppress. a cosmic energy. he did everything to cement it and to counteract the beginnings of personal piety. labeled this historical period “the age of Personal Piety. Akhenaten failed with his project.15–16).”14 This new form of personal piety is best described as a semantic relocation by which the concepts and rhetoric of loyalism were transferred from the political to the divine sphere. Akhenaten reinstalled the king as the sole mediator between god and man. ‘Relocation’ means that something is withdrawn from one sphere and transferred to another.’ merciful towards his followers. the Amarna religion was more of a restoration than an innovation.’ ‘refuge for the persecuted. After his death. However. however. but on the divine plane.44 jan assmann transcend it. In this respect. Thus. from king or patrons. Above all. the source of light and time. Breasted.

covenant theology may be compared to personal piety in Egypt which. It means the transference of the political institutions of alliance. 102 pp. developed after the fall of Jerusalem during and 15 16 See e. 42 pp. . . . 62 pp. was a relocation of the semiology of loyalism from the political to the religious sphere. In Israel. What is most obvious. In this respect.. Hittite. . a follower of the goddess Mut who donated all his property to her temple wrote in his tomb autobiography: He bethought himself That he should find a patron: And he found Mut at the head of the gods.. The breakdown of a politics stressing the religious monopoly of the state led to the loss of this monopoly and to the rise of personal forms of religiosity. Babylonian and especially Assyrian foreign politics (vassal treaties).. Covenant theology. we are dealing with the ‘semiological divinization’ or ‘theologization’ of Egyptian.. however. Assmann (1975: 5 pp. Wilson (1970) and Assmann (1975 Nr. Fate and fortune in her hand.] My heart is filled with my mistress.] I have not chosen a protector among men.). as we have seen.16 The triggering factor for this process of transaction seems obvious: it is the traumatic disappointment on the political level that the Amarna revolution must have meant to the majority of Egyptians.g. Lifetime and breath of life are hers to command. because I have a protector. [. the spectacle of kingship turning sinful and criminal towards the gods in the most radical and terrible way. Qader-Mohammad (1960: 48 pp. and with it pure monotheism. treaty and vassaldom from the mundane sphere of politics to the transcendental sphere of religion. a man called Kiki. I spend the night in quiet sleep. I have no fear of anyone. It is precisely in this line of historical trauma and semantic relocations that the rise of Biblical monotheism and covenant theology has to be interpreted. God N is my defender. in the case of Israel is the connection with historical trauma. I have not sought myself a patron among the great. 173). [. 177).15 In the time of Ramses II. .‘axial’ breakthroughs and semantic ‘relocations’ 45 I have not sought for myself a protector among men.

Baltzer (1964). On the one hand we have the Ausdifferenzierung or separation of religion from the overall system of culture. and. after the complete failure and breakdown of the kingdom and after the loss of state and temple—in short. See Assmann (1997). forcing the other spheres under its spell. not only from other religions and its own religious tradition. 17 18 19 20 21 Otto (1999). which proved able to withstand the pressures of political oppression. Otto (2000: 59–76).18 The political theology of Assyria was adopted by ways of ‘subversive inversion’ and transformed into the political theology of Israel. after the most traumatic series of experiences that could possibly befall a society in those times. but endowed with superior authority and normativity. law and economy as a cultural sphere.” In this distinction I see the proper hallmark of monotheism. use the language of Assyrian loyalty oaths17 and vassal treaties. The biblical texts.19 Whereas the former emphasizes the inseparable unity of the divine and the political.46 jan assmann after the Babylonian exile. especially in Deuteronomy.’21 which was based on distinctions such as ‘pure’ and ‘impure.’ Its introduction meant a revolutionary step. not only as an autonomous sphere in its own right.’ ‘sacred’ and ‘profane. See Sundermeier (1987: 411 pp. was the great innovation that transformed the ancient world in the way of an Axial breakthrough. that much more general distinction between true and false in religion. creating a new type of religion which. Steymans (1995). which I have called the ‘Mosaic distinction. rather than the widespread idea of the unity of the divine. the latter accentuates the categorical separation of these two spheres.. but also from other spheres of culture such as politics.20 My thesis is that this. Using the model of a political alliance as a new form of the relationship between god and man meant the creation of a completely new form of religion. for the first time and quite unlike primary religion. 1999). It seems obvious to me that there is a connection between this distinction and separation between politics and religion. . surpassing by far everything that ever occurred in Egyptian history. politics. and law. morality. The distinction between true and false was alien to ‘primary religion. The ensuing innovation corresponded in importance and consequence to the gravity of the historical traumatization. on the other. set itself off.

’ that is.” 24 See Malamat (1990: 65–77). In this context. Lohfink (1987). Clastres (1974). 23 22 . did not lead to a separation between the political and the religious spheres. ‘Freedom. which he abolished as false. however. This achievement is connected in the biblical account with the name of Moses and with the legend of the exodus of the children of Israel out of Egypt. only its monopoly was broken. but above all as the representative of ‘false politics. See Assmann (2000). Kingship kept its position as a mediator between god and man even after the Amarna period.22 the mundane and the transcendental.23 The political meaning of the Mosaic Distinction becomes evident in the Exodus tradition. rather widespread even among tribal societies and has little to do with what I describe as the political implications and consequences of the “Mosaic Distinction. Handel (1981). oppressive.‘axial’ breakthroughs and semantic ‘relocations’ 47 Thus. Egypt appears as the paradigmatic ‘state. The duality of religious and military leadership seems. “Herrschaft ” and “Heil ”. above all. paganism and idolatry.’ The exodus from Egypt means leaving the house of oppression and entering the realm of freedom. Egypt appears not so much as the representative of ‘false religion. in which the principle of statehood or kingship is allowed only minimal place. Entering the alliance and the Law did not initially mean to found a state.’ Akhenaten. it is true. This step. it being the sole institutionalization of religion. the ‘Mosaic distinction’ between true and false meant. The separation of politics and religion. but the alliance or ‘covenant’ with God as formed at Mount Sinai is obviously presented as liberation from serfdom under human rulership. But the state in Egypt continued to act simultaneously as a kind of church. but to get rid of the oriental principle of statehood and to found a kind of counter-society. is not a biblical word and does not occur in this context. in fact. had already drawn the same distinction with regard to the traditional religion of ancient Egypt. a similar distinction underlies the Indian system of “Dual Sovereignty.’ representing both political and divine power and order. Israel separates itself from a political system denounced as false.’ to be sure. the distinction between religion and politics or ‘state’ and ‘church.” that is.’ the ‘house of serfdom.24 It is this anti-governmental impulse which is presented as a resistance against pharaonic oppression. was therefore the exclusive achievement of Israel. As has been shown by Rodney Needham and Louis Dumont. in the “age of Personal Piety”. By leaving Egypt. of religious (Brahmin) and political (Kshatriya) leadership.

The distinction between and the separation of religion and politics or state and church has to be regarded as one of the most important features of axiality. I do not mean this. 26 25 . the separation of state and church was achieved only in the sixth and fifth centuries.’ in totalitarian forms of civil religion28 See Assmann (2000: 46–52). but it was told at a much later time. In historical reality. The biblical narrative is located in Egypt somewhere in the 15th through 13th centuries. This also means that the subsequent attempts at reuniting and streamlining27 these two spheres. The story takes place 26 in Egypt and at a time strangely close to Akhenaten and his monotheistic revolution. in the historical sense of “what really happened”. when the political functions of the ‘state’ were taken care of by the Babylonian and Persian Empires. of course. as in the French tradition of the ‘rois thaumaturges.25 Just as the people are liberated from political oppression. when Israel founded its identity as the people of God. where humans are not ruled by a state. politics and religion. critical of religion.” 28 See Voegelin (1993). Religious salvation now becomes the exclusive competence of God. who now for the first time takes the initiative of historical action and withdraws once and for all the principle of salvation (“Heil”) from political representation and ‘mundane’ power. in Greek tradition. but freely consent to enter an alliance with God and adopt the stipulations of divine law. based on the divine laws of justice and purity rather than a new belief system. or ‘state’ and ‘church. Seen from the view-point of the biblical texts and narratively enacted as an exodus from Egypt. therefore. God emancipates Himself from political representation. Political theology turns into a critical discourse. in the seventh through fifth centuries. a kingdom of priests based on Torah and Temple rather than on king and palace.48 jan assmann and humiliating. monotheism appears as a political movement of liberation from pharaonic oppression and as the foundation of an alternative way of life. which in biblical tradition is critical of government and. From then on. in Judah and Babylonia during the time of Babylonian exile and Persian supremacy. The new form of religion meant first and foremost a new way of life. but in the narratological sense of narrated time. in the fourteenth or thirteenth centuries BCE. 27 A helpless attempt at translating the Nazi-German term “Gleichschaltung.’ were different spheres whose relationship had to be laboriously negotiated and whose re-unification could only be achieved by force.

administering justice to humans. ‘in his image.‘axial’ breakthroughs and semantic ‘relocations’ 49 and also in religious movements insisting on the direct political realization of religious truth. In lieu of their real presence.ed. The prohibition of images means. may be regarded as shifts towards deaxialization. Mettinger (1995). this is idolatry. images and sacred animals. creating true order and banishing disorder. so to speak.30 The king depends on god whom he imitates and represents. Berlejung (1998). The king acts as representative of the creator: Re has installed the king on the earth of the living for ever and ever. 30 29 . in its images. the anti-state character of biblical monotheism and its political theology finds clearest expression in the prohibition of images. that god must not be represented. The anti-Egyptian or. it is precisely the category of representation which shows the falseness of pharaonic politics respectively religion in its most obvious and abhorrent form: the sphere of kings. and thereby to maintain a symbiotic relationship between man. more generally. legitimizing the state in terms of divine representation.31 Images contradict the real presence of the divine which is implied in the idea of the covenant. From the view-point of Egypt. See Assmann (1995: 19 pp. 2. in the first place. in biblical view. Biblical political theology is the exact inverse. Covenant See Assmann (1989: 55–88). however. and the god depends on the king for maintaining the order of creation on earth. 1987). this is precisely what the state was made for.’ and in fact ‘image of god’ is one of the most-used royal epithets. in the first place. as representative of the Divine. withdrawn from earth and invisible. 31 See Dohmen (BBB 62. The state presents itself. From this perspective. Dick (1999). symbols and ceremonies. Uehlinger (1998).). God created the king. images and sacred animals.29 The Egyptians believed the gods were remote and hidden. Keel (2001). satisfying the gods. The state’s most important task is to ensure divine presence under the condition of divine absence. they installed the state on earth to represent them in the form of kings. society and cosmos. The king gives divine offerings to the gods and mortuary offerings to the transfigured dead. Idolatry means.

’ This is the political meaning of the prohibition of images. It was thus able to survive the Babylonian exile and the loss of sovereign statehood under the Persians.32 Tension presupposes distinction and differentiation. aesthetics. as characteristic of “Erlösungsreligionen” (religions of salvation or redemption). could be transformed. Images. especially concerning the religious and the political spheres. the divine or ‘transcendental’ sphere became independent of political institutions. without the existence of other gods the request to stay faithful to the lord would be pointless. imply or presuppose the idea of divine absence. It was to serve not as a cult image but as a political symbol of leadership in the same way Moses did in his leading the people out of Egypt. The function of the Golden Calf was clearly political. so I believe.50 jan assmann means a form of god’s turning towards the world which is both political and ‘living. the erotic and the intellectual sphere. as were the gods whose worship Akhenaten abolished. and the process of differentiation. The political meaning of monotheism in its early stage does not deny the existence of other gods. in his ‘Zwischenbetrachtung. With the radical destruction of representation. The Israelites who believed Moses to be dead wanted to replace the representative of God by His representation. politics. The ‘living’ god hides and reveals himself as he chooses and forbids any attempts at magical ‘presentification. On the contrary.’ The ‘living god’ (Elohim hayim) must not be represented. but they were forbidden. including the political sphere. An alliance is formed with one overlord only. lies at the core of axiality. therefore. when the former kingdom of Judah became integrated into the Persian empire as a province within the satrapy of Transeuphratene. The destruction of the Golden Calf put an end to these attempts of political representation. Images are a means of ‘magically’ representing the absent divine. Max Weber. Images are artificial gods. 32 Weber (1920: 536–573). The Golden Calf was meant to replace Moses. and the relationship with ‘other gods’ (elohim aherim) is forbidden. constituting and consolidating a vantage point from which all other spheres of culture. Religion became an autonomous sphere. the only form in which God allowed Himself to be represented.’ identified the tension between religion and other cultural spheres such as economy. These ‘other gods’ were not non-existent. .

See especially the works of Claude Lévi-Strauss. Ägyptische Hymnen und Gebete. Axiality. however. 28). is the close relationship between historical and intellectual processes. Compactness is the hallmark of myth and the totalizing tendency of mythical thinking.35 But the rise of monotheism may itself be seen as a consequence of historical changes. the rise of monotheism in the Ancient World had historical consequences. ——. Fribourg: Universitätsverlag. 35 See Stark (2001). may be identified as a hallmark of axiality. regarded differentiation as a purely mental process and a form of rationalization. Zurich: Artemis. is not to be equated neither with antiquity (a certain time-period around 500 BCE) nor with modernity per se. such as the ‘judgment of the dead’ and ‘personal piety’ to be consequences of. with regard to Ancient Egypt. Jan (1975). “Weisheit. historical trauma such as the breakdown of the Old Kingdom and the Amarna experience. von Erik and Othmar Keel (eds. Studien zu alltägyptischen Lebenslehren (Orbis Biblicus et Orient.‘axial’ breakthroughs and semantic ‘relocations’ 51 Voegelin reconstructed the process leading from the “cosmological societies” of the Ancient Near East to the rise of new.’ I would like to thank Johan Arnason who drew my attention to the problem of reconciling my concept of “distinction and differentiation” with Max Weber’s theory of the separation of cultural spheres which is closely related to Weber’s concepts of occidental rationalization and modernization. In this sense. I think it is important to distinguish between “axiality” and “modernity.” especially if we take axiality as a non-evolutionary concept (the “axial paradigm”. 33 . Distinctions and differentiations in the intellectual sphere were brought about and forced upon the human mind by catastrophic and traumatizing experiences on the plane of history. and others have depicted the differentiation of autonomous spheres the most characteristic property of ‘modernity. Loyalismus und Frömmigkeit. What I wanted to show in my contribution. including Voegelin and Habermas.34 Weber and all those following his lead. Habermas. or at least in some way or other related to.).33 Differentiation. Certainly. not the “axial age”). I take the rise of intellectual and religious concepts in Ancient Egypt. meta-cosmic or “transcendental” world-views in Israel and Greece as a shift from “compactness” to differentiation. An overview can be obtained from Godelier (1973) and Habermas (1981). 34 Weber. on the other hand. References Assmann.“ In: Hornung. (1979).

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but not enough for Academia. When I graduated in 1942. only Cambridge and London. and the conditions for study were difficult. I wanted to become an anthropologist. I wanted to learn about social policy or something similar.: There weren’t many places to study anthropology in England at that time. I did not have enough maths for PPE. I was mobilized for war service like every one else. Q: Was there any special reason for choosing Oxford? M. We want to thank Professor Douglas for her indulgence and kindness. which was meant to be a modern equivalent of Classics. There I had the good fortune to meet some anthropologists who encouraged me to read their books. It was the beginning of the 1940’s. Politics and Economics. D. So as soon as the war was over I was determined to go back to university and to learn this new subject. I was sent to work as an ‘Assistant Principal’ in the Colonial Office until 1946.POLITICS AND RELIGION FROM AN ANTHROPOLOGICAL POINT OF VIEW: AN INTERVIEW WITH MARY DOUGLAS* I Biography Q: Starting off with some biographical questions. PPE. Oxford had recently * The interview was conducted on the occasion of Mary Douglas’ visit to Konstanz in September 2003 to chair the graduate conference ‘Konstanzer Meisterklasse’ on ‘Politics and Religion.K. A revisit in December 2003 gave the opportunity to fill gaps and dwell on details.: When I first went up to Oxford it never occurred to me to become an anthropologist. . I had never even heard of the subject.”. a balanced combination of Philosophy.D. where we had learnt a lot. could you tell us how and why you became an anthropologist? M. For one thing. This transformed my idea of what I wanted to do with my life.D. I had been at a Catholic convent school where I had been happy. So I went for the degree called Modern Greats.’ It was guided by Daniel ”uber and Marco Kaiser. And furthermore I was very unprepared for university work. and M. not a happy time for anyone.

It forces humility—an irreplaceable experience. When I was preparing for fieldwork in Central Africa I enquired about learning the Bantu language. very learned scholar. You asked about Evans-Pritchard himself.: I had picked by chance the perfect moment to do anthropology in Oxford. He was reputed to be arrogant. it seemed ideal. They were all major influences. very approachable and full of humor. They included the Jewish scholar. who was technically a graduate student but probably more learned than any member of faculty. I was specially affected by what I learnt from Evans-Pritchard. and it is true that he did give that impression. We also had an Egyptian. and the fellow students who were an extraordinarily distinguished group. I have known many more arrogant anthropologists.56 daniel “uber and marco kaiser founded a new graduate degree in Social Anthropology. also from Meyer Fortes. and John Peristiany. The star-studded international cast on the faculty included Meyer Fortes. a Greek specializing on Kenya. It was one of those privileged periods which make an unforgettable impact. the French anthropologist specializing on India. and an Indian. As I belonged to Oxford already. who later became an important statesman. I chose it largely because the famous EvansPritchard was just taking up the Chair in Social Anthropology that had been occupied by Radcliffe-Brown. and from Ghana. Q: Can you tell us something about the Anthropology Department at the time that you began your studies? Who were the major influences? M. Srinivas. . The months in which the anthropologist is helplessly dependent on them puts the later fieldwork on the right footing. Franz Steiner. a New Zealander and an Englishman. who was another. Louis Dumont. From reading his books I expected him to be an old man. but it was superficial. Essai.D. He warned me that it was best to learn the language directly from the people who spoke it. This is an insight into the complex character that he was. the dominating influence for us all. a great West-Africanist. Busia. but he was only in his forties.

Authority was barely perceptible (this to their loss at times when an authoritarian voice might have been useful to them). and chose Central Africa because I was interested in systems of matrilineal descent. I was interested in their family and village organization. Q: In what sense did the study of the Lele preface your major works.interview 57 Q: How did you come to decide to pick the Lele as the subject of your research? M. I could not find a supervisor for European fieldwork. I found myself focusing on the structuring and negation of power. I met a Belgian colonial official who recommended the Lele. the Department of Anthropology in Oxford was pre-eminently Africanist. skilled in wood carving and raffia weaving. This was the origin of the grid-group method of analysis. . I first went there between 1949 and 1950.D. What struck me most about their social life was the way they realized egalitarian principles. To whatever subject I attended in the following years. 1 2 Douglas (1966). as functional equivalents for hierarchy. I could get a grant from the International African Institute. subtle. I was very conscious of my ignorance of my own European culture and its history and looked for a chance to remedy that lack by doing fieldwork in Italy or Greece. returned in 1953. Purity and Danger 1 and Natural Symbols? 2 M. inhabiting the Belgian Congo. their beliefs concerning God and the spirits. They advanced my thinking about cosmology. an extremely interesting people. clever.: In spite of its international coverage.D. But I didn’t particularly want to do my fieldwork in Africa. It was a wonderful choice. on which I am still always working. handsome.: I do believe that the Congolese studies stimulated everything that I have written. their attitudes to power and authority. Douglas (1970). nor the funding. I came to see how they used taboos and boundary separations as means for dissipating power. and did not see them again until a short visit in 1987.

When my mother died.: The Department of Anthropology in Oxford became known for the relatively high proportion of Catholics on the staff. My childhood and schooldays were passed in very structured social environments. Their life was set in daily routines and established rules and rituals. Q: Would you see another link between your education and your academic field of interest? M. the other in a kind of attic was for the children and the maids.D. one was uniquely for the grandparents and house guests. This was a level of naïveté that I could never understand. whether Hindu. Add to this that many of the students and staff had strong religious beliefs. The same for the nanny’s bedroom.: In retrospect. who was a local magistrate. or other. So any one who had a religious commitment was not unusual.58 daniel “uber and marco kaiser Q: Did your Catholic beliefs have any influence on your career of anthropologist? M. I believe that this way of life was very comforting for children who were separated from their parents. The same for the bathrooms. My early life was spent in hierarchical institutions. Equally strictly. except the maids themselves. my father retired from Burma . All meals had their proper times. the variations in the menu for the main meal was strictly prescribed for the week. tea and supper. Everyone in the house had defined roles and domains. breakfast. Of course the maid went in when it was the time for making beds and cleaning. was chief for all external relations. I have often been taunted or teased for imagining that a convinced Catholic could be a good anthropologist. So everything was clearly laid out and we never had occasion to overstep the rules. indeed. Hierarchy tends to use gender as a principle of organization. and our household was gendered correspondingly. or the other way round. Hierarchy always played a crucial part in my personal experience. But such an orderly upbringing leaves them unprepared for social life in twentieth century England. the other minor meals were invariant. yes. As to food. marked by special times and spaces. for example. This was not the case for the rest of the profession.D. as my sister and I were. Catholicism and Anthropology were thought to be incompatible. My grandmother was supreme in domestic affairs while my grandfather. except when invited. Jewish. no one could enter the maids’ bedroom. I was raised by my grandparents in Devon. No one went into the grandparents’ bedroom.

following the expressed wish of my mother. 4 3 . Spatial boundaries were respected. The nuns had their holy rule. In spite of the formalities. And again. The nuns lived in a separate area of the house called ‘Community’ to which the pupils had no access. which including never eating except in community. No. Heidegger. Franz Baerman Steiner was a Czech Jew who emigrated to Great-Britain.: The answers are. it was not a coincidence since the idea of holism has had currency in social anthropology since the beginning. M. as well as the sociologist. ‘A Critique of the Social Sciences. There were various school uniforms to be worn on stipulated occasions. They were working towards the foundation of a holistic concept of social science. See Adler and Fardon (1999). we are struck by a certain correspondence between your philosophical interests and those of a group of early twentieth century German philosophers. Mannheim. We went to the Sacred Heart Convent School in London. ‘showing off. we spontaneously condemned trying to attract attention. The main difference was that the rules were explicit. It was Franz Steiner4 who kept telling us Douglas and Ney (1998). I was happy there. It is not so surprising.’ suggests a project that would correspond to their programs to the letter.interview 59 and set up house for us in Marlow.’ These experiences of hierarchy in childhood have provided me with a profoundly interesting theme underlying my thinking on society and culture. K. the schooling in England paid more attention to French philosophy and literature than to German.3 The sub-title of that book. Individual competitiveness was controlled. Dilthey. like W. I was never familiar with these traditions. You used the concept of the ‘whole person’ that you used in a volume co-authored with Steven Ney a few years ago. We used to try to tempt them with sweets. School life turned out to be just as highly structured as life with the grandparents. No.D. II Theoretical Approach Q: Regarding the development of your thought. Because of the alliances in two World Wars. the whole atmosphere was warm and friendly. Is this parallel a coincidence? Were you in any sense familiar with these traditions? M.

work with a very fragmented understanding of the rational human being. collaborate systematically. We tried to show that many of the social sciences. The one philosopher who made an indelible impact on all departments of Oxford Humanities was Wittgenstein. It is essentially a holistic view. and to develop very positivist methods of research. such as economics. after all he had actually taught in Cambridge. ‘Missing Persons’ is directed against Anglo-Saxon methodological individualism. and society and individual. psychology. Steven Ney and I offered it as a late response to the questions he used to ask. This question has to be prominent in the program to develop a holistic approach to human society. 5 Aaron Wildavsky and Mary Douglas collaborated on ‘Risk and Culture’ (1982). Aaron Wildavsky5 (he used to describe himself as a ‘policy analyst’). mysticism. . Our goal was to show how culture can be included in the theoretical modeling of the self. Particularly we criticized the impoverished social theory that excludes on principle the influence of other persons on the rational individual. In my introduction to a collection of essays. The person is depicted as a pre-social creature dominated by its individual wants and needs.60 daniel “uber and marco kaiser that what we were trying to do in a new Social Anthropology department in Oxford was anticipated in German philosophy. The project is to trace how body and mind. ineffability. It took the anthropology students of my generation a long time even to glimpse the larger philosophical contexts in which the word ‘holism’ had begun. teaching us to beware of the tricks that words can play. Wildavsky died in 1993. I am glad that you mentioned Missing Persons. That was also the period in which Phenomenology was first gaining support in England and France. political science and sociology. It requires effort to work out how rational thinking is done by a socialized person. and to avoid importing the unrecognized values of our own culture into our account of others. In this perspective the best way for us to strive for a holistic view of society was to make sense of it in terms of total systems of exchange. to avoid ambiguity. It is nice to hear you proposing that the aims and methods of research that it describes might be of interest to German sociologists under the rubric of ‘holism. The book was written in memory of a great American political scientist. this is probably true.’ As I see it. His influence went in quite the other direction. We were deeply influenced by Durkheim and Mauss.

Turnbull (1962). democratic ideals have nothing to do with science and technology and thrive in very rudimentary economic conditions. Q: Could you tell us a bit more about the origins of the concept of ‘missing persons’ itself ? M.interview 61 Risk and Blame. Our role has been to check grand hypotheses with counterfactual experience. 1972). ix pp. which prevail in contemporary discourse on policy.8 McArthur and McCarthy on hunting societies. I am more oriented towards anthropology rather than to any general philosophical program. Anthropologists presume that to be false. Strong professional constraints prevent us from indulging in conceptual abstractions.9 and of course on Marshall Sahlins’ important works on economics and culture. that 6 7 8 9 10 Douglas (1992).10 So you see. Douglas (1992. Would you subscribe to that view? M. . Sahlins (1958. basic needs. I believe that a different conception of so-called ‘individual needs.: Anthropologists are happiest dealing with persons negotiating their way though real practical situations.D. wants. Q: What shone through your statement was a hope that better concepts can change public perception of social problems.7 but that day has not yet come. My arguments are generally based on empirical studies by anthropologists.: Yes. McCarthy and McArthur (1960).D. most definitely. In the 1960s modernization theory developed on the supposition that ideals of freedom and prosperity had grown with technological progress. Perhaps it could be achieved with the help of your generation of German scholars trained in holistic thinking.6 I predicted that the quest for a holistic approach to the social sciences will soon top the agendas of scientific discourse.’ ‘individual’ wants and preferences. etc. Even today there is a lot of work to be done to overcome the ideas about individuality.). We need to make the measures of grid and group better known and more applicable to contemporary interests. such as Turnbull’s study of the Congo pygmies.

narrowly focused on ourselves and our traditions. It is a re-shaping and renewal of our scientific conceptual apparatus. punishment. Q: How does this relate to you approach to culture in general? M. this world-wide development is bound to affect more than our political relations. societies. growing up in a hierarchical environment makes a person nervous about competition. inevitable because our traditional concepts simply fail to grasp what we observe to be happening.62 daniel “uber and marco kaiser is to say. That is one kind of bias with many ramifications. justice.’ It is something similar to Thomas Kuhn’s depiction of scientific revolution. Each has implications for the concepts of political science. competitive individuals determined to excel. or our own globalizing one. fairness and so on. The social sciences are using an antiquated machinery of thought.D. risk. It puts us in the throes of a thought revolution. or deal with tyranny.’ Whatever you name it. The challenge is to make tools for tracing how the multiple other forms of social life deal with power. how they constrain or disperse it. and critical of pushy. Growing up in an individualist environment has the opposite effect. In this long-term project we are very much indebted to Durkheim and Mauss. but to focus on cultural bias. . That concept is a bridge between our own preconceived values and other people’s. Cultural bias is a set of attitudes that are generated by specific forms of organization. We are now undergoing the break-up of what can be called ‘the Western consensus. That is another cultural bias. As soon as we try to appreciate a wider gamut of social forms the shortcomings of our concept of the rational being are evident. a socialized conception. art. religion. The next step in the method is to stop talking about culture in general. For example.: From an anthropological view there is no sense in using the word culture for vague abstractions. My own preferred way of working is to focus on a particular slice of behavior. Many analyses refer to a process of ‘globalization. it encourages a person to strive to excel. Our task is to make sense of social rules and ways of organizing in terms of the meaning they have for specific collectivities—be it distant. like food. small scale. Comparativism is the framework. can help us to perceive solutions to problems that up to this point we can hardly put into words. Within this deliberately restricted context I like to trace how the dominant cultural bias colors thought and perception.

they are actually engaged in manifesting a cultural pattern. and great faith in the efficacy of their traditional treatments. They are readier to experiment with new drugs. . the other hierarchical. strong loyalties prevail among members of a particular school. They have a firm idea of the ‘sick role’ to which the patient must conform in order to be cured.interview Q: Could you give us a short illustration of this project? 63 M.D.: Medicine would be a good example. Much of the success of the treatment is attributed to the patient’s personality and will to recover. two different expectations about health and sickness.: My most fundamental idea is that of distinctive thought styles which exclude and stand in conflict with each other. You may ask what this talk about thought styles has to do with human behavior? When people choose certain ways of living together. for the sake of a brief illustration of a holistic view that includes all the relationships in its purview. We would find two different theories of the body and of health. although I have never worked extensively in that field. they must vaunt their own superior prowess and the superiority of their medicines.11 Q: Since you adopted your cultural matrix to explain many different phenomena.D. be it certain medical or aesthetic preferences. food or dress habits. and because it is so central to your approach in general. In the competitive system the practitioners are rivals. The symbols they create play a crucial role in their social relations. strong bonding and no formally defined sick role. Let me speculate on medicine in two different communities. The anthropology of medicine has to take individual choices and experiences as the initial data. Let me hint you at an edited book entitled The Healing Bond. When group ties are very strong. Between patient and physician there is quite a different relation. and to move from there to the larger holistic context. could we ask you to sketch out its basic principles? M. they will defend each other if accused of malpractice. it depends on mutual respect between accredited practitioners. and social life is based on prescribed positions (that is 11 Douglas (1994). organized differently. one competitive. This is mostly imagined speculation. The hierarchical system rests on tried traditions.

but rather that the individuals themselves display their preferences by making manifest a cultural pattern. Lastly there is the possibility of no group organization and very strong regulation preventing individuals from freely negotiating with each other: I call that the culture of isolation. Each of these cultural types is described by the form of organization which generates the characteristic feelings and judgments.: Once I had worked out the model and started to test it.12 They showed that the relations between the four 12 Thompson. Q: Since you have worked on this model for more than three decades. but the analysis can be very sophisticated. or the increase of social solidarity by the dangers of war. When there is no group solidarity and little regulation. Though the names we have given to these spots on the grid group diagram in over 30 years of discussion have never been very satisfactory. I tried to account for changes by referring to factors external to the model. we have an individualist culture where everyone is wheeling and dealing on their own account. For example I would have to explain the decline of hierarchy and the rise of individualism by economic expansion. . When strong and complex regulation combines with group solidarity. Ellis and Wildavsky (1990).64 daniel “uber and marco kaiser the hierarchical system). There are two other kinds of community generated by the two dimensions we use to identify with hierarchy and competitive individualism. I soon found out that it was incapable of explaining cultural change. their actions display the culture. and group solidarity ( group). Then some enthusiastic colleagues started to work on the model together. the anti-type is the individualist culture. we have to do with a hierarchical system. often misleading. An individual who has built up one of these kinds of commitment is generally hostile to the behavior of individuals who have been reared in the other kind. based on individual competition. This is half of the story. what did you perceive as its major challenge? M. This typology does not presuppose that the cultural attitudes impose themselves on the human actors.D. Another possibility is weak regulation combined with strong group solidarity. the kind of sectarian group we call enclave. This blind spot was critical. The two dimensions are regulation ( grid ). They are inherently incompatible.

The answer depends on the sources of funding. This book was another shot in my locker against the implicit solipsism of utilitarianism. weak grid) raise the loyalty of their members by painting the outside world as evil. . the response of the outside society to the first aggressions. Some dissident groups collapse while others become violent and successful.’ Can you say something about it? M. Sharing a common interest in the survival of their institutions. individual members develop shared classifications of the world. There they are. and develop terrorist activities. Q: At this point your cultural scheme seems to meet your later approach to institutions in ‘How Institutions Think. looking around for telling arguments to back a case.D. the difficulty of retaining the young members. and a shared moral concern. We hope to have opened up a new approach to the politics of terrorist groups.: Indeed. they try to justify their preferences by analogies with nature. its functioning bears witness to its having achieved a consensus. the more likely to resort to desperate measures. arguing with each other about what to do for the best. Gerald Mars and I were trying to account for the different political strategies by considering the differences in social organization.D. This addition transformed it into something dynamic and more powerful for research. The more the group seems to be threatened. we then have to invoke institutions as the common and powerful constraint on individual freedom to think.13 Q: This brings us close to the subject of our conference. ‘Politics and Religion. Most enclaves (strong group. Gerald Mars and I recently applied it to terrorism. If we force the opponents to admit common culture that shapes individual thinking. Each cultural type was actively defending its cultural territory against all comers. Classification is a prime example of collective action. Institutions supply the basic categories and classifications on which every day social action relies.interview 65 cultural patterns were inherently adversarial.’ 14 M. It would 13 14 Douglas and Mars (2003). Douglas (1987). If an institution survives.: From my theoretical position terrorism is likely to be an active principle in the ‘enclavist’ culture.

66 daniel “uber and marco kaiser fade and disappear if its members did not endow it with some moral value. Anthropologists who make relativist arguments against the idea of unacculturated intellectual life are not themselves subscribing to ethical or philosophical relativism. I don’t want to deny this tendency. they are being carried by the stream that I am trying to swim against. M. Are you going to deny that cultures are really different? III Religion Q: Now we come back to the subject of religion. Q: You are purporting a very strong notion of institutions.D. . i. hierarchy. You have been attacked for a particular bias that underlies your own approach. they are biased the other way. Thus an institution channels information and biases decisions.e. Fleck. Q: Continuing your argument would lead to a certain variety of relativism . Could you say more about this conviction? . Mannheim or Kuhn. What would you respond to that? M.: Well. By emphasizing only the role of an autonomous individual in rational thought. We are trying to understand how strong bias arises. I have explained why I am interested in defending these principles under attack from liberal forces.D. I don’t think I am more relativistic than Durkheim. I can’t completely deny it. yes. Institutions save intellectual energy. and I would level the parallel charge against opponents. By making the classifications they reduce the range of possibilities among which individuals can choose. or other sociologists of knowledge. a certain bias towards non-dynamic and ‘conservative’ categories such as stability. Moreover. Their intellectual bias demonstrates the truth of my theory about cultural influence on thought. . By building institutions together individuals create the terms in which they see their world. classification. You have said it was your idea to demonstrate to the rationalists that having a religion and being an anthropologist are not incompatible.: What’s wrong with that? Cultural relativism is unavoidable. In effect its members leave much of their decision-making to the institutions they support instead of reasoning from scratch over each problem that confronts them.

Durkheim has a sense of the fragility of the social bond. dance.: You are right in pointing out an apparent inconsistency. Anthropologists find that the members of society themselves are very well aware of the danger of strife and moral collapse. He manages to relate religion to the material conditions of existence. but an essential part of it. In that works he depicted religion as a mere projection of society.interview 67 M. . I would rather say that there has been a continuous dialogue between them. song. Durkheim showed that religion is not a secondary. there seems to be a particular discrepancy at work. in response they reinforce their arguments by appeal to the highest possible authority they can think of. rules about food and sex. Durkheim must be right here: each society as it builds itself is building a distinctive idea of God. ideological aspect. even though religion does not seem always to be the topic in hand. But the block is partly due to different ideas about society. This is very much more in sympathy with Catholicism than with religions which make a spurious cleavage between practical social life and its spiritual. To many (and I suspect to Durkheim himself ) his theory of religion seems to be at odds with Catholicism. Q: Still. writing about economics for instance.: I find it hard to separate my anthropological thinking from my religious commitment.D. Had anyone else before him developed the argumentative view of the formation of the social bond? That it is not maintained by force and authority but by agreement on the categories in which the world is apprehended? Following his example the English anthropologists have been trying to grasp the processes in which categories are formed. and to focus on its material manifestations. since your anthropological approach seems to be heavily inspired by Durkheim’s religious sociology of his later period. derivative feature of social life. ritual performance. Does any one want to deny that there are many different ideas of God? Durkheim strikes a heavy blow against methodological individualism and in favor of collectivism and pragmatism.D. Is that acceptable to a Catholic? What role did he actually play in forming your own approach anyway? M. God.

and has led to an individualization of religious experience. whereas experience suggests the opposite. Moreover. but sociologists have been taken by surprise by the rise of new religions and the rise of fundamentalism in recent decades. anthropologists are not half as sure as the mainstream sociologists that modernization necessarily produces secularization. There is a crisis of organized religion. It can be traced back to Weber and his contemporaries. The idea rests on normative assumptions about religion: that religion is always something good. and go back to explore how small-scale societies work. Q: This is quite a strong criticism of modernization theory as well as sociology. It is a story that many liberals love to tell. Charles Taylor 15 has recently demonstrated. Perhaps you don’t know that almost every tribe has a strong perception of its own uniqueness. We do need to remake our conceptual apparatus. incapable of comparison with any previous state of social evolution.: Yes. M.68 daniel “uber and marco kaiser Q: What can anthropology bring to the Western academic effort to understand religion? M.D.: Many previous sociological accounts of religious formations have been flawed by a misconceived idea of modernity. and that societies should be integrated by religion. among many others.: Absolutely. accompanied by a resurgence of private religions and subjective religious experience. that thanks to modernization we are free. would you oppose the hypothesis of a general ‘crisis of religion’? M. . M. We can also qualify a popular assumption among the learned that religion is a unifying force. as. They presented modern society as unique. For this there is only weak historical evidence. These assumptions have obscured persistent expressions of religiosity in contemporary society. 15 Taylor (2002).D. Q: So.D. Religion is divisive if the society is divided.: We are back to my hierarchical prejudice. Q: You presumably agree that modernity has liberated us from traditional bonds.D.

’ At the time that I wrote it I had read very little of the Bible (a regrettable Catholic tradition). I only knew about sacrifice from books. when I met the students I found there was nothing that I could teach them that wasn’t obvious or that they didn’t know already. That is also why we would be very interested in delving deeper into these thoughts.’ and became enthralled by it. I must admit that I lack enough knowledge to grasp what the whole story is about. We are still very much under the control of our culture.: When I wrote Purity and Danger I included a whole chapter on the Mosaic dietary laws based on ‘Leviticus. We complain about the dullness and uniformity that we see on TV. Any other anthropologist would have been better qualified than I was for his task. since the Lele don’t make sacrifice. As I feared. it is the same.’ and to focus especially on the enigmatic rite of the sacrifice of the red heifer. or stay in Scandinavia. Whereas for us. When I was in Princeton in the Department of Religion (in the early 1980’s) a colleague from the Presbyterian Seminary invited me to give a lecture on sacrificial rites in the ‘Book of Numbers. In the following years I deepened my understanding of dirt and defilement by studying that book. . After that meeting I actually started to read ‘Numbers. participate in wars.’16 Q: The move to take the Bible for an ethnographic source appears likewise fascinating and very intricate. In what manner do you consider a rereading of the Old Testament to contribute to your theory building? 16 Douglas (1993). had no first hand experience.interview 69 But beware. wherever we go. Q: In recent years you have committed yourself to a close reading of parts of the Old Testament. in our shopping malls and holiday resorts. Somewhere I remember writing that the ancient Vikings had more free choice than we do: at least they could decide whether to go to Greenland. and have described it as the most exciting research you have ever done.D. I had never witnessed one. and wrote ‘In the Wilderness. What was it that triggered this enterprise? M. We also must admit that under modernity only a very small and privileged group of people have much free choice.

the situation of the Jews was very hard.D. sixth and fifth centuries BCE. were given their final redaction during and after the Babylonian exile. Even at the time they were written. It was a help to be able to compare biblical ideas of purity with those reported by anthropologists (including myself ) from fieldwork. It is always difficult for Biblical scholarship to connect the editing of the priestly books to a particular historical and political situation.D. Q: Was there a special finding or problem in this process that convinced you to pursue a recasting of the story of the Bible? M. Leviticus and the Book of Numbers. They could draw a paral- . approximately 500 years later. the process of learning the Bible taught me how to develop my theoretical interests.70 daniel “uber and marco kaiser M. Dating is a perennial problem for which Bible scholars have been obliged for lack of other information to rely on philological criteria. Eventually. whatever it is. In focusing on those two books and that period I have tried to work out how contemporary political interests could have biased both the editing and also the subsequent reading. I have learnt not to focus on the negative side of the purity rules. Q: Could you tell us more about the particular political context you are referring to? M.D.: Actually. Originally I had used the Bible as a source for suitable examples for my theoretical statements. While I went along. particular groups had rival interpretations. that is. it turned out that the search for sources came to inform theory building. I started to study the history of the redaction of the different parts of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament) and the historical background of the different and rival groups in the Jewish community. but to relate them to the positive classification of the world. It is very helpful to be told authoritatively that the two priestly books.: In particular it was clear that the matter of ritual purity was very opaque.: We cannot assume that the records in the Pentateuch related to actual events that occurred around the twelvth century BC. it was the other way around. during and after the Babylonian exile. At the generally agreed time of editing the final version.

what could anthropology teach the Biblical scholars besides the import of the historical setting? M. In ring composition the themes are arranged so that the thoughts that opened the text would reappear at the end. they frame it. The beginning and end do not contain the essential message of the text.interview 71 lel between their own journey home from Babylon and their forefathers’ escape from slavery in Egypt. The priestly editors of Leviticus and Numbers had their own political agenda. The returned exiles wanted a policy of ethnic exclusion. the middle part expands the themes. I owe much of my own reading to Jacob Milgrom’s interpretation of the Book of Numbers. What is it about? M. It is the midturn which is crucial to the ring construction and which carries the meaning. Ezra. their leader. cut by the line from the start to the mid-point. Q: In your own reappraisal you have hinted a the so-called ‘ring-construction’ of the Biblical texts.D. ordered them not to marry foreign women and to send home any foreign wives they had taken. not exclusively with the sons of Judah. They were concerned with the survival of the priestly school and with a future community that would include the descendants of all the sons of Jacob. The story is started in the opening section. to return home from exile and rebuild the temple at Jerusalem. particularly in regard to the war against Samaria.D. There were of course many biblical scholars interested in the same questions. This joining up made it into a kind of ring. This assimilationist viewpoint would have put them into conflict with the government of Judah which was promoting a very exclusionary policy. Paying attention to the literary forms of the text opened new perspectives on the interpretation. So we have the text divided into two halves. Q: With concern to the interpretation of the sources themselves. He identified parallelism as the dominant poetic form in Numbers. This would have driven a wedge between the priestly school and the government. after the mid-point . They had been allowed by the Persian king who had defeated the Babylonians.: The anthropologist is also interested in the rhetorical structure of the written material and the literary principles which would have guided the editing process.: Yes.

mainly for short poems. Burma. This might account for the sophistication and polish they brought to their writing. The editors of the Pentateuch were certainly a highly educated elite. The method of organizing important literature in ring form goes back into pre-history. Parallelism has been known to Bible scholars for a very long time. Northern Europe. It is quite a complicated construction.72 daniel “uber and marco kaiser the narration turns round and goes back to the beginning by either positive or negative analogies. The main message is in the middle. which imposes a linear structure throughout. India. Their knowledge of maths and astronomy was at a high level. such as North America. It was used in antiquity to construct long pieces. indeed. M. and well-known in Europe since the eighteenth century. In exile. By reading it the modern way.D.D. framed on both sides. I consider that the book of Numbers only makes sense under the premise of its being a ring composition. I developed the . What is not well-known is its use as a frame for the macro-composition. Q: Could you finally sum up the impact of your occupation with the Bible on your general cultural approach? M. they encountered different cultures and would have taken the opportunity to improve their skills in different arts and sciences. China. I doubt that it had a single origin. some of them among the wealthy and noble families that were carried off by the Babylonian conquerors. The new subject helped me to work out my ideas about culture. Q: From where did the editors of the Pentateuch adopt this technique? This question must be crucial to your account.D. Q: Can you tell us more about the intellectual origins of the ring structure? Why has it been a secret to Biblical scholarship for so long? M.: Yes. you only get an impression of confusion and disorder. As a rhetorical technique it is found in various cultural regions of the globe. It’s almost everywhere. but it doesn’t imply that their learned teachers had not been writing in ring form long before that time.: That’s a good question.: Actually the connections are very close. But I must admit that it is hard to bring any further evidence about it.

Douglas. CA: University of California Press. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press. Frederick and Margaret McArthur (1960). An Essay on the Selection of Technical and Environmental Dangers. Missing Persons. (1992). Mary and Aaron Wildavsky (1982). Berkeley. London: Routledge. Charles P. “The Food Quest and the Time Factor in Aboriginal Economic Life. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press. How Institutions Think. Oxford: Berghahn. Many thanks for your patience with our questions. London: Routledge.interview 73 matrix of four kinds of culture with four types of religious practices. Purity and Danger.” In: Steiner. Explorations in Cosmology. London: Routledge. A Critique of the Social Sciences. I came to the conclusion that the Priestly editors of Numbers would best fit into a hierarchical environment undergoing drastic change. 2 vols. priesthood. Douglas. it has not taken me out of my rut. Durkheim. Douglas. and ritual. The Doctrine of Defilement in the Book of Numbers. London: Routledge. ——. “Terrorism. Douglas.). Mary and Gerald Mars (2003). Records of the Australian-American Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land. (1970).” In: Human Relations 56. . (One is still in press. I am still always working on culture. Mary and Steven Ney (1998). London: Barrie and Rockliff/ Cresset Press. In the Wilderness. ——.). ——. Studies in Methodology and History in Anthropology. Franz. (ed. An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo. Jeremy and Richard Fardon (1999).” In: Mountford. Berkeley. McCarthy. “Introduction. anthropology. Mary (1987). The PatientPractitioner Relationship and Therapeutic Responsibility. Although the move has all the advantages of a complete change of field. particularly of a form of composition in a ring. Selected Writings. The Healing Bond. Douglas. We have come round full circle to the beginning. Natural Symbols. ——. 145–94. Risk and Blame. 7: 763–786. where the ending is made to join up with the beginning. “The Construction of the Physician. owing to prejudiced prior assumptions about modernity. and all the things we have been talking about. (1994). Q: We seem to have arrived finally at a reconciliation of religion and anthropology. CA: University of California Press. References Adler. I suspected that they have been misinterpreted. The fourth is a literary analysis of biblical styles. due out in August). using anthropology to make a fresh reading of Leviticus and Numbers. Susan and Ursula Sharma (eds. A positive feedback game. I have gone on to write two more books on the Priestly work. Mary (1966). A Cultural Approach to Medical Healings. (1993).” In: Budd. Risk and Culture.

(1962). (1958). CO: Westview Press. WA: University of Washington Press. Stone age economics. Marshall D. The lonely African. New York. Michael. IL: Aldine-Atherton. Seattle. . William James revisited. Thompson. MA: Harvard University Press.74 daniel “uber and marco kaiser Sahlins. Varieties of religion today. Colin M. Social stratification in Polynesia. (1972). Cambridge. Richard Ellis and Aaron Wildavski (1990). ——. NY: Simon & Schuster. Boulder. Taylor. Chicago. Cultural Theory. Charles (2002). Turnbull.

” were taken with several minor changes: “Superficial or radical transformations of religion and morality in the modern world. Arnold Gehlen. It was to be replaced by a positive philosophy and. eventually a ‘positive religion’ entirely unlike anything earlier known as religion. (in my postscript to the German translation by Hubert Knoblauch of ‘The Invisible Religion’ (1991)). In essence. The functional differentiation of society would also lead to the transformation of traditional morality into an organic form of social solidarity. The statistics documenting the decline of church attendance throughout Europe since the eighteenth century seemed to lend plausibility to the assumption that religion and modern society were not compatible. the theories of secularization of the past century accepted the ComteDurkheimian view. at least religion as it was then represented by Christianity and other world religions. Helmuth Plessner. was a passing stage in the formation of collective consciousness. I may mention the last one. it would counteract the anomic potential of such differentiation. I therefore refer only to literature that is directly relevant to some particular argument. Once established. . Over the years I published several articles which show both the continuities and the changes. in many respects my position remained the same. given in the Konstanz University sociology “Meisterklasse. Alfred Schutz. I tried to combine an anthropological functionalism—with which I began—with a phenomenology of transcendence. Some elements of my view have changed. from which the arguments and formulations in the lecture. It is obvious that my thinking is so profoundly indebted to Max Weber.” Lecture at the Anno Santo Conference at the Urbaniana. Karl Marx and Emile Durkheim that no amount of annotation would do justice to that debt. * In the past forty years I have often written about religion in the modern world. For them religion. However. They were not convinced by the critique of Enlightenment rationalism offered in the early nineteenth century by the French traditionalist philosophers. published (2001). I added the section comparing the religious situation in Europe and the United States of America.RELIGION AND MORALITY IN MODERN EUROPE COMPARED TO THE RELIGIOUS SITUATION IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA* Thomas Luckmann I The French founders of sociology reaffirmed the basic principles of the Enlightenment philosophy of religion. September 2000.

are constructed in communicative interaction. These notions. The bond was forged again and again in those elementary communicative processes by which an organism is transformed into a historical being with a personal identity of its own. articulating a view of the ‘good life’ that guides human action beyond the immediate gratification of desires and the momentary demands of a situation. America was then as it is now in several respects the most modern society in the world. held by individuals. But the obvious fact of the vitality of Christianity in the United States of America cannot be explained away in a similar fashion. is not a theory of religion. I was convinced that religion is not a passing phase in the evolution of mankind but a constituent element of human existence. and they are selected. even if some features associated with its religion did allow ‘special case’ explanations. To be sure. . well-founded as it appeared to me. long before the recent triumphs of the evangelical successors over the older mainstream denominations continued to astound contemporary sociologists. it bonded individual human beings to a collective tradition. the historical varieties of religious experience in distinct forms of social organization are another. But first a brief observation about morality. The universally human aspects of religion are one thing. for reasons that antedated the relatively recent quite extraordinary expansion of some varieties of Protestantism in Latin America. It was observed by de Tocqueville. appearing under different socio-structural conditions in various historical forms. my own early refusal to accept the prevailing theories of secularization had theoretical reasons. maintained and transmitted in social processes in which 1 Berger (1999). a shared view of the meaning of life.76 thomas luckmann I did not share this view. I view morality as a reasonably coherent set of notions of what is right and what is wrong. A link between the two must be shown to exist. as well as the spread of Catholic and Protestant Christianity in Africa and the world-wide resurgence of Islam.1 It was argued that these societies do not contradict traditional secularization theories because they are not modern. I did not accept the assumptions made about the nature of religion by rationalist philosophical and sociological theories. In any case. an anthropological assumption. In whatever form it became a social reality.

and it articulates a given view of what is good and what is evil. World views—with their core components of a conception of the good life in relation to some transcendent reality—are transmitted in communicative processes to successive generations of individuated organisms of an animal species. A world view. they build up a world view in long chains of communicative interactions. individuals become morally responsible (or irresponsible) human beings. partly shared. The elementary function of a world view is both religious and moral. it defines the relation of everyday reality to an extraordinary. a particular world view presents a conception of the nature of life and death. Collective. World views are constructed as meaningful wholes integrating the sense of diverse levels of human experience. thus transforming them into actors in a concrete. The basic religious function of the world view as a whole is consolidated in a special part of a world view. heaven and earth. historical social world. These articulate the world view in intelligible terms as a model for the conduct of individual and collective life. Thus distinct historical traditions of a view of the good life are articulated which then serve as a norm in the collective organization of life. a historical tradition which makes sense of the world. As they learn that they are accountable to others. originates in subjective experiences of ordinary and extraordinary realities. Such experiences became socially objectivated into what one may call specifically religious collective representations. Some subjective experiences are of everyday reality. These experiences are partly solitary. To every individual born into a historical society. A world view maps the way which an organism of our species must take to become human. are linked in some particular fashion. it imposed itself as a second nature upon the biological determination of the species. Once history evolved. to become part of a meaningful social and natural cosmos. others are of extraordinary realities. The historical nature of human existence is a result of a complex evolutionary process. It is the part which originated in subjective experiences of transcendence. order and chaos. the trivial and the sublime.religion and morality in modern europe 77 some conceptions of what is right and what is wrong are canonized and others censored. socially objectivated representations of all these realities are integrated into a hierarchical structure of meaning. Life and death. transcendent reality. The model defines the relations of ordinary everyday .

In some societies the religious part of the world view was sharply set apart from the rest of collective representations. Ordinary members of society had no longer direct access to important parts of their religion. in other societies the ‘sacred’ and the ‘profane’ was not radically separated. and defines the proper ways of addressing them (in sacrifice. symbols and rituals. ecstasies.2 Collective representations trying to overcome the great transcendences were the only ones that were conventionally viewed as being properly religious. prayer. In dreams.). extreme pain and in the sight of death one experiences the great transcendences by confronting the boundaries of everyday life itself. A phenomenological description of the subjective experiences of transcendence reveals three different levels. A concern with the social transcendences belongs to the domain of political religion. the ‘monotheism’ which came to be articulated in the Hebrew world view. world views in general and their religious core in particular contain all three levels. the many public and secret cults in the Roman Empire. Empirically. The bridge between these two different reality domains is built with the help of metaphors. The basic religious function of world views is relatively independent of their specific contents. peasant Taoism and Confucianism of the high tradition in China. provides words and iconic representations for them. This holds even for religions such Christianity and the Islam—whose theological experts battled fervently—generally in vain—against magic. the essential otherness of fellow beings.78 thomas luckmann reality to transcendent realities. This was primarily the work of experts in religious knowledge. the 2 As they were called by Voegelin (1938). . although the proportions may differ. dance etc. Coping with the minor transcendences tends to be considered the domain of magic. It is difficult enough to separate these levels of experience even in phenomenological description. meditation. It names the elements of these realities. In everyday experience two levels of transcendence are encountered: the continuous minor transcendences set by the boundaries of time and space. The tendency to segregate the sacred domain from the profane world became more pronounced with the emergence of the ancient civilizations. Animism and shamanism of tribal societies. and the intermediate transcendence defined by the inaccessibility.

are isolated from their social context.religion and morality in modern europe 79 various historical Hindu and Buddhist cultures of South. by the division of labor. with a low degree of what one may call a specialization of religious functions. I shall call the place which morality occupies in the social structure its social form. it may be at home in a particular set of closely related institutions. Neither the subjective experiences from which. Africa and Europe. The religious and moral center of worlds views is influenced in various direct and indirect ways by the conditions of life which. the dominant dimension of social organization in these societies. the Catholicism of Ignatius of Loyola. and it may be segregated in one specialized institutional domain. II Throughout most of human history three social forms defined the place of religion in society. totems) and among the early experts in transcendent experience (shamans). it legitimated the simple patterns of the division of labor. correspondingly. the succession of Arab and non-Arab. Sunnite and Shiite Islamic cultures in Asia. The way in which the religious core of a world view is embedded in the social structure. are determined by different forms of social organization. They are firmly embedded in different social structures. even in societies with a simple division of labor. and by the system of power and the associated structure of social classes. The religious and moral core of a world view may be diffused through the entire social order with all its institutions. Religious knowledge helped shape the norms of kinship. and of the exercise of power. In archaic societies the maintenance and transmission of the ‘sacred universe’ was based on the social structure in its entirety. The nature of the links between the social structure and the world view is not immutable. However. some specialization of the religious function occurred at certain points in the kinship system (ancestors. the Puritan communities of New England. East and North Asia. . I propose to call a social form of religion and. nor the communicative social interactions in which historical world views are constructed. in turn. Religion was diffused throughout the various institutions of society. the technology of production and distribution. the various brands of Communism—all had the same elementary religious and moral function.

Two social forms of religion thus came to co-exist and to interpenetrate. Its development is best documented in Pharaonic Egypt and in the old ‘hydraulic’ societies of the Near East. the specifically religious part of the world view did have highly visible ties to the institutions of power— as in divine kingship. The increasing complexity in the division of labor. In these societies. Yet the ‘sacred logic’ of the world view continued to provide cognitive and affective support for the individual’s conduct of life. The third of these basic arrangements of religion in society is characterized by the fact that one particular set of institutions came to maintain and transmit the collective representations of transcendent reality.’ and that transcendent realities continued to legitimate the entire social structure. growth of supracommunal and supra-tribal political organization. This first and oldest social form of religion prevailed for the longest part of the history of our species. religion began to achieve a distinct institutional location in the social order. The differentiation of the social structure into functionally specialized institutional domains was not the result of a general evolutionary process. However. . Within the general process of social differentiation of some 3 As Wittfogel (1962) called them.3 It may be said that in these societies the entire social structure kept supporting a ‘sacred universe. The sacred part of reality was sharply segregated from the profane. emergence of distinct occupational roles and the formation of social classes made for progressive functional differentiation of social institutions. in the post-Constantinean (post-Theodosian) areas of the Roman Empire. It emerged in one particular line of human history. the production of a surplus over the subsistence minimum. Social organization was based almost exclusively on face-to-face social relations and socialization procedures were homogeneous. and religion acquired a visibly separate location in a special set of social institutions. The second arrangement dates back about five thousand years.80 thomas luckmann The meaning of ordinary action was linked to transcendent realities. It should be noted that in these societies the majority of the rural population continued to live in ‘archaic’ folk communities still characterized by vestiges of the original social form of religion. central control over its storage and distribution.

erroneously interpreted as the spread of secularization. With some simplification one many say that in archaic societies religion. The restricted location of institutional religion in the social structure. if not entirely “fused. resulted in a church which—during the Middle Ages—was capable of contesting the state or entering into mutually profitable alliances with it. but it survived as a dominant social form of religion for something like a millennium and a half. Nonetheless. the institutional specialization of religion in the form of the Christian churches represents a historical development that was originally also limited to that area. morality and law had a common basis in the social structure. the new social form of religion was characterized by a genuinely new arrangement of the relation between religious collective representations and the social structure. in my view.religion and morality in modern europe 81 societies. Institutional specialization of religious functions. the ‘caesaropapist’ linkage of an established church to the state contained elements of the traditional social form. and at an accelerated pace since the social transformations of the late eighteenth and the nineteenth century. social form of religion. However. from the beginnings of the modern era. should be recognized as the emergence of a fourth. The overall significance of the moral order was legitimated by systematic reference to a transcendent sacred universe even when morality and religion were no longer seen as being identical.”4 very closely coordinated. . At the heart of the moral order of every society there was a clearly articulated conception of the good life. The institutions that involved different functions in social life were. The new situation contained elements of the social universality of religion which was characteristic of the diffused archaic social form. the privatized. The fate of morality in many ways resembled that of religion. was a seemingly unstable arrangement for religion in society. and monopolization of these functions in one distinctly religious institutional domain. the consequences of the general functional specialization of institutions helped to undermine its preponderance. The new social form of religion was superimposed upon the already existing mixture of the archaic and traditional forms. This process which was. 4 To use a metaphor suggested Redfield (1953). with a correspondingly restricted jurisdiction over thought and action.

One is the functional specialization of the major public domains. III After something like two centuries during which this change was prepared by transformations in the economy. religion and morals. in the relations between church and state. In consequence. the ‘privatized’ social form of religion. and analogously of morals. moral. in the main highly individualized objectivations of religious experience.. For a prolonged period. It did not simply replace the institutionally specialized social form. they became subjective realities. socially defined. privatized. morality conscience—in other words.82 thomas luckmann In the course of Near Eastern and Western history. to be sure. came to prevail in the past decades over the form that was dominant over many centuries. Religion became faith. religious and legal functions of collective life increasingly tended toward organization in separate institutions. But morality remained attached to religious institutions during the earlier phases of the process of institutional differentiation and even law retained a sacred quality almost to the present day. first in the case of religion and subsequently in the case of morals. it redefined the general social-structural and cultural framework within which the churches were to coexist with other. were increasingly individualized and. religious institutions continued to serve as the social-structural basis of morality but religious institutions themselves were eventually restricted to what was considered their proper function by the modern state. although divine sanctions continued to be invoked. The economy shed functions not directly connected with the orga- . the socially and morally disciplining force of religious institutions began to weaken. by urbanization processes etc. in the family structure. the process spared neither religion nor the moral order. Both. but enforced only within social milieus rather than by the institutional apparatus of the entire social order. economic and legal functions of social life which marked Western societies since the late Middle Ages speeded up. This fourth social form of religion emerged in the vast overall process of modernization and is most directly associated with two of its basic components. As the pace of functional differentiation of political. The codification of rules of conduct in the form of law represented a first step in the differentiation of religion and morality.

Active participation had shrunk consistently but only relatively small numbers actively dissociated themselves from the churches. Different world views do not merely coexist in segregated social and ethnic groups within an empire. Canonization of one world view for an entire society and general censorship become unlikely if not impossible. when the contacts between the groups were sharply limited by religious and secular law. The other is the modern variety of pluralism. or by outright ‘fundamentalism. (Religious) collective representations are produced by a variety of sources and distributed in a relatively open market. They are doing so either by adaptations to what is taken to be ‘modern consciousness. and the state concentrated upon the organization of power. Both emancipated themselves from religious norms. the immigrant minority religions. as in National Socialist Germany. Now. only a small part of the nominally Christian population (I now disregard.’ It should be remembered that the overwhelming majority of the population in the European countries had nominal membership in the established Protestant. may establish them with limited success and for a limited duration. The belief in the uniqueness and superiority of one’s own view of transcendent realities was challenged and their dominance of in the conduct of ordinary life undermined. Catholic and. at least in principle.religion and morality in modern europe 83 nization and production of goods and services. Eastern Orthodox churches well into the twentieth century. they offer a product that is clearly labeled as religious.5 Essential characteristics of the ‘modern’ privatized social form of religion are institutional de-specialization of religion.’ or by selective conservatism. in the Southeast and East. and immediate mass-medial accessibility of a supply of collective representations that refer to various levels of transcendence. different world views became available to everyone. See Berger and Luckmann (1995). Today. as in Hellenistic and Roman times. with the exception of Soviet Russia and the small European strip of Turkey. such as. de-monopolization of the production and distribution of world views. Totalitarian regimes in a modern state. social norms and custom. They compete with other contemporary constructions of a sacred cosmos which attempt to cope with the subjective experiences of the ‘great’ transcendences. 6 5 .6 The churches and sects remain important. for the moment.

and in the ecological movement. to the Christian churches as the caretakers of that tradition even if one is critical of the church for any number of reasons. Together with the ‘vicarious memory’ sector of the population. which until one. Islam) forms an inner core of the faithful. however. Davie’s notion of ‘vicarious memory’7 aptly describes the situation for these outer layers in a simplified formula. there is some potential for mobilization. However. Significant differences remain.84 thomas luckmann most prominently. To repeat: this part of the population is not homogeneous. For the concept of religion as memory see Hervieu-Léger (1993). Among them. A major part of the population accepts and supports the Christian tradition as representative of its historical identity. nominal membership remains relatively high. and even less likely that—apart from some sects. The level of participation in church religion is generally low throughout Europe. and not merely among the active members of the churches. taking bits and pieces from selected elements of the Christian tradition. from a vaguely pantheistic nature worship.’ albeit 7 See Davie (2000). The potential is exemplified in collective charity work. the figures range between far less than 10 per cent. by most. for example. at least part is religious in a general non-institutional way. Acceptance is extended not only to the tradition as such but. There is little outright hostility to the church and. too. Buddhism etc. tend to ‘catch up’ with areas. in various peace movements. and highly syncretistic. a small inner core will probably keep Europe ‘Christian. This inner core is surrounded by a layers of different degrees of attachment. more or less skeptical practitioners as well as of non-practitioners. It is quite unlikely that the Christian churches will turn into strong ‘denominations’ on the American model. all the way to total indifference. in England. two or three generations ago still had high levels of participation. and remaining skeptical about the success of the restorationist trend in the Vatican—they will turn fundamentalist. there is no strong evidence for predicting their withering away entirely either. . However. It is difficult to say how the situation will evolve. It consists of occasional and very occasional. to an estimate of an exceptional 30 per cent for Poland. despite a ‘leveling’ process in which areas. Depending on what indices one uses. which had relatively low levels even in the nineteenth century. considering that only few belong to the inner core. from ‘New Age’ notions.

The contemporary mass media cater primarily to a large part of the population.’ representing a variant of privatized religion hardly any traditional religionists and few sociologists of religion would consider ‘religious’. The churches are of course only one. the ‘new’ religious communities and the large-scale commercialized enterprises in the all-embracing fold of the ‘New Age.8 Hedonistic attitudes. possibly in a new coalition with Christianity. Here. An expanding position in the market is occupied by relatively new suppliers. The ‘contents’ of the privatized social form of religion are. is rooted in the cultivation of emotions and immediate sensations. different smaller groups may selectively pick up topics generated by the subjective experiences of life in contemporary society. provider of transcendent orientations on the ‘meaning’ market. continue to operate in the highly competitive market. although the oldest.religion and morality in modern europe 85 in a diluted way. They conquered a large share of the market in recent decades. will change the religious face of Europe in the coming generations. But that will depend on what the ecological and economic situation will be during the twenty-first century. is doing its best to overcome this difficulty. race and nation. However. . possibly a majority. reformulate and recombine them in digestible portions under various brand names. of course. quite heterogeneous. the situation is quite diffuse. They have little success in the core regions and population strata of modern European society. 8 It is not impossible that modern apocalyptic and ascetic movements such as the ecological movement will eat into the broad hedonistic section of the population. a constitutive part of a modern mentality. the residual carriers of nineteenth century political religions that focused on the intermediate social transcendences of class.’ Finally. which espouses minimally transcendent views of the good life: from ‘selfrealization’ to ‘wellness. When articulating topics appealing to this mentality in myths. and the individual on the other. For one. It is difficult to say to what extent recent immigrant religion. Among the new suppliers are. both. symbols. Whereas television caters to various audiences. a variety of social organization that is located between the ‘great’ institutions. regional and. the state and the economy on the one hand. there are the mass media which select and transmit collective representations produced elsewhere. Islam in particular. and distribute them on a local. and dogmas it is not easy to meet even low standards of consistency.

etc. There is also a vast ‘devotional’ literature. These conditions also gave rise to another ‘holistic’ option. In addition. in addition to the very serious material problems. was much more sudden and more radical than in the original core areas of the Western processes of modernization and provoked radical responses that seem to have swamped ‘liberal’ Muslim traditions. Groupings of this kind often arise in sub-institutional movements started by religious charismatics and moral entrepreneurs. An earlier scattering of smallscale enterprises has now turned into a major industry. ‘net-works’ are created or. that started in the fifties and sixties. and commercially exploitable ‘cultic milieus’ are thus formed. movements. They can be also taken up by groups—typically on the periphery of modern society—and converted into a sectarian model. Television is not the only mass medium active in the propagation of the new social form of religion. at least.86 thomas luckmann meanwhile. and the development of a market of world views. also on a world-wide scale. and any particular syncretism tends to be ephemeral. the pluralism of massculture. one must distinguish this kind of ‘fundamentalism’ from the violent response to the cognitive and emotional strains which. Few attempts are made to transform the small enterprises into big corporations. The general structural conditions favoring the spread of the highly subjectivist ‘New Age’ in search of a new ‘wholeness’ were the functional specialization of institutional domains. somewhat similar conditions produce in many traditional societies in transition. Instead. Most of the enterprises in the fold of the ‘New Age’ do not even attempt formal institutionalization. a ‘network’ mystique is cultivated. bioenergetics. especially in Muslim countries.’ Despite some obvious likenesses. Their chances of stable institutionalization tend to be rather small. Various sets of these representations can be combined individually. The treatises on ‘life-reform’ at the beginning of the last century were the forerunners of the best-sellers on positive thinking. there are small-scale revival attempts of nineteenth century occult. . etc. astrological advice. on expansion of consciousness etc. spiritualist. ‘Fundamentalism’ is the opposite of individual syncretism and subjective ‘bricolage. most of which claim an older lineage. however. The products provided are religious representations of the most diverse kinds. Eastern ‘mystical’ and meditational practices. The challenge to traditional religious legitimations of a particular form of life. They are as nothing compared to today’s flood of volumes on popular psychology.

gave rise to Protestant and Catholic versions of fundamentalism.e. Asia and Latin America. in the case of the Vatican. Protestant fundamentalism is weak and generally limited to sects. Europe and the United States of America share a common religious history and. However. Catholic fundamentalism. under the substantially more favorable material conditions of life in modern Western societies. I hope to have shown that a better explanation is available. fostering ‘immorality’ in economic and political life. These have chosen traditional models of ‘wholeness’ in reaction to ‘modernity’ which is seen as fracturing human existence and alienating the individual from society.9 The members of cognitive minorities seem to be unaware of this. some sort of approximation to parliamentary democracy within national republics and In Europe. In short: the modern privatized social form of religion is characterized. The fundamentalist attempts to re-universalize what may have once been universal—but had now become the religious and moral dogma of a cognitive minority—do not seem to have much chance of success in Europe. This situation appears to represent a radical decline of religion which could be only explained by a theory of secularization. nineteenth century anti-modernist) Catholicism in Africa. on the contrary reemerged as a powerful force in the Church in a reaction to the Second Vatican Council. universal human experiences of transcendence and the search for a meaningful life. for better or for worse.religion and morality in modern europe 87 Even the less pervasively disorienting challenges.’ especially sexual behavior. One should assume that the structural conditions that were responsible for this change also transformed the social form of religion in other modern societies. In the Western European societies.. 9 . by the absence of plausible and generally obligatory social models for the persisting. creating disorientation and anomie. destroying obligatory controls for public and private life by the propagation through the mass media of a wide variety of models for ‘immoral. throughout the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. they are comparable grosso modo in most aspects of the social structure: industrial capitalism. for example. The situation in Japan is different for obvious reasons. religion underwent an epoch-making change of the social form of religion (and morality). just as unaware today as in the times of Pius IX—unless the strategists there are discounting Europe and North America and counting on the expansion of traditionalist (i.

strict separation of church and state prevailed from the beginning despite strong political forces. excellent and compact analysis see Casanova (1994). There was no legally established church.10 In the United States. The situation was peculiar in the eyes of European visitors. ‘social’ disestablishment preceded legal disestablishment. IV In the United States of America this process occurred under quite different circumstances and had different consequences. the churches were never churches in the traditional sense of the word. . they were denominations in a plural system of legal disestablishment in which the early ‘social establish10 For a recent. and a reasonably effective rule of law. which propagated establishment. In the United States of America.88 thomas luckmann constitutional monarchies. both the everyday and the political importance of religion could hardly be overestimated. as well as the Americanized Anglicans. ‘History’ shapes the conditions of life and conditions of life shape collective mentalities (and collective mentalities shape collective action that makes ‘history’). to become socially established in the early nineteenth century. In a comparison of Western Europe and the United States of America it was the history of the relation between religion and the state that may have decisively influenced the social context for the emergence of the new social form of religion in these structurally most modern societies. the situation appears rather simple. Whatever the original differences in the colonies and early states were with respect to church establishment. Baptists and Presbyterians (Congregationalists). One is tempted to say that legal non-establishment was the necessary condition for an unofficial federation of the major non-conformist Protestant denominations. however. no state church. In the United States. On one. the purely constitutional level. In Europe. A comparison between the United States and Europe is therefore more illuminating with regard to the different ways by which institutional specialization was replaced by a privatized social form of religion. the separation of church and state prevailed from the very beginning. federally. the Methodists. yet at the time of Tocqueville’s visit. the social form of religion is even more difficult to treat in an account separate from the political domain than in Europe.

13 a modern anti-modernist one. the older denominations. American Protestantism has bifurcated. ‘re-establishments’ and a perhaps not quite definitive ‘disestablishment. American Catholicism. during the last decades the inner secularization of some of the older. At the same time. Catholic religious social ethics is now at the opposite side of right-wing Protestant ‘fundamentalism. is difficult to assess. In the following decades. 13 Whether this section is really expanding as much as some—usually worried— commentators will have it. such as Franco/post-Franco Spain and communist/post-Communist Poland. reemerged as a noticeable political force. it became a public religion12 as it profited from the organizational capabilities of the ‘New Right’ and the charismatic appeal of Falwell. as in Europe. the modern anti-modernist Protestantism. after its earlier fate as a minority religion and then as one of the pillars of the post WWII ‘civil religion.’ revivals.. ‘fundamentalist’ regeneration in the early decades of the twentieth century. although increasingly disregarded even by the faithful. The overall situation is quite varied in national detail yet shares some common features which differentiate it from the situation in the United States of America. In Europe. and which had become active as a public religion.’ seems to be in a transitional phase. in the Boston diocese).g. into a smaller section consisting of the somewhat ‘liberalized’ traditional denominations. which with its fundamentalist core had retreated to the rural areas and the South. that are fully accommodated to pluralism and modern conditions of life. at least temporarily. shrank. even before the ‘sexual scandals’ broke in the church (e. and its rigorous position on abortion brought it into an uneasy alliance with the evangelical Protestants. which contains a fundamentalist core. ‘respectable’ denominations was compensated by the rise of evangelicalism. In Casanova’s terminology. mainstream Protestantism became the central pillar of the Protestant/Catholic/Jewish ‘civil religion’11 of the fifties and sixties. In general. 12 11 . which were accommodated to pluralism and secular. the denominations were much better fitted to function as organizational forms of some vitality within the new privatized social form of religion. All that appears to have happened without a substantial decrease in participation in Christian denominations.’ its official sexual ethics. and another section.’ After the failure of evangelical. See Casanova (1994). “public religions” were limited to a few rather special cases. however.religion and morality in modern europe 89 ment’ was followed by ‘disestablishments. religiously neutral conditions of life. See Herberg (1955).

However.’ more specifically to the different history of the relations between church and state. However. the United States merely lagging behind for reasons. In my view. new. one may say that service attendance and participation in congregational or parish activities kept dropping in Europe from a slightly lower level to a much lower level at least since the middle of the nineteenth century for the Protestant countries. the differences remain and they cannot be understood in terms of the secularization paradigm. America gives the impression of religious vitality. hedonistic individual syncretism and loosely organized esoteric circles or. With regard to religion the similarities between Europe and the United States are nonetheless still greater than the differences. The religious situation in Canada resembles that in Europe more closely than that in its neighbor country. church funeral was lower. as in the case of ‘New Age’ groups. but not much lower in Europe than in the United States. The secularization theorists considered Europe to be in the vanguard of secularization. this being attributable in major part to ‘history. In a traditional view of what constitutes religion. somewhat shrunk shape. Europe of religious decline. In the United States of America. participation in some ritual activities. highly syncretistic. participation in traditional forms of church activity. as a rule. although somewhat higher than in Europe. Christianity in the form of denominations not only survives but even thrives in an American variant of the privatized social form of religion. with some simplification of internal differences. The outreach of the oldline Protestant denominations has shrunk as in the United States but was not compensated by a fundamentalist evangelical resurgence. Europe is not secularized but in the vanguard of a privatized form of religion. On a very rough estimate. and the middle of the twentieth century for the Catholic countries. For much of the late modern era.14 14 It would seem that the difference between the United States and Canada bears out this point. ‘networks’ dot the religious landscape without. and in their similarities they differ strongly from modernizing Latin American countries and from the Islamic part of the world. possibly evanescent forms spreading outside the traditional organizational forms of religion. with the churches surviving within the new frame on a modest level. such as baptism. is perhaps no more than half that in the United States. considering themselves religious.90 thomas luckmann Next to the clearly visible vitality of the new Protestant denominations and of Catholicism in its new. church marriage. The close connection between . which they were hard put to explain.

the emergence of a cultural superstructure and an organizational basis did not make practical morality disappear from everyday life. they developed a structural basis of their own in religious-moral institutions. as well as in traditional societies in which this was the case.’ continue to be relevant to the conduct of life. clubs. although they are now bereft of the institutional power of old-style orthodoxies. Intermediary institutions are also the main source of at least partial enforcement of such moralities in the interaction order. Concrete interactional morality in small groups was a necessary part of all human societies. peer groups. Privatized religion tends to find scattered social bases in intermediary groups and institutions. and schools. associations and institutions such as civic organizations. Although a dogmatic hierarchy of conceptions of the good life is no longer uniformly transmitted and enforced by a dominant institutional apparatus. However. has been severed. It did. religious congregations. Morality is a constitutive dimension of face-to-face social interaction. . Neither the new social form of religion nor the new form of morality are confined to the solitary individual. Notions of ‘good’ and ‘bad. make a difference by influencing practical morality or. and in societies with a high degree of functional differentiation. morally significant notions and ideas were built into complex systems of morality. The ‘contents’ of religion do include traditional orthodoxies of ecclesiastic and political-ideological origin. at the very least. Certainly. In ancient civilizations. local branches of larger societal groups. But these are ‘islands church and society exemplified in Quebec Catholicism for centuries. modern societies still contain groups with an insider morality—but the morality is unenforceable outside the group. and privatized morality is still a matter of interactional praxis. notions of right and wrong are still passed on by various channels. These had their canons and catechisms and were infused into the institutional norms of the social structure.’ ‘right’ and ‘wrong. In late modern societies. of course. its rhetoric in traditional and early modern societies.religion and morality in modern europe 91 The changes in morality were in some ways analogous to those in religion. Traditional religious adherence remains high only for the recent Muslim and Hindu immigrants. well beyond World War II. especially by the family and by (other) intermediary institutions. unitary moral orders no longer exist. both in archaic societies in which it had no institutional basis of its own. Eventually.

(1957). An Essay in American Religious Sociology. Thomas (1991).’ Analogously. Luckmann. the minor ones. Pluralism and the Crisis of Meaning. The desecularization of the world: Resurgent religion and world politics. Neither religion nor morality have disappeared. Protestant-Catholic-Jew. Religion in Modern Europe. Eric (1938). In their dominant versions they are characterized by a shift of the transcendences to which they are addressed from the great to the intermediate and.” In: Euntes docete 54. References Berger. A Comparative Study in Total Power. Eerdmans Publishing Company. especially. NY: Cornell University Press. these islands that are almost submerged in a self-enclosed familistic morality. ——. Davie. José (1994). MI: William B. Peter L. (ed. Oriental Despotism. Paris: Cerf. Chicago.92 thomas luckmann surrounded by a sea’ of a religion that leaves little to be venerated but the self-indulgent quasi-autonomous ‘self. and Thomas Luckmann (1995). New Haven. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. 2: 35–46. However. In one form or another they are alive. Modernity. Danièle (1993). privatized social form of religion and morality was superimposed on a mixture of older ones. IL: University of Chicago Press. Die unsichtbare Religion. Voegelin. To sum up: structurally a new. Casanova. Garden City. too. In Western Europe. Hervieu-Léger. at least. practical morality consists of islands of traditional Christian.Y: Doubleday. Robert (1953). Herberg. Wittfogel. at best. Ithaca. “Superficial or radical transformations of religion and morality in the modern world. Jewish and Islamic morality. Grand Rapids. as well as traditional humanist. The contents of religion and morality have changed significantly. and the nearly solipsistic morality of self-fulfillment. . Die politischen Religionen. Will (1995). N. The Primitive World and its Transformations.) (1999). La religion pour Mémoire. the rationalist view which saw religion as a passing historical phenomenon is wrong. socialist and other secular moralities. (2001). Karl A. Redfield. Gütersloh: Bertelsmann Foundation Publisher. Grace (2000). Peter L. Vienna: Bermann-Fischer. Public Religions in the Modern World. Berger. CT: Yale University Press.

’ . science and economics. In this clinically pure vision of modernity functional differentiation is in the saddle and assigns a logic of its own to each domain: science is governed by nothing but the devotion to timeless truth. Frequently this sacrificial mediation was performed by the ruler himself. Political authority claimed a religious foundation and religious cults were public practices that tried to cope with extraordinary challenges and to mediate between humans and gods by sacrifice and prayer. Politics is viewed as a rationalized and autopoetic business of generating power—purely mundane and devoid of any religious roots. in most ancient societies religious and political leadership were merged in the sacral authority of kings. Religion.1 1 Assmann (2003) mentions Varro as the first who coined the term ‘political theology. This radical separation of religion and politics. by contrast. are thoroughly rationalized and largely public domains. And this Western ‘exceptionalism’ is not backed by a long historical continuity. Even in the most secularized Muslim societies. a clear majority of the population does not accept secularization. like Turkey. is a fairly recent historical achievement of Western civilization.TALES OF TRANSCENDENCE: IMAGINING THE SACRED IN POLITICS Bernhard Giesen I Introduction The master narrative of modernity insists on a neat institutional separation between religion and politics. Thus politics had a direct religious foundation and theology had immediate political implications. is shifted to the private realm and related to the individual quest for consoling answers to questions of human existence. too. however. capitalist economy is driven by the utterly mundane pursuit of individual economic interests. We don’t have to focus on Muslim fundamentalism to discover that it is only feebly and superficially supported by non-Western societies. Like politics.

But even the medieval conflict between pope and emperor was not about a political intervention into the ecclesiastical domain. into a coexistence of separate domains achieved? The classical paradigm for answering this question was provided by Max Weber’s famous essay about ‘Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism’:3 Capitalism was generated by religious motives but persisted even if its religious roots were fading away. The Enlightenment attacked this alliance of ‘throne’ and ‘altar’ as well as the heteronomy of what was considered to be the most personal commitment: religious confession. this relapse into a pre-modern fusion of religion and politics is easily discarded as pathological deviation. claimed to be representatives of Christianity and heirs of the Roman Empire. Political power should give up its religious disguise and religion should abstain from intervening in politics. Centuries later. emperor and pope. In a similar way politics—although once merged This split repeated the separation between religious community and political rule that Israel had to stand under the Babylonian rule.’ between the ‘heavenly city of god’ and the ‘earthly city’ has been at the core of Western political philosophy. 2 . however.2 From this period onwards the distinction between spiritual and temporal powers. The sovereign prince could decide about the confession of his subjects and his politics was to be based on purely secular foundations. Even if in modern societies politics can occasionally still dress as religious movement. and the conflict between the universal reach of the church and the limited range of political authority since the eleventh century. but about competing spiritual claims to represent Christianity on earth. the relationship between politics and religion was reversed in Europe. Religion as the prime mover of war and politics was increasingly replaced by an autonomous politics of the princely state. generated a particular tension between church and state in Latin Christianity. Both. the confessional wars were still driven by religious motives and even today many focal conflicts of global politics are fuelled by religious zeal and confessional divide. via competing claims on spiritual leadership. 3 Weber (1979). between ‘sword’ and ‘book. How was this fundamental translation from the unity of sacral authority. After the Treaty of Westphalia.94 bernhard giesen The history of the Western split between religion and politics is well known: The collapse of the west Roman Empire in the fifth century.

is imagined and presupposed in different ways. and raise the question whether these figures of transcendence differ in their ‘elective affinity’ (Weber) to either politics or religion. and their mode of communication. their life-world. Transcendental reference is not identical with religion. we do not have to accept that every political practice presupposes a religious core in the strict sense of the term. Some conceptual clarification may be helpful. we will try to outline a typology of analytical figures of transcendence implied in social theory. Even if we concede that no politics can dispense with a reference to a transcendental pre-political basis. we will argue that a distinction between traditional religion and politics on the one side and modern secularized politics on the other is too crude and simplistic. 5 Schmitt (1922: 37). in a modern context. Here. Assmann and Luckmann have doubted whether even modern politics can dispense with religious foundations though in a secularized translation. 4 . Following this “transcendentalist” line we should—instead of discovering political power behind religious surfaces—rather reveal the hidden religious core of politics. We may consider religion to be one of several different cultural notions of the sacred or of transcendence. The second and larger part of this essay reverses the perspective and investigates—again in an ideal-typical manner—different imaginations of the sacred as generated by social carriers.4 In contrast to assuming a mere generative or historical function of religion. Instead we will present four ideal-typical scenarios in which the differentiation between religion and politics unfolds and the sacred. Each of these ideal-typical Hans Blumenberg (1966) and others have provided some illuminating insights into this modern turn to constructing the world on purely this-worldly ground. In this case the attention turns to those other modes of relating to transcendence which are implied in politics.tales of transcendence 95 with religious practice—can. First. scholars like Eisenstadt and Voegelin. Schmitt’s thundering statement is well known: “All central notions of the modern theory of the state are secularized theological concepts.”5 Religion—however disguised and translated—is constitutive for every kind of politics. dispense with any religious foundation. In the following remarks we will address this issue from two different points of view. Schmitt and Kantorowicz. as the source of politics.

Transcendence is commonly referred to as the contingency or autonomy of action—phrased either as the problem of deviance or as the problem of sovereignty in a state of nature. Our typology consists of four different paradigms of transcendence with respect to social order: ‘deviance. Social theory—while not ignoring this reference to transcendence completely—has. the order of objects is constituted by a transcendental subject (Hegel). rules. it is the very possibility of deviance that requires norma- . social order has to be contrasted to some liminal reference (Turner).’ ‘sovereignty. Deviance The reality of social laws. This perspective focuses the classical Hobbesian problem of social order as normative control. rather. All these arguments converge in supporting the idea that social reality is constituted by referring to something that transcends the sheer positivism of the ordinary world of everyday life. action cannot be conceived of without reference to an autonomous source of agency (Parsons). largely the mode the transcendence that is implied by the basic structure of symbolic meaning. relate to cases only as confirming examples and allow for no exception. the exception is constitutive for the rule (Wittgenstein). and norms differs fundamentally from the reality as described by natural laws.’ and the ‘void’ of meaning. and so forth. Natural laws. It disregards. ranging from German Idealism to more recent varieties of social philosophy: perception of reality presupposes a categorical frame (Kant). the profane exists only in distinction to its opposite. are constituted by this very reference to the exceptions or to the cases that contradicts them.96 bernhard giesen scenarios or “tales of transcendence” is grounded in a particular figure of transcendence as presented in the following chapter. however. In the following outline we will include the dimension of symbolic meaning.’ ‘epiphany. constitutions are set by a sovereign (Schmitt). by contrast. if true. Social rules and social order. however. 1. the sacred (Durkheim). a very restricted and selective perspective on it. II Figures of Transcendence The thesis that all politics relies upon a hidden transcendental reference can point to well-known philosophical arguments. A social norm is not invalidated by actions that deviate from it.

Furthermore. Healing this violation by intentional decision requires rituals of jurisdiction and punishment.7 6 7 The classical paradigm for this is the case of Oedipus. The deviant act—in its turn—becomes deviant only by reference to a norm—an action becomes a crime only through presupposing a law. See next chapter. More complex is the case of the perpetrator who was a regular and competent member of the community. however. that the accused person knows about the accusation and that he can defend himself against the charges. law and punishment. He knew the norms. the law itself is invisible. Thus normative order and voluntary action presuppose each other. In his most elementary form the perpetrator is a stranger who violates the rules without knowing them. The very idea of deviance seems to have an obvious elective affinity to the realm of political action—to power. however. The distinction between demonic and redeeming modes of the sacred or of transcendence comes to the fore when political institutions supersede and integrate family ties and kinship units. confesses his guilt and promises not to act against the norms any more. The perpetrator embodies and represents this act of deviance. .tales of transcendence 97 tive order. Both represent.6 His action inflicts impurity and stain to a social community. If actions were not essentially driven by autonomous decisions. negative forms of transcendence that—from the point of view of political order—are related to the demonic mode of the sacred. and the punishing authority can therefore reduce the degree of punishment. but they are instituted and enforced only because there are possible acts that would violate them—the crime is the reason for the law. Even more complex is the case of the repenting perpetrator who not only knew about the rules before. but who. By accusing himself the repenting perpetrator has contributed significantly to repair the crisis of the normative order. there would be no need for norms and rules. its existence is noticed only when contrasted to the visible act of deviance. later on. These rituals presuppose. Deviance is the logical transcendence of the law as disobedience is the transcendence of authority. Laws are not ‘broken’ by criminal acts. but determined by external causes. Rituals of purification and separation that work even without the awareness and consent of the stranger can restore the original purity of the social order. but decided voluntarily to violate them.

Giesen (1998). of power alone. The sovereign is sovereign because he is able to suspend the constitution and to declare the state of exception. autonomous and unique.9 The figure of the hero reflects not only the relationship between sovereign and constitution.8 By constitution he is exempted from its rules. he is endowed with superhuman powers. i. and the paradigm of action theory in social science continues this tradition. . of the basic normative order of a domain.e. where bare life is at stake by establishing a political authority and a social contract. Sovereignty Searching for this transcendental ground of politics. whether law and authority can be effective through threat of sanctions. Although existing independently from the constitution the sovereign is analytically related to it. its violence and brutishness. but inspires also the modernist notion of the autonomous individual. who creates the social order and acts out of a state of nature. we can imagine an absolute authority that is independent from the approval or consensus within the political process: the sovereign. The sovereign is the source of the constitution. i. He can claim sovereignty only by referring to the normative order that he has instituted. Again.e. The transcendence of the sovereign is imagined in the figure of the ‘charismatic hero. Rank (1910).’ The hero is exceptional. 2. there seems to exist an obvious elective affinity between this mode of transcendence and the political order: questions of sov8 9 Schmitt (1996). he defies common reason and the risk of death. The sovereign acts out of a state of nature but he transcends this state of nature.e. i. This normative order differs from a natural order in being created and instituted by an agency. he commands a divine violence. Modern individualism is a transformation of the narrative of heroism. or whether law and authority have to be rooted in a ground that transcends the sheer positivism of power and its contingent distribution. Thus the sovereign is included in the constitution and at the same time exempted from it. and he crushes the existing order and sets a new one. an autonomous source of action.98 bernhard giesen The question remains however. See Campbell (1971). which existed prior to this action and has to be conceived of as independent from this action.

By contrast.’ as ‘grace. Epiphany Not only norms.’ the ‘Sacred.’ as ‘awakening. It requires mediation. he reveals the hidden meaning .’ and ‘History.’ Of a sudden the hidden meaning is disclosed. sovereignty as positive transcendence is challenged by its ‘profanization’ through failure: the hero is discovered as a mortal human being who has lost the grace of gods.tales of transcendence 99 ereignty are at the core of political theory and philosophy. The fullness of meaning experienced in the epiphanic moment radiates into everyday life and commands radical changes. we experience this moment as ‘epiphany. In distinction to natural signs produced by natural events.’ or as ‘revelation.’ as ‘miracle. sovereignty and charismatic authority are thus challenged by the risk of misfortune and the dwindling belief of the followers in the immortality of the sovereign. Symbolic meaning transcends the sheer factuality of natural events and the habituality of mundane procedures. and hints at a source of meaning behind it: ‘God. But one problem remains: the sovereign who sets the temporal and political order and controls its changes has to be exempted from its tidings and. in particular. If we directly encounter this source of meaning.’ ‘Reason. the symbolic structure of social reality consists of relations of meaning that allow understanding and orientation. the Achilles’ Heel of political philosophy. 3. from the risk of death. but also symbols cannot escape this basic reference to the opposite or to the exception. everyday reasoning and the ordinary expectations. however. The figure of the ‘prophet’ embodies this epiphanic transcendence. the meaning of symbolic items or moments does not mirror natural objects. The imagination of the sovereign as immortal and sacral is. the ordinary pattern are discovered as superficial and illusionary. As positive imaginations of transcendence.’ ‘Identity. The normative order consists of a set of rules or expectations that are valid if they are sanctioned. behind the visible everyday world appears an invisible eternal order. Usually this extraordinary source of meaning can be experienced only through its symbolic traces and representations in the visible everyday world.’ Here—as the constitutive power is exempted from the constitution—the source of meaning is exempted from mundane. the scattered stories merge to exhibit the true meaning of history. the relationship is slightly different. As the normative order is related to deviance as its negative transcendence. therefore.

’ the void of meaning.’ Obviously. like the perpetrator or the hero. In contrast. the absurdity that lurks behind the surface of everyday activity have. the epiphany of the truth represents a positive transcendence to the regular social order. the unspecified state of void. the opposite to the mundane order is not constituted by a special act that becomes visible in contrast to a general rule. and mediates between the sacred and the profane. and like sovereignty.’ Here. the perspective on symbolic order has centered mostly on the positive construction of meaning: everyday action in a life-world or the function of religion for social order. the void of the ‘outlands’ cannot be defined and experienced but as collapse of meaning. but. to the expectation of rule guided activities. Thus every figure of transcendence is defined also by its special counterpart that renders the representation and imagination of the sacred fragile and volatile. The challenge from ‘nothingness. the ‘void. The prophet does not act on behalf of his own.10 10 Social theory has paid much attention to themes like the constitution of normative order. and the Hobbesian perspective on social order has focused explicitly on a negative reference: the war of all against all in the state of nature.’ the ‘absurdity. Like a hole that cannot be perceived but as a space surrounded by matter. as in the case of norms and deviance or rules and exceptions. Like sovereignty.’ and ‘nothingness’ cannot be experienced but by contrasting it to the web of meaning that patterns normal life.100 bernhard giesen behind the surface of mundane everyday life. 4. Void The opposite of meaning is not a different meaning but the lack of meaning. Instead. as absolute absence of the sacred or—as the traditional theological discourse would have phrased it—as being ‘abandoned by God. Prophets challenge the existing order of power and are notoriously hostile to compromises. mediates between different realms. epiphany has to face the risk of doubts and disbelief—what the prophet claims to be ‘parusiah’ is mocked by his audience as preposterous eccentricity. In contrast to deviance and sovereignty. rarely been addressed as a core reference for the constitution of symbolic order. instead. There is no Hobbesian . the epiphanic disclosure of meaning does not show an obvious elective affinity to politics. however. to the benevolent presupposition of understanding each other. speaks in the name of a higher truth. ‘emptiness. he has— like a ‘trickster’—no firm and fixed position in this world. the void of meaning is related to the meaningful life by an oppositional or even destructive relationship.

’ as ‘cases of a kind. is not exempted from profane doubts and disillusion. ‘Victims’ are depersonalized human beings. The outlands of camps stand for this radical externalization of the void.’ as ‘beings without a face. they are just bodies. for a better life after death. they are treated as utterly profane objects. . to the extraordinary.tales of transcendence 101 Like other modes of transcendence. to the sacred. They are treated as ‘objects. this one. The historical imaginations and representations of this transcendence. however. whoever kills them commits no crime. It is imprinted by the life-world of its social carriers. to the status of ‘living dead. has to be represented and embodied in order to be visible in the social world. a place’ within the community. the victim has to encounter this total absurdity without hope for redemption. to the exceptional. the absurdity of death without hope or consolation. even their death cannot serve as a sacrifice. they can be used and killed like cattle. their suffering has no meaning. vary vastly and this diversity is rooted. In the outlands of camps they can claim no rights. too. But even the figure of the victim is not exempted from questions that may subvert the belief in this embodiment of negative transcendence. Their remainders are dispersed and blown to dust. Only in a world that has been abandoned by all Gods. they face the void. in turn. the nothingness. the void. III Four Tales of Transcendence In the preceding introduction we have assumed that every social order presupposes a reference to transcendence. But also. too. a name. from fraud and fake. which lurks behind the surface of any symbolic order. for rebirth. by their perspective on the symbolic order of society and the philosophies of Heidegger and Kierkegaard have not yet been translated into a paradigm for the construction of social reality.11 After longer maltreatment they are reduced to walking corpses without emotions. any link to a sacred core is denied for them. In this radical sense the victim is indeed a modern phenomenon. Like other representations of transcendence in politics. nothing should remind of their existence.’ to a borderline existence between human and nonhuman. 11 This description is inspired by Agamben’s concept of the ‘homo sacer’ (2000). Among other embodiments of the void and the collapse of meaning the figure of the victim stands out. in social situations and institutional patterns.

sacrality. and (4) the ‘void of meaning’ as embodied in the victim as negative transcendence. was a matter of degree and it was not yet divided into good and evil. Special political institutions or religious belief systems were rare or nonexistent. polity and family were assumed to be coextensive in pre-historical as well as in so called primitive society.’ Viewed from the modern perspective. Here the basic code consisted of the distinction between ‘inside’ and ‘outside. Because the differentiation between the more sacred and less sacred were still inner-worldly distinctions. Everything could partake in this sacredness as everything could be endowed with power. we have to outline the mythical starting point: the paradise in which the original unity of society and family and the harmony between gods and humans still existed. in which the differentiation between religion and politics unfolds. too. the original society was seen as a paradise without tension. (2) the ‘principled rule of the law’ and its counterpart—the construction of deviance. The sacred forces were still part of the mundane world. These modern imaginations of the beginning of history focus less on the absence of suffering or guilt (which were at the core of traditional religious accounts) but on the structural simplicity of society: the institutions of kinship and family were seen as the backbone of society. the deities walked on earth and communication with them was not a great problem. Before we present these scenarios. These scenarios are: (1) ‘charismatic political authority’ embodying the figure of sovereignty. wind or mountain. From the eighteenth century onwards this paradise of affluence and innocence was translated into the concept of ‘the state of nature’ in political theory or into the notion of ‘primitive society’ in evolutionary accounts of society.102 bernhard giesen forms of association and their media of communication. (3) the ‘epiphany of reason’ in the public discourse of the Enlightenment. The sacred was seen as overwhelming power as embodied in natural forces like sun. alienation or suffering. . Like power. The Tale of Sovereignty: Charismatic Authority Many mythical stories about the origin of history imagine an original paradise in which men and animals lived in harmony with superhuman forces. 1. In the following we will relate the four figures of transcendence outlined above to four social and historical scenarios.

A similar logic drives the gift-giving to non-related humans and the sacrificial offering to gods and demons. In order to prevent a merging of the opposites. Service (1975).13 In its original form political authority was still fused with sacredness. . the social community consisted of a variety of families. Instead. the gods became invisible and communication with them became difficult. In addition to this mystification of reality. a new structural situation demanded symbolic representations and institutional solutions: the unity of the community could no longer be seen as an extensive family and the boundaries of kinship did not confine the range of social integration. See Mauss (1990) and Godelier (1996).tales of transcendence 103 This paradise was lost as soon as the sacred forces were divided into the redeeming and purifying forces on the one side and the destructive and demonic forces on the other. The world got a double meaning: behind the surface. Evil and stigma were separated from charisma and the divine. the world was split into an opposition that did not allow for reconciliation. The ruler had not only to take care of internal conflicts between different families but also to cope with gods and demons. but now humans—situated in-between the Gods and the demons—had to understand the mystery behind the surface of things. Commonly this problem of conflict resolution beyond the range of direct reciprocity is associated with the rise of political authority. And the ritual modes of coping with the extraordinary did not fundamentally differ between challenges from profane and from sacred powers. His task was to overcome an extraordinary crisis and to keep the world going in a regular and predictable way. In both cases the law of diffuse reciprocity applies.12 The sacred was still embodied in this world. a hidden and sacred power had to be discovered. the obvious and immediate appearance of things. but were even performed by the same person. the relations of which had to be institutionally regulated and symbolically represented. Political authority and the administering of religious cult not only originated from the same exigencies of integration. the sacred forces had to withdraw from the profane world. See also his contributions to this volume.14 Whoever receives an offering that is set free from immediate profane benefits for the giver is obliged to 12 13 14 Assman (2003).

See Girard (1977: 111) and Beidelmann (1966). he was even exempted from the incest taboo in order to indicate his extraordinary and superhuman nature. Relating to transcendence also had a spatial dimension: being close to sacred objects allowed to participate in their redeeming aura and proximity to doomed or demonic objects polluted or bewitched a person. where the visible world mirrored the invisible world of gods and demons. embodied in particular objects and places. instead. he should not touch the ordinary ground with his feet. later on. Different gods and demons had their place in this world and could coexist because of spatial separation. the Swazi kingdoms. . Thus the sacrificial offering and offering of gifts have a common origin: the attempt to overcome the challenge of the extraordinary. The merging of functions that. it still existed in this world. The most radical mode of sacralizing a living person is the ‘divinization’ of the ruler.15 It could still be conceived in spatial terms: there were objects fused with sacrality and objects without it.104 bernhard giesen diffuse benevolence. In ancient Egypt and in the state of the Inca. but a being detached from ordinary men and similar to the gods. In this world where sacrality was unevenly distributed in space. but.18 and in many other archaic kingdoms the person of the ruler had a clearly sacred character. Politics and religion are still indistinguishable.16 In the West African kingdoms. where the sacred powers were still embodied and represented by objects and images in this world. Also well-known are the cases of deification of the 15 16 17 18 Voegelin refers to this unity as “compactness” and “the cosmological order. The king was not allowed to eat ordinary food in public. humans could embody the sacredness of the Gods. there were places that were haunted and doomed and places that were not. Although the sacred was hidden behind the surface of things it was not yet imagined as a distinct and disembodied sphere. things that were pure and things that were polluted. the ruler was not only a representative of the Gods but divine himself.17 in the Cuban monarchy or the Cameroon principalities.” Assmann (1999 a). he was not a simple mediator. Most prominently in the figures of the Ashante Hene or the Ibo Onitsha. were split and separated corresponded to an imagination of a world that—despite the separation of good and evil—still had an original unity. The fundamental law of contagion and separation applied. where gods and demons could still talk with humans and walk among them.

Sometimes the deification of the ruler was founded in imagined kinship relations with the deities—thus referring to a mythical area in which gods and humans could even marry each other. claimed not only to be under the mandate of heaven. because his divinity set him apart from ordinary human beings. As a human person he partakes in divine superiority. See Giesen (2004). the charismatic hero mediates between the world of humans and the world of gods. This charismatic core of monarchic authority is. The charismatic hero is exempted from the regular social order. in the Roman Empire. and he commands a divine violence and crushes the existing order in order to construct a new one. .’19 Like the saint or the prophet. for example. The king was imagined as the founder of the kingdom. The construction of monarchic authority in ancient societies referred strongly to charismatic foundations. Political authority had an immediate religious meaning and the religious cult related the people to the ruler as well as to the gods. as a person. No hero can continuously work miracles. The Chinese Ming emperor. Even more important for the sacralization of politics than the official deification of the ruler is the figure of the ‘charismatic hero. elusive and volatile. He is the autonomous sovereign if there is any at all. Therefore it provides the most precious foundation of political authority. Failure and 19 20 See Weber (1925). in which the hero is created—any attempt to turn this extraordinary moment into an ordinary and stable routine will finally result in the decay of genuine charisma. the original unity of society that once resulted from the bond of kinship. In the person of the deified ruler. and the Inca could not marry outside his own family. he defies death and common reasoning. Charisma is bound to the dialectic of failure and reconstruction. the Pharaoh was the visible representation of the gods. religion and political authority were merged and fused. Rank (1910) and Campbell (1968). He represented.20 The personal embodiment of the sacred in the prince can hardly stand the test of time and routine. and. however. Charisma is extraordinary and diffuse. it fuses political authority with sacredness and it overwhelms the community of followers in an effortless way—nobody may apply for it or argue in favor of it. but also to be the son of heaven himself. of course. as the triumphant conqueror of the land and as the victorious defender of his people.tales of transcendence 105 emperor in China and Japan.

And some of them may even try to convince their followers to join them into the abyss-leaving behind them a devastated world that resisted their thrust for the new order. Courtiers 21 Recognizing this inescapability of a tragic ending. his charisma is staged by an elaborate liturgy. The staging of his charisma aims at the awe that results from being close to what usually is distant and beyond a boundary. may even prefer to choose the moment of death by themselves and. thus. he risks appearing as just another ordinary human being—mortal and weak. The Shadow Warrior.’ are necessarily connected. rumors about his death can spread and his charisma will fade away— a risk depicted in the classical drama of El Cid or Kurosawa’s movie ‘Kagemusha. adorned with the signs of sacredness.’ where only his confidants. some living heroes. the preservation of charisma requires that the hero can escape and retreat to the ‘arcanum.’ If. and the charisma of the king presupposes a delicate balance between them. keep their sovereignty even in the defeat (Morris 1975). The close physical proximity between the prince and the people has to be counteracted by ritual restrictions of communication. but never give up the sacred cause. Cultures of martyrdom centre on this ultimate sovereignty of the voluntary death: let reality perish. may be raised and questions asked.21 The most common attempt to prevent this decay of charisma consists of the spatial separation between the charismatic hero and the mundane world of ordinary beings. Because no mortal person is able to present himself constantly in a charismatic way. the king never retreats backstage. on the other hand. In the real world the hero can hardly avoid the decay of his charisma.106 bernhard giesen misfortune will result in a dwindling belief of his followers. dependent and commonplace. This mortality and weakness have to be concealed from the public eye. his personal servants and his close family members notice his human weaknesses. in a dramatic turn. the extraordinary hero is finally revealed as a mortal and ordinary human being. respond to his need for advice and communicate with him on an equal footing. the ‘arcanum’ and the ‘publicum. patterned by solemn rituals of procession. It relates back to the assumption that the sacred is unevenly distributed in space and that spatial distance represents and reinforces social separation. . Both poles. those who witness it—his servants and advisors—are obliged to be mute with respect to outsiders. assisted by servants and minstrels. If the king’s rule remains permanently in the arcanum. In the prince’s rare appearances in public.

so that he is separated from the mortal beings in many ways. the king is silent or restricts his speech to ritual benedictions and blessings. permeating and expansive nature of charisma. The triumphant moment of charisma is the moment of effervescence on the part of the community of followers. overwhelming or even terrifying. they allow the sacred to permeate them and to dissolve their mortal individualities. his person marked the center of the universe and he could claim “ubi imperatore ibi Roma” (where the emperor is.tales of transcendence 107 and guards maintain a distance between the king and the people. . The sacralization of political rulership was. The king continued the line of the Roman emperors. timeless and invisible realm of the crown on the one hand. his dress and insignia indicate his sacredness. he was solemnly crowned by the representative of the church—the pope for the Carolingian emperors and the bishops of Sens or Reims for the Capetian kings of France. the crossing of boundaries and the sacred radiation of the crown. The Puritans were well aware of the diffuse. the execution was public. who were reported to heal scrofula (a skin disease) by simply touching people affected with the disease. but performed behind a screen that prevented the bloody act from being watched by the people. The coronation ritual links the sacred. also a mark of the European medieval monarchy. he could not claim the crown unless the Holy Church agreed and invested him according to a prescribed liturgy. and the mundane. distance and proximity at the same time. Thus the English Puritans had to forbid any attempt of Charles I to address his people directly before his execution. Instead. it is also frightening. he sits on an elevated throne or rides a special animal. mortal and visible 22 Bloch (1998). Staging the charisma of the prince is to construct alterity and visibility. When the charismatic hero appears in public. His presence infused and infected his entourage with sacredness—well known is the case of the “rois thaumaturges”22 in late medieval France. No matter how powerful the ruler might have been. nature nor by person. Rome is). Whoever wants to prevent the charismatic ‘osmosis’ between the prince and the people has to establish strong barriers of communication between the prince and his followers. the people are captivated by his presence. As beneficial as the king’s presence might be. But the ruler was neither divine by descent. of course.

This separation opened up the road to a new scenario that eroded the sacred nature of personal charismatic authority. the sacred to the profane. Stürner (1996). the divine to the human.’ 2.24 The distinction between ‘immortal office’ and the ‘mortal person’ reflects the double nature of Christ as God and human being. a voice and a name in this world. as a mediator between the sacred transcendental realm and the profane affairs of this world.). in late classical antiquity. .23 The king in the European tradition had “two bodies. The sacred can still be positively embodied. imagined and represented in this world. See Kantorowicz (1957: 87 pp. the extraordinary to the ordinary. elaborated the theological frame for this conception of the two realms or ‘two swords. he staged his charisma not only by referring to the sacredness of the imperial crown and his succession to the Roman emperors. the figure of the hero is replaced by the figure of the ‘perpetrator. The Tale of Deviance: The Rule of the Law When the Staufian emperor Frederic II26 extended his rule over Italy in the twelvth century. Saint Augustine. The charismatic hero still embodies the transcendence of sovereignty in an undiluted way. In the end. the sacrality of the 23 24 25 26 27 Eisenstadt (1982). visible and private body is distinguished from his sacred body and the sacred office. Feichtinger (1999). In the next scenario this embodiment of the sacred will be challenged. It has a face and a place.27 Originally.’ on the liturgical imitation of Christ by the king. its imagination will be questioned and its personification will be demonized. the immortality of the sovereign and the eternity of the sacred is achieved by separating the office from the person holding it.’ Consequently. but also by presenting himself as “pater iustitiae. the early medieval image of the link between the king’s two bodies was based on ‘christomimesis. in late medieval times. It center the figure of the autonomous agency that links the exception to the rule.” as the source of justice in his realm.108 bernhard giesen realm of the ruler on the other. which never dies but is passed from one ruler to another. and the Calabresian monk Joachim of Fiore.25 Here.” as Kantorowicz has shown in his masterful account of medieval political theology: his mortal. Kantorowicz (1957).

tales of transcendence 109 written law reflected the charisma of the king who established it. and facilitates comment and criticism. now appeared as a negative one: the charismatic embodiment of sovereignty was turned into deviance. It allowed decoupling political authority not only from family ties. the impersonal justice could not dispense with a transcendental foundation and a religious backing. What had been the positive transcendence before. from the ritual sacrifice to please the gods to the reading of sacred scriptures and its interpretation by intellectuals profoundly changed the religious 28 See Eisenstadt (1982). Thus politics and religion could finally part company. stabilizes meaning.28 While politics was increasingly turned into a profane art of handling power (Machiavelli). Writing transcends the boundaries of locality and presence. the Axial age tension between the transcendental principles and this-worldly history could open up. Prepared by the distinction between person and office in the king’s two bodies. the personal rule of the prince was even demonized: the sovereign hero was turned into a demonic perpetrator whose mere existence constituted a crime. Political ruler ship. the shift from the charismatic presence of prophets and their oral preaching to the canonization of sacred writings. It replaced the presence of the charismatic ruler and his spoken word with his written law. This transformation generated a new transcendental foundation of politics. The sacred as represented by the law was now disembodied and exempted from the confines of space. Ideally it extended the range of political control considerably but it also transformed the representation of political authority profoundly. Correspondingly. was turned into a domain of contingent and strategic action. It is no surprise that the beginning of the split between politics and law was patterned by a close affinity between religious practices and the administration of justice. reaches out to future generations and distant readers. but also from the presence of the ruler and even from symbolic representations of his person. the actual politics of the prince had to be separated from the impersonal rule of the law. The pattern of radiation generated by the presence of the ruler was turned into an omnipresence of authority on a marked territory. As a final point. . deprived of its sacral nature. and removed the political center from visibility. contrasted to the sacralized principles of law. Both were based on writing and canonized scriptures.

The image of a bond between humans and gods via kinship or sacrifice was either rejected or restrained to an original salvation encapsulated in some mythical beginning. both underlined the principle and disregarded the exception (the personal privilege. They exalted rationality and justice and considered themselves to be “sacerdotes iustitiae” (priests of justice). “It fell in with the intellectual climate of the century of legalism in general. and deeply involved in a new rational discourse about legal principles. Any limitations of this ‘categorical transcendence’ of principles have to be considered as arbitrary and mistaken. polytheism). but disembodied—invisible. . who were to administer justice and justify the emperor’s decisions.110 bernhard giesen imagination of transcendence. feudalism. they were authorized to interpret the law as well as the sacred scriptures. the miracle). Frederic II. In the legal domain it called for logical consistency and principled reasoning that transcended every finite number of special cases: on the basis of a principle we can always imagine further instantiations of the principle. The structural similarities between the new legalist foundation of political rule and the “secondary religions” (Sundermeier) based on canonized scriptures go beyond the common reliance on written communication. both trusted extending control by missionary conversion. and their practice of administering the law strongly resembled religious liturgy. Assman (2003). and denounced the old religious practices as pagan idolatry. it called for the distinction between “true” and “false” religion.30 between righteous and sinful life. finally. Both aimed at disempowerment of the previous imagination of the sacred (charismatic personal rule.29 In the religious domain. principled. timeless and merciless. trained at the centers of medieval scholarship. the gods whose grace responded to prayer and sacrifice). and. for instance. The sacred was no longer embodied in space. both opposed the polycentric embodiment of the sacred (diversity of local customs. Frequently these intellectual experts had training in theology as well as in law. both were carried by a special group of trained intellectual experts in distinction to ordinary people.31 Their jurisdiction and legal 29 30 31 Eisenstadt (1982). in objects’ places and persons. These clerics were experts in Roman law as codified under Justinian in the sixth century. appointed a large number of clerics as counselors and missi dominici. as demonic witchcraft and ridiculous superstition.

ordinary people were. there was an increasing separation between the lay community and the inner circle of the religious virtuosi who celebrated the Eucharist. the robe of the law clerk was set over against the robe of the ordained cleric. of course. staged with a punctilio comparable to Church ceremonial. the jurists and courtiers interpreted the ‘Cult of Justice’ in terms of a religio iuris or of an ecclesia imperialis representing both a complement to and an antitype of the ecclesiastical order. clearly defined roles. Individuals and their substantial interests did not matter in these highly ritualized forms of communication. and the moment of epiphany when the judgment is solemnly declared. As in the religious ceremonies of the church.tales of transcendence 111 discourse were performed in a liturgical manner that strongly resembled the religious rituals of the Church—the adopted solemn postures. whose impartiality and rationality it tried to represent. were called a most holy ministry (mystery) of Justice (Iustitiae sacratissimum ministerium [mysterium]).’ which was the prophetic title of Christ. who. Instead. whom the Great Artificer’s hand created man. Even if the king was absent and invisible. . largely excluded from participation in the rituals. They were considered to be just the objects of administration or the audience. rather than participating in the communion by eating the ‘body of Christ. his sacred rule was reenacted in a liturgical celebration of justice.’ could only look at the holy wafer for a short moment when the priest presented the result of the sacrament to them. special robes set over their ordinary dress. a decorated wall protected the holy ceremony from the view of commoners. The approval of the particular audience could be disregarded. see Cuozzo (1996). the emperor himself. God became increasingly invisible and inaccessible to commoners. the High Court sessions. Thus the rule of the law as distinct from contingent political decisions kept a strong affinity to religious practices. the service of justice aimed at a more general and disembodied public. whose approval was irrelevant for the service of justice and rationality. The liturgy of jurisdiction reflects this growing independence and autonomy of the ritual. was spoken of as Sol Iustitiae. because it could be erroneous in its very particularity. the ‘Sun of Justice.” (Kantorowicz 1957: 101. Both were part of the same divide that ran and in particular with that of Frederick’s Magna Curia where the judges and lawyers were expected to administer justice like priests. Inside the church. The process of justification and arriving at a decision was shielded from the eye of a particular public— it was only the result of the jurisdiction that was proclaimed to them. readings of sacred texts and lectures on their interpretation. 1931: 88) For more details about the magna curia. Since the central middle Ages.

disregard of family ties. represents a breakthrough of political institutions that moved the rule of the king toward the contours of a state—even if territorial demarcations were still vague and shifting. who got their positions by intellectual training. the clerical administrators could not pass their power to their offspring. In contrast to vassals. see especially chapter 9 in Weber (1978 b). who was the archbishop of Cologne and even became the archduke of Lothringen (Fichtenau 1973). 1 in Weber (1978 b) for the concept of “Amtscharisma”. 33 Thus Ranke could describe the reign of Philippe LeBel as showing “den kalten Lufthauch der modernen Geschichte” (“the chilly breeze of modern history”). education and princely appointment. this care will usually prevail over the exigencies of his mandate. on the elaboration of a special language and a special liturgy. and Louis IX—followed . Thus it is not by coincidence that the main carriers of medieval legalism were monks.35 32 See chapter 5. the office of administering justice gradually became an autonomous source of power. and the late medieval French kings-in particular Philip Augustus.112 bernhard giesen through Axial age civilizations and that established a new transcendental reference beyond personal embodiment and sacrificial practice. Hence conflicts between the obligations of filial piety on the one hand and the duty to follow the king’s orders on the other became a core issue of classical literature in ancient Rome as well as in early modern France and classical China. The rise of a special group of administrators and magistrates. In particular.34 If an official has a family to care for. i. addressing a public audience that extended far beyond the confines of family and locality. Philippe LeBel.32 Originally derived from and dependent on the king’s authority. decoupled from the approval of ordinary people and impenetrable to common sense. the institutionalized disregard of family ties takes on crucial importance for the rule of the king. if the person of the ruler is absent and tight controls are lacking. This institutional monopoly not only was based on the exigencies of training and teaching. it was reinforced by the institution of office. his brother Brun. 35 The German emperor Otto I used clerics for his imperial administration in the 10th century—for example. 34 Max Weber was probably the first to have pointed to this institutional logic of modern administration. but furthermore and above all. and sometimes even embodied.e. Although. in principle..33 The novelty of legalist rule is based on an institutionalized. charisma of office. the new mode of scholarly communication in fact established a professional monopoly of politics and administration.

in particular the writings of Confucius. Legalist administrators. the Hospital of Saint John (the Maltese knights). and Xunzi. but also those of so-called legalists like Li Si and Han Fei. 36 See Marsh (1961) and Loewe (1966).37 The mandarins were scholar-officials. 38 In contrast to its common image. institutionally relieved of family ties. who had no personal ties to the accused individual or the community that raised the accusation of heretical activities. were. Even the Inquisition was a methodically conducted and rationally controlled procedure to find proof of heresy—and it was mostly performed by traveling monks specially appointed to the office. they replaced the old hereditary aristocracy as the core carrier group of the Chinese Empire. Family support and recommendation were helpful38—most of the Chinese bureaucracy Frederick of Sicily in replacing or superseding feudal authority by the institution of bailiffs and senechaux. the Inquisition was not a frantic scapegoat driven by personal hatred. of course. The most impressive case is certainly that of the Chinese mandarins. The path to the modern legalist state was prepared not only by the monastic deification of justice and rationality. and the Templars merged the monastic ideal of chastity and the feudal institution of military fraternity in the pursuit of honor and virtue. Later. both secular and religious. they focused on liturgical celebration and devoted most of their time to the scholarly study of scriptures.tales of transcendence 113 The great monastic reform movements of Citeaux and Cluny renewed the requirement of asceticism and chastity for the religious virtuosi. Mencius. however. a dangerous institutional alternative to the emerging princely rule. but a highly formal interrogation that led to far fewer . the newly founded orders of the Dominicans and the Jesuits perfected the methodical conduct of monastic asceticism as well as rational organization based on written law and the techniques of interrogation in courts. The crusading orders of the German Knights. who reached their positions in the imperial bureaucracy and in civil service only by passing a highly competitive examination following a long and arduous study of the classical scriptures. not an exclusively Western invention. but also by the strict decoupling of justice from the private realm of the family. This combination of military power and monastic ideals became. who were directly responsible to the king. In contrast to the unregulated religious charisma of radical prophets and hermits.36 Since the Song dynasty at the latest. 37 Anderson (1990: 182).

as military elites. on the other it could challenge the personal rule of the king and question the embodiment of the sacred law in the special person. controlled by social classes that did have family ties closely associated with social corporations and their particular interests. but because he incorporated the law and granted justice.e. Viewed from the legalists’ perspective. the rise of monasticism and legal scholarship was an ambivalent transformation of the king’s authority. Marsh uses a lot of historical data to investigate the effects of family position and other factors on elite mobility in China during the Qing dynasty. the French king. . Chang (1974). If the construction of charisma was to link the king’s two bodies. Henry VIII of England banned the monastic orders entirely from the English territory. 39 See Ch’ü (1957). What had started as an effort to extend the authority of the ruler ended in a challenge to this authority. Demurger 1991). In these cases. the sacralization of the law took the opposite direction: shifting the sacred to an impersonal and abstract level took away the king’s sacred dress and revealed him merely as a human person executions than commonly assumed.40 The extension of legalist scholarship and bureaucratic administration was driven by the monarchic efforts to disempower unruly vassals and to fight rivals. 41 See Reuter (1982) and Fleckenstein (1966).). Monastic orders like the Templars were targeted as heretics (Barber 1978. their supralocal networks and their detachment from family ties. it extended princely rule by superseding feudal ties. which rivalled the traditional princely authority. 40 Even if the rule of law was impersonal and its administration divorced from personal interests. the king was considered king not because of his own personal sacredness. however.41 However.39 Occasionally the cutting of family ties and interests was reinforced by using marginalized ethnic groups like the Janissaries. banned. and persecuted by Philippe LeBel (Strayer 1980). Vast parts of the bureaucracy in the ancient empires were. Christian slaves in the Ottoman Empire. i. The Christian orders of the Hospitalers and the Templars established their own political rule. Franke (1972). the administration of justice was less likely to take a turn toward universalism than in Western history.114 bernhard giesen was of gentry origin—but could never replace the examination itself as the central institution of recruitment. it could also change sides and be used by aristocratic opponents of the king or give rise to the establishment of an autonomous political authority. See especially Marsh (1961: 80 pp. or foreigners as modernizing elites like the Jesuits in early modern Japan and China. because of their highly rationalized organization. Two centuries later. On the one hand.

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driven by passions and ambitions.42 As soon as he, as a mortal person, violated the law and pursued private interests, he challenged the sacred rule of law. In this case, the professional legalists could, by their very office, turn the law, that is, the invisible and eternal rule of the king, against the mortal body of the king, against his erroneous opinions and private interests. In order to cope with this situation, Frederick II of Sicily adopted the formula ‘pater et filius iusticiae,’ (‘father and son of justice’) for his rule. But this precarious balance between the king’s two bodies could stand the legalists’ challenge only as long as the king was indeed in full control over his realm. If he was devoid of reason and unable to rule rationally, the charismatic link between the king’s two bodies was broken. The king, who was a sovereign hero before, was now turned into a potentially demonic perpetrator. Gone were the times in which the king could still claim to be ‘legibus assolutus’ (‘independent of the laws’). The mortal prince could be put on trial. Killing the king became a definite possibility.43 Instead of being ‘lèse majesté,’ the ultimate crime, regicide, could also be considered a restoration of the ‘maiestas legis’ (‘majesty of the law’)—an act that gives way to a new embodiment of the law. In the debates about regicide at the end of the fifteenth century, the Monarchomaques took this direction. The antimonarchic turn was broadened by the parliaments in England and France in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.44 Supported by the tides of aristocratic resistance, the king himself became the target of legalist opposition. This opposition was based not on military power or popular movements, but on the rule of the law, on the command of legal procedures, on the complicated divisions of courts. Removing the monarch was staged as a legal trial in court, using the independence and complexity of the law, turning documents of previous royal decisions against the king’s actual politics and requiring
This revelation of mundane human nature, in distinction to the abstract divinity of ratio (reason), is also indicated in the depiction of Christ in late medieval art. Whereas Romanesque art presents Christ as the giant ruler of the world uniting heaven and earth, Gothic art shows God as a suffering human being-crucified, tortured and mortal. 43 The doctrine of tyrannicide has a long history in Europe. It grew out of the medieval notion of a “contract” between the ruler and subject and the idea of a system of pre-existing legal rights. However, it was John of Salisbury who articulated a doctrine of tyrannicide: The ruler who broke the law could no longer claim to be a legitimate sovereign, and thus could be deposed and executed (Gough 1961). 44 For the “Glorious Revolution” and the parliament see Gralher (1973).


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consistency, rationality, and respect for the law.45 But in the French Revolution, the king was beheaded not primarily because he could be accused of illegal activities (which were, of course, the indispensable pretext). His very existence as the former incarnation of personal rule was a scandal to the sacred core of revolutionary republicanism. His ‘two bodies,’ the immortal representation of the sacred center and the mortal body of the individual, were reduced to one. The French Republic triumphantly took over the sacred core, dissipated it to the individual citizens and centered it in the committee du salut publique headed by Robbespierre, the ‘incorruptible.’ Left was the mortal body of the king, who, however, still had the signs of his previous sacredness, and who hence, in order to demonstrate his mortality, had to be killed in public. Even in China, the mandarins could occasionally turn against the emperor. Eunuchs led military revolts, installed new emperors, and even assassinated emperors such as Xianzong (805–820) and Jingzong (824–826). In contrast to the legalism of medieval monks, however, the Chinese law had no strong transcendental foundation that could be turned against the ruler. Instead, it was based on human virtue and utilitarian principles. The axial tension between political and religious power was weaker than in Europe.46 In distinction to the monastic orders of the West, the power of the mandarins was dependent on the imperial office and the eunuchs had no organizational basis outside of the palace itself. But the classical scriptures contained sufficient legitimization to turn against bad rulers. The emperor could be suspected of being the embodiment of selfish ‘shi,’ or he could be controlled by an insurmountable amount of paperwork and restricted by a complex system of security rules that kept some documents from the emperor’s own eyes. Failure to fulfill the emperor’s duties and evident incompetence could even raise the question of replacement. The mandate of heaven was debatable and the mandarins had the power of interpreting it.

45 The trial and execution of Charles Stuart in 1649 stands out in Western history. Charles I was the first European monarch to be put on trial for his life in public by his own subjects (Mayfield 1988). But Charles’s execution has not left the same traces in the English national memory as the execution of Louis XVI in the French collective memory. The English saw themselves as getting rid of one wicked prince. For the French, monarchy itself was “an eternal crime” (Dunn 1994). 46 Eisenstadt (1982).

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In demonizing the personal embodiment of the sacred, the new principled rule of the law strikingly resembled the zeal of post-Axial age religions in persecuting idolatry and pagan practices of adoration and sacrifice. Both, pagan practices and personal embodiments of the sacred, were part of a different tale of transcendence that had to be outruled and banned. What had been a positive embodiment of transcendence before, was now converted into a negative one. But—as we will see in the following—the new rule of disembodied principles, on its part, was not entirely immune against the risks of profanization. 3. The Tale of Epiphany: The Public Sphere and the Discursive Construction of the ‘General Will’ In his well known account of civil society, Habermas47 presents a new transformation of the ‘tale of epiphany.’ Instead of the prophet who tells a new sacred truth that runs counter to common wisdom and orthodox scholarship, it is the institutional arena of public discourse that is considered as the source of superior reason and morality, opposing the existing structure of political power and legal rights. Transcendence to the mundane world of politics is no longer based on the procedural rationality of the legal system. Instead it results from the natural endowment of all humans with reason and morality and from the universal obligation to the commandments of reason and morality.48 Habermas’ model of the public sphere continues an intellectual movement that is commonly seen as rooted in the European Enlightenment,49 in the ideas of Kant and Locke, Voltaire and Rousseau, Ferguson and Condorcet. Its conception of public discourse by guided reason establishes a new transcendental reference, from which the legal order and the state could be viewed not only as profane and erroneous, but as vile and repressive. The new tale of epiphany converted, again, what had been the positive transcendence before into its opposite. This epiphany of reason and moral judgment is carried by a social community defined not by its formal authority and social privilege, as in the case of the legalists, but by its self-appointed task as an

47 48 49

Habermas (1962). Habermas phrased it as the universal validity of certain rules of discourse. Calhoun (1992).


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audience monitoring the profane world of power and money: civil society. Civil society emerges if neither the personal charisma of the king nor the impersonal sphere of the law is considered to incorporate the sacred in a convincing way. The sacred character of the law and its embodiment in the state are dried out by historical variations of the law, by its bureaucratic administration and mundane omnipresence, by feudal privileges and procedural absurdities. Disenchantment with the bureaucratic state and repression by its laws engenders the search for a new source of sacredness and collective identity. The king’s two bodies are now translated into the collective identity of society and the individual identities of citizens, into the volonté générale and the volonté de tous,50 into universal morality and contingent interests. The sacralized arena linking both poles is the public sphere. Here, individual interests and private passions can be articulated only if they are couched in terms of a possible general will. An universal morality has to be accepted by the individual citizens; the political decisions of the government have to be legitimized by the political community of citizens. According to the Hegelian ideal, the field of civil society should give way to a harmonious merging of ‘the individual’ and ‘the general,’ the interests of the citizens and ethics of the state, without repressing either side of the opposition.51 Although its social forms are by no means limited to Europe, the associational life and the public communication of eighteenth and nineteenth century Europe are commonly treated as the historical paradigm for this public sphere. Its general structural and institutional preconditions—cities and relatively large literate classes that did not treat literacy as a professional monopoly—can also be found in non-European civilizations like China, Japan, or the Muslim empires. There, too, voluntary associations provided a public space for educated citizens to debate matters of common interest. They crystallized around professional interests or local politics, matters of general concern, and leisure activities. Access was limited to respected
Rousseau (1966). This conception of merging the individual and the general can also be found in the British idea of a balance between the king’s government and the people’s representation by the parliament. The German, English and French versions of this tension between the private and the public may differ, but they converge in a common focus on civil society as the main arena where the common good is mediated and constructed (Giesen 1998 b).
51 50

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adult members of the community, occasionally even depending on ceremonies of introduction, recommendation and adoption. In the ancient empires of China, Japan, India, and the Muslim world, as well as in the European case, civil society and its manifold clubs and associations, public houses and secret societies, emerged as an interface between the formal authority of the king and his bureaucracy on the one hand, and the family, the locality, and private economic interests as organized in corporations on the other. Because of its position outside of work and family, communication in this public sphere has a leisurely character, and because of its position outside of the political organization of the state, participation in it is voluntary. Nevertheless, it presupposes education and non-utilitarian knowledge from its participants. In Ming China, the Confucian literati formed cultural movements organized around academies, like the Donglin in the seventeenth century or intellectual networks like the Fushe, the restoration movement, which were clearly opposed to the imperial bureaucracy and sometimes even persecuted by the imperial secret police. It gave way to a new conception of the public sphere, the gong, in distinction to the guan, the public office.52 The increase of bureaucratic and centralized control during the long reign of Qianlong in the eighteenth century, however, repressed these beginnings of a Chinese civil society. It was not until the nineteenth century that a public sphere carried by networks of Chinese literati—like the Xuannan Poetry club, the movement of Qingyi (‘pure thought’), or early parts of the powerful reform movement—could be restored again. Structural predecessors of civil society’s discourse can even be found in archaic societies: the ‘palaver’ of men in the longhouses of New Guinea, the ‘jamboree’ of the warriors in African herding societies, or the meeting of the wise men in American Indian tribes. All these basic forms of ‘public discourse,’ however, differ from the European Enlightenment in one important aspect: their participants rarely claimed to speak as advocates or representatives of humankind in general. Their turn toward universalism was, if not entirely missing, less pronounced. And it is this abstention from an universalism that also prevented the sacralization of the public discourse in premodern societies outside Europe.


Wakeman (1997).


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This sacralization is the mark of the European Enlightenment. The general will as generated by public discourse takes the position of an insurmountable transcendental reference of politics, thus replacing the voice of God. But in the public construction of general will, transcendence has entirely lost its face, its place and its name. Like the law, it is an invisible, omnipresent and impersonal reference, but unlike the law it is no longer linked to a fixed text or to a set of fixed themes. Instead its thematic orientation is volatile and fluid; transcendence consists of an empty sphere and a formal space for a never-ending, inclusive and open discourse. This space is generated by a particular mode of organized communication. Newspapers and associations, British clubs, French ‘salons’ and German ‘Vereine’53—to name just a few organizational patterns—established a space of communication where citizens could debate, deliberate and comment on political matters. The rituals of discourse in this public sphere were based on the individual variation of a common thematic issue, whether controversial, in the form of a debate, or supportive, in the form of successive appeals to morality, virtue and reason. Again, the communication was based on the knowledge of written texts. In distinction to the scholarly texts of the professional legalists, however, these texts were not hermetically closed to outsiders, but addressed to a general public of educated readers.54 Everyone present in a public arena was entitled to participate on an equal footing, but the private interests of the speakers ought not to be mentioned. Only if the private realm of the citizen is respected by other citizens and protected from the intervention of the state can individual subjectivity unfold and become the moving force of discourse. The public nature of this discourse is not ensured by institutions that disconnect the individual from his or her family—as in the case of monasticism—but by presenting the communication in a way that could be accepted by any reasonable person regardless of family background. Disagreement and dissent were by no means excluded, but they had to be articulated by referring to a common horizon of morality, reason and virtue. Critical

53 Although the Enlightenment was a discourse all over Europe, there were differences in the social position of the supporters and their communication. See Darnton (1982), Wuthnow (1989) and Albrecht (1995). 54 Giesen (1998 a).

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detachment from conventions and contingencies, privileges and powers was fostered and favored, but it had to be phrased in terms of universal reason and morality. Kant’s famous ‘categorical imperative’ catches this core conception of public discourse superbly. This reference to the universalistic conceptions of a general will, of human reason and natural morality sets the public sphere in opposition to the private sphere as the realm of particular group interests. ‘Private’ refers here less to family ties or to the arcanum of politics than to the corporate order of society.55 This traditional order of corporations, of status groups and religious confessions, of local clans and ethnic communities, of guilds and professional monopolies, provided the structural backbone not only of late medieval and early modern society, but also of most ancient empires. The new tale of epiphany turned the sacralized diversity of corporate groups into its opposite: they were redefined as private, as barriers to reason, and contrasted with the triumph of a new inclusive public discourse that transcended locality and class, religion and privilege. Instead of depending on membership in particular corporations, participation in this new public discourse was to be based on individual choice and decision. This voluntariness of participation, as well as the principled openness to everyone, is at the core of modern public discourse. The public discourse of the Enlightenment was, in fact, not open to everyone. Although not restricted by descent or by local origin, access was granted only to those who possessed education, manners and morality, and who thus were open to the epiphany of reason. La vile populace, das einfache Volk, hoi polloi, common people, were excluded—they lacked morals, manners, and means.56 This exclusion, however, was achieved more discreetly than demonstratively, less formally proclaimed than tacitly assumed. It is not by coincidence that the public institutions of civil society were only partially open; the clubs, salons, and associational halls were shielded against external disturbances, notwithstanding whether they resulted from princely intervention, from legal supervision, or from popular intrusion.57 No one could insist on access to the arenas of civil society.

55 56 57

See Gay (1995); Koselleck (2000). Eder and Giesen (2001). Darnton (1982).


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Salons were based on invitations,58 clubs and Vereine required personal recommendations for would-be members. But again, this exclusive character of civil society’s discourse is not a particularly occidental phenomenon. The Chinese literati, with their bibliomania and their discourse about public matters, were similarly based on the exclusivity not of descent, but of education. In China, as well as in Enlightenment Europe, education was considered to be the insurmountable barrier and defense against intruders from above and below.59 But in spite of its factual exclusivity, the community of reason and morality could, and can, claim to represent the encompassing society and also to speak for those who had no voice. The discourse of the Enlightenment abounds with sometimes condescending, but mostly compassionate references to the poor people who were enclosed in their misery, but treated with disgust if they came too close. This seemingly paradoxical merging of compassion and contempt was the civil society’s way of separating the king’s two bodies—the categorical presupposition of humankind and the actual limitation of voicing it by an educated audience and its particular rituals of discourse. The categorical presupposition of an universal moral reference, transcending the limitations of space and time as well as of class and race, gave way to the conception of humankind as an inclusive moral community. Moral discourse presupposes the tension between the moral, the universal, and the public on the one side and the strate-

See Giesen (1999 a). Occasionally, however, the attempt to shield the discourse of civil society from external influence turned the principle of public reasoning into its very opposite: the associations of Freemasonry or the radical order of the Illuminati were certainly strongholds of the Enlightenment discourse, but at the same time they were secret societies. In fact, on the institutional level, the civil society of the eighteenth century was very exclusive, and it had to be that way in order to protect the fragile rule of reason. Even in today’s civil discourse, this exclusivity can still be foundalthough in a much attenuated form. Access to the forums of ambitious media discourse presupposes not only education (which is fairly widespread), but also some intellectual reputation. The new social movements that have replaced the associational life of the eighteenth century as the organizational form of civil society expect their members to display a certain way of behaving and talking, and even have certain dress codes. They repel outsiders with silent moral contempt. This boundary between participants in civil discourse and outsiders is no longer seen as the demarcation of an elite, but as the difference between a moral avant-garde and the unenlightened masses.


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gic, the particular, and the private on the other.60 Constructing and re-linking these oppositions in moral communities is imprinted with temporal metaphors. Public sphere and morality are associated with the future, progress, and the avant-garde, whereas the private, the particular, and the periphery are considered to be backward, limited, and linked to the past. Thus, the spatial differentiation of the sacred as found in archaic societies is replaced by a temporal one: the future will overcome the split between the sacred order of reason and moral and the profane world of politics. History was imagined as a progression of education and learning—the more advanced had to advocate the interests of the backward groups, even if the latter seemed to oppose it. Those, however, who refuse to accept the benefits of education or who by descent are unable to support the progress towards the public rule of reason had to be outlawed and banned. Moral discourse engenders an increased suspicion of individual immorality in the political center. Because the moral discourse of civil society is decoupled from the private realm, it is particularly vulnerable to hypocrisy. The intrusion of private motives into the public sphere is considered a transgression, and this transgression turns into abuse if the private interests appear in moral disguise. Because there are no safeguards against a hypocritical pretence of moral commitment, suspicion is the inevitable companion of morality. The prime ritual of disclosing the hidden immorality of political power is the ‘scandal.’ Like gossip, scandals, too, refer to significant members of a community. But this time it is not just the prince who is disclosed as a criminal perpetrator, but also ordinary members of civil society who are under suspicion of secretly counteracting the rule of reason. Scandal can thus result in scapegoating and accusing entire groups. Driven by public campaigns, their members had to be sorted out, separated from the reasonable and morally pure citizens, imprisoned or removed into camps, and sometimes even killed in the name of reason and moral. The immortality of public reason required the mortality of human individuals, the revolutionary attempt to create the perfect society resulted in the killing of those who—by descent or by conviction—did not fit into the grid
For the increasing differentiation between the public and the private, see Giesen (1998 b: 228) and Brewer et al. (1996).


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of the perfect society. The rule of public reason produced victims. Since the regime of the Sansculottes in the French Revolution at the latest, these victims were killed neither out of personal hatred and dark passion nor because they had violated the existing laws, but for principles of public safety and sanity—they were thought to impede the progress of history towards a perfect society in which reason and reality coincided. But the revolutionary epiphany of reason and moral not only demonized particular groups as collective barriers to progress on the way to the perfect society. It also reached out to attack the existing laws and property rights as unjust privileges of a particular corporate group. In the name of equality it abolished feudal rights, expropriated land and leveled economic differences between citizens. The rationality of the existing legal order is here contrasted to the atemporal reason and uncompromising moral. Thus, what had been the source of transcendence before, is turned into a most profane object of change and reform, and sometimes even became the evil and repressive counterpart of public reason. As in other cases of competing imaginations of transcendence, the demonization of ‘previous’ forms of the sacred becomes one of the major driving forces of politics. 4. The Tale of the Void: Victims as Negative Transcendence We have discovered the transcendence of sovereignty behind the charismatic core of monarchic rule, the transcendence of deviance behind the impersonal and written law, and transcendence of epiphany behind the construction of general will by public discourse. Less obvious are the transcendental dimensions of politics that relate to the void of meaning. The void of meaning results from the sudden collapse of symbolic orientation, from a traumatic experience that, at first, can hardly be narrated and represented, from the rupture in the web of meaning, from the demonic decay of order, from the abandonment by God. In a certain manner, the void is the opposite of religion. Politics that openly confirms the void of meaning amounts to nihilism. It displays brutal power in naked and unabashed form. Ancient religions have, however, explicitly mentioned the experience of the void and treated it as a test of the truly faithful. The Book of Hiob addresses the suffering of the just and righteous and the complaint of the innocent who is struck by misfortune and dis-

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ease: why could Almighty God allow his people to suffer? The problem of theodicee continued this question on a philosophical level. The existence of innocent suffering is one of the core issues of Judeo— Christian theology—the sacrifice of Isaac and the self-sacrifice of Christ are paradigms of innocent suffering, which inspired martyrdom and around which the story of salvation unfolds. The voluntary decision of Christ to endure suffering and death, not to give in to the authorities and to abstain from violent retaliation, underlines his sacredness: his reign is not of this world, he is immortal in his death.61 Thus, the self-sacrifice of Christ is imprinted with the tale of divine sovereignty and heroism. In contrast, the involuntary suffering of the innocent is embodied in the figure of the victim. Victims are persons at the fringe of moral communities—in a twilight zone where the boundary between object and subject is blurred. The modern notion of ‘victim’ contrasts strongly to the meaning of the term in ancient societies. Originally the ‘victima’ were human beings or animals who were destined to be sacrificed to the deity in order to construct a strong bond between the community and the Gods. These human victima were considered to be precious objects offered to the deity; but they were also seen as partaking in the sacred core of the community. Questions of guilt or innocence were not asked—the logic of sacrifice differs strongly from the logic of sin and guilt. Traditionally, victims were mostly found at the periphery of society, among persons who did not fit easily into the classificatory grid of society—strangers, vagabonds, handicapped or insane persons. Killing them did not engender bloody revenge or retaliation.62 Sometimes the victim was even presented as evil, as pollution, as ‘scandalon.’ Occasionally the victima were also victi, shown in the triumph of the victorious hero before they were sacrificed in the temple. It was not before the stoic philosophy focused on the suffering of the world that the defeated victus conveyed a tragic feeling about the volatility of fame and fate. Post-Axial Age cultures and their inclusive construction of boundaries reverse the meaning of victims. They untie the victim from the logic of sacrifice and relate them to questions of guilt and sin.63 The

61 62 63

See Girard (1983). See Girard (1977). See Ricoeur (1967).

Instead. and it is politics’ challenge to overcome it. but are neighbors now. by the incidental close proximity between persons that were socially distant from each other. but also its translations into the compassion of the Enlightenment assume a communal bond to those other believers or co-nationals who. The void of evil that lurks behind the suffering of victims is increasingly turned into a major mode of relating to transcendence in modern politics. Until the Enlightenment the torture of the suspect was considered as a regular method of criminal investigation. Sacrificial practices are increasingly regarded as pagan. Compassion with the poor. Today political rituals and national monuments in Western societies avoid celebrations of triumphant victories over nations that have been enemies before. It represents an exception to the regular social order. the distant famine and the genocide abroad were not a moral concern. A new solidarity transcends the bonds of kinship and includes all believers. Giving to the needy brothers and sisters is not an issue of general politics. In an attenuated form this solidarity of co-humans engenders the obligation to support the needy and suffering. are in a miserable situation. At the fringe of the traditional moral community. In distinction to the sacrifice of co-humans. however far away. torture was outlawed. and is closer to mercy and grace than to a principled legal entitlement. was endowed with inalienable rights with respect to her body. but a matter of individual charity. Today every innocent suffering by victims—not just the sacrificial killing—is seen as a crisis of the social community. It is generated by a personal encounter with misery and suffering. The Buddhist dana or the Christian agape. inner-worldly magic based on ridiculous superstition. by bad fate.126 bernhard giesen innocence of victims is discovered and the sacrifice of humans is turned from a religious ritual into its opposite—the ultimate scandalon that results in God’s punishment for those who committed it. the misery of others is not yet a scandal by itself—on the contrary: it provides an opportunity for performing misericordia. however. the rule of the law did not exclude what today is regarded as victimization. In modern societies this situation changed profoundly: every human person. only the evidently guilty criminal was to be imprisoned. they rather center the . does not aim at eroding the boundary between rich and poor. Faced with genocide and ethnic cleansing. the regular political game has to step back—questions of contingent costs and strategic gains are not to be asked if bare life and human rights are at stake. the slavery of millions of Africans extended until the nineteenth century.

turned from the extraordinary and personal into the regular and collective mode. has lost its innocence: in a global public sphere heroes are discovered as perpetrators. In modern culture this shift to the periphery is. but to unknown and anonymous victims. This solidarity is not. Today massacres and impending genocides trigger immediate worldwide protests and even military interventions to prevent further atrocities. It hints at a new mode of transcendence carried by a global community: solidarity extends not only to kin. In ancient myth the hero frequently originated from the margins of society—he was raised by fishers or herdsmen. and frequently their requests are respected. The extraordinary has lost its name and its face.tales of transcendence 127 suffering of victims and the guilt of perpetrators. in its turn. This drift towards universalism and inclusion results from the turn from the center to the periphery that is at the core of modern societies. natural innocence and identity. seen as a personal and individual obligation as in the case of Christian charity but as a central function of politics. however. Even generations later the descendents of the victims require compensations and excuses on the part of the community of perpetrators. Their suffering represents an ultimate certainty beyond volatile claims and questionable representations. victims are invested with a constitutive innocence and we can relate to this innocence by compassion and mourning. What are the conditions fostering this rise of the void of innocent suffering to a focal reference of modern politics? Several core features of modern secularized cultures are conducive to this focus on victims. neighbors and co-believers. Holocaust museums spread rapidly in Western societies and the new nations in Africa consider the colonial yoke to be at the core of their national identity. War memorials that in the nineteenth century focused on the heroism of generals and soldiers today imagine the soldiers killed in action as victims. It . In contrast. Personal heroism. The modern recognition of victimhood relates to the construction of inclusive collective identities that had been prepared by the public discourse of the Enlightenment. Since Rousseau at the latest it is the people at the periphery of society that are viewed as the source of authenticity. friends. Solidarity extends beyond class and ethnicity and aims at a global community of humankind. however. This unconditional thrust to soothe the suffering of victims or—if it is too late— to remember their suffering by monuments and mourning is a remarkable feature of modern politics.

etc. nor a surviving victim. One of them is the very absence of religious imagination of a life after death in secularized cultures. counted and measured. the French president apologized publicly. It triggered a major public campaign against anti-Semitism. . to consider additional cultural patterns. An explanation of the recent turn to victims has.64 Another one is the report of a French woman who accused young Muslim immigrants of having attacked her in a subway train for anti-Semitic reasons. It is turned into an icon of heightened subjectivity.128 bernhard giesen commands an unconditional respect and anybody withholding this respect positions himself outside of the community of humankind. who is treated as an object but could claim to be a subject again. His autobiography was celebrated as one of the most touching and authentic reports of Holocaust survivors. after several days. but who in fact was neither Jewish.. therefore. sciences and legal systems cannot dispense with agency but these agencies are conceived as objects.65 In a strange way the systems of modern society show an elective affinity to the faceless de-individualized victim. Most traditional religions 64 65 See Wilkomirski (1995) and Mächler (2000). the Israeli foreign minister presented the serious concerns of his government. of the sacred and the demonic. that can be compared. Heroes as well as perpetrators have faces and voices. As outlined above these personal embodiments of transcendence are turned into deviance by the impersonal order of modern society. translated into thirteen languages. The modern shift to victims as figure of transcendence is supported by the impersonal order that had been established by the rule of the principled law. Markets and bureaucracies. they are personal embodiments of good and evil. the entire story was discovered to be fake. of triumph and trauma. Therefore the victim who was seen as the embodiment of evil in ancient cultures increasingly takes the position of a sacred figure that had been the domain of heroes before. But neither the impersonal order nor the turn towards the periphery are achievements of the last century. which inspires the fantasy of contemporaries who are searching for a mode to present themselves as extraordinary and unique. Blumenberg (1966). evaluated. Well-known is the case of Bruno Doesseker who pretended to have escaped the concentration camp of Majdanek as a child.

The great utopias of early modern society opened up a perspective in which inner-worldly salvation seemed to be possible. in camps and barbarism. they are increasingly moved by the urge to prevent catastrophes and to save victims. the promise of a better life in a perfect society to come has lost its attraction. Those who suffered and lost their lives as victims take the position that has been the domain of heroes before. but they are also urged to cope with the existential scandal of death and of innocent suffering by this-worldly means. Accelerating history into the future was seen as the royal road to inner-worldly salvation that could still be imagined in positive. The positive transcendence of an ideal society as envisioned by the Enlightenments’ public discourse is replaced by the negative transcendence of victims. If the world is reduced to a reality of profane objects. Secularized cultures that deny the existence of salvation in an otherworldly realm are not only confronted with this void in an unmasked and radical way. Most historical attempts to create an ideal society ended in totalitarianism. and the efforts to forget the past and to think about the future are replaced by the politics of memory. Suffering can thus be compensated and death can appear as a transition to salvation in the otherworldly realm. however. Salvation has to be achieved in this world. however impersonal terms.66 In the 2 first century. They produced victims. after the collapse of the great utopias. This existential absurdity of death is the negative transcendence of secularized cultures. This was the aim of ‘history’ as imagined by the Enlightenment rule of reason. Postmodern politics and historical action in Western societies are thus reluctant to pursue an utopian vision of a perfect society. Their immortality is based on public 66 Voegelin’s discovery of the Gnostic roots of modern political religions and Eisenstadt’s analysis of Jacobinism arrive at the same result from different perspectives. transcendence can only be viewed in a negative form—as the void of meaning. Nothing can justify it and disguise it as just punishment or precondition for a better life. this conversion of death and suffering into an imagined entrance to eternal salvation is no longer available. There is no life after death in another world that could provide consolation.tales of transcendence 129 imagine some form of otherworldly life after death that responds to the sinful or virtuous life before death. Premature death and innocent suffering appear as the ultimate and unmasked void of meaning. . Instead. In thoroughly secularized cultures.

most of them unknown. Sometimes. because they are dead or unknown or Shklar (1990).130 bernhard giesen mourning and memorials. If the perpetrators include large parts of the population and cannot be limited to a small group—as in the case of the genocides of Rwanda or Cambodia—jurisdiction fails to restore the moral order of society. however. however. Sometimes in the aftermath of a bloody civil war the punishment of the perpetrators would risk to sever the fragile bonds between the two parties and refuel the hatred and hostility between them. the verdict about guilt or innocence. by recalling their names and by bringing them back into the center of the community. As our knowledge about the complex ramifications of action effects increases. shifting possible side-effects to the periphery of their attention. or because they may be dead or simply out of reach. Suffering requires compensation and healing. because no participant in the debate is targeted as the one who has to face the risk of punishment. evil was seen as a matter of deviance and crime. 68 67 . modern society does not just compensate for their suffering in a symbolic way. amounts sometimes to an arbitrary abstraction from the complexity of entanglement. crucial to the discourse of justice. Even if the misery of the victim can be clearly related to a perpetrator. arrive at a consensus about the innocence of the victims. involving a multitude of actors. because they may be unable to compensate for the immense harm he or she caused. By recognizing the innocence of victims. Here muteness and the taboo of talking about personal involvement in atrocities ensures a fragile and endangered peace. acting under uncertainty and risk.67 In modern societies misery and evil is frequently attributed to complex concatenations or side-effects of human agency. Traditionally. For case studies on this matter see Henke (1991) and Avishai (1997). If individual persons cannot be held responsible. their salvation consists of public recognition of their innocence. but it copes with the challenge of an existential void that relates to everyone.68 Even if the question of guilt is difficult to answer we can. evil cannot be traced back to a clearly identifiable perpetrator who can be held responsible for it. some of them known. these perpetrators sometimes cannot be held accountable for their deeds. but most of them responsible only to a limited degree. to a reduction of a field of greyish nuances to a clear-cut line between black and white. none of them entirely innocent. In addition to this construction of negative transcendence the perspective on ‘the evil’ has changed in modern societies.

and the discourse of civil society are super-local institutions—they do not notice local events without mediating mechanisms. 70 69 .tales of transcendence 131 because. their heirs. The victims themselves have no voices and no faces. muted in their misery. 71 The public arenas of the government.69 Thus the discourse about victims changes its core focus: it is no longer about individuals and their responsibilities. there is. misery that fails to receive public attention. their representatives. official victims and interest groups see Amato (1990). as paradigms of the restitutions of damaged subjectivity. the victims who are represented in the public discourse are not invariably and unanimously granted political support. However. and there will always be suffering without representation and recognition. there will always be the silence of unnoticed ‘victims. but a transcendental reference that is socially mediated and constructed. the voices of the very few survivors who are able to talk about their trauma move a wide audience. after some time. it not only assesses the harm inflicted on the victims. They cannot advance their claim directly. the court. Some victims remain in the shadow of public attention. the figure of the victim. There has always been. but takes responsibility also for its repair. Certainly. They need representation. as in most cases. about crime and punishment. As the replacement for god the state has to restore the just order. then the community has to take over the task of healing. too.’72 Others are promoted by those who claim a special mandate as their advocates. and their testimonies and memories are globally read and broadcast. about risks of life and collective support. 73 On victim language. the harm and suffering of the victims outweighs by far the perpetrators’ means to compensate for it. These representatives present their story as a case of innocent suffering. numb in their trauma. It is the politics of the modern state that it has to banish the void of despair to the outlands in which no citizen wants to get lost. they appeal to solidarity and refer to common moral principles. The state not only defines the imperfection of the social order. 72 Lyotard (1988). instead the claim to be recognized as victims has to be represented to them in forms to which they can respond. Survivors like Primo Levi or Eli Wiesel are regarded as embodiments of authenticity. but rather political responsibility and public solidarity.70 They are dead. is not a natural fact.71 Like the figures of the hero and of the perpetrator. individually and personally.73 Their advocates compete to Kaufmann (1992). but also carries the burden for its healing.

the civil society of the Enlightenment claimed a general mandate to represent humankind and. Defining innocence and guilt. The German president. As we have outlined above. in particular. This advocacy for the poor was carried by educated lay-people. who claim to be impartial experts and thus to represent the public interest. they rather result from debates and conflicts. to speak on behalf of those who could not raise their voices in public discourse. conflicts become less passionate. not an invention of the last century. compromises more likely. But in this mediation they also construct the distance that is constitutive of victimhood. of course. In this public recognition of victimhood it is neither the obvious difference in moral gravity nor the sheer amount of suffering that makes some claims be successful and others be dropped. Professional advocacy softens the struggle for recognition: efficiency is increased.132 bernhard giesen represent the group that had suffered most and deserves support first. The representation of victims by mediating third parties is. but declined the claim. Without this distance from the center the 74 Recently a group of Herero chiefs has presented an official quest asking half a billion German marks in compensation of the genocide of the Hereros during the German colonial rule a century ago. others are very much alive. labeling actions as deviant and situations as miserable are not self-evident deductive operations. demarcating the boundaries of the social order and declaring its imperfections. social workers. expressed his concern. The face of suffering changes in the course of history. What we today unanimously regard as brutal violence against children and women. appealed to and reconstructed in public fights. was seen a century ago as appropriate education and adequate display of manly authority. and even journalists. . when visiting Namibia. the new representation of victims is promoted by professional specialists like lawyers. They act as mediators between the victims and the public sphere. The selective recognition of innocent suffering mirrors the long-term changes of the moral order. In contrast.74 Some historical traumas are forgotten. On the level of welfare budgets. incomparable suffering has to be compared and assessed. professional interests and political power. routines and traditions. but they also claim to represent the justified interests of the victims and to bring them to the fore of public attention. of sensitivities and empathy. medical doctors.

those who considered themselves to be happy citizens before come to see themselves as humiliated victims. too. For a less polemical account—taking Illich’s accusations seriously—see Collins (1979) and Abbott (1988). but also may construct victims where there is no suffering. differ from other professional services.tales of transcendence 133 victim would be considered either as a challenge to immediate personal compassion or as a citizen struggling for his share. Experts not only offer their services to an eagerly demanding clientele of suffering victims. Of course. In this politics of victimhood the suffering of the victims is turned into a most profane cause. Thus professional representation not only may leave authentic suffering unnoticed. too. and thus create the demand their professional services are ready to satisfy. norms of political correctness demarcate the range of prudence in public expression and the occasions for publicly recognized offences. The transcendence of the void. Professional groups aim at a monopoly of defining the need. The extraordinary presence of the sacred as embodied in particular persons and objects has been turned into an impersonal principled and invisible order that regards any private and personal 75 In this respect professional advocacy for victims does not. but they can also convince a possible clientele of their victimization. A market for the representation of victims can emerge. IV Concluding Remarks Secularization has gradually dissolved the original unity of politics and religion. Giesen (1983). cannot escape the volatility which is the mark of any form of transcendence. Society and victims cannot completely avoid the risk of being misused by these quasimonopolies— even when therapists and advocates are tempered by the obligation to serve the common good.75 People who have no connection to each other and live their lives in quite diverse ways might be declared victims and represented by professional advocates without a mandate. providing the therapy and supervising its success by themselves. and misery is staged in the media. identity entrepreneurs compete in the public sphere.76 This professional advocacy is framed by a new field of public politics: legal institutions define the rights and entitlements of victims. this one. See Illich (1977) for a polemical treatment of this issue. See Becker (1973). however. ultimately. Like other representations of transcendence. 76 Rutschky (1992). can be perverted and challenged by profanization. . the advocacy of professional experts is not without risks.

but frequently they clash together and engender serious conflicts in which the legitimacy of the opponents’ position is fundamentally questioned. utopias are today increasingly replaced by the negative transcendence of the void as embodied in the figure of the victim. The contrary is true. In the course of secularization this reference to the sacred is transformed in fundamental ways: it is increasingly separated from the profane space of visible objects and conceived of as an ineffable and unlimited sphere. We can conceive of ‘modernity’s iron cage of serfdom’ (Weber) only if we imagine a world outside of the cage. though this-worldly. the rule of the law was. Sometimes these seemingly incompatible forms are blended into an effortless coexistence. And this transcendence may well be phrased as the sacred core of politics. Viewed from the perspective of an enlightened public discourse. there is no way back. The tales of transcendence outlined above might foster an evolutionist or teleological account of secularization—the path to a secularized notion of politics is inevitable. Progress to perfect societies that the collective epiphany of reason envisioned required. discovered to be a mundane and regular domain that had to be subjugated to the judgment of public discourse as the collective epiphany of reason. But any attempt at representing the sacred in an institutionalized form inevitably results in its exodus to new spheres. the fundamentalist zeal of Islamism is not only difficult to understand but wrong. Therefore. The seemingly profane business of power needs foundations that are exempted from the varying tides of fortune. dangerous and evil. the positive. in its turn. As the gap between the sacred and the profane widens the need for representation and mediation grows. there is religious fundamentalism and missionary zeal. Once sacred. whether based on sacrificial cult or on sacred scriptures. and the utopian attempt to cre- . public discourse and belief in progress. In the end the sacred dissolves into negative transcendence—the void of meaning. Modern politics is largely set free from close ties to traditional religious practice. But it cannot dispense with transcendence. however. the sacrificial practices of primary religions are regarded by the principled order of legalism as pagan magic and ridiculous superstition.134 bernhard giesen authority as deviance. victims. All these ‘earlier’ and ‘outdated’ forms of transcendence can still be found in contemporary politics: there is charismatic leadership and the sacralization of the constitution. there is even sacrificial cult and the worshipping of ancestors in contemporary politics.

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by abolishing ethnic and national distinctions and creating overarching identities and solidarities.’ or ‘just’ and ‘unjust. the world. but the distinction as such.MONOTHEISM AND ITS POLITICAL CONSEQUENCES Jan Assmann I The ‘Mosaic Distinction’ and the Problem of Violence Monotheism introduced a new distinction into the realm of religion.’ Drawing the distinction entails making a decision. implying strong notions of what is deemed incompatible. 1997. was already full of violence before the advent of monotheism.’ is hard to draw. tends to make the world more peaceful. which in its last consequence means the distinction between ‘God’ and ‘the world.’ ‘idolaters. One could even argue that monotheism.1 Monotheism required a firm decision and correspondingly strong concepts about ‘the other. The monotheistic.’ I do not hold that this new form of religion brought violence into the world. and of a more ethical and ‘deontic’ meaning with regard to ‘good’ and ‘evil.’ or ‘freedom’ and ‘slavery. 2003).’ ‘unbelievers. This new form of religion is based on a decision. and the Bible is very explicit about these many difficulties and drawbacks. All convictions aspiring to any depth and power require those strong concepts of the excluded other. which in its turn is based on a deep conviction. or ‘Mosaic’ distinction. This element of violence becomes obvious as soon as the distinction between true and false or good and evil is turned into the distinction between ‘friend’ and ‘foe. of course. The strength of the decision and the firmness of the conviction imply an element of violence. and this decision of necessity implies rejecting the discarded option. .’ ‘heretics’ etc. But it is impossible to deny that—at least potentially—this 1 Assmann (1996. bringing about a totally new form of religion whose hallmark was less the exclusive worship of one god.’ ‘pagans. This distinction implies a whole scale of concretizations between the poles of a more ontological and cognitive meaning with regard to true and false.’ ‘gentiles.’ for which a whole new vocabulary was created: the ‘heathens.

2 3 4 5 Num 25:7. by Moses after the episode of the Golden Calf. Ezra 9: 1–4. a new form of ‘religious heroism. we must distinguish between ‘interpretation’ and ‘motivation. and though these events belong to myth and not to history. What is new.3 etc. Violence belongs to what could be called the ‘core-semantics’ of monotheism.2 by Joshua and the whole complex of the “conquest”. but also in the context of ‘pagan’ religion. e.5 and above all by Judas Maccabaeus. in the light of that new distinction.’ however.’ which implies either active or passive intolerance. This new type of religion is based on a truth—or a ‘law’—that requires the resolution either to kill or to die for it. by Pinhas. On the plane of history. acting as God’s executioners. active intolerance was shown by Josiah destroying the “high places” (bamot) and killing the priests. ‘Enemies of God. It is a normal device in ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian sources to represent the political enemy as an enemy of God. who killed his kinsman Zimri together with a Midianite girl in the act of love-making. 2 Kg 23. Examples stretch from the Ancient Near East to the most recent military activities in East and West. 1 Kg 18:40. religiously motivated and directed against those who. friends. when 3000 men “brothers. In order to get a clearer view of the problematic alliance between religion and violence. neighbors” were killed. the plane of the founding stories and grand narratives modeling the lives of peoples and individuals. The list is much longer. by Elijah killing the priests of Ba’al after winning the contest.4 by Ezra divorcing the mixed marriages. appear to be the enemies of god. it seems to me highly significant that the new religion attaches so much importance to violence in its narrative self-presentation. to fulfill his will and orders. I do not state that monotheism is violent.g.’ The religious interpretation or legitimation of violence is as old as warfare in general. is the religious motivation of violence—the idea of killing a person or starting a war for the sake of God. On what could be called the ‘mythical’ plane. merely that it dwells on scenes of violence in narrating its path to general realization.142 jan assmann kind of religion implies a new type of violence.. sounds familiar not only in the context of monotheism. . active intolerance is exercised.

i. Monotheism requires a zealous attitude.e. reflection is required. which “must not be spared”6 to the Jewish towns and communities that abandoned the way of the Law and succumbed to Hellenism. It is precisely the fictional or rather mythical character of most of these stories which makes them potentially dangerous. The Maccabaean wars seem to be the first religiously motivated wars in history.” God is a “zealous god” (El qana). led in defense against an aggressor and his project of forced assimilation. modern theologians—Jews and Christians. as if this would solve the problem. cf. in Hebrew qiddush ha-shem. the story is told with pride.monotheism and its political consequences 143 who applied the fictitious and archaic Deuteronomist regulations concerning the Canaanite towns. I do not want just to criticize or reproach monotheism’s violent implications. Stark denial is not helpful. is djihad. On the plane of myth.’ but about cultural semantics conditioning and motivating the actions and attitudes of peoples living in the horizon of these semantics. martyrdom. Active intolerance. I consider it dangerous to close one’s eyes vis-à-vis the potentially negative or malignant implications of one’s convictions. but rather call for more reflective. “the ban was executed” and every living being was killed. The Arabic equivalent. this form 6 7 Dtn 7:2: lo tekhanem. Catholics and Protestants—hate to be reminded of these biblical stories and react violently to this line of reasoning. and especially 20: 16–18. not with horror. They were wars of resistance. what in Freudian terms is called “sublimation.” They point to the unhistorical. however. I am not talking about ‘history. In a global world we cannot afford such an apologetic attitude. persecuting the idolatry of the fathers down to the third and fourth generations. if possible. 13:16f.’ The other side is passive intolerance. 1 Macc 5. purely fictional character of these texts. i. “zeal. which they decry as “anti-Semitic. The biblical term for active intolerance is qana.7 In I Maccabees. .” I do not advocate abolishing the Mosaic distinction. of course.e. and those who love him are expected to be equally zealous in fighting for the Law. to be sure. it is a virtue to be zealous. To those towns. is only one side of what I have called ‘religious heroism. considerate and historically informed ways of dealing with it. Judging from numerous discussions. but to encourage a process of reflection and. to engage totally in the cause of God.

the ‘halakhic’ concept of scripture. even Buddhism (which. was something new. 14. it has to be stressed that there are many examples of heroism and of ‘dying for’ outside the horizon of monotheism. Also in this context. however. 8 9 Ch. however. the Jewish or. are interpreted and justified in the Bible as a kind of ‘fulfillment’: the fulfillment of scripture. Holy writ is a performative text: it requires that it be performed or fulfilled in our way of living. Two kinds of written texts may be identified. one religion and (what was regarded to be the same) one law. I Macc 1:41–64. This idea of ‘scripture’ is equally novel and innovative.144 jan assmann of qana—“zeal for the Lord”—appears in the Book of Daniel. though not monotheistic. which I propose to term ‘informative’ and ‘performative. Drawing the distinction. All monotheistic religions. ch. forming the decision. This hold true for.’ honor. fulfillment.e. active and passive intolerance. or translation into action and behavior. . to die for God. Both. Martyrdom. slavery or other privations they considered incompatible with their convictions about ‘Romanhood.9 Many Jews resisted this forced assimilation and preferred to die rather than bow to an idol or eat sacrificial meat. and in doing so make claims of our life. and it was based on this same distinction between true and false or good and evil. patriotism. Informative texts tell us something important or amusing about the world.8 which was written in the time of the Maccabaean Wars. performative texts order and prohibit. to be more precise. is still a religion based on a variant of the Mosaic distinction). i.e. social and political consequences. and bravery.’ Informative texts require our attention. becoming by this form of zealous engagement for the Law the first martyrs in history. our obedience—i. execution. a state where there should be only one people. is also present in various forms in the other monotheistic religions. at least. rejecting the excluded option to the point of dying rather than giving in and compromising: this is the line that leads from a new form of religious conviction to its personal. which is the hallmark of the new religion. performative texts. Roman history especially is full of examples of heroic Romans who preferred death to ignominy. on the plane of history. 3. which. it appears during these same wars in the form of heroic resistance to Antiochus IV Epiphanes’ project to turn his kingdom into the first ‘nation-state’ in human history.

for living a life in fulfillment of a sacred or sanctioned script. nor for the divine origin and timeless. the Platonists and other philosophical schools. social and political action and behavior in the way a film script determines the actions and speeches of the actors. the Mandeans and others. the ‘sectarian movements’ in early Judaism. the underlying distinction. Martyrdom is the form of acting out a performative text in which this relation between scripture and fulfillment becomes most clear. we meet with the desire for the sanctification of life. performative texts prescribing human action and claiming strict obedience and fulfillment. determining the forms of personal. the Orphics. These texts. not in the temple. a life in truth and goodness.monotheism and its political consequences 145 imply performative scripture in the form of canons of holy writ. but in everyday life and in the most profane and unholy situations and places. purer paths. well before the emergence of monotheism. never claimed to regulate the whole of human life. . This form of living in the horizon of a canon is not exclusively Jewish. The Torah. In all these movements. as may be regulated either by law codes and royal edicts or by rituals and ceremonial prescriptions. the Manichaeans. or living out scripture. They left the mainstream ways of life in favor of alternative. contains many similar laws and prescriptions. in various permutations. acting out. and there are many singular parallels in other ancient civilizations. the Christians. but there is no parallel for the claim the Torah holds on the totality of human existence. 10 See Agus (1988). it applies to many minoritarian communities in antiquity. the Buddhists. Without this form of performative scripture. absolute validity of such an all-encompassing regulation. however. decision and conviction cannot be maintained and reproduced through the sequence of generations and radical changes of context and circumstances history brings about in the course of centuries. it is true. the sanctuary or some other sacred place. the various branches of Gnosticism and Hermeticism. typically based and gathered around a core-library of normative and ‘performative’ scripture: the Pythagoraeans. The Jewish martyrs typically die with a verse of scripture on their lips. The Mosaic distinction requires and brings about a thorough restructuring of cultural memory.10 Again we must realize that the world was already full of scripts. Death is the most radical and the most decisive way of fulfilling. but only certain spheres of action.

unheeding the will of God.5. das Gott gefällt. Making mistakes and repenting of them afterwards is. as it is expressed. Conversion means making a decision about the true forms of life and belief. and in verse 19: Das Opfer. a new concept of man. in sin my mother has conceived me. The god of monotheism has no divine partners. is among the most important personal consequences of monotheism. Repentance—teschuvah in Hebrew. interior homo in those of Augustine). but of the fundamental and existential sinfulness of the ‘natural state. laying much stress especially on ‘inner man’ (ho endos anthropos in the words of St. ein zerbrochenes und zerschlagenes Herz wirst Du. in Ps 51 v. Israel. 7: for I am born in guilt. of subjectivity. Monotheism implies not only a new idea of god but also. Dtn 6. I am not speaking of specific misdeeds. It is closely connected to a concept of sin which is equally revolutionary. I am thinking of an existential turn. ist ein zerknirschter Geist. reflectivity and inner conflicts. both in the shape of the chosen people.g. or unjust) religion. Israel is required not only to recognize god’s unity (aechad ).e. Conversion and repentance are perhaps the most prominent and the most innovative of these new forms of inner life. These religions could not be separated from culture and society. but love the Lord “with all thy soul. Conversion implies a decision based on the Mosaic distinction between true (or good.’ i. his partner is man. caused by an awareness of the general sinfulness of one’s former life. . Gott. a universal phenomenon. nicht verschmähen. all thy heart. or just) and false (or bad. but never ‘convert’ to the respective religions. a life outside the Law. I would dare the thesis that conversion and repentance are unthinkable concepts in the context of traditional ‘pagan’ religions. metanoia in Greek—means a total transformation or reformation of one’s ways of living. and that of the indi11 See the ‘schema prayer’.11 The development of new forms of inner life. and above all. all thy power”. e. of course.146 jan assmann Drawing the distinction and making the decision requires a firm mind and heart. Paul. You could assimilate to Egyptian or Mesopotamian culture. Also in this respect.

stretching over many centuries and including many drawbacks and movements in the opposite direction. Repentance and conversions are dramatic plays acted out on the inner stage of the human heart. to leave one’s former life which one has come to recognize as wrong. even exposed and surrendered to god’s omniscience and critical attention. but in history as it is perceived. acted out on the arena of.’ the people of God. The ‘I’ of the psalms stands firstly for a singular suffering or jubilating. All this is totally alien to ‘pagan’ religions. The law of evolution reads “Natura non facit saltus. imploring or thanksgiving individual. who assumed. which co-evolved with the monotheistic turn in ancient Israel. Sinai constitutes the ‘primal scene’ of monotheism. and the exodus from Egypt cuts the links to the host culture and helps to prepare a ‘tabula rasa’ for God on which to write His revelation.’ accommodating all three meanings in its exposed position before God. and thirdly for the community of Israel. secondly for everybody confronting his god in similar situations. The prolonged sojourn of Israel in Egypt for more than four centuries effaces every memory of the patriarchal past in Canaan. It is an ‘I’ ‘larger-than-life. remembered and represented. The revelation of the Law at Mt. Monotheism is a drama between god and man. This new form of intensified subjectivity finds its clearest expressions in the sentiment of repentance and the step of conversion. The individual now found himself or herself confronted with god. turning an amorphous mass of nameless emigrants into the ‘Chosen People. and to enter the life of truth. a totally new dignity. both. not perhaps in actual history. But culture does make leaps. Monotheism means an extension of the traditional world in the direction of transcendence and subjectivity. in this new kind of religion.monotheism and its political consequences 147 vidual Israelite. The monotheistic turn is represented in the Bible as a revolutionary ‘leap’ of the highest possible degree. Moses means a new beginning and the installation of a new religion. everyday life and of the inner life of the psyche. the way of the Law or the imitation of Christ. or outer and inner transcendence. sinful or evil.” and it applies also to cultural history. . II The Political Consequences of Monotheism The ‘monotheistic turn’ means both a revolution and an evolution.

in the sense of a sacralized political movement. I am envisaging. This political action leads to the constitution of the Hebrews as the people of God and a “kingdom of priests and a holy people” (mamlekhet kohanim we-goj qadosh). To the loyalty of Israel corresponds the ‘jealousy’ of God: both are political properties. Thou shalt not have other gods beside me. but that Israel should not have other gods. it is true. and I am interpreting this narrative complex not in the sense of real history. . loyalty and jealousy. states that YHWH is ‘ONE.’ aechad. This may be inter12 Ex 19:6. Israel is committed to political loyalty. to staying loyal to the alliance and not breaking away to other overlords. but of mnemo-history. Loyalty is a meaningful concept only if there are other gods. Sinai in its broader context. The primarily political character of this story is obvious. Only with the transformation of a sacralized political movement into a new form of full-fledged religion. Exclusivism. Monotheism is the basic principle and the first commandment of this new political order: “I am YHWH thy God that has liberated thee from Egypt. including the exodus from Egypt.” This does not mean that there are no other gods. is therefore originally a political concept. a purely political action. Both. to be sure. This makes a big difference.12 an alternative political organization and the political antithesis to the oriental empires. the exclusivity of God turns from a question of commitment into a question of existence. in clear opposition to a kind of political order and organization. a political alliance between the people and God.’ The form of this constitution is a treaty. meaning the exclusivity of allegiance to one particular god. based on the principle of sacral kingship or ‘representative theocracy. not the exclusive existence of one god only. The story is about liberation from Egyptian serfdom. the wanderings through the wilderness and the conquest of the Promised Land. are political concepts. It concerns the alliance between the people of god and the god of liberation. for which Egypt stands as its symbolical exponent. The Schema prayer.148 jan assmann This primal scene is politically determined in such a way as to suggest that monotheism is originally a political religion. the event at Mt. being a central part of the Sinai revelation. This means that I am asking for the form in which monotheism remembers and tells the story of its origins. the hallmark of monotheism.

fictive gods. the other gods that Israel is requested not to ‘have’ are not only forbidden. The chief gods of polytheistic religions are state gods and represent political unity. this tension marks biblical religion from the beginning. day and night. Amun-Re for Egypt. separating the Chosen People from the rest of the nations. Marduk for Babylonia. There were no idols and heathen in the realm of tribal religion and polytheism. Ashur stands for Assyria. based on the distinction between true and false. The political problem of universalism consists in its lack of legitimizing function. YHWH is the only true god. The Jewish solution consists in ‘sub-sovereignty. The construction of paganism is the single achievement of monotheism. loyalty to the one in full recognition of the existence of other gods on the one hand. Both tendencies. love and war. Pure monotheism does not recognize national gods.” but also in the sense of absolute oneness or unity. but nonexistent. exclusive and universalistic. YHWH originally stood for Israel but the biblical god soon outgrew this political role. This problem is solved by the monotheistic religions in different ways. all thy soul and all thy might. Monotheism is. Athena for Athens etc. This distinction simply did not exist previously in the realm of religion. the exclusive and the universalistic. good and evil—but that also erects a boundary: between true and false. but it tends right from the start to take on the cognitive or ‘existential’ meaning between true and false gods. therefore. and the recognition of only one god denying the existence of other gods as mere idols on the other hand. which befits the following injunction to love YHWH “with all thy heart. the boundaries that are expressed or represented by the divinities of polytheism: between cities and countries. There were foreign religions with foreign. is a religion that blurs boundaries.’ . but the concept of ‘idols’ is the real monotheistic innovation. The tension between monolatry and monotheism. the distinction between true and false or good and evil with regard to religion is the proper innovation of monotheism. Monotheism. Not the oneness of god. false. Monolatry turns into Monotheism. but nobody would have declared these gods false and fictitious or wrong and evil. In this context. This border. land and sea. have political consequences. tribes and nations.monotheism and its political consequences 149 preted both ways: in the sense of an exclusivity of commitment. at the same time. religion and idolatry. In this way. The borderline between the one god YHWH and the other gods is originally a political boundary. unknown gods.

und er wird uns. So little monotheism suits the needs of a national religion. Omayyad. Each side perceives the other as the providential foe. wir ihn zum selben Ende hetzen. The political consequences of this distinction turn dangerous only if it is interpreted in terms of friend and foe. the idolaters turn into enemies of God and the political leaders turn into God’s willing executioners. One side speaks of Allah’s enemies. This holds for post-revolutionary France. Christianity is linked to the Roman Empire.150 jan assmann Israel develops the pure form of monotheism only under minority conditions. This interpretation seems typical of the political world view of the two extreme spearheads. from the Abassid. Fatimid etc. Nationalism is also a political religion that does not tolerate other religions beside itself. up to the Ottoman empires. represented a mortal danger to the alliance between religion and politics. therefore. It does not support a nation-state. Egypt and even early Zionism. the “personification of its own question” (“ihre eigene Frage als Gestalt”): Der Feind ist unsre Frage als Gestalt. a malign clinch calling for therapy. The same would apply to a not yet existing ‘Serbia’ (at least not under this designation). in the Muslim East as well as the Christian West. Syria. YHWH may renounce his political function as a state god and become truly universal. But there is also the political problem of the ‘Mosaic distinction’ with its construction and exclusion of paganism. with its national branch of Greek orthodox faith. but an empire. Then. The foe personifies our own question and he will hunt us. Iraq. as well as for Turkey. Religious nation-states such as Pakistan and Iran are exceptional and problematic constructions. we him. down to the same end. Nineteenth and twentieth century nationalism. so well it functions as an imperial religion. The typical nationstate is a secular state. in the Babylonian exile and under Persian rule. The political forms that are congenial to monotheistic universalism are either minority conditions or imperial multinationalism. I would understand them as expressing a pathology of politics. Whereas Carl Schmitt saw in these verses by Theodor Däubler the epitome of the political. Islam forms empires of its own. Under these conditions. The Christian and Islamic solution of this problem is the empire. The polarization of the political world into friend and foe seems in itself patho- . the other of the axis of evil. of radical Islamism and the Bush administration.

including the works of Marx and Engels. Stalin and Mao. Being an universal or ‘world-religion’ in itself. communism had no real counterpart in the West.e. It appears that religion was only involved on the one side of this confrontation. Violence and the Modern Situation Twenty years ago. i. these religions laid the foundation for a new religion. Eisenstadt’s important distinction. i. III Monotheism. in fact. but not caused by. the global situation was still determined by the Cold War. The opposite.14 Capitalism. we may say that it is deeply rooted in. or even Gnosticism.”13 including a church and an orthodoxy. still. There is certainly no evolutionary trend leading from Christian or Jewish religion. to arise. is not a religion. As a religion. Communism was not connected to a religion. as Christian. the communist block. but just a polemical and external classification. considered itself as atheistic. because it was based on the distinction between true and false and had codified this distinction in a canon of holy writ. politics with a religious. Gellner (1994: 170–181). but it becomes mortally dangerous if the foe is demonized far beyond his real possibilities and intentions for destruction. and the other. even messianic perspective aiming at establishing a paradise on earth in form of class-free society and eternal peace.monotheism and its political consequences 151 logical. capitalism thereby playing the role of paganism. The exact counterpart was only represented by Islam. It demanded belief and propagated the polarization of believers and pagans. Christian and Jewish millennialism. one of which. the confrontation between two powers. The communist totalitarianism of the Soviet empire presented the paradigmatic case of a political religion. the capitalist block. . If 13 14 Assmann (1997). Lenin. in the same way as paganism is not a religion. it did not tolerate another religion beside itself.e. to Marxism. or anti-religion. Using Shmuel N. In those cases the point is reached where politics merges with myth and religion. on the other hand. Soviet Communism was a religion and even what I call a “secondary or counter-religion. is true. but was in itself a religion. the capitalist side.


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communism may be termed a political religion in the sense of a political movement with a religious orientation, Islam may be termed a political religion in the sense of a religion with a political orientation. Islam is a religion which aims at political realization, communism is a political movement aspiring at being believed, ‘loved,’ and passionately adhered to as a religion (a goal which it never achieved in actual history). Common to both religions is the element of totalitarianism, the de-differentiation of autonomous cultural spheres. Both force the entire public and private life under the yoke of their respective salvatory doctrines. This confrontation remained invisible, however, because of the relative invisibility of Islam. The situation changed only in 1979 with the revolution in Iran, when Islam reasserted itself as a political power, and with the ensuing politics of the USA, which supported Islamist combatants such as the Mudjaheddin and the Taliban against the Soviet empire. In the war between Iran and Iraq, however, the USA sided with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, a non-religious regime under Soviet influence. Today, after the disintegration of the Soviet empire, Islam and the West confront each other as the two remaining global powers. Islam advanced from being a third power to the role of the “providential foe” in the sense of Carl Schmitt. Again, the West is confronted by a political religion, this time, however, not by politics in religious disguise but by a politically active religion. The question is how the West will react to this new confrontation; the concern is that it will turn religious itself, harnessing its central values such as democracy, freedom, individualism, division of power, market economy, human rights, cultural diversity etc., in the shape of an orthodoxy, demanding blind belief and allegiance, and propagating its religion globally in the form of a crusade. What I dread is “the sacralization of politics,” which, according to Emilio Gentile’s definition, takes place
when a political movement confers a sacred status to an earthly entity, and renders it an absolute principle of collective existence, considering it the main source of values for individual and mass behaviours, and exalting it as the supreme ethical precept of public life. It thus becomes an object of veneration and dedication, even to the point of self-sacrifice.15

Gentile (2000).

monotheism and its political consequences


To be sure, we are not, or perhaps not yet, dealing with a ‘political movement,’ simply with a trend toward a situation where we would then have to deal with the confrontation of two political religions: one a politicized religion aiming at political power, and the other a sacralized politics aiming at religious adherence, including fanatic engagement and ‘love’—because religion is above all a matter of emotional engagement. Both blocks draw their dynamism (or dynamite) from the construction of ‘the other.’ Islam draws its political dynamics from its political construction of paganism: the pagan is the enemy, to be either converted or annihilated (except the ahl al-kitab, ‘People of the Book’ who are tolerated and assessed for tax as a minority). The politics of the USA, on the other hand, draws its religious dynamics from the demonization of the enemy. One could perhaps also think of a conflict between two monotheisms, Islam and Christianity. This construction, however, does not correspond to the Islamic perception of the conflict. The enemy of Islam is not Christianity, but rather Western secularism. Islam does not feel threatened with forced conversion to Christianity, but with losing all religious orientation.16 Western secularism is in fact so heavily rooted in, and has adopted so many features from Christianity, that it may even be seen as the continuation of Christianity in a different shape. Again, it should be stressed that, according to Shmuel N. Eisenstadt, Western secularism is rooted in, but not caused by, Christian traditions. Yet one is tempted to ask whether there is a tendency towards secularization inherent in monotheism, at least towards the phenomenon Max Weber had called the “disenchantment of the world.” This, however, does not seem to apply to Islam. In any event, among the many things which Western secularism adopted from Christian traditions, above all there is the dialectic of inclusion and exclusion. In contrast to Judaism, which leaves the pagans alone, Christianity is a missionary religion that seeks to render its message accessible to all the nations on earth. This opening to the heathens, however, implies the exclusion of all those who reject the message. Unlike Judaism, Christianity is not indifferent to the external world, but divides it in terms of friend and foe. ‘Friends’ are those who accept the message, ‘foes’ those who reject it. Thus, by virtue of its opening


I am basing my interpretation on Meddeb (2002).


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towards the heathen, Christianity is a globalizing and polarizing, i.e. politicizing, religion. Yet even Judaism implies a globalizing tendency. It is not missionary, but lives among the peoples. What mission is to Christianity, diaspora is to Judaism. Judaism, originally a religion of self-exclusion from the orbit of other peoples, destined to live as a ‘Chosen People’ in the ‘Promised Land,’ had to live dispersed among the peoples in a form of passive globalization. If Christianity is a globalizing religion intending to spread over the whole earth, it is nonetheless about a reign which is not of ‘this world.’ The Augustinian distinction between the City of God and the City of Man is constitutive of Christian thought and practice, although it had often been deliberately blurred. Mission does not necessarily mean subjugation, though in history both quite often went together. Islam, however, does not know of such restrictions. The pagans are neither excluded nor violently ‘missionized,’ but subjugated and converted. Here, the distinction reads Dar el Islam and Dar el Harb: “house of Islam” and “house of war”. This means exactly: ‘where there is no Islam, there is war.’ And since war is not a desirable state, the rule is: ‘where there is war, shall be Islam.’ For this reason, Islam is the most pronouncedly globalizing religion among the three Abrahamitic monotheisms. The globalizing element of monotheism is present only in a passive form in Judaism, in the form of diaspora; it becomes active in Christianity, but tempered by a that-worldly orientation; and finds its intemperate political expression only in Islam. The globalizing dynamics of monotheism is based from in its underlying universalism. If there is only one god, He is responsible for all countries and peoples. Polytheism expresses the diversity and plurality of the world, monotheism knows of only one god, one world and one humanity. For this reason, the Bible interprets the diversity of languages as a punishment and a ‘depravation of creation.’ The plurality of peoples, goyim in Hebrew, acquires the negative meaning of ‘pagans,’ and in the Arab expression dar el-harb, this negative meaning becomes most manifest. The three monotheisms handle their universalistic perspective, however, in very different manner. Judaism postpones it to a ‘messianic age.’ History is determined by the plurality of the nations and religions. Only at the end of time, in the post-histoire of messianic time, will the peoples convert to the One God and go to Zion for worship.

monotheism and its political consequences


For Christianity, the Messiah has already come, bringing, however, not the end of history; the end will come only when the gospel has been told to all the peoples. Until then, the kingdom of God is in a certain mysterious way present, it is ‘true,’ but not of this world. At least the shi’ite Islam knows of this messianic-eschatological postponement, but not of the Christian dichotomy of the two kingdoms. Islam insists on realization, that is, on transformation of religion into politics here and now; it leaves no doubt that its kingdom is of this world. Of the three Abrahamitic religions, it is the one that is most resolute in the realization of the political implications of monotheistic universalism. This most unequivocally and politically globalizing religion sees itself now confronted with a similarly globalizing movement, not in Christianity, but in the shape of post-Christian secularism, which shares with Christianity its universalistic impulse but not its spiritual perspective and which, for the same reason, globalizes the world in such a successful and even irresistible way that it can only be perceived by Islam as a mortal threat. With Western secularism on the one side and Islam on the other, we have two religions which operate on the political plane with the claim to universal power, and which demonize each other as mortal enemies. In this extreme status, however, this analysis holds true only for the two extreme spearheads of these two powers, Islamism and fundamentalism on the one hand and the Bush administration as the exponent of Western values or value-fundamentalism (democracy, individualism, market economy etc.) on the other. This offers to the more moderate zones within and between the two blocks, to liberal Islam and to pluralistic Europe with its partly Islamic history, the chance of playing the role of the third and of breaking up the dangerous dualism. Is it possible or even probable that the radical polarization of the world is connected with the Mosaic distinction between true and false religion? I would think so, but its destructive potential is only realized in a modern, post-monotheistic world. In this situation, the only cure seems to consist in a resolute de-demonization of the other. The West should beware of demonizing Islam by confounding it with Islamism (and then depicting it as the ‘personification of its own question’). Islam is a complex and pluralistic phenomenon. The West should support the liberal, reformist trends as opposed to the fundamentalists and puritans (the Wahhabites) with their radical fanaticism. Of crucial import is also the disentanglement of politics and


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religion. Western secularism must not see and advertise itself as the only true and universal form of political order. Islam or Islamism, in turn, should no longer insist on the immediate political realization of its religious norms and notions. Monotheistic religion must remember its original critical impulse. It was originally intended as a means of breaking up the inseparable unity of ‘rule’ and ‘salvation,’ ‘Herrschaft ’ und ‘Heil,’ typical of the representative theocracies of the Eastern empires, Babylonia, Assyria, Egypt, Persia and Hellenism ruled by gods and the sons of Gods. The idea of the ‘covenant’ burst the compact unity of rule and salvation and withdrew salvation from the hand of the rulers. Monotheism originally meant political criticism. Biblical monotheism opposed the pharaonic oppression with its utopia of a decent society, where nobody was enslaved or humiliated. Monotheism meant the definition of an Archimedean point, from which to unhinge the political orders of the ancient world. This issue may be defined as the separation of religion and politics. This separation is given up where religion foregoes its critical potential and establishes a new form of totalitarian unity, forcing politics, jurisprudence, art and other cultural fields under its vision. The political theology of the Pentateuch and the prophets has a double direction. It is not only about founding and legitimating a new form of political order, but it is also and primarily about criticizing and delegitimizing the traditional prevailing order; and this, not the foundational function, is the most important aspect of biblical political theology. Biblical monotheism as it appears in the Books of Exodus and Deuteronomy is a weapon directed against the political structures of the Ancient Near East. However, if we continue reading in the Hebrew Bible beyond the Pentateuch, from the Books of Judges and Samuel to the Books of Kings and further through the Books of the Prophets, it becomes crystal clear that biblical political theology is not so much directed against Egypt and Babylonia, but it rather addresses Israel’s own society. Egypt and Babylonia are just symbols for what is considered to be wrong in terms of political order. Moses standing before Pharaoh is just a model for the later prophets to confront their respective kings in Jerusalem, Samaria and Babylon. Biblical Monotheism constructs a new platform from which to criticize and delegitimize political order. This platform simply did not exist in the pre-Israelite world. Religion was part of the system.

monotheism and its political consequences


Now, it became a system of its own, separated from culture including politics, economics, arts and sciences. Yet, the function of biblical political theology is, both, critical and foundational; it delegitimizes the previous political order and legitimizes a new one. It separates religion from the rest of culture, but it tends to transform the whole of culture in the light of truth. It differentiates and it de-differentiates. As a means of differentiation, it represents an immense achievement in the history of mankind, in terms of freedom and human rights against the claims of politics; as a power of de-differentiation, however, of totalitarian ‘Gleichschaltung’ (ideological standardization and synchronisation) of culture under the dictate of religion, it is a danger to human freedom. For a close, I would like to summarize my interpretation of monotheism as being (originally) a political movement of resistance and liberation in five points, which correspond to five leitmotifs in the Biblical narrative: (1) The motif of liberation. The liberation from Egyptian serfdom is the first and foremost foundation of the new religion; it is thus purely political, meant to found human society on a new basis which forever precludes oppression, exploitation and humiliation. (2) The motif of God’s oneness, uniqueness or solitude. As we have seen, this has also, at least originally, a political meaning. Political alliances are exclusive: you must serve two overlords. A small state such as Israel was constantly confronted with the decision of whether to side either with Egypt or Assyria, but never with both. The only way to escape these constraints was to form an equally exclusive alliance with God that excluded other gods and other lords. The resolution to recognize only one God is, by its origin, a purely political intention. (3) The motif of God as legislator. A legislating god was unknown to the world of polytheism. God as judge, to be sure, was a central concept in Egypt and Mesopotamia, but legislation was the task of the king. The idea of justice was divine, but the formulation and promulgation of concrete laws to be derived from the idea of justice was the task of the king, because the laws were deemed to be dependent on historically changing situations. The legislating god replaces the king in his most important function. (4) The motif of the wrath of God. The jealousy and the wrath of God are political affects, distinguishing the sovereign ruler. The

Marduk in Babylonia. Unlike the gods of Egypt and Mesopotamia. What is wrong with images? Images are the medium through which the gods of ancient polytheisms exerted their rulership on earth. Mundane government is just a replica and representation of divine rulership. This is the political meaning of idolatry. through representatives such as the king. References Agus. “The Mosaic Distinction: Israel. and draws its legitimacy from this ‘theo-mimesis. Assur in Assyria. Eisenstadt detected what he called an “Axial theme. in my view. The ancient oriental state may be classified as a ‘representative theocracy. Eisenstadt’s remark on Augustine’s rejection of any representation of the city of God on earth. The covenant is based on direct theocracy. and assumes the necessary political emotions in relation to his people.158 jan assmann biblical god develops these qualities only after the formation of the covenant at Mt. In this rejection of representation. and the Invention of Paganism. not indirectly. the sacred animals and the innumerable images in the temples.’ This sphere of representation is destroyed by the prohibition of images. The primal scene of the wrath of God is the story of the Golden Calf. Amun-Re in Egypt. In this context. because it implies the danger of self-deification. I would also like to refer to Shmuel N.” a feature of “axiality. According to Eisenstadt’s understanding of Augustine’s position. . but over human people.” Axial Age civilizations develop a strong aversion to representing the divine. The Binding of Isaac and Messiah. Jan (1996). Assmann. Albany. NY: University of New York Press. which God resents as defection to other gods. it belongs to the original semantic core of monotheism. Sinai. people could not ‘represent’ the City of God without conceiving themselves as divine.’ The states were ruled by state-gods. The god of Israel rules directly.” In: Representations 56: 48–67. such as les rois thaumaturges in France and also some elements of sacral kingship in pre-reformation England. Egypt. Many things arouse the anger of God. There is first a Jewish. YHWH does not rule over other gods. Every image would destroy the immediacy of His presence. but he reacts most furiously to images. (5) The prohibition of images. and. yet they ruled not directly but indirectly. Aharon (1988). then a protestant reserve against political institutions representing the divine on earth.

Die Mosaische Unterscheidung oder der Preis des Monotheismus. (2003). (1997). 1: 34–55. Moses the Egyptian. La maladie de l’Islam. Emilio (2000). Gellner. Meddeb. Abdelwahab (2002).monotheism and its political consequences 159 ——. Seuil. “The Sacralization of Politics: Definitions. Ernest (1994). Oxford: Blackwell. The Memory of Egypt in Western Monotheism. Munich: Hanser. Gentile.” In: Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions 1. . ——. MA: Harvard University Press. Cambridge. Paris. Interpretations and Reflections on the Question of Secular Religion and Totalitarianism. Encounters with Nationalism.


. it presents at most only one side of the picture. While needless to say there is a very strong kernel of truth in such approach. the confrontation between pluralistic and totalistic and totalitarian ideologies. even if in secular terms. have been often seen as epitomizing a break from religion. beyond such conflation it does not do full justice to the fact that many central and continual dimensions and tensions of the cultural and political program of modernity and of modern political dynamics are deeply rooted in the religious components of the civilization which they developed.THE RELIGIOUS ORIGINS OF MODERN RADICAL MOVEMENTS* Shmuel N. McKnight (1983). as heralding the rise of the secular age in which religion and the sacred have been relegated to the private sphere. of some of the basic religious orientations and the tensions that have been constitutive of these civilizations. 1 Blumenberg (1987).1 It is the major argument of this essay that the roots of modern Jacobinism in their different manifestations are to be found in the transformation of the visions with strong Gnostic components and which sought to bring the ‘Kingdom of God’ to earth and which * The research on which this article is based has been helped by a grant from the Thyssen Foundation. or to the margins of society. the cultural and political programs of modernity. modern civilization. Eisenstadt I Modernity. movements and regimes. Not only does it confuse or conflate religion as defined in Western discourse with the sacral. This is especially true of the Jacobin component of the cultural and political program of modernity—a component which is at the root of what is probably the most continual dramatic confrontation in the modern political discourse and dynamics—namely. and that these dimensions and tensions constitute in many ways the transformation.

a tension related to the awareness of a great range of possibilities of transcendental visions and of their implementation. in the English Civil War and especially the American and French Revolutions and their aftermaths. with the interests of the powers-that-be. From then on these visions. first. in continual confrontation with more open pluralistic visions. eisenstadt were often promulgated in medieval and early modern European Christianity by different heterodox sects. social and political reality. Eisenstadt (1999). The transformation of these visions as it took place above all in the Great Revolutions.162 shmuel n. The roots of this problematique were to be found in the very process of institutionalization of the transcendental visions promulgated in these civilizations.2 The most important of these tensions were.’3 It was above all this last problematique that constituted the roots of the development of the modern totalistic. 1986). and third was the tension focused on the desirability of attempts promulgated above all by various heterodox sects to implement such visions in their pristine utopian form. Any such institutionalization naturally entailed some compromise of the pristine transcendental vision with mundane. potentially totalitarian vision with strong Jacobin tendencies. to bring the ‘Kingdom of God’ to the ‘Kingdom of Man. especially Jacobin guises. are to be found in modern transformations of the tensions inherent in all Axial civilizations in the very premises of these civilizations and in the process of their institutionalization. and on the other hand a commitment to pluralistic premises and orientations which constituted a basic component of the modern political discourse and dynamics. totalistic. especially in their various collectivistic. entailed their transposition from relatively marginal sectors of society to the central political arena. . second was the tension between reason and revelation or faith or their equivalents in the non-monotheistic Axial civilizations. became a continual component of the modern political discourse and dynamics. in somewhat greater detail. especially Jacobin ideologies and movements. Or. and the concomitant emphasis on the importance of the maintenance of this order for the maintenance of even the possible 2 3 Eisenstadt (1982. the close interweaving of such visions with the existing political order. the roots of the continual confrontation between on the one hand an encompassing.

. of a total bridging of the chasm between the transcendental and the mundane order. even impossibility.the religious origins of modern radical movements 163 partial implementation of the transcendental vision. no single one could be taken as given or complete. It was usually connected with a continuous struggle and competition between many groups and between their respective visions. 1988). Such reflexivity has been. it became in itself very problematic.e.5 Such processes of institutionalization have also sharpened the awareness of yet another basic tension inherent in these civilizations. The premises of these civilizations—and their institutionalization—entailed a high level of reflexivity. and the ensuing acceptance of the difficulty. i. peaceful one. directions and interpretations of the transcendental visions. it may have easily endowed reason with a metaphysical or transcendental dimension and autonomy which did not exist in pre-Axial civilizations—and could generate confrontations between the autonomous exercise of reason and revelation or its equivalents in the non-monotheistic civilizations. It necessarily entailed the exercise of reason not only as a pragmatic tool but also as at least one arbiter or guide of such reflexivity—and often gave rise to the construction of reason as a distinct category in the discourse of that developed in these civilizations. Because of this multiplicity of visions. of the implementation of such visions constituted an inherent part of their institutionalization in the Axial civilizations. of course. Such 4 5 Eisenstadt (1999). reinforced by the awareness of alternative visions. Hence. any such institutionalization entailed the growing awareness of a great range of possibilities of transcendental visions. Once the conception of a basic tension between the transcendental and the mundane order was institutionalized in a society. 1986. Hinduistic and Buddhist ones. of the very definition of the tensions between the transcendental and the mundane order and of the quest to overcome it. Eisenstadt (1982 b. including a second order reflexivity about these very premises. Historically such process of institutionalization of transcendental visions was never a simple. Thus the very process of such institutionalization generated the possibility of different emphases. or at least within its center. namely that between on the one hand ‘reason’ and on the other ‘revelation’ and faith in the monotheistic tradition and some transcendental principle in the Confucian.4 Moreover.

eisenstadt confrontation was historically very central in the monotheistic civilizations as they confronted the only Axial civilization—the Greek one—which did indeed define reason. Given such imperfectability. II All these processes and problems attendant on the institutionalization of such visions have sharpened the awareness and problematization of the possibility or desirability of a full implementation of the transcendental visions constitutive of these civilizations. that they would lead to attempts by the fragile and imperfect to abrogate for themselves divine power. Gordon and Buxton (1981).164 shmuel n. given the imperfectability of man. The very emphasis on the chasm between the transcendental and the mundane order entailed also the conception of the inherent imperfectability of man. needless to say. The proper limits of such implementation. couched in other terms and in less confrontational ways—developed also in other Axial civilizations. .6 Parallel confrontations—even if. As against the seemingly natural quest for the implementation of such visions there developed also in these civilizations the recognition not only of the impossibility but also of the undesirability of such implementation. should be accepted—but also regulated by 6 Vernant (1979). “logos” as the ultimate transcendental value. as against those in which the more mundane concerns. there developed within these civilizations strong emphases on the necessity to regulate mundane affairs without attempts of an extreme. could be very dangerous. There also developed within the reflexive traditions of these civilizations doubts. the scope of the arenas and aspects of social life which should be regulated according to such vision. totalistic implementation of pristine transcendental vision. Accordingly. it was often emphasized in the discourse that developed in these civilizations that attempts to a complete overcoming of the chasm between the transcendental and the mundane orders. about the possibility—and even feasibility—of such full implementation of these visions. economic or power ones. Such view was not inherently exogenous to the basic conceptions and premises of these civilizations—it was indeed a basic even if controversial component of their premises.

however. as well as those of fear. Such considerations were usually seen as being a natural part of the mundane order. there developed a strong preoccupation with the relations between on the one hand these impulses and interests. .9 Most of these discussions emphasized that such contract with the rulers was based on some utilitarian considerations. Khaldoun (1988). especially political order is constituted through some implicit contract between different members of a society or between them and the ruler. Metzger (1977). In the discourses that developed in all these civilizations.the religious origins of modern radical movements 165 mundane means. namely that of the evaluation of hedonistic and anarchic impulses and of mundane interest of people. hedonistic. In close relation to these considerations. also be found in other Axial civilizations. the upholding of the proper social order. Augustine’s famous distinction between the City of God and the City of Man is one of the best-known illustrations of this concern— as well as of the resolution of this problem in the direction of the separation of the two cities. Similar discourses can. of the idea that the actual mundane. The recognition of this necessity was often connected with legitimation of political order based on considerations of power. These concerns were closely related to the problem which was central in the discourse of all these civilizations. The contract based on such considerations could be seen as legitimate—but certainly not as entailing the full implementation 7 8 9 Heesterman (1985). rooted in the anarchic potentials of human nature. Different variations of such idea of social contract could be found in some of the great writings on political and social matters of the Asian civilizations.7 in the work of Ibn Khaldoun.8 or in the work of some of the Chinese thinkers—like Motzu or Hsunt-su. which had to be regulated by the laws or customs which hemmed in these anarchic potentials and/or by the power of the rulers. between the egoistical. as for instance of Artashartra of Katulya. and anarchic impulses of individuals and groups within the society and. constituted one of the major concerns of the reflexive discourse in all these civilizations. on the other hand. there developed in many of these civilizations some kernels of the idea of social contract. DeBary (1975: 1 p. Lawrence (1984). Gellner (1981).).

and the 10 Voegelin (1961). Seligman (1989: 1–44). eisenstadt of the pristine transcendental vision. III It was all these problems attendant on the institutionalization of the transcendental visions which were constitutive of Axial Civilizations— i. Eisenstadt (1982 b).e. but its legitimacy could be also connected with the fear of attempts to implement totalistically the pristine transcendental vision. These visions with their very strong antinomian potentialities were usually articulated by social actors who presented themselves as the bearer of the pristine religious and/or civilizational visions of these civilizations.10 Such utopian conceptions often contained strong millenarian and revivalist elements that can be also found in pre-Axial Age or non-Axial civilizations such as Japan. Cohn (1961. A crucial component of many of such alternative visions was the emergence in the Axial civilizations of the utopian conception of an alternative cultural and social order which often also contained very strong Gnostic and eschatological components or vision. and within which the transcendental visions will be fully implemented so that the bringing of the Kingdom of God to the Kingdom of Man would be eventually achieved. the Indian or Buddhist ‘renouncers. the combination of the awareness of such multiplicity of competing views or of their interpretation together with compromises in which the institutionalization of such visions entailed that constituted the butt of the criticism of various religious cognoscenti and sectors.’ Christian monks. but these utopian visions go beyond the millenarian ones by combining them with the search for an alternative better order beyond the given one. an order that will be constructed according to the pristine precepts of the higher transcendental order. At the same time. 1977. . the possibility was raised in this discourse that the regulation of such impulses could be best assured by the exercise of reason rather than by attempts to implement transcendental visions in a totalistic way.166 shmuel n. 1993). however. a new social and cultural order which will negate and transcend the given one. Illustrations of such carriers are the holy men of antiquity. which promulgated alternative visions presented by their bearers as the pristine visions untainted by any compromise.

above all by sectarian utopian 11 12 13 Weber (1952). to the political and religious establishments alike. between the complexity and fragmentation of human relations inherent in any institutional division of labor and the possibility of some total. religious virtuosi. Eisenstadt (1981: 155–181). or potential heterodoxies—. sects. they could also have broader institutional and political implications. especially the tension between equality and hierarchy. (1982). and they could—under appropriate conditions—become very forceful challenges to the existing regimes. Such political potential of these sects and of the alternative visions promulgated by them was reinforced by the conceptions of the accountability of rulers to some higher order which constituted important components of the premises of these civilizations. often acting from within liminal situations. with attempts to overcome or supersede the predicaments and limitations of human existence in general and of death in particular.13 and could also be held responsible. such alternative visions. were not confined to the purely intellectual realm. 1995). unmediated participation in social and cultural orders. orders which could become heterodoxies. with their strong antinomian potentialities as they were borne by the various actors—especially by religious virtuosi. unconditional. The promulgation of these visions was closely connected to the struggle between different elites—making all these elites—to follow Weber’s designation of the ancient Israeli prophets—into “political demagogues. Eisenstadt (1985. who often stood in some ambivalent or dialectic relationships to the existing ways of institutionalizing the transcendental visions.the religious origins of modern radical movements 167 like—in other words.12 Accordingly. conceptions according to which the rulers were seen as responsible for the implementation in their respective societies of the transcendental visions. and the tension between the quest for meaningful participation in central symbolic and institutional arenas by various groups in the society. These actors. these elites often attempted to implement such visions in cooperation or coalition with broader social movements. Accordingly such alternative visions became very often combined with the perennial themes of social protest. .”11 who could also develop distinct political programs of their own. and who often coalesce into distinct groups—sectors.

’ these sectarian orientations did not give rise. as it were. and it was only in the Reformation and Calvinism that they were successful—and only for relatively short periods in relatively small communities—in Geneva. in the crystallization of the political program of modernity with its tensions and contradictions. Lasky (1970.168 shmuel n. 15 Oberman (1986. they did not give rise to radical transformation of the political arena. eisenstadt movements. for the sheer failure of implementation of the transcendental visions and of the construction of a political order which would assure such full implementation. of modernity. Eerdmans (1994). . they constituted through their transformation in the Great Revolutions a central component in the crystallization of modern civilization.14 The crucial historical step in this process in Europe was the Reformation. 1994). The Reformation15 constituted the crucial point of transformation of Catholic sectarianism in a this-worldly direction: Luther’s famous saying of making the whole world into a monastery—while overtly oriented against the existing monastic orders—did denote a radical transformation of the hitherto prevalent hegemonic tendencies towards sectarian activities in Christianity. IV Whatever the differences between these Axial civilizations. Especially among some Islamic sects. 1992). see for instance the special issue on “The French Revolution and the Birth of Modernity” in Social Research (Feher 1989). Contrary to some simplistic interpretations of Weber’s ‘Protestant Ethic Thesis. of bringing the Kingdom of God to the Kingdom of Man. Such transformation was taken up even more forcibly both by the radical Reformation and by Calvinism—in which there developed very strong emphasis on the bringing together of the City of God and the City of Man. In the realm of European-Christian civilizations. Lutheranism did not on the whole give rise to active autonomous political activities. On the Revolutions and modernity. 1976). in some Dutch and Scottish sects and in some of the early American colonies. such various sectarian heterodox groups and visions constituted a continual component in the dynamics of these civilizations. Wood (1992). its premises and symbols. but with some partial exceptions. to capitalism or 14 On the Great Revolutions and their background see Eisenstadt (1978.

1952. All these processes did provide a very crucial component of the background of the development of the Great Revolutions. movements of protest but also with the political struggle at the center and were transposed into the general political movements and the centers thereof. The transformation of the sectarian activities that took place in the Great Revolution was closely connected with the development of a new type of political activists and leadership. the most central component in these 16 17 Eisenstadt (1990). 1996. and possibly the most successful attempt in the history of mankind to implement on a macro-societal scale the utopian vision with strong Gnostic components. Rather. they constituted a very important component in the crystallization of this civilization16—a component which entailed both a continuation and a radical transformation of the place of sectarianism and proto-fundamentalist movements in the dynamics of Great Civilizations. Voegelin (1975. and the concomitant attempts to implement the heterodox Gnostic visions. Such transformation entailed the turning upside down—even if ultimately in secular terms—of the hegemony of the Augustinian vision. and of the sectarian visions which wanted to bring the City of God to the City of Man. under very specific and distinctive institutional and geopolitical conditions. 1994). These Revolutions can indeed be seen as the first or at least the most dramatic. and it was the Great Revolutions that in a way constituted the culmination of these processes.the religious origins of modern radical movements 169 to modern civilization in general. The Great Revolutions can be seen as the culmination of the sectarian heterodox potentialities which developed in the Axial civilizations—especially in those in which the political arena was seen as at least one of the arenas of implementation of their transcendental vision. The most central component of such leadership. It was indeed Eric Voegelin’s great insight— even if he possibly presented it in a rather exaggerated way—to point out to those deep roots of the modern political program in the heterodox-Gnostic traditions of medieval Europe. popular uprisings.17 It was in these revolutions that such sectarian activities were taken out from marginal or segregated sectors of society and became interwoven not only with rebellions. . and themes and symbols of protest became a basic component of the central social and political symbolism.

The English and. Furet (1970. eisenstadt revolutionary processes—and one which probably constitutes their most distinct characteristics—is the place of specific cultural. or some secularized vision thereof. among which especially prominent were the bearers of the Gnostic vision of bringing the Kingdom of God. these activities and orientations were transposed. Furet (1982). On the role of groups of heterodox intellectuals in some of the revolutions and in the antecedent periods. This Chocin (1924.18 Mona Ozouf. to earth. Riegel (1997). highly controlled. The essence of this transformation was that as against the suppression or hemming in of the more radical sectarian and heterodox activities and orientations in special. to a different extent. Baechler (1979). 1982). and others and the various groups of Russian intelligentsia. and it was rooted in the distinctive premises of the European civilization and European historical experience—and bore these imprints—but at the same time it was presented and was perceived as being universal. the members of the French clubs so brilliantly described by Albert Cochin and later on by François Furet. the American Puritans. components of this program. into the central political arena. Nahirny (1981). spaces (such as monasteries. 1981. of universal validity and bearing. religious or secular groups of autonomous intellectuals and political activists.170 shmuel n. that was characteristic of the medieval scene). Sarkisyanz (1955). in continual tensions within other. which took place above all in the Great Revolutions. Ozouf (1982). 1979). Pomper (1970). It was through such transposition of the heterodox utopian totalistic visions into the central political arenas. that the totalistic Jacobin orientations became a continual component of the modern cultural and political program and discourse and in the institutional dynamics of modernity. especially the more pluralistic. in the Revolutions and in the subsequent modern political process. V The Cultural and Political Programs of Modernity The cultural and political program of modernity developed and crystallized in Europe.19 are the best and best-known illustrations of this new type of social activists. Venturi (1983). see Cochin (1924. It was usually these groups that provided the distinctive social element that transformed rebellions and/or sectarian activities into revolutions. 19 18 . 1979).

and then on autonomous participation of members of society—in the constitution of the social and political order. See Tiryakian (1996). The most important among them were—to follow Tiryakian’s felicitous expression—the Christian. 1965). as it crystallized above all in the Renaissance. and the chthonic which emphasizes the full acceptance of the given word and of the vitality of its forces. it entailed a very strong component of reflexivity about the basic ontological premises of the cosmic order as well as about the bases and 20 21 Elias (1983.. Eco (1992). not fully realizable vision. Thus. meta-narratives. The different components of this program were not obliterated by coming together in the cultural and political program of modernity. 1975. 1988. of the promulgation of distinctive attributes of the proper man or woman— of the “civilized person. of the cultural program of modernity especially—to the Reformation and counter-Reformation to the constitutional traditions in Europe and in the Enlightenment. first of all this program entailed a very strong emphasis on the autonomous access of the major social sectors.the religious origins of modern radical movements 171 program entailed. 1978–1982). in the sense of affirmation of this world in terms of a higher. as did any strong cultural or civilizational program—as for instance those that crystallized in the Axial Civilizations—. These components became highly transformed in this program and provided the starting points for the tensions and antinomies that developed within it—thus attesting to its roots in the different aspects of the European historical experience. . and of its place in the flow of time.”20 In the background of this program loomed several very powerful.21 The cultural program of modernity entailed a very distinct shift in the conception of human agency of its autonomy. Enlightenment and the Great Revolutions. These different meta-narratives were closely related to the different historical roots of the modern cultural program. a distinct ontological-metaphysical vision or visions. as well as of its civilizing aspects—i. Second. distinct conceptions of social and political order. Durand (1979). of the bases of legitimation: of authority and its accountability and of the constitution of collective identities. indeed of all members of the society to these orders and their centers. the agnostic which attempts to imbue the world with a deep hidden meaning.e. even if sometimes hidden. Foucault (1973.

22 Toulmin (1990). tendencies and premises which yet shared a strong common denominator: this was the change of the place of God in the construction of the cosmos and of man.22 The most important components of this program as they crystallized in Europe were first the naturalization of man. and in their understanding. tended to be increasingly perceived not as directly regulated by the will of God. transcendental metaphysical principles. of his reason and/or will. eisenstadt legitimations of social and political order of authority prevalent in society—a reflexivity which was shared even by those most radical critics of this program. . Rather. and a concomitant continuous expansion of human environment. The radical innovation of this cultural program as it developed in Europe lay in several major. was that through such exploration not only the understanding. as in Hinduism and Confucianism. Rather they were conceived as autonomous entities regulated by some internal laws which could be fully explored and grasped by human reason and inquiry. often in conjunction with the inexorable march of history. often conflicting. third. and. Blumenberg (1987). the emphasis on the autonomy of man. could be attained by the conscious effort of man. or at least of large parts thereof. The exploration of natural laws became one of the major foci of the new tradition. Such exploration was not purely passive or contemplative. At the same time it was more and more assumed in this new cultural program that exploration of these laws would lead to the unraveling of the mysteries of the universes and of human destiny. second the promulgation of the autonomy and potential supremacy of reason in the exploration and even shaping of the world. as in the Greek tradition. nor by some higher. or by the universal logos. a very strong assumption of this modern cultural vision. but even the mastery of the universe and of human destiny.172 shmuel n. It was such naturalization of cosmos and of man that constituted the central turning point from the pre-modern to the modern cosmological and ontological visions and conceptions. as in the monotheistic civilizations. Man and nature tended to become naturalized. society and nature. who in principle denied the legitimacy of such reflexivity. Closely related was development of a conception of future as open with various possibilities which can be realized by autonomous human agency.

Such autonomy entailed several dimensions—first. second. active construction. Out of the conjunctions of these different conceptions there developed within this modern cultural program the belief in the possibility of active formation by conscious human activity and possibly also critical reflections of central aspects of social. giving rise to continual critical discourse which focused on the relations. and. his or hers (in this program certainly ‘his’) emancipation from the fetters of traditional political and cultural authority and the continuous expansion of the realm of personal and institutional freedom and activity.the religious origins of modern radical movements 173 The exploration of nature and the search for potential mastery over it also tended. at least in some versions of this new tradition— especially among some thinkers of the Enlightenment—. around the tension between reason and revelation or faith (or their equivalents in the non-monotheistic . reflexivity and exploration. cultural and even natural orders. rooted in the belief of the relevance of information and knowledge to the management of the affairs of society and to the construction of the socio-political order that the exploration and investigation of human nature and of society could become connected with the attempts at application of knowledge acquired in such inquiries to the social sphere proper. possibly including human nature and of society. mastery of nature. Such a view led almost naturally to the conception. second. and of human ones. Concomitantly. These tensions and antinomies constituted a transformation of those inherent in Axial civilizations which we analyzed above—namely. tensions and contradictions between its premises and between these premises and the institutional developments in modern societies. central to this cultural program was the emphasis on the growing autonomy of man. first. those focused around the awareness of a great range of possibilities of transcendental visions and of the range of ways of their possible implementation. VI The program and civilization of modernity as it developed first in Western Europe and then in the Americas was from its very beginning—as was the case with any great cultural vision—beset by internal antinomies and contradictions. to extend beyond technical and scientific spheres into the social one.

that between on the one hand reflexivity and autonomy. The emphasis on active construction of society and mastery of nature could become closely connected with the tendency. society and nature and of human activity and society. even if in a rather overstated way. especially of the very conception of reason and its place in human life and society. In the context of the tension between different conceptions of human autonomy and of its relation to the constitution of society and of nature—often in a technocratic engineering way—that was that between on the one hand reflexivity and critical exploration of man. as well as with so-called primordial components in the construction of collective identities. eisenstadt Axial civilizations). in the difference between the more pluralistic conceptions of Montaigne or Erasmus as against the totalizing vision of reason promulgated by .174 shmuel n. that between different evaluations of major dimensions of human experience. second. as Stephen Toulmin has shown. This tension developed first of all with respect to the very conception of reason and its place in the constitution of human society. Of special importance in the context of the relative importance or primacy of different dimensions of human existence has been the evaluation of the predominance of reason as against the emotional and aesthetic dimension of human existence. and on the other active construction of nature and society. between discipline and freedom. These antinomies become transformed in the cultural program of modernity into. and. often equated with various vital forces. first. The central focus of the dichotomy between totalizing and pluralistic visions has been that between the view which accepted the distinctiveness of different values and rationalities as against the view which conflated the such different values and above all different rationalities in a totalistic way. fourth. inherent in cognitive instrumental conceptions. to emphasize the radical dichotomy between ‘subject’ and ‘object. It was manifest for instance. third. around the problematique of the desirability of attempts at full institutionalization of these visions in their pristine form. above all as they bear on the construction of nature and society. that between totalizing and pluralistic conceptions of the major components of this program.’ and between man and nature—reinforcing that radical criticism of them which claimed the cultural program of modernity necessarily entailed an alienation of man from nature and from society. and third. between control and autonomy.

sometimes conflicting—directions. of human nature. could devise the appropriate institutional arrangements for the implementation of human good. especially whether such morality can be based on or grounded in universal principles based. Concomitant tension developed between totalizing visions as against more pluralistic tendencies with respect to the construction and possible absolutization of other dimensions of human experience—especially the emotional ones. many of which have been rooted in Christian eschatology. above all. especially as related to the course of human history. Such conflation of substantive and of instrumental rationality was often identified as the major message of the Enlightenment. scientistic and the more economical. of science.the religious origins of modern radical movements 175 Descartes. for instance. These two directions. could become fused. Closely related were tensions between different conceptions of the bases of human morality. in the Communist ideology. The utopian eschatological conceptions inherent in the belief in the possibility of bridging the gaps or chasms between the transcendental and the mundane orders entailed also some very specific ideas of time. on instrumental rationality or on multiple rationalities as well as in multiple concrete experiences of different human communities. those who mastered the secrets and arcanae of nature and of man. was. first. as epitomizing the sovereignty of reason. One has been the technocratic direction. the technocratic. a vision of historical progress and of history as the process through which . as was the case. but constituted also far-reaching transformations thereof. of the good society. The tension between totalizing and pluralistic conceptions of human existence and social life developed also with respect to the conception of the course of human history—of its being constructed. Such conscious totalistic effort could develop in two—sometimes complementary. on reason. especially by some overarching totalizing visions guided by reason or by the ‘spirit’ of different collectivities against the emphasis on multiplicity of such paths. Such totalizing visions usually entailed the conflations of different rationalities has been that which attempted to subsume value-rationality (Wertrationalität) or substantive rationality under instrumental rationality (Zweckrationalität). The second such direction promulgated attempts to reconstruct society usually in a very totalistic way according to a cognitive—usually scientific moral or religious—vision. based on the assumption that those in the know. Among the most important of these conceptions.

. even technical rationality.176 shmuel n. Herder (1969). 1966). Outram (1995). Hulme and Jordanova (1990).23 As against such totalizing visions of history there developed different visions—perhaps best represented by Vico. Reformation. semi-eschatological conceptions. there developed within it the continual—even if continually changing in their concrete manifestations—contradictions between the basic premises of the cultural and political programs of modernity and the major institutional developments in modern societies. 1955). Eisenstadt (1972). which. the ‘disenchantment’ of the world inherent in the growing routiniza- 23 Toulmin (1990). 24 Lilla (1993. would be implemented. 25 Toulmin (1990).25 VII Cutting across these tensions or contradictions in the basic premises of the cultural program of modernity. especially individual autonomy and emancipation. Vico (1961). Among these contradictions of special importance have been those so strongly emphasized by Weber. (1976). human emancipation with instrumental. science. eisenstadt the cultural program of modernity. This major opposite (romantic) tendency emphasized the autonomy of emotions and of the distinctiveness of primordial collectivities. Blumenberg (1987). (1980). Taylor (1989 a. even if certainly not the idea of progress. Berlin (1975: 118–172). Salomon (1963. (1991). This conception was closely related to a very strong tendency to conflate science and technology with ultimate values. Enlightenment and the Revolutions and the flattening of these visions. b). together with its ‘this-worldly’ orientations. gave it the very strong impetus to expansion. the visions of the Renaissance. but it shared with the new major program many of the strong utopian. It had as well a strong evangelistic and chiliastic trend. as of reason. Such progress was defined above all in terms of universalistic values of instrumental rationality. namely those between the creative dimension inherent in the visions which led to the crystallization of modernity. and technology. Habermas (1987). and later by Herder24— of the existence of multiple paths of histories of different societies. to conflate Wertrationalität and Zweckrationalität.

the breakdown of traditional legitimization of the social and political role and the opening up of different possibilities of legitimation. the political program of modernity with its specific tensions and antinomies within it. there crystallized. This political program of modernity combined orientations of rebellion. the political and the cultural. above all in the Great Revolutions. 26 27 See note 20. to follow Peter Wagner’s formulation between “freedom” and “control. and intellectual anti-nomianism. The central foci of the transformations of the conceptions of political order that crystallized in the political program of modernity were the construction of the political arena and center as a distinct autonomous ontological entity. the autonomy of man.the religious origins of modern radical movements 177 tion of these visions and above all in the growing bureaucratization of the modern world. This program entailed a radical transformation of the parameters and premises of the political order. protest. the emphasis on the construction of this arena by human agency. Wagner (1994). together with strong orientations to center-formation and institution building.”27 VIII Within the framework of this cultural program. of its legitimation. and of the conceptions of accountability of rulers.26 which were rooted in the institutionalization of this program according to the technocratic and/or moral visionary conceptions—or in other words. Closely related has been that between on the one hand the emphasis on human autonomy. of the human person and on the other hand the strong restrictive control dimensions. such as were analyzed—even if in an exaggerated manner—from different but complementary points of view by Norbert Elias and Michel Foucault. as well as the basic characteristics of centers and of centerperiphery relations. . the basic orientations to tradition and to authority. and between an overreaching vision through which the modern world becomes meaningful and the fragmentation of such meaning generated by the growing autonomous development of the different institutional arenas—the economic.

some of the utopian.178 shmuel n. Rather of such contract being seen as rooted in or necessitated by these lower aspects of human nature in the modern discourse. as constitutive of society. eschatological visions—through conscious human actions.29 IX Out of these conceptions of political order that crystallized in the political program of modernity—i. In the modern cultural and political discourse these impulses tended to become fully legitimized as rooted in the basic human rights and as dimensions of human emancipation. gave rise. rooted in the Renaissance and certain groups of the Enlightenment28— was in the growing recognition of legitimacy of autonomous individuals’ goals and the legitimacy of private and multiple individual interests and multiple interpretations of the common good. The recognition of such legitimacy of multiple interest constituted a far-reaching transformation of that view of such interests in new Axial civilizations in which they were conceived as related to or rooted in the lower. 1975. perhaps for the first time in the history of humanity. base human impulses. This transformation was also connected with a parallel one in the conception of social contract. The second such tendency—also novel. in its extreme formulation. in human history. out of the combination of the construction of the political arena and center as a distinct autonomous ontological entity. in social life. Skinner (1981. Shklar (1987). eisenstadt The construction of the political arena by human agency was characterized by two complementary but also potentially contradictory tendencies. Fontana (1994). or realizing in the mundane orders. to the belief in the possibility of bridging the gap between the transcendental and mundane orders. the emphasis on the construction of this arena by human agency. 1991). 1985). as it crystallized above all in the Great Revolutions.e. Dunn (1984. 1978). the breakdown of traditional legitimization of the social and political role—there took place far-reaching transformations in the symbolism and structure of modern political centers as compared with their predecessors in Europe or with the centers of Toulmin (1990). The first such tendency. Pocock (1957. it was conceived as possibly the very basis of society. 29 28 . of the social order.

justice and autonomy.30 All these changes constituted a far-reaching transformation of the perception of the definition of the accountability of rulers to the 30 Koenigsberger (1979).the religious origins of modern radical movements 179 other civilizations. which had promulgated the autonomy of man and of reason. and of accountability of rulers. Concomitantly. 1966). The radical transformation of the basic concepts of sovereignty which took place above all in the Great Revolutions. solidarity and identity of modern political discourse and practice. It was indeed the incorporation of such themes of protest within the center which heralded the radical transformation of various sectarian utopian visions into central components of the political and cultural program. Wood (1992. The crux of this transformation was. and third was the combination of such charismatization with the incorporation of themes and symbols of protest which were central components of the transcendental vision. was the transfer of the locus of sovereignty to ‘the people. first. as basic and legitimate components of the premises of these centers. . Rosanvallon (1992). of the concomitant blurring of the distinctions between center and periphery.’ giving rise to the concepts of popular sovereignty. of citizenship and of representative institutions. X The transformation of the basic premises and legitimation of the social and political order became interwoven with a parallel transformation and institutionalization of the ideology of sovereignty. Second was the development of continual tendencies to permeation of the peripheries by the centers and of the impingement of the peripheries on the centers. ‘citizenship’ was formed from an acclamatory or ratifying act into a participatory one and a concomitant transformation of representation from a virtual into an actual one. Walzer (1974). the development of a strong tendency to charismatization of the center and the major collectivities as the bearers of the transcendental vision promulgated by the cultural program of modernity. Themes and symbols of protest became central components of the modern project of human emancipation—a project which sought to combine equality and freedom.

eisenstadt community. but also to a growing quest for participation in the broader social and political order and in the central arenas thereof. of the general will. and for the concomitant possible transformation of the center. as well as by the continuous claims to the legitimacy of individual and group interests. and in this way presumably continuously responsible to the people. The continual processes of structural change and dislocation which continually took place in modern societies as a result of economic changes. and cultural orders. or at least to the electorate. the continuous restructuring of center-periphery relations has become the central focus of political process and dynamics in modern societies. for the incorporation of various themes of protest into the center. such as the Church— all of which claimed to be the authentic carrier of the Higher Law. Later on. this conception became transformed into the basic constitutional democratic premise according to which rulers are continuously elected. movements of protest which were activated above all by various political activists and intellectuals. and of the recognition of the legitimacy of multiple interests. urbanization. Out of the combination of the transformation of the conceptions and practice of accountability of rulers.180 shmuel n. . of the volonté générale. changes in the process of communication. and interpretation of the common good. to the citizens—the crux of which was the full institutionalization of such accountability in specific mundane ‘routine’ especially the representative and juridical political institutions rather than. as in the pre-modern Axial civilizations in ad hoc outbursts in charismatic individuals or in extra-political institutions. This quest of the periphery or peripheries for participation in the social. The tendency to such continuous reconstruction of centerperiphery relations was most fully manifest in the continual developments of social movements. of the incorporation of symbols and demands of protest into the central symbolic repertoire of society. of the development of capitalism and of the new political formations have led in modern societies not only to the pursuit by different groups of various concrete grievances and demands. political. was guided both by the various utopian visions referred to above and promulgated above all by the major social movements that developed as an inherent component of the modern political process.

and a continual tension between the territorial and/or particularistic collectivities and broader. the crystallization of secular definitions. Shils (1975). the growing importance of the civil components thereof. the development of a continual tension between such different components. in highly ideological terms. and of the strong tendency to their absolutization in ideological terms. first. . third. second.31 XII Jacobin Components in the Political Discourse and Dynamics of Modernity Within the framework of these basic premises of the modern political program. The second such tension. primordial and universalistic and transcendental sacred ones. The most important dimensions of such construction was. The first such tension was that between a constructivist approach which views politics as the process of active reconstruction of society and especially of democratic politics. fifth. potentially universalistic frameworks. as active self-construction of society as opposed to a view that emphasizes the continual construction of society in its concrete composition. there developed some distinct tension focused around the interpretation of the self-constitution of society and of the political order and in a consciously reflexive way which were closely related to the more general tensions inherent in the cultural program of modernity. fourth. of the major components of collective identity—the civil. and. closely related to the first one and also rooted in the overall cultural programs of modernity and in the modern transformation of the basic antinomies inherent in the Axial 31 Eisenstadt (1998).the religious origins of modern radical movements XI 181 This program entailed also a very distinctive mode of the construction of the boundaries of collectivities and collective identities. the promulgation of a very strong connection between the construction of political boundaries and those of the cultural collectivities. the promulgation of a very strong emphasis on territorial boundaries as the main loci of the institutionalization of collective identity. to follow Claude Lefort or Johann Arnason’s formulations. Eisenstadt and Giesen (1995).

Hobsbawm (1994). ‘engineering’ or of a moral ‘cognitive’ or religious ones. were various collectivistic orientations or ideologies which espoused the primacy of collectivity and/or of collectivistic visions.32 XIII The central focus of these tensions in the realm of political discourse of modernity was that between on the one hand the acceptance of the legitimacy of plurality of discrete individual and group interests. usually utopian and/or communal visions. of interest. Dunn (1996). and conceptions of good social order that would develop within it. For a general view see Hobsbawm (1964). and. This orientation was in constant tension with the recognition of the legitimacy of multiple interests and of multiple conceptions of common good. eisenstadt civilizations. . of the different conceptions of the legitimacy of multiple private individual or group interests. Dryzek (1996). of totalizing orientations which denied the legitimacy of private interests and of different conceptions of the common good and which emphasized the totalistic reconstruction of society through political actions.182 shmuel n. of the freedom to pursue such interests and conceptions. frequently rooted in a strong belief in the possibility of bridging the gap between the transcendental and mundane orders. and on the other hand principled pluralistic views. Such recognition did not necessarily negate a constructivist approach to politics. Lübbe (1991). of traditions. As in the broader cultural program of modernity such totalistic vision could be technocratic. 32 Lefort (1988). and of different conceptions of the common will. and of different conceptions of the common good. on the other hand. was that between on the one hand an overall totalizing. The totalistic views usually entailed a strong constructivist approach. Two broad types of collectivistic orientations or ideologies were rooted in the revolutionary ideologies central in the continual cultural and especially political discourse of modernity. The mirror image of these pluralistic visions. the recognition and acceptance of society in its continually changing composition in the mundane orders and in social life. Arnason (1990). but entailed the acceptance of multiple patterns of life.

but also overarching all-encompassing ideologies with strong totalitarian orientations. very often promulgated in primordial tendencies.the religious origins of modern radical movements 183 One was some form of ideology emphasizing the primacy of a collectivity based on common primordial and/or spiritual attributes of—above all. The bearers of such totalistic views tended to emphasize strongly the human-individual and/or collective will as against the emphasis on reason and on the legitimacy of utilitarian goals. These orientations have become visible above all in the attempts to reconstruct the centers of their respective societies. but not only—national collectivity. was the Jacobin one. It was these orientations. and which espouse a strong— even if not always universalistic—missionary zeal. It was this orientation that had its roots in the heterodox-religious orientations as they became transformed in the Great Revolutions. The Jacobin components of the modern political program have been manifest in a very strong emphasis on social and cultural activism. emotional dimension of human existence. developed fully in conjunction with the political program of modernity that epitomized the modern transformation of the sectarian attitudes to the antinomies of the Axial civilizations. The homogenizing tendencies promulgated by most modern nation-states. The pristine Jacobin orientations and movements have been characterized by a strong predisposition to develop not only a totalistic world view. especially those . conflating civil society with the overall community. the historical roots of which go back to medieval eschatological sources. on the ability of man to reconstruct society according to some transcendental visions. in the almost total conflation of center and periphery. negating the existence of intermediary institutions and association—of what can sometimes be called civil society. Such Jacobin orientations tended to emphasize the belief in the primacy of politics and in the ability of politics to reconstitute society. The other form of such modern collectivistic orientation. with the closely connected very strong tendency to the absolutization of the major dimensions of human experience as well as of the major constituents or components of social order and with the concomitant ideologization of politics. which emphasize a total reconstitution of the social and political order. The essence of such Jacobin orientations was the belief in the possibility of transforming society through totalistic political action. and the primacy of the aesthetic. rooted in the revolutionary ideology.

36 Eisenstadt (1998). Matteucci (1983).33 the Jacobin component has been present in socialist. as it was in many fascist and National-Socialist movements. The Jacobin component did also appear in different concrete guises and in different combinations with other political ideological components. XIV The tension between the totalistic and pluralistic conception of the political was also manifest in the construction of collective identities— in the tensions between emphasis on the relative importance of the basic components thereof—the primordial. Talmon (1960).35 and in many totalistic attitudes which flourish in different social movements and in popular culture. Furet (1982). This component could also become manifest in more diffuse ways. The Jacobin components constitute also very strong components of many populist movements. as in the fundamentalist movements. The Jacobin orientations in their pristine modern form or versions developed in the various ‘leftist’ revolutionary movements which often conflated the primacy of politics with the implementation of progress and reason.184 shmuel n. and fascist movements. 1990a). Baechler (1979). as for instance in the intellectual pilgrimage to other societies. civil and universalistic ones.34 It could also become closely interwoven. these orientations could become closely interwoven. nationalistic. 1979). eisenstadt which crystallized after the Revolutions. as Norberto Bobbio has very often emphasized in his works. See also Salvadori and Tranfaglia (1984). Fränkel (1990: 68–137). and above all between the tendencies to absolutization of such dimensions as against a more open or multifaceted approach to such construction between the closely related tendencies to homogenization of social and cultural spaces and construction of more multiple spaces allowing for heterogeneous identities. A very strong statement against the emphasis on “common will” in the name of “emancipation” can be found in Lübbe (1994). in attempts to find there the full flowering of the utopian revolutionary ideal. with the upholding of the primacy of religious authority. with the emphasis on the primacy of primordial communities. 35 Eisenstadt (1988). 34 33 . were strongly imbued by such Jacobin orientations. On the Jacobin elements in modern polities see Cochin (1924. Thus indeed. Eisenstadt and Giesen (1995).36 Bobbio (1984.

between emphasis on a vision of the good social order and the narrow interests of different sectors of the society. these tensions and antinomies coalesced above all in the form. procedural legitimation in terms of civil adherence to rules of the game and on the other hand in different substantive terms. to follow Lübbe’s terminology. Shils (1975). and between different bases of legitimation of these regimes. various “primordial. and on the other hand a very strong tendency to promulgate other modes or bases of legitimation—above all. In the political program of modernity. and the closely related tensions between ‘revolutionary’ and ‘normal’ politics. to follow Shils’ terminology. between “freedom” and “emancipation” which to some extent coincides also with Berlin’s distinction between “negative” and “positive freedom. on the one hand.”37 These various tensions in the political program of modernity were closely related to those between the different modes of legitimation of modern regimes. especially the Jacobin. 37 38 Berlin (1975). between the utopian and the ‘rational’ or ‘procedural’ components of this program. and the pluralistic orientations that constituted the most radical transformation of the antinomies inherent in the Axial Civilizations as they became most fully articulated in the Great Revolutions. that generated some of the basic tensions in modern political discourse and its dynamics. .the religious origins of modern radical movements XV 185 It is these different conceptions of the relation between the individual and the social order. between the conception of the individual as an autonomous sovereign and emphasis on the community.” “sacred”—religious or secular—ideological components. It was within the basic framework of the political discourse of modernity that the concrete tensions in the political programs of modernity developed— namely those between liberty and equality. of the different modes of legitimation of modern political regimes.38 XVI It was the tension between the totalizing. especially but not only of constitutional and democratic polities—namely between. Lübbe (1991).

But at the same time there developed in all these revolutions also the strong emphasis of rights of individual. at least. one of the arenas of implementation of their transcendental vision. potentialities which developed in the Axial civilizations—especially in those in which the political arena was seen as. the Great Revolutions can indeed be seen as the first or at least the most dramatic. on the other side.186 shmuel n. which promulgated the separation of the City of God from the City of Man and the concomitant attempt to implement the heterodox visions. 1975. and of the legitimation of multiple patterns of life and interests. Thus. . 1994. heterodox. and possibly the most successful. b). the acceptance of the possibility of multiple view about matters political and social. regimes that the contradiction between on the one side the emphasis on an encompassing revolutionary or technocratic vision and. 1996). Since. of citizens which potentially at least entailed the acceptance of the possibility of multiple views about matters political and social. Such transformation entailed the turning upside down— even if ultimately in secular terms—of the hegemony of Augustinian vision. Bobbio (1984. and of the sectarian visions often imbued with strong Gnostic elements which wanted to bring the City of God to the City of Man.40 It was indeed already in the Great Revolutions and later in the various modern post-revolutionary constitutional. and it was closely connected with the charismatization of the center as the area in which such visions can and should be implemented. As can be concluded. Heer (1968). as indicated above. the search for the ways in which the concrete social order could become the embodiment of an ideal order became a central component of the modern political discourse and tradition. eisenstadt The Great Revolutions constituted the culmination of the sectarian. alter democratic. Eric Voegelin’s ideas about the Gnostic roots of Western modernity39 hinted at a crucial point. LeGoff (1968). a process which fully crystallized in the Great Revolutions. attempt in the history of mankind to implement on a macro-societal scale utopian visions with strong Gnostic components. 1990 a. In the English Civil War (possibly already earlier in the Revolt of the Netherlands) the revolutionary vision was couched in religious eschatological terms which were very closely interwoven with legal 39 40 Voegelin (1952. became fully visible in the Great Revolutions. and of the legitimation of multiple patterns of life and interests.

Wood (1992). 1991). primordial collectivity. of the discourse of modernity. with its sectarianutopian roots. as well as between different Jacobin ideologies that constitute one of the central core of the discourse of modernity. as Raymond Aron has shown in an incisive article. It is indeed the continual confrontation between this component and orientation and the more pluralistic orientations. Aron (1993). and later in the Chinese and Vietnamese revolutions.42 This transformation was epitomized in the Jacobin orientations which became a central component of the modern political program—to reappear yet again forcefully. . or with the claims for the centrality of religion in the construction of collective identities or in the legitimization of 41 42 43 Hill (1997).41 It was above all in the French Revolution that the fully secular transformation of the sectarian antinomian orientation with strong Gnostic components took place.. they constituted a continual component of the modern discourse. in Lenin and in the Russian Revolution. it was the constitutional republican option and the recognition of the legitimacy of multiple interests developed—as against the monolithic totalistic and exclusive visions inherent in the revolutionary origins—that won the day. constituted a continual component of modernity of modern political dynamics. But in all these societies the Jacobin component. totalistic. the orientation to some primordial components of collective identity. potentially totalitarian vision. especially with its utopian dimension. In the American Revolution the constitutional component itself became predominant. especially Jacobin visions and ideologies. but it was deeply rooted in religious orientations.the religious origins of modern radical movements 187 and constitutional dimensions. 1981). The challenge of the contradiction between an encompassing.S. and/or a commitment to the pluralistic premises constituted an inherent element of these constitutional regimes and a basic component of the political dynamics of the modern era.43 In the former societies. in post-revolutionary regimes that crystallized after the Great Revolutions in Europe and in the U. Whatever the concrete manifestations of the various collectivist. None of the modern constitutional and/or liberal democracies has entirely done away—or can even possibly do away—with either Jacobin component. Goldstone (1983. Feher (1989). Furet (1970.

The Crooked Timber of Humanity. 118–172. New York. New York. Murray. Auguste. . Four Essays on Liberty. Against the Current. contrary to the view which defines them as traditional. are really modern Jacobin movements which construct tradition as a modern. XVII The preceding analysis indicates that the cultural and political program of modernity as it crystallized in Europe can be seen as a sectarian heterodox breakthrough in the Christian Axial civilization as it crystallized in Europe. ——. Isaiah. Baechler.” In: Cochin. Norberto (1984). L’esprit du Jacobinisme. Paris: Universitaires de France. once they crystallized and became institutionalized in the political program of modernity.” In: Aron. London: Oxford University Press. “The Theory of Modernity and the Problematic of Democracy. Aron. (1976). Raymond (1993).” In: Berlin.188 shmuel n. All of these components were inherent in the “Axial” religious roots of the cultural and political program of modernity in which they became transformed. It is also the religious roots of the modern political program that explains the specific modern characteristics of what may be seen as the most anti-modern contemporary movements—namely the various fundamentalist movements which. Il Futuro della Democrazia. New York. In all these civilizations these processes gave rise to different multiple programs of modernity—in all of which the tensions between pluralistic and totalistic tendencies constituted a continual component. 405–420. (1990). (1980). find very strong resonance in the utopian sectarian traditions of the Axial civilizations. with the expansion of Europe and of modernity. they could. All these processes attesting to the strong religious sectarian roots of modernity and especially of the tensions between totalistic Jacobin and pluralistic orientations developed initially in Europe. Torino: Giulio Einaudi Editore. NY: Hogarth Press. (1991). Johann P. Raymond. 7–33. Machiavel et les tyrannies modernes. “Two Concepts of Liberty. Paris: Éditions de Fallois. ——. but. ——. totalistic ideology. NY: J. Isaiah (1975). Bobbio. NY: Hogarth Press. “Preface. Berlin. “Remarques sur la gnose leniniste. eisenstadt the political order. References Arnason. Jean (1979). Vico and Herder.” In: Thesis Eleven 26: 20–46.

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he introduced the belief in gods. the belief in gods and their worship. The problem is ‘the evil’ which is undiscovered and undiscoverable. The idea of omniscient deities should persuade humans to keep the laws. is a human invention in the service of political power and social control. “The greatest advantage of the Roman republic”. “seems to me to lie in the belief in gods ( peri theon dialepsei ). granted this position to religion “for the sake of the masses” (dia plethous charin). The following quotations are taken from Siculus (1969: 56.1 It is a speech put into the blasphemous mouth of Sisyphos. a statement which seems to anticipate Marx’s famous diction “Opium of the people. committed in concealment and seclusion beyond the reach of public control. The earliest and most radical text. A similar argument is used by Polybios in a fully positive sense. meant to intimidate the wicked and keep them from committing evil in thought. even where no witnesses were present. Any form of civil society requires the belief in god(s). word or deed. This can be read.” 1 2 Dihle (1977).”2 The Romans. both. as a critique of and an apology for religion. but a legitimate fiction.6–12). because without religion there would be no law and social order. . known under the designation of “the fragment of Critias” is an excerpt from a satirical play believed to be by Critias but now more convincingly attributed to Euripides. the weak would not be sheltered from the greed of the strong and crime would multiply without proportion. This author ascribes the success of Rome to the absolutely dominant position which the Romans gave religion within the structure of their state. Starting from this calculation. he writes. saying that the fear of the gods is nothing but the invention of a shrewd. Religion is a fiction. he continues.POLITICAL THEOLOGY: RELIGION AS LEGITIMIZING FICTION IN ANTIQUE AND EARLY MODERN CRITIQUE Jan Assmann In Greek texts of the fifth and fourth centuries we encounter the idea that religion. intelligent and thoughtful man.

peace and harmony: thus. He appears in Roman tradition almost as a clone of Moses.194 jan assmann For this reason. Polybios. Like Moses. eos religio ad officium duceret. 4 Schröder (1992: 72).3 In Roman history. dedicating a whole chapter to him. Polybios continues. he took this book along in his tomb instead of leaving it to posterity. ut. Numa appears as a wise ruler and not as a religious impostor. thereby protecting it from later manipulation. Jesus. Unlike Moses. however. Numa Pompilius was held to be a model of such a smart politician.” Polybios recognizes religion as a fiction. In Roman tradition. Mass religion is fictitious because it fulfils a political function. a “legitimate fiction. postulating that by representing the belief in gods in its totality as an invention of smart politicians. Numa was said to have referred to the nymph Egeria as the source of his legislation just as Moses referred to Jahveh. The political function of religion both legitimizes and criticizes.’ He does not say that the gods are fictitious. quos ratio non posset. “the ancients seem to me to have deliberately inspired the masses with the ideas about the gods ( peri theon ennoias) and the belief in the netherworld. Still. unlike Critias or Euripides. The only means to restrain them is by vague fears (adelois phobois) and by such a spectacle (tragodia). and Mohammed as the prototypes of religious invention for political purposes quotes Numa as the most important pagan parallel. qui dixerunt totam de dis immortalibus opinionam fictam esse ab hominibus sapientibus rei publicae causa. Cicero.” According to Polybios. distinguishes between ‘religion’ and ‘popular beliefs. nonne omnem religionem funditus sustulerunt?” (Cicero 1995: 106). they had created tragedy as a medium to arouse visions of horror and anxiety in the masses in order to discipline them: “The masses are careless and full of illegal desires.” Moreover. He acquired this negative attribute only in the seventeenth and eighteenth century. religion altogether is destroyed. It legitimizes religion because it argues that the belief in gods is indispensable for political order and social harmony. it would be extremely unreasonable to cure the masses of these imaginations. . it is true. in De Natura Deorum. The notorious pamphlet De Tribus Impostoribus exposing Moses. and it criticizes it by exposing its fictitious character. but that mass religion rests on fictitious concepts and imaginations. stresses the critical character of this argument. Numa codified these laws in a book. but as a great civilizing achievement and the foundation of social order.4 3 “Quid i.

Even in the first half of the seventeenth century. Minos de Jupiter.5 Again. Orpheus. d’Oromasis. & Moise. Diodorus or his informant.] qu’ils les avoient reçûës de quelque Divinité: Zoroastre. Zoroaster among the ‘Arians’ (arianoi = Persians) to Agathos Daimon (= Ahura Mazda). Zalmoxis among the Getans to Hestia and Moses among the Jews to Iao (= Yahveh). Minos among the Cretes referred to Zeus. uncritical sense: Tous les anciens Législateurs voulant autoriser. Charondas de Saturne. qui a été le plus sage 5 Siculus (1956–1957: 94. Zoroaster. Moses. . The first of these legislators. this passage provided the model for Marsilio Ficino’s concept of ‘theologia prisca. Pythagoras etc. perhaps Hecataeus of Abdera. however. In the fifteenth century. let alone denunciating. Zalmoxis de Vesta. it is the only quotation within the pagan critique of religion that explicitly mentions Moses.. . n’ont point eû de meilleur moïen de le faire. Mahomet de l’Ange Gabriel. Moreover.’ Ficino interpreted the notions of legislation and the founding of states in the sense of theology and the founding of religions and replaced the great legislators with his concept of the ancient “sages:” Hermes Trismegist. . this passage became the most influential argument for exposing religion’s fictitious character and political function. does not aim at a critique of religion. is said to have stated that Hermes gave him these laws. Trismegiste de Mercure. Lycurgus among the Spartans to Apollon. tendencies.political theology 195 An equally ambivalent statement is provided by Diodorus Siculus in a passage concerning the six great legislators of humanity. qu’en publiant & faisant croire [. affermir & bien fonder les Loix qu’ils donnoient à leurs peuples. Numa de la nymphe Egerie.1–2). Lycurgue d’Apollon. whom Diodorus calls Mnevis or Menas or Menes. the framing of legislation by political theology. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In the same manner. Gabriel Naudé (1600–1652) in his famous Considérations politiques sur les coups d’État could still quote and even enlarge Diodorus’ argument in a totally neutral. who conveyed to humanity both religion and the rules of social order and civilized life. as a highly successful and fully legitimate device for the foundation of states and larger communities. Diodorus intends for his account to be a demonstration of wise statesmanship without any critical. Drago & Solon de Minerve. but he rather describes this strategy.

Schröder (1992). dealing with Moses and taking Diodorus’ passage on the six lawgivers as its starting point. It is obvious that the publication of Spinoza’s Tractatus TheologicoPoliticus (1670) marks the turning point in the reception of Diodorus and the tradition about the six legislators. Among the most interesting contributions to the debate about political theology are John Toland’s Adeisidaemon.7 The French pamphlet bears the name of Spinoza in its subtitle: Traité des Trois Imposteurs ou l’lesprit de Monsieur de Spinosa.9 According to Strabo. who felt dissatisfied with Egyptian religion. In this booklet. His reli6 7 8 9 Naudé (1988: 118 pp.’ From Spinoza to Bakunin. The seventeenth chapter of the French Traité des Trois Imposteurs starts with this quote from Naudé and turns it into a devastating critique of religion. It is thus not inadequate to subsume the whole debate on the political instrumentalization or invention of religion under the term ‘Political theology.196 jan assmann de tous. denouncing theology or religion as the handmaid of politics. who followed the general principle in “inventing” ( finxisse) a deity as the author of his legislation. a fraudulent invention. dealing with Numa Pompilius and with Cicero’s summary of the Greek critique of religion. Arguing that religion served a function in the civilization of mankind and the build-up of political communities inevitably implied the critique that it is nothing but a function of politics. and emigrated with his followers to Palestine. Berti (1994: 198). who. Toland opposes the Biblical Moses. He rejected the Egyptian tradition of representing the gods in zoomorphic images. to be more precise. political theology is a polemical term. rejected the principle or strategy of political theology in radical fashion. with Moses of Strabon (Moses Strabonicus). of monotheism.). decided to found a new religion. nous décrit en l’Exode comme il reçût la sienne immédiatement de DIEU. or. See Assmann (1998: 134 pp.6 It was only in the latter part of the seventeenth century that some ‘free thinkers’ discovered the critical potential in this tradition. but also as the invention of religion for political purposes. Political theology came to be seen not only as the instrumentalization. published together in 1709. . an Egyptian priest named Moses.). of ‘revealed religion’—that is. conversely. Toland (1709).8 and Origines Judaicae.

with its innumerable commandments and prohibitions. including earth and sea. thus preventing unification and the formation of one political will. mechanically arranged and acting without conscience and intelligence” (“Naturam. It stresses the political divisions and sub-identities by instituting tutelary deities. in terms of political versus natural religion.” Moses was not an atheist. and interminable world. which this over-sage ruler seems to have feared as potentially rebellious. a Spinozist. Later on. saying that each nome or province had its own deity ever since a certain. or. Toland constructs the opposition between Egyptian traditional religion. has a political purpose. in virtue and in justice.” or. in the same sense that the Greek “to on” denotes the incorruptible. He held God to be “Nature. circumcision and various other laws. or matter. prince (“sapientissimus quidam princeps”) came to stabilize the concord of the kingdom by introducing a pluralistic and polytheistic religion (“variam & miscellam induxit religionem”). and thereby to prevent a conspiracy among the Egyptians. in turn. with which Moses is said to have been dissatisfied. and the new religion instituted by Moses. Even the Bible shows that he did not make any mention of the immortality of the soul nor of a future state of reward or punishment.” necessary existence or “what exists by himself ” (“quod per se existit”). The name by which he called his god means just “necessariam solummodo existentiam. such as dietary prohibitions. but a pantheist. vel mundi materiam mechanice dispositam et absque ullam consia intelligentiam agentem”) and was a fierce enemy of idolatry. Strabon’s Moses. eternal. Polytheism. very sagely. the Hebrews deviated from the purity of this doctrine and developed superstitious habits. was a deist and an iconoclast.” The only way to approach this god is to live by natural law. Toland obviously thinks of Ex. by quoting a passage from Ezekiel: “But I shall give them . in the version of the LXX: “ego eimi ho on” = “I am the Being one” or simply “I am Being. He supplies the reasons for Moses’ dissatisfaction by drawing on another passage in Diodorus. that which we call the heavens. to speak in conformity with more recent usage.political theology 197 gion consisted of the recognition of only ‘One Divine Being’ whom no image could represent: “which encompasses us all. the world and the essence of things—this one thing only is God. Toland explains what Strabon describes as a later depravation of Moses’ religion. according to Diodorus and Toland. 3:14 where God presented himself to Moses: “I am that I am.

the most important and influential treatment of questions concerning revelation and political theology. In his book Pansebeia Ross writes: “All false Religions are grounded upon Policy. Warburton gives two explanations for the political function of polytheism. to be precise. has to be seen within this tradition. but he follows the antique tradition in taking these inventions as indispensable and therefore legitimate fictions without which all political and social order would collapse. secondly. which was published in 1653 (Schröder 1998: 228).” that is. . 25.12 Warburton. one based on Critias and the other on Strabo. is more of a classical scholar than a theologian. but this distinction seems to be immaterial in Toland’s context). and between classes.198 jan assmann statutes that are not good and laws by which they cannot live. 11 The quotations are taken from the second edition. unable to withstand the criteria of reason. 20.’ Even more orthodox authors such as Alexander Ross availed themselves of this same argument. Assmann (1998: 138–170).10 In this way. For them. Toland deploys several other passages from the prophets rejecting cult on behalf of “nature” (on behalf of justice. Political theology is a phenomenon of degeneration and the hallmark of ‘false religion. tribes and professional groups. He agrees with Ross that polytheism or paganism is political theology and a human fiction. political theology is the hallmark of pagan religion.11 Similarly. as political theology.’ The same distinction between religion and superstition occurs also in Toland’s other pamphlet. Therefore. 12 Warburton (1778).” (“Ego etiam dederam ipsis statuta non bona et Jura per quae non vivere possent”). Adeisidaemon. Bishop Warburton’s The Divine Legation of Moses. religion turned into ‘superstition. the function of mirroring and expressing on the divine plane the various distinctions and identities that make up the political and social world—the distinctions between nations. Here. Superstition is denounced a pseudoreligion. 10 Ez. ‘religion of reason’ is viewed as the only valid religion. every society aiming at social order and political power must of necessity form a pantheon of tutelary deities. the function of founding public morals and obedience to the laws. provinces and cities. fulfils two functions: first. and invented by humans only for the purpose of supporting the political order in the sense of political theology. Polytheism. Both functions cooperate to keep the subjects under control. “humane Policy to keep people in obedience and awe of their superiours”. and. however.

See Schröder (1998: 228 pp. All four agree in declaring political theology or political religion as false or fictitious.political theology 199 by elevating important legislators. But Warburton also takes the pagan gods to be a necessary. because of its political function. . The political function and the fictitious character concerns only the exoteric side of pagan religion. and legitimate fiction. The most radical position. Even the atheists. Less radical is Polybios’ position. The position presented by the treatise De Tribus Impostoribus and also by the Spinozist Traité des trois imposteurs implies the opposition between revealed religion as false. without which civil society could not last. The mysteries do not legitimize or support the state at all. and biblical religion to be true because it is based not on fiction but on revelation. implying the truth to be atheism. except extremists such as Knutzen and Meslier. the ‘mysteries. which is also the earliest attested one. This is also the reason for their concealment. originate from and correspond to a political necessity. They differ in what they conceive of as truth in opposition to political theology. do not plead for anarchy.13 So far. for which we quoted Alexander Ross in the seventeenth and William Warburton in the eighteenth centuries. however. accordingly. He declares religion as such and in toto to be a political fiction. declares pagan religions to be false because they only serve political functions. who speaks only of popular religion as a political fiction. Warburton. Both. would not know of moral obligations and 13 It is important to realize that neither the atheist nor the deist critics of political theology and even those orthodox theologians who interpret political theology as the hallmark of paganism never put into doubt the necessity of theological fictions. heroes and kings to the ranks of gods. being a classical scholar. implying that there is also a true or elite religion which is inaccessible to the masses. indispensable. because they are about nature or natural theology and nature.). combines the position of Polybios with that of Alexander Ross. He reconstructs pagan religions as “double religions” displaying an exoteric and an esoteric side. The fourth position. and natural religion as true. and ascribing to them supervisory functions of the laws and personifications of political and social identities. we have encountered four different positions concerning the political function of religion. is the position of Sisyphos in Critias’ or Euripides’ play Sisyphos.’ are free of any political instrumentalization. and form the political theology of paganism. The esoteric side. polytheism and idolatry.

Warburton’s monumental work. the mysteries of nature. In 1786 and 1787. freemason and illuminate. friend of Alexander Pope and editor of Shakespeare’s works. i. but rather because of its theory of double or ‘mysterious’ religion.e. Schiller (1968: 737–757). besides being a classical scholar. as opposed to biblical religion which. nine books in three volumes. Hartwich (1997: 21–47). because Moses wanted to include the whole people into the mysteries of nature. See Assmann (2001). and because 14 15 A quote from Karl Leonhard Reinhold [1788]. Enlightenment and philosophy. Pagan religion is not false but “double. he wanted to acquaint his people with the deity of the mysteries. especially by mediation of Schiller. but also between pagan and Christian religion. and true. student of philosophy. was and will be. whose presentation he translated for them not as “I am all that is.15 Reinhold equates the concept of ‘nature’ as the supreme deity of natural religion with Isis. he was also a bishop for the Anglican church. No mortal unlifted my veil. according to Reinhold. who.” This. Assmann (1998: 186–205). because it is based on revelation.” This is how Reinhold interprets Ex 3:14. met with a very widespread and vivid reception. the goddess of the Egyptian mysteries. in the inscription on her “veiled image at Sais” presents herself with the words “I am all that is.200 jan assmann political or social identities. is simple. When Moses later returned to his native people. as such. but much wider circles of Deism.” but as “I am Being. legitimizing façade and an esoteric inside. a Jesuit. However. But Warburton’s theory is even more complex because. wrote a book on the “Hebrew Mysteries or the Oldest Religious Freemasonry”14 that was based on Warburton. is the deity in whose mysteries Moses was initiated when he was educated as a prince at the Pharaonic court. including biblical monotheism. . though not for its orthodox superstructure.” comprising an exoteric political and an esoteric natural religion. political.e. i. It thus became a basic text for freemasonry. It was read as demonstrating that every religion. he was constrained to reserve the highest place for revealed religion. natural religion. This forced him to distinguish not only between false. “eheyeh asher eheyeh” (“I am that I am”). This became a basic text not only for Masonic. had the structure of a double religion: a state-supportive. who condensed Reinhold’s arguments and demonstrations into a widely read essay Die Sendung Moses. Carl Leonhard Reinhold.

But the truth. . Moses couched his vision of truth in the illusionistic form of a national god and a national cult. his mind is too enlightened. the sublime deity of the mysteries. because their mind is unable to grasp him. and to turn Isis. was equally impossible to reveal. without the fiction of god or gods. based on blind belief and obedience. against whom his reason revolts.political theology 201 he could not possibly “initiate” them (an educational process taking many years and requiring only the strongest and most intelligent minds). because of its political function in supporting the Jewish nation and commonwealth. into Yahveh. whom he learned in the mysteries to detest? For this. including the whole ‘hieroglyphic’ symbolism of lustrations. he does not want to give them a false god because he despises this adverse role. the exponent of romanticist anarchy. agreed that. Through this transformation process. How may these contradictions may reconciled? He cannot proclaim the true god to the Hebrews. has to be classified among the false religions—its only element of truth. Moses was not an impostor. Nothing is left to him but to proclaim to them his true god in a fabulous way” (Assmann 2001: 756 pp. but just an “accommodator. . Yet according to Schiller. Thus biblical monotheism.” which proclaimed: “Si dieu existait il faudrait l’abolir” (“If God existed he should be abolished”). oracles. which Moses was able to rescue from the Egyptian mysteries. all moral. holds that religion 16 “Should he proclaim to them a false and fabulous god.16 Thus. including Sisyphos in Euripides’ play. sacrifices. His motto is the inversion of Voltaire’s verse “Si dieu n’existait pas il faudrait l’inventer. on the other hand. Bakunin. the topic of political theology finally reached Mikhail Aleksandrovitch Bakunin (1814–1876). who no longer concedes religion’s legitimacy and indispensability as political fiction. Eventually. and so forth. . the religion of reason and nature. a national god. . the only solution was to proclaim the truth in a fabulous way and to endow the true god with some fictitious properties and qualities that the people would be able to grasp and to believe in. almost all critics of religion. Up to Bakunin. legal and political order would vanish.” According to Schiller “His enlightened mind and his sincere and noble heart” had revolted against the idea of giving his people a false and fabulous god. my translation). he had to turn the mysteries of Isis into a public and political religion. being the unity or oneness of God.. his heart too noble and sincere. processions. With Schiller we approach the point where religion is defined as “Opium of the people” (Marx) and as an “illusion” (Freud).

Religion can and must be disposed of. and to the seventeenth century in particular and Hobbes’ ideas of the natural state as bellum omnium contra omnes. political theology. Paul in the words that it is “of God. the politics of sovereign. The original meaning of biblical monotheism is deeply political and its theology is. i. covenant theology.” but “true politics is theological. Political power is good. . political theology is still a polemic.e. denouncing religion as a tool of oppression in the hands of the ruling classes. False politics is denounced by political theology as neglectful of its divine fundaments and origins. In a particular fashion. above all. Schmitt does not share Bakunin’s positive anthropology. this corresponds to the original meaning of biblical monotheism. It no longer implies a critique of religion. imagining that it could do without God. this-worldly man. the notion of indispensability acquires a religious aura. order and justice on a totally secular and rational basis. True politics is theological because it knows that its power comes from God. but political order.202 jan assmann must be abolished because of its political theology. because it is indispensable. Again. It is in Bakunin’s writings that Carl Schmitt detected the term ‘political theology’ and redefined it in a positive sense. directed against pharaonic totalitarianism. Egypt stands for oppression. individualism. False politics bases itself on a positive anthropology. With Schmitt. Instead. and this goodness or sacredness of power is expressed by St. not religion. and dehumanization. In the confrontation between Egypt and Israel. Schmitt is right to use the term “political theology” as a critique of politics. False politics—still according to Carl Schmitt—is the politics of secularism. In the light of such a pessimistic view of man. autonomous. humiliation. but with the direction of the polemic radically changed—even inverted. Political theology has now become an unequivocally polemical term. because humankind has the reason and the power of their own to establish institutions of decent society.” summarizes Schmitt’s version of the debate on the relation between religion and politics. he falls back to the pessimistic anthropology of Christianity in general with its doctrine of original sin.” Not “false religion is political. becomes indispensable. In the Books Exodus through Deuteronomy. while Israel stands for the principles of decent society. and free-market economy. monotheism is represented as a liberation movement. All the salient political concepts—this is Schmitt’s thesis—are secularized theological concepts. believing himself able to negotiate the principles of truth. democracy. but a critique of politics. the state.

Naudé. Considérations politiques sur les coups d’État.). The divine legation of Moses demonstrated on the principles of a religious deist. Annexae sunt ejusdem Origines judaicae [sive. Adeisidaemon. Carl Leonhard Reinhold. Neckargemünd: Mnemosyne. Sämtliche Werke IV: Historische Schriften. (1969). Die Hebräischen Mysterien oder die älteste religiöse Freymaurerey. Friedrich (1968). “Das Satyrspiel ‚Sisyphos‘. from the omission of the doctrine of a future state of reward and punishment in the Jewish dispensation. Bibliotheca Historica I. “Die Sendung Moses. Die Sendung Moses. The sovereign state which Schmitt advocated corresponds more to ancient Egypt than to ancient Israel.political theology 203 This is. Turin: Einaudi. Strabonis. Munich: Winkler-Verlag. however. Albrecht (1977). Toland. Gabriel (1988).” In: Koopmann. Helmut (ed. . Trattato dei tre impostori. breviter illustrata].) (2001). Munich: Fink. und 18. (ed. Diodorus (1956–57). Stuttgart: Reclam. 737–757. ——. Entzifferung einer Gedächtnisspur. Moses der Ägypter. De natura deorum. London. Siculus. Jahrhunderts. Untersuchungen zur Metaphysik—und Religionskritik des 17. Stuttgart-Bad Cannstadt: Frommann-Holzboog. Paris: Les Éditions de Paris. Berti. Winfried (1992). Marcus Tullius (1995). Wolf-Daniel (1997). Hartwich. Cicero. ——. Dihle. Traité des Trois imposteurs. Von der Aufklärung bis Thomas Mann. Munich: Hanser. Über das Wesen der Götter. References Assmann. 4 vols. Jan (1998). Silvia (1994). London: Oxford University Press. Hamburg: Meiner.” In: Hermes 105: 28–42. de Moyse et religione judaica historia. La vita e lo spirito del Signor Benedetto di Spinoza. Lipsiae: Teubner. (1998). John (1709). Schröder. ——. Schiller. sive Titus Livius a superstitione vindicatus. Warburton. Ursprünge des Atheismus. The Hague: Thomam Johnson. Bibliotheca Historica VI. not what Carl Schmitt had in mind. William [1738–1741] (1778).




Let us compare these lines with a statement by the German electrical engineer and entrepreneur Werner von Siemens. Koselleck. Zeitschichten. adesse tempus sciendum est. Temporal foreshortening introduces the uprising of the fearsome peoples who will destroy the Roman Empire. 13. Daniel Halévy’s Essai sur l’acceleration de l’histoire (1961) is vague concerning the theory of time. Eine Studie zur Säkularisation” in: R.”3 so that their suffering will not last too long before the Savior defeats the Antichrist. (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. they belong to the visions of the Tiburtinian Sibyl. temporal foreshortening is a sign of the end of the world. On the apocalyptic prophecies which were theologically contested in the Greek East earlier than in the Latin West. pp. 20. Studien zu Historik. but stimulating as cultural history. . Ernst Benz (1977) offers much historical evidence but without conceptual historical analysis. quo deus ad commutandum saeculum revertatur” (Kurfess 1951: 246).2 What we have here is an apocalyptic text. Sackur (1898: 162). 177–202). The work was originally published in 2000 under the title “Zeitverkürzung und Beschleunigung.TEMPORAL FORESHORTENING AND ACCELERATION: A STUDY ON SECULARIZATION* Reinhart Koselleck “Et minuentur anni sicut menses et menses sicut septimana et septimana sicut dies et dies sicut horae. According to A. Whether it is brought about by the Antichrist or by Christ. From the * Transl. according to Hans Lietzmann. 1 “And years were shortened into months. whose text.”1 These lines come from the fourth century. and days into hours. but also of the returning Christ. following Mark. see the research of Harnack and Lietzmann. Kurfess (1951: 346) and E. for “the elect’s sake. was known by Constantine. the text dates back to around 360. It is a work of the Antichrist. who brings the last great misery over the Earth. 3 Thus states the Tiburtinian Sibyl (Kurfess 1951: 278). reads as follows: “tunc et annus et mensis et dies breviabitur: et hanc esse mundi senectutem ac defectionem Trismegistus elocutus est. from German. remained in popular belief and could and can be appealed to at any time.” 2 Kurfess (1951: 276). We are indebted to the Suhrkamp-Verlag for permission for translation. quae cum evenerint. and weeks into days. The apocalyptic expectation and with them also the relatively rare topoi of acceleration and temporal foreshortening. The corresponding passage from Lactantius. and months into weeks. He hath shortened the days. whom He hath chosen. The small range of variation of the underlying sources is emphasized by Arthur Hübscher (1952).

foreshortened spans of time are conjured up or identified. it always remains constant. Closely examined. Developmental periods that in earlier times took centuries.. Temporal foreshortening and acceleration are similarly defined. Van der Pot (1985) delivers irreplaceable sources of evidence for conceptual history. for scientific reasons alone. as well as its diffusion. even if their context and content are different. it is the effect of selfrejuvenating scientific-technical progress. In the one case. The text of the electrical engineer refers to an acceleration within the horizon of progress. In the other case. we have clearly distinguishable positions. the idea that natural time itself could change does not arise. Despite the semantic similarity. are now completed within years and often come into being fully formed. we have here two different. . on the other hand. time itself is accelerated by the pressing together of temporal phases taken from nature—at least years. . in the engineer’s text the sequence of innovations and improvements within equal periods of time accelerates. But within the chronology based on nature. As with Newton. in 1886 Siemens extrapolated an underlying law: This clearly discernable law is that of the constant acceleration of our present cultural development. then. On the one hand. but the manmade content of time is realized at an accelerated rate. Natural time itself remains the same. however.4 Formally. indeed contradictory findings: in the Sybil’s text time itself is foreshortened. whose even rhythms are foreshortened before the coming of the Last Judgment. occurs ever more rapidly. The text of the Tiburtinian Sybil refers to a temporal foreshortening before the end of the world. months. With this we find ourselves at the center of our question: is the one connected to the other? Does the verbal similarity of the formulations and the determinations of time indicate a connection? Is it even a secularization of Christian apocalyptic expectations of the ‘endtimes’ that has led to the acceleration thesis? Is it a matter of 4 Von Siemens [1886] (1985: 120). progress in science and culture. the two determinations of time seems to be astonishingly similar. and days. . this is a natural manifestation of our cultural progress itself . It is a matter of a divinely willed transformation of natural time. In both cases.208 reinhart koselleck series of earlier inventions. but refer to different ideas as well as states of affairs. and at the beginning of our period still took decades.

The semantic charge that ‘saeculum’ gets from ‘secus’ and ‘sexus’ still need historical-anthropological interpretation. in a Christian context. 6 On the following. On its Etruscan-Roman forerunners. Linguistically it refers to the connection between sex.’ a worldly cleric. The word. and the maximum time of about 100 years that. not yet been sufficiently explored. are temporal foreshortening. Third. Lietzmann (1979: 1492–1494). it emerges (1) that secularization possesses an institutionally unambiguous core whose meaning is not in doubt. Marramao (1992). For basic information on ‘secularisation’ and its equivalents in foreign languages see G. lifetime. age. on the sources. The expression has retained this strict canonical-juridical sense up to the present. I will try to distinguish this from the modern concept of acceleration in order to contrast the latter with the concept of secularization and temporal foreshortening. In the protracted peace negotiations at Münster 5 Lübbe (1965). On its history see Crusius (1996) and Heckel (1996). could be interpreted in ‘worldly’ terms. but only occurred in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The connection of the concepts ‘secularisation’ and ‘saeculum’ has. acceleration. . there is little agreement as to its use. and secularization connected at all? In order to answer these questions. I will proceed in three steps: First.temporal foreshortening and acceleration 209 a Christian legacy that has here been transposed into modernity? Or. The transposition of the concept ‘saeculum’ into the simplified and innocuous category of ‘century’ had a pre-Christian origin. see Lietzmann (1909) and.6 (2) A first extension of this legal institution occurred with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. Strätz and Zabel (1984: 789–829). A ‘regular’ cleric then became a ‘saecularis. period in office. I Secularization—Historical and as Metaphor Today. on the other hand. meant first of all the transfer of a member of an order to worldly status. Its use reflects different standpoints.5 If we follow the history of the concept. secularization has become a far-reaching and diffuse catchword. on the one hand. see Conze. Second. generation. put differently. to my knowledge. is religiously elevated (as in the Imperium Romanum) and. I will try to clarify terminologically the concept of secularization. I will try to explore the category of temporal foreshortening from the New Testament to the modern era. which only arose toward the end of the sixteenth century in French. It can just as well serve Christian and anti-Christian cultural criticism as be used as an interpretive model in the philosophy of history.

But it would not remain at this. the Peace of Westphalia brought about a stalemate in the lands of the German Empire. In the course of the Enlightenment. by way of the new currency stabilized by the expropriations. 25. see Heckel (1981).’ namely the further seizure of Catholic Church property. In the concrete situation of the Thirty Years War. mercantile. as with the Protestants. they pushed the Church out of the field of worldly rule. in the canonical as in the political-legal sense. 7 . this designation of course had an anti-Protestant inflection. over which the modern state claimed a monopoly. Secularization thus has a core in church law whose meaning still holds today. or economic. 8 On this whole institutional and legal complex. not only for the sake of religion but also for the common good. In addition. By and large. whose power lay in capital.210 reinhart koselleck and Osnabrück.”7 Josef II put numerous church holdings to new purposes. all Church property was finally seized during the French Revolution and. and properties. there came a wave of further secularization in the sense of the expropriation of Church holdings.8 In both cases. It was meant to refer to a political act that had existed since the early medieval Church without this designation. to transform trust property into “another form that is more appropriate to the main aim and real needs. The German bishops reserved the right. Cologne. secularization meant the transfer of church property to worldly dominion. transferred to the bourgeoisie. the concept of secularization took its concrete meaning from the spiritSee ‘Punctation of Ems by the Archbishops of Mainz. secularization means a politically-based legal act that diminishes or expropriates the Church’s share of worldly dominion and possession in order to put the profits to new purposes. trusts. The dissolution of all German Church dominions can be seen as the final blow of this wave of secularization. they could also be used as rewards for political good behavior—in any case. These purposes could be educational. The Protestant territorial rulers were to be prevented from what they themselves called ‘Reformation. even worldly-religious. culminating in the French Revolution. For the French envoy. Now it was primarily Catholic territorial rulers themselves who were involved in the process. Trier. August 1786’ in Mirbt (1934: 415). the French envoy introduced a new concept with the old word secularization. fixing the shares of Church and worldly holdings. laying the old imperial constitution to rest. Salzburg.

”11 Secularization. the finding itself remains unambiguous. What was secularized. can clearly be empirically verified and historically tested. Christian expectations of redemption are no longer located in the beyond. which prerogatives and holdings were distributed. the entanglement in inner-worldly tasks with all the burdens that arise from them. like ‘emancipation’ or ‘progress. which. The liberal position can be inscribed between these two extremes. Dilthey. At a certain level of abstraction. Kant. Overbeck [1873] (1963: 34). attempts were also made to limit Church rule to the spiritual realm. once accepted for human existence.”10 The other extreme might be indicated by Overbeck and negative theology: for Overbeck theology was already “nothing other than a piece of the secularization of Christianity. which.’ claims to interpret the whole of modern world history. has structured Western history through numerous transformations and metamorphoses.temporal foreshortening and acceleration 211 ual/worldly opposition. a task that runs throughout the modern era is rather to morally and ethically realize the Christian religion in this world. Since then the canonical-legal and political-legal concept has become an interpretive category in the philosophy of history. once the other-world of truth has vanished. However meaningless the course of history. the Christian message. the sense of the Christian teaching of redemption lay precisely in this worldly entanglement. The concept of secularization has been subject to numerous different interpretations. For negative theology. which once taught the end of world 9 10 11 Gilson (1952). and Troeltsch can be ranged along a single line of development. . began with the establishment of the Church.9 To the extent that political-legal secularization advanced. (3) It is entirely different with the metaphorical extension of the concept of secularization since the French Revolution. The historical background can only be understood with reference to Augustine’s theory of the two kingdoms. Marx [1844] (1956: 379). At one extreme we find the position of Marx. to establish the truth of this world. the Marxist and the existentialist position of negative theology. as Gilson has shown. While its evaluation may vary according to one’s standpoint. The path leads from eschatology. promises salvation. For all of them. who “made it the task of history. Hegel.

‘Time’ does not stand in opposition to ‘eternity:’ time absorbs eternity. all historical-philosophical interpretive schemes stand under the dictate that all tasks and challenges are to be solved within historical time. which are now conjured up and mobilized as the last justification for political planning and social organization. All the historical-philosophical options briefly sketched here can be located politically since the French Revolution. with and through historical time itself. between the spiritual and the worldly. but the designation ‘temporalization’ would be more correct. it is undoubtedly the experience of acceleration. This process can be described as secularization. The theory of two worlds as the final legitimating instance for political action and social conduct is superseded by history and historical time. to progress. All dualistic oppositions of Christian origin dissolve under the presupposition. the opposition of past and future takes the central place once occupied by the opposition of ‘here’ and ‘beyond’. these theories of secularization have a common signature: all dispense with a rigorous separation between the beyond and the here. which is to realize Christian postulates in this world until the coming of freedom from domination. Rather. They can be aligned with specific party-political camps on the spectrum from conservatism to communism. Let us take stock of our first preliminary results. it also leads to their solutions. In other words. through which historical time qualifies as specifically man-made time. that the world-time of history not only calls forth problems. Until around 1800. and can thus be read according to a critique of ideology. Only through consciousness of acceleration—or of the slowing-down that corresponds to it—can the experience of time that is always naturally given be specified as specifically historical. between eternity and the world. With this we would have a first point of entry into our question concerning the relation of acceleration and secularization. For if there is an experience of time that is immanent to the world and historical. taken to be universally valid. secularization is a politicallegal process that underlined a shift in the balance of power from the Church to the secular state. With this we come to the second part of our reflections. From 1800 on secularization acquires a historical-philosophical dimension. that differs from temporal rhythms tied to nature.212 reinhart koselleck history. . However. beyond its meaning in church law.

namely that between temporal foreshortening. First. (1) The idea that time itself can be shortened stems from the apocalyptical texts of the Judeo-Christian tradition. for which our electrical engineer was the chief witness. Second. more precisely. which empirically speaking allows of many intermediate forms. there can be two answers. of the drawing near of the end of the world. We may therefore recall our initial distinction. and that which presses.temporal foreshortening and acceleration II The Transformation of Apocalyptic Temporal Foreshortening 213 Is modern acceleration connected to the Christian legacy. 24:22. the substance of Christian belief—remain an implicit presupposition of being able to think and experience secularization in the first place. even the naturally given time of the cycle of the sun and the stars 12 See Mark 13:20. One of the often invoked passages of expectation (1 Cor 7:29). The measure of this foreshortening is the predestined overcoming of time itself. represented by the Tiburtinian Sybil. Here we have a concept of religious experience that takes its sense from the expectation of redemption. without which our modern period cannot be understood? Or. secularization can mean that Christian questions and hopes— more concretely. which is itself certain. Matt.12 It is a matter. ‘tempus brevis est’—in Luther’s words. In Christian expectation.’ are much more vivid: ‘ekolobosen’ refers to ‘mutilate’ and ‘swallow’ (Mark 13:20). will guide our further reflections. Before the Last Judgment brings the existing world and its times to an end. its fundamental renunciation. The Greek expressions for ‘shortening. the time is short—is more clearly formulated in the Greek: ‘ho kairos synestalmenos estin. God mercifully shortens time because He wants to shorten the suffering of His people before the end of the world. . is the incontestable experience of modern acceleration only explicable if it is thought together with the Christian lineage? Or. and acceleration. that which is pressed. the supersession of the theory of the two kingdoms. even more precisely. this refers at once to that which is pressing together. is modern acceleration the product of a secularization that cannot be thought without the opposing concepts of heaven and eternity? In purely formal terms. as do ‘ekolobothesan’ and ‘kolobothesontai’ (Matt 24:22).’ the time presses.’ ‘breviare. then. secularization can designate the negation of the Christian lineage. This analytical alternative.

9. Adversus haereses IV 33. based on Augustine. De Civ. the apocalyptic interpretation quickly ended up in heresy. To speak with Lactantius: The sun is enclouded in eternal paleness. Rather.214 reinhart koselleck will be rapidly accelerated in a whirl of misery and suffering. winter and summer mingle.”13 The foreshortening of time is then a sign of salvation from this world. the times lose their regularity. Nevertheless. The unimaginable speed (‘inestimabilis velocitas’ or ‘celeritas’). with which God carries out the Last Judgment.10. Then the time comes when God will return to transform the world [saeculum]. 14 13 .15. since His judgments are already completely clear to Him in advance (Otto von Freising. the believers’ robust wish. Then years and months and days are shortened [tunc et annus et mensis et dies breviabitur]. remained a theological interpretive option that could always be called upon according to the situation. was also capable of shortening it. Theologically speaking. as soon as it was applied to concrete political and historical events. all the stars fall from the sky. temporal foreshortening before the end of the world by no means played a permanent central role. the foreshortening of time. once predicted. what stands behind this idea is the believers’ expectation that Christ will return. the moon is colored in blood and cannot make up for the lost light. And since the predictions and prophecies inspired by God exceeded human knowledge. Refutatio omnium haeresium X 33. Hyppolyt.14 Of course. See Kurfess (1951: 246). In the economy of Christian interpretation. The conflict with the institutional Church was inevitable. there remains a lasting problem that no dogma can resolve: the announced temporal foreshortening before the end of the world refers to unique historical processes that should nevertheless be structurally capable of repeating themselves again and again. this wish presupposed a God who. Subjectively. Irenaios. and this is the old age and the exhaustion of the world predicted by Trismegistus. condensed into the question: When at last? The basis for such an expectation was the hope. they participated in a supertemporal truth that no chronologically visible event could refute. to see time foreshortened in order to participate in eternal redemption as soon as possible. should not be mistaken for the thesis about temporal foreshortening based on historical diachronics. as ruler and creator of time. He was powerful enough to accelerate even the cycle of the stars in order to bring about the preordained end of the world earlier than foreseen. Dei XX 2). Chron. VIII 19.

Luther (1981: 678. . A durable criterion of apocalyptic predictions is that they can always be repeated. apocalyptic visions that escaped the control of the Catholic Church proliferated and took on a life of their own. The formula of foreshortening. In contrast to his theological writings. The maelstrom of very concrete political events provoked the application of biblical passages which made it seem as if. the overcoming of the ordo temporum. who had large reservations concerning St. when the Protestant party came into its own as the Turks besieged Vienna. so many things crowded upon one another that for Luther the conditions for the new saeculum almost seemed to be satisfied. quia per hoc decennium vere novem saculum fuit. Luther returned again and again to apocalyptical expectations in his table-talk: both by begging for a deferral of the end of the world and by already seeing the Last Days as imminent and longing for them. Precisely the error concerning the point in time provides evidence for the even surer future fulfillment of the prediction. “Sed Deus abbreviabit dies propter electos. the spans of time leading to the Last Judgment would be ever shorter. nevertheless succumbed to the suggestion of New Testament passages on temporal foreshortening. he once reported Melanchthon’s idea that there were only 400 years left until the end of the world. Luther.15 Even Luther is a good witness for this. where Luther protested against anathematization and ostracization. among others. the likelihood of what is prophesied and expected increases with disappointed expectations. then the world hurries away. and the second Diet of Speyer.”16 In the decade between the Diet of Worms in 1521. John’s apocalypse. Thus.and suprahistorical determination of time that lent itself to being situationally applied to history. the passages on temporal foreshortening almost unnoticed became arguments for historical acceleration. with the expected end of the world. thus remains theologically or metahistorically given in 15 16 See.temporal foreshortening and acceleration 215 Especially in the late Middle Ages. An unfulfilled prophecy or apocalyptic expectation can always be repeated—indeed. But for him it was fundamentally a matter of the extra. The end of the world seemed to him to be setting in with foreshortened temporal rhythms. 2756 b). To the same extent that Luther renounced the conjuring up of apocalyptic figures—whether intended literally or metaphorically—appealing instead to empirically visible conflicts and constellations. Kamlah (1935) and Cohn (1962).

the shorter are the time-spans still available to him. (2) Since the sixteenth century evidence has accumulated that novelties occur in this world in ever shorter periods of time. the empirical data confirming the fact that the times are growing short can always be replaced. Temporal foreshortening was always applicable to history. That more had been discovered in the last century than in those that came before was. it is no longer God who is the master 17 18 Cited in Bury (1955: 35). a ratione et industria et directione et intentione hominum speranda sunt. what distinguishes these formally very similar argumentative figures? What distinguishes the temporal foreshortening in the eschatological horizon of the Last Judgment from acceleration in the horizon of progress? For one thing.216 reinhart koselleck advance and always applicable. was that time was established and limited by God. That changed in the early-modern period. The closer a person comes to death. Bacon (1858: 108. but the reference to the apocalypse retreats.”18 But that it was so was regularly confirmed in the seventeenth century: thus Leibniz. The lasting premise of this interpretive figure. . Now. 1963: 207). Again and again in the Middle Ages. over whose end He sovereignly reigned. Formally. the biological metaphor faded into theological temporal foreshortening. The discoveries and inventions of the rising natural sciences condensed into an experiential core from which one increasingly proceeded. among millennarians or pietists and theologians of the covenant. for example. already noted in the mid-sixteenth century by Ramus. The argument’s plausibility holds as long as the duration of the world is compared to the human lifespan. which endured over 1000 years. temporal foreshortening remains an argument for future redemption. Even more. atque per minora intervalla. It loses political relevance even if it continues to be used within Christian sects. With this.17 Bacon still formulated this as the hope that inventions would be accelerated through rational planning: “itaque longe plura et meliora. What comes to the fore beginning in the sixteenth century is something fundamentally new. but itself was an extra—and suprahistorical given over which human beings had no say. thought that ever greater progress in the art of invention was being made in ever less time. for example. in order to interpret historical events in the light of the Last Judgment. hope becomes an empirical thesis.

compared to that of past centuries. in Schiller’s words. and increasingly the selforganization of political society as well. The two positions retain a point of commonality. but man who provokes progress. . also remained colored by earlier Christian expectations. it is no longer time itself that is robbed of its natural regularity and thereby shortened. Rather. For another thing. in order to chronologically measure the progress he has unleashed. but progress. which could be verified by the acceleration of discoveries and inventions. Temporal foreshortening. What is new here is the idea that it is no longer the end that is coming more quickly. which had previously set an early end to history from outside. the experiential core to which the new expectations referred was no longer deducible from the apocalypse and no longer determined by the Last Judgment. The hoped-for or already confirmed acceleration of progress is measured within a time that remains the same—as opposed to the temporal foreshortening reigned over by God. The voices that drew the opposite conclusion from 19 Schiller (1992: 171. a teleology. One no longer looked for redemption at the end of history. With them it is a matter of something more and other than mere secularization. The goal of accelerated progress was the mastery of nature. which always remains the same.temporal foreshortening and acceleration 217 of action. As much as the expectations of redemption may have entered into the new concept of acceleration in the guise of millennarian hopes. now becomes an acceleration that is registered within history itself and over which human beings have control. that is to be achieved ever more quickly. we may assume that the modern concept of progress. world history itself becomes the world’s judgment.19 Nevertheless. 420). This fundamentally changes the economy of argumentation. Schiller’s endlessly repeated line about world history as the world’s judgment directly testifies to the temporalization that brings the judicium maximum into the process of history. man helps himself to natural time. but in the process of history. Here we have a creeping change of the subject. Even if the eschatologically or apocalyptically limited future was reinterpreted as an open future. there always remained a surplus of Christian expectations in scientifically packaged hopes. a telos. These were the goals of the Enlightenment. rather. For in both cases the arguments are sustained by the determination of a goal.

2. Thus a German author wrote in 1788. Lessing [1780] (1858: 423).218 reinhart koselleck the sobering warning of the Old Testament wisdom that for God a thousand years are as a day.21 To this extent. to be reached in a finite or finally infinite progression. it is partially justified to speak of an authentic secularization of Christian teleologies. Wekhrlin [1788] (1987: 200). and to be accelerated by him.”22 Here the reliance of the postulate of acceleration on autonomous agents. proliferated: developments that earlier took a thousand years are now realized in one. “often casts true glances into the future”. Kant ironically observed that theologians again and again claimed that the world was now sliding ever more quickly to the worse: but this ‘now’ (and we know that this is the ‘now’ of temporal foreshortening) is as old as history itself. See van der Pot (1985 a: 120 pp. This can be clarified with a range of evidence. as he puts it.). Let us act while it is day. Peter 3:8. however. Kant too posi20 21 22 23 24 Psalms 90:4.20 making it a metaphor for progress. Let me call upon further witnesses to this. on human beings. Kant [1793] (1907: 19 pp. . Lessing’s description of the progress-minded accelerator testifies to a creeping but unambiguous transformation: it is no longer a matter of a divine dictate. . Always at stake in this were the determination of goals within the newly discovered history. the pathos of acceleration spread in the glow of the Enlightenment. who rejected every calculation of the future as heresy. The enlightened enthusiast.”23 Long before the Industrial Revolution. . Nevertheless. Lessing kept his distance from such enthusiasts of progress. Lessing already noted in a psychologizing way that mystical and millennarian traditions were also at work in the Enlightenment.). For what good would it do him if what he takes to be the better does not become the better during his lifetime? Like the anti-apocalyptic church fathers. “he wishes this future accelerated. shortly after Lessing’s critical remarks: “We must hurry to accelerate the revolution in human spirit where possible .24 Nevertheless. becomes clear— as does the transformation of the apocalyptic expectation into a hope for the accelerated future: What takes a thousand years in nature is to ripen in the moment of his [the enthusiast’s] existence. but the religious underpinnings shine through everywhere.

Eine solche authentische Interpretation finde ich nun in einem alten heiligen Buche allegorisch ausgedrückt. Kant tried to uncover a motivation for historical acceleration in his reflections on the categorical imperative: as soon as morality actively influences practice. “einer machthabenden praktischen Vernunft. 29 Wieland [1798] (1857: 100). for the coming world peace organization in the supranational domain: “since the times during which equal progress takes place will. provided directives for autonomous human beings. on this. it was a matter of “nothing less than. the long-term goal it demands can be realized that much more quickly: “it appears that we might be by our own rational projects accelerate the coming of this period which will be so welcome by our descendants. .temporal foreshortening and acceleration 219 tively referred to chiliastic tropes in justifying a well-ordered constitution and a world federation as the long-term worldly goal of political action. see Irenaios. this was true for the domestic constitution as well as for the world federation. Kant [1795] (1996: 351). and the duty to accelerate it has been imposed especially on you. the destiny of humanity. Undeterred by—indeed. Adversus haereses IV 33. 28 Robespierre [1793] (1956: 10). are now to be realized in the Revolution: “the progress of human reason has prepared this great revolution. as Wieland commented on the events from the other side of the Rhine shortly thereafter: for the planners of the French Revolution. die. durch die er dem Buchstaben seiner Schöpfung einen Sinn ergibt. 26 25 . Being able to participate in the Last Judgment over their persecutors. step by step. . This position corresponds to the naturally much more activist position articulated by Robespierre at the Fête de la Constitution in 1793.”28 Or. Hiob . contrary to—all previous historical experience.”25 For him.”26 The previously otherworldly goal of future salvation was taken into history as worldly hope. previously a privilege of the chosen—“Spiritualis autem judicat omnia: et ipse a nemine judicatur”27—now congeals into the moral self-empowerment of practical reason. through its connection to morality. from people to people. als die unmittelbare Erklärung und Stimme Gottes angesehen werden kann. so wie sie ohne weitere Gründe im Gesetzgeben schlechthin gebietend ist. democratizing the entire Earth in the shortest possible time. become always shorter. Happiness and freedom. we hope.” (Kant 1964: 116).”29 Kant [1784] (1991: 50). 27 I Cor 15. it was temporalized and acceleration.

this steaming vehicle is imbued with a redemptive meaning.220 reinhart koselleck Let us pause and ask what changed between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. becomes a purely inner-worldly expectation. indisputable. Thus. The triumphal steamcar is still at the beginning of its race and thus rolls only slowly! This alone awakes the confused hope that it could be stopped. acceleration and the knitting together 30 This transformation of extra-historical into inner-historical teleology remains. majestic goal. Then the author continues: “Although history has always directed its course toward this truly divine goal. in an essay in the 1838 essay in the Brockhaus encyclopedia on the railroad. For the theologian. entirely in Kant’s sense. as technological progress increasingly confirmed the thesis of acceleration. But the foundation of all these determinations of acceleration was purely inner-worldly.”31 Even in 1871 a book appeared in Germany on the sacred significance of the transcontinental railway in the United States for the coming kingdom of God. the earlier. broke away from Christianity. To be sure. remained. The article on ‘Eisenbahnen’ (railway) ends with the following passage: “On the iron rails our century rolls towards a shining. according to our analytical criteria. though no doubt the Christian legacy remained present within it—if. the future was also colored by a quasi-religious promise in the Enlightenment. apocalyptically expected. hoped-for. we have the model of that secularization which. to this extent. with the secularization of the telos. . or feared teleology of an end of the world that breaks through in foreshortened periods of time. and their realization was to be accelerated by human action.30 (3) Even in the nineteenth century. Here. secularized Christian teloi. as a morally necessary postulate. 31 Brockhaus (1838: 1126). so we hope each spiritual resistance that timidity and disfavor try to oppose to them will be smashed by their gigantic power. In the Enlightenment. in spite of Hans Blumenberg’s critique (1991). It was to bring happiness and freedom from domination. We will fly along the spiritual path we leave behind even faster than physical space! As the roaring steam colossi shatter every external resistance that provocatively or foolishly gets in its way. it even makes sense to speak of the historically immanent coming Jerusalem. religiously colored and. but as it proceeds its wings pick up speed and overpower those who try attack the spokes of its fateful wheels!” (Brockhaus 1838: 1136) How apocalyptic temporal foreshortening becomes historically immanent acceleration without losing the pathos of the message of redemption is shown in passages like this one. on the forward-rushing wheels of the railroad it will be reached centuries earlier. as Karl Löwith (1953) has shown. The world peace organization of a self-determining humanity is first of all defined. then.

32 When we compare the evidence from the nineteenth century. and the one vein through which the people who belong to the kingdom of God stream from ocean to ocean. which could be indefinitely expanded. So humanity goes on its way. Earlier Christian expectations of redemption could then crystallize around technological progress. as the Christian blood streams through the breast of the German-Protestant land. themselves becoming a secondary phenomenon. the Protestant Germans from the East. Those who wanted to hold onto inner-worldly redemption had to look for other accelerators. In the course of the early-modern period. The primary experience is no longer the religiously colored expectation of redemption. The transcontinental railway unites the Atlantic and the Pacific. It roams across the earth. one could say that the inner-worldly expectations of redemption were formally connected to the old apocalyptic temporal rhythms—but no more than that. Let us summarize the results of our second step. the author admits that he does not know when humanity “will have reached its goal according to God’s will. its pace becoming faster and faster. Friedrich Nietzsche paraphrased the inversion of the chiliastic burden of proof from the Christian legacy to the world-historical future: “The press. At most. with the earlier testimonies it becomes clear that the burden of proof for acceleration has shifted. 32 . time flies faster with each new century. the railway. the telegraph are premises whose thousand-year conclusion no one has yet dared to draw. but the technical success that brought together communications networks and raised productivity in ever-shorter periods of time. Later editions of the Brockhaus included only technical information on the railway.temporal foreshortening and acceleration 221 of the global transportation network served as a tokens for the realization of the kingdom of God on Earth. is the Atlantic-Pacific railway.” (p.” 33 Nietzsche [1886] (1988: 674). extrahistorically determined temporal foreshortening becomes the innerhistorical axiom of acceleration. For the new experience on which they were based remained a technical instrument. (I owe this note to Walter Magaß).”33 The earlier millennarian hope contained in the apocalyptic expectation of a double return of Christ had now become the burden that results from technical innovations that transform all of life on Earth in an unknown but millennial way. Here the subject changes from God to man. the machine. its rails becoming ever smoother and straighter. who is to bring about this Plath (1871). which soon turned out not to be up to this redemptive demand. “The Russians. the Greek Catholics come from the West. 134) Despite the clearly increasing acceleration.

with the French Revolution the idea of acceleration acquired a historical-theoretical dimension that can be empirically verified without referring to a divine timetable. back to an elite-bourgeois constitution and finally to Napoleon’s dictatorship—within ten years. With this we come to the final part of our investigation. It could exist independent of any Christian derivation. It has been repeatedly noted that the course of the French Revolution hurried through all possibilities of political and social organization—from monarchy via constitutional monarchy to republican constitutionalism and its despotic-terrorist outgrowth. with their shortening spans of time. While the German Reformation as well as the English Revolution. this was an accelerated transformation that nevertheless did not produce anything fundamentally new: “Our contemporary history is a repetition of the deeds and . measured against Polybius’s ancient cyclical model. what carries over from the Christian legacy. are springs of historical determinations of acceleration. referring primarily to historical experiences. Wieland. the goal that attaches itself to the progressive hopes of realizing a kingdom of happiness and freedom from domination in the future. Oelsner. In this restricted sense. the idea that history itself has a goal in the first place.222 reinhart koselleck acceleration through a transformation of nature and society. and. second. What is secularized. were still geared to apocalyptic expectations. First. is. among others. first. III Acceleration as Post-Christian Temporal-Historical Category To this point we have seen that Christian expectations of redemption. this changed fundamentally with the experience of rapid constitutional change during the French Revolution. can no longer be deduced from theological premises. But a look at the early-modern period has already taught us that the hard kernel of the modern experience of acceleration. we can speak of a secularization of Christian legacies. I now want to summarize this under three points. though with decreasing intensity. Rebmann. the idea of an experience of acceleration took on a life of its own. and Kornmann. Here it emerged how a secularized theological goal slowly became accidental. Beginning in the eighteenth century. observed that. Görres. the technological and industrial restructuring of society.

we find a range of extra-political experiences of social acceleration that herald the coming Industrial Revolution. himself a victim of (Bavarian) secularization as abbot of Prüfening. even the distance from one place to another was reduced by building roads.e. The idea of acceleration was thereby stripped of its apocalyptic legacy and shorn of its progressive expectations.35 This subjective perception referred not only to political events. newspapers. but it was still able to persist as a historical thesis for the experience of ‘modernity. as exciting as they are learned and witty. etc. .. since the last third of the eighteenth century the whole of European history went faster. summer 1829). The poorest among us has it much better than the son of well-off but not rich parents 100 years ago. specifically modern experiences of acceleration. Kornmann. The renunciation of apocalyptic expectations—without giving up Christian belief—and the recourse to structures that have been repeating since ancient history. enriched by revolutionary. now it is easy for anyone to achieve his own independent existence. everything was increasingly at the command of the individual. and. Horse-drawn carriages were able to almost double their speed thanks to better roads. Thus.” See on this my article “Revolution” (Koselleck 1984: 739–740). 35 Niebuhr (1845: 54): “Many things contributed to accelerating everything. the real innovation of the experience of the French Revolution lay in the fact that everything occurred faster than ever before. The prosperity of the middle class grew and now the number of the well-off is no doubt 50 times greater than 100 years ago. Bonn University. riverboats were able to significantly increase their loads for the same number of shipments and periods of time thanks to new canals. brings out simply in his pregnant title the change of argumentative topoi. but also to the fading echoes of the pre-industrial age..”34 While substantively history could only repeat itself. 34 Kornmann (1814: 4). and optical telegraphy in the eighteenth century. establishing the regular circulation of public officials. that avoid any borrowing from the philosophy of history: “It was the privilege of a single generation to see things for which once the lives of many generations were not sufficient. Already in the period of pre-mechanical trade. A great confidence spread for undertakings of all kinds. beyond the experience of political acceleration.’ As Niebuhr once noted looking back at the French Revolution. One also began to live faster and more intensively than earlier. Communications accelerated enormously thanks to mail. lead Kornmann to insights. this was still coming into being at the time of the revolution and only since then has really developed.” (Lecture.temporal foreshortening and acceleration 223 events of several millennia—in the shortest possible period of time. in the run-up to industrialization. Previously those who lacked fortune. position or birth had a very difficult way. i. sailboat technology improved to the extent that the fastest sailboats of the nineteenth century were faster than the first steamboats. such as never had been known before. beyond this.

and could reach people ever more quickly.36 From a purely technical perspective. The invention of the telephone. As our encyclopedia already observed in 1840. The division of labor made it possible to increase not only production. but productivity itself. The same holds to an even greater extent for communications. as well as the capacity for political and social organization. Allow me to mention a few examples. action and reflection draw closer: human beings cannot help taking the future into account and planning as more experiential data becomes available to them. global population growth also corresponds to this finding of acceleration. Second. with the introduction of machine technology and its industrial-capitalist organization. in its impact on life and transportation. Thanks to information technology. The increase of the world population from around half a billion people in the 36 Brockhaus (1838: 1117). this statement could be further confirmed. . With the introduction of the rapid press at the beginning of the nineteenth century and the invention of telegraphy. Thanks to acceleration. the idea of acceleration acquires general confirmation in everyone’s everyday experience. such that the satisfaction of old needs gave rise to new ones. . deeds. changes. events could be converted into information in ever shorter periods of time. soon made possible the transport of ever more people and goods in ever shorter periods of time. and allowed them too to be satisfied.224 reinhart koselleck in the eighteenth century we already see a speeding up in the field of bourgeois economic society. For all spaces are only distances for us because of the time we need to traverse them. cross-class increase in needs. and their coverage increasingly converge. compelling a turn to the open future. Finally. See generally Zorn (1977). is reduced. lithography. Any time won in production resulted in an increase in the number of products. This unleashed a general. The construction of the railway. space itself. radio. actions. and in a second wave the car and airplane. and television made it possible for actions and events to coincide with reports of them. . With this the whole political and social decision-making structure. and photography. the railway overcomes spatial divisions by bringing things closer in time . if we accelerate this.

reach a limit that can no longer be exceeded by raising rates of acceleration. but that these are no longer derivable from Christian expectations of redemption.temporal foreshortening and acceleration 225 seventeenth century to around six billion in the year 2000 can be interpreted as facet of acceleration: this is an exponential time-curve in which humanity doubles in ever shorter periods of time. First of all. While apocalyptic temporal foreshortening always represented a gate. If we again pose our question about secularization. what emerges in the domain of historical-temporal acceleration is the possibility that humanity itself destroys the inherited. This raises the question of whether the general experience of acceleration can continue unhindered into the future. our globe itself has become a closed spaceship. The hitherto valid empirical thesis that our welfare can only be maintained through further increases in productivity. a passageway to eternal salvation. Car and air traffic increasingly get in their own way. there are natural minimal conditions that cannot be transgressed or stretched. and industry is at the same time the condition for the life of a world population that is growing geometrically. but its productive analysis will probably continue to depend on the natural receptive capacities of human beings. Here we encounter the question of whether it is possible to infer long-term prognoses from previous historical experiences of acceleration. according to the Club of Rome. it cannot be ruled out that the earlier apocalyptic visions of decline will be empirically far outdone by the human capacity for self-destruction. Information technology can continue to bring together data and coordinate the data of the past and the future every more quickly thanks to the computer.37 37 Luhmann (1976). may well. technology. we may rightly say that these factors of acceleration refer to world-immanent processes. culturally and industrially enriched conditions of its existence. for example in order to further accelerate transportation. With Luhmann. Thanks to acceleration. The synergy of increasing output in science. This leads me to my third point. . No doubt the world population will reach an absolute limit. Equally. too. Today it is emerging that certain acceleration processes in our differentiated societies are reaching their saturation point. I take this possibility to be rather limited. wherever and whenever it may be.

technological-industrial. . in hindsight all of history turns into a progression of increasing acceleration. This can be shown with three overlapping exponential time-curves that retrospectively unlock the whole of human history. compared to the two million years of demonstrable human history. again measured against prehistory.226 reinhart koselleck Even if acceleration has become a durable experience and to this extent relatively stable. specifically historical-temporal acceleration has only taken place for about the last 200 years. refer to ever shorter periods of time in which the new appears at an accelerated rate. For once acceleration as a specific historical-temporal category has become an experiential model.000 years ago. and finally the unfolding of high culture roughly 6000 years ago. the time spans keep getting shorter: the introduction of agriculture and husbandry 12. And the two million years for which we for which we have evidence of the existence of man-made tools appears against this as even more negligible. measured against the whole of human cultural history it is a matter of progressively shorter spans of time in which arise ever greater aggregations of organizational accomplishments. However. 1978) and Hambloch (1986).000 years have.38 Next. Measured against the five billion years of the Earth’s crust. 38 See on this Narr (1974. From the perspective of cultural history. For one thing. Even if this appearance of the new in the world of culture has by now become a durable precondition of our own life. the biological differentiation of the human being takes place in shortened periods of time. occurred in a comparatively short time. Finally. What we have come to know as post-Christian. and the one billion years of organic life. we can see another exponential time-curve if we focus on the roughly 6000 years of high culture. the products of an independent and differentiated art in the last 30. we can by no means infer what will in fact occur in the future at an accelerated rate. the roughly ten million years of ape-like human beings is a short span of time. in retrospect. the idea of the acceleration or foreshortening of the duration of our experience per definitionem prevents further forecasts. Since then our life-world has been technologically and industrially restructured so that the question of further acceleration has become the question of our future as such.

Hübscher. Heckel. Leipzig: Brockhaus. Hambloch. 789–829. . Texte. (1964). Immanuel (1907). 1. Wilhelm (1935). Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. So it may well be that in the future we will be forced to concentrate our energies more on stabilizers and the natural preconditions of our worldly existence. “Das Problem der ‘Säkularisation’ in der Reformation. Les métamorphoses de la cité de dieu. Benz. Berlin: Reimer Verlag. ——./19. “Novum Organon” I. Jahrhundert. Brockhaus. Paris: Fayard. and where. Zur Säkularisation geistlicher Institutionen im 16. Vol. Wilhelm (ed. after which the shares of duration and survival versus change and transformation have to be reordered. Ernst (1977).” In: Weischedel. Irene (ed. Halévy. Translated by Robin Celikates and James Ingram References Bacon. Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta. Akzeleration der Zeit als geschichtliches und heilsgeschichtliches Problem. Otto. Apokalypse und Geschichtstheologie. Gilson. Daniel (1961). ——. Crusius. Francis (1858).). Louvain: Louvain University Press. London: Longman. Kamlah. Conze. Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe. Berlin: Akademie Verlag. Vol.” In: Brunner.temporal foreshortening and acceleration 227 It is precisely these previously overlapping and self-reinforcing exponential time-curves that therefore cannot be projected into the future in a linear manner. 6. ——. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. Bury. Norman (1993). Berlin: Ebering. Blumenberg. John B. Politically speaking. Geschichte und Deutung der Prophezeiungen von den biblischen Propheten bis auf unsere Zeit. Vol. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft. (1955). Friedrich A. Werke. Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag.” In: Crusius. (ed. New York: Dover. Legitimität der Neuzeit. 6. Cohn. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. the important thing is to know who accelerates or decelerates whom or what. “Die Religion innerhalb der Grenzen der bloßen Vernunft. In: Works. “Über das Mißlingen aller philosophischen Versuche in der Theodizee. Werner. Then it could turn out that previous acceleration was only a transitional phase.) (1838). Kant.” In: Gesammelte Schriften. und im 18. Jahrhundert. when. Conversations-Lexikon der Gegenwart. 5. Mainz: Akademie der Wissenschaften und Natur. Étienne (1952). “Säkularisation. 1. (1962). Korollarien zur Säkularisierung. Irene (1996). Der Mensch als Störfaktor im Geosystem. Vol./19. Hans-Wolfgang Strätz and Hermann Zabel (1984). Arthur (1952): Die große Weissagung. (1996). Essai sur l’acceleration de l’histoire. Hermann (1986). The Idea of Progress. Werner Conze and Reinhart Koselleck (eds. Novum Organon. Martin (1981). Säkularisierung. und im 18. London: Pimlico. Historisches Lexikon zur politisch-sozialen Sprache in Deutschland. Munich: Heimeran.). Zur Säkularisation geistlicher Institutionen im 16. The Pursuit of the Millennium.). Heidelberg: Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften. Hans (1966). Vol.

Vol. (1978). Tübingen: Mohr. Johan Hendrik Jacob (ed. Hans (1909). 1. Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag. “Saeculum.).” In: Werke und Briefe. Jean (ed. Kornmann. Kurfess. Koselleck. Einleitung. Franz (1963).” In: Poberen. Leipzig: Göschen. (1991). Hans (ed.). Maastricht: Van Gorcum. Historisches Lexikon zur politischsozialen Sprache in Deutschland. Urtext und Übersetzung. Werner (1985). “Säkularisierung. Die Bewertung des technischen Fortschritts. Textes choisis. Jahrhundert. Basel: Schwabe. 293–324. Karl (1953). Practical Philosophy. Vol. Hermann (1965). Vol. Lietzmann. (ed. Vol. Geschichte eines ideenpolitischen Begriffs. de Robespierre. ——. 5. 1. ——.). Luhmann. Löwith. Luther. “The Future Cannot Begin. Karl (1956). Paris: Éditions Sociales.” In: Colli. 1. Friedrich (1988). Der Weltheiland. van der Pot. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.” In: Reiss. Giorgio and Mazzino Montinari (eds. Die Bedeutung der Atlantik-Pacifik-Eisenbahn für das Reich Gottes. 1133–1161. Immanuel Kant.’ In: Saeculum 25.” In: Vierhaus. Karl J. (ed.). (1845). Vol. Über die Christlichkeit unserer heutigen Theologie. Maximilien (1956). “Resignation. Hamburg: Agentur des Rauhen Hauses.” In: van der Pot. “Kritik der Hegelschen Rechtsphilosophie. Political Writings. Marx.” In: Gregor. Mirbt. Marramao. ——. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer. Kritische Studienausgabe. Frankfurt am Main: Deutscher Klassiker Verlag. Martin (1981). Schiller. Werner Conze and Reinhart Koselleck (eds. Maastricht: Van Gorcum. (1979). “Hyperboreische Briefe. Berlin: W. Munich: Heimeran. ——. 1. Plath. Eine systematische Übersicht der Theorien. Sibyllinische Texte und Forschungen. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 8. Lessing. Friedrich (1992). Deutschland im 18. Wekhrlin. Mary J. Carl Heinrich Christian (1871). Gotthold E. Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag. . Allzumenschliches. Kant. “Die Erziehung des Menschengeschlechts. Overbeck. Wilhelm Ludwig (1987). “Discours sur la constitution.” In: Historisches Wörterbuch der Philosophie. (1858). Sackur. Vol. Quellen zur Geschichte des Papsttums und des römischen Katholizismus. Maastricht: Van Gorcum. Giacoma (1992). “Revolution. Stuttgart: Reclam. Otto.) (1898). Vol.” In: MEW. 1. 4. Tischreden. Eine systematische Übersicht der Theorien. Vol.). Berlin: Dietz Verlag. Freiburg: Alber. Die Bewertung des technischen Fortschritts. Schultze. Sibyllinische Weissagungen.” In: Der kleine Pauly.) (1985 b). Johan Hendrik Jacob (ed. Weltgeschichte und Heilsgeschehen.” In: Brunner. Regensburg: Rotermundt. 4. “Menschliches. “Toward Perpetual Peace. Eine systematische Übersicht der Theorien. Narr. 9. Vol. Reinhart (1984). ‘Vom Wesen des Frühmenschen: Halbtier oder Mensch?. Alfons (ed.) (1985 a).) (1951). Ernst.). (1996). 2. “Idea for a universal history with a cosmopolitan purpose.228 reinhart koselleck ——. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.” In: Gesammelte Werke. Rudolf (ed. Zeitmaße in der Urgeschichte. Nietzsche. (ed. Carl (1934). 311–351. Vol. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. Die Bewertung des technischen Fortschritts. Bonn: Marcus und Weber.” In: Social Research 43: 130–152. Lübbe. (1974). Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta. Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe. Halle: Niemeyer. Temporal Structures in Modern Society. Vol. 2. Niklas (1976). Die Sibylle der Zeit aus der Vorzeit oder Politische Grundsätze durch die Geschichte bewähret. Geschichte des Zeitalters der Revolution. von Siemens. “Das naturwissenschaftliche Zeitalter. Säkularisierung. Niebuhr.). 41–53. Vol. Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag. Barthold G. Rupert (1814). 1. 1. Vol.

(1857). Reinhart (ed. . Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta.temporal foreshortening and acceleration 229 Wieland. Leipzig: Göschen. Studien zum Beginn der modernen Welt. “Gespräche unter vier Augen.).’” In: Koselleck. “Verdichtung und Beschleunigung des Verkehrs als Beitrag zur Entwicklung der ‘Modernen Welt. 32. Zorn. 115–134.” In: Sämtliche Werke. Vol. Wolfgang (1977). Christian M.


2003). which first was published in different form before (2002.).). However. This holds already true for the case of Weber who unintentionally supported a Protestant notion of religion which was meticulously separated from magical practices. An account from the perspective of communication theory was fostered by Thomas (2001: 23 pp. Eder 2002: 332 pp. It will be upheld that religion gains social force when it is expressed * This is a revised article. Especially.. .). (2002: 59 pp. The image of a ‘civil religion’ as the prerequisite of modern. the religious impregnation of modern societies is interpreted as a counter-argument against the secularisation thesis. Functionalist as well as phenomenological approaches consent with respect to this issue. Accordingly. the appearance of the ‘cultural turn’ since the 1960s has given rise to a firm criticism of the modernization paradigm in general and the secularization thesis in particular. phenomenologists who purport an anthropological notion of religion (Luckmann 2002) argue for a privatization and pluralization of religious practices. References here have therefore been kept to a minimum. the theme of secularization has belonged to historical and social sciences’ stock knowledge. See in general Christiano et al. The following contribution rests on different presuppositions. Typically.).SECULARIZATION: GERMAN CATHOLICISM ON THE EVE OF MODERNITY* Rudolf Schlögl Ever since Max Weber’s depiction of religion as the prime mover of the Western rationalization process.1 It cannot be decided whether the criticism really shatters the secularization paradigm before exploring the respective presupposed views of ‘religion’ which the critics emphasize. Applications of the privatization argument are delivered by Knoblauch (2002) and Pollack (1990). For a general view see Wohlrab-Sahr (2000: 44 pp. civil society has thus been espoused in explorations of post-modern societies as well. they could neither dispense with religious underpinnings—in whatever ideological dress they appeared. While functionalists focus on the religious rootings of identities (HervieuLéger 2000: 123 pp. 1 Even contemporary religious sociology is struggling with the formulation of a concept of secularization which would be applicable to varied historical constellations. the USA served as an example displaying the persistence and vitality of religious traditions and their effects on social institutions and politics.

a superficial. ignorance in matters of faith. virtuosi of religion. Since Woellner’s religious edict of 1788. religious discourse itself drew on the secularization paradigm in order to come to terms with the relationship between religion and a transforming social setting seems to confirm this argument. these writings articulated the observation that the world was entering a new relationship with the church and religion. and. however. both. The large gap separating the educated and moneyed classes from the church and religion was clear.232 rudolf schlögl in visible and accountable social forms. The collapse of the legal and economic institutional structure of the imperial Catholic Church. These forms are thereby connected to various other social forms. Beyond this. This produced changes in religious institutions as well as in the pious practices of believers. which took place between 1803 and 1814. rational and pious from the 1770s on to dissolve monasteries in order to provide a better basis for an university. thus seemed to presage Catholicism’s imminent end. theological reflection. Even in ecclesiastical electoral states. but even among the lower classes. indifference towards the church. and pastoral-theological reassurances of the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth century can appreciate the depth of uncertainty among those who had power in the Church and among the clerical virtuosi of religion. too. and lay people of all Christian confessions to the secularization projects of secular rulers. Graf (1997: 37 pp. had witnessed a stream of complaints about the decay of religiosity and church discipline. and the destruction of traditional religious beliefs among Lutheran Christians. . it was considered. at best. Lutheranism. The thesis under discussion assumes that the concept of secularization is indispensable for describing tensions and transformations between the social institution of religion on the one hand and coexisting societal institutions on the other.). The fact that. since early modernity. purely habitual piety were apparent. Anyone examining the religious journalism. Thus from the perspective 2 See Görres (1998: 89).2 This discourse was the first reaction of theologians. and thus cannot vary independently with respect to the latter. and from the Lutheran perspective it seemed doubtful whether Protestantism would be able to assume the mantle. which amounted to a fundamental change in the shape of religion.

secularization: german catholicism 233 of religion itself. is initially to take a religious perspective on the world in order to find out what religion might look like from the other side—from the world. Joseph Görres expressed fear that the Rhinelanders. in the same year of 1799.”7 3 4 5 6 7 Luhmann (2000: 278–85). “would forget the higher things in the face of all the economic and political activity. In it he explained to his beloved that religion was the best way for women to shape an undivided personality for themselves which. he saw religion as a form of education that would allow people to find one’s individual bearings within the profanity of a splintered bourgeois society. and an agency that would reveal to them their proper divinity. concluded from the anarchy of contemporary upheavals a “time of revival” for the religion of a united Christendom when. these texts also express the insight that this was the path of the fault lines that were opening up between the modern world and a churchbased piety which aspired to be crucial and all-shaping. “lives and writes in a divine way. therefore. In his Athanasius (1837). too. did not consider that the state of religion in 1799 religion was such as to cause anxiety. . he wrote Die Christenheit oder Europa. von Görres (1998: 132). Schleiermacher (1999: 55 pp. Schlegel (1988: 175).” he wrote.3 That is why this discourse did not remain purely a lamentation. These texts express confidence in the future importance of a religion that had proved itself as a medium in which citizens (Bürger) could develop their individuality.). Novalis (1978: 743). To speak of secularization.”4 Novalis. “for I do not know of any other period that would have accepted it better than the present. who paradoxically adopted precisely this internal perspective by imitating an external perspective in his Über die Religion. in Schlegel’s words. “I do not join with most people in claiming the decline of religion. Conversely.”6 In other words. notions such as secularization or de-Christianization summed up the fact that the world’s relationship to religion was clearly changing. Friedrich Schleiermacher. otherwise so pious.5 And a third text dating from 1799 springs to mind: the ‘Letter to Dorothea’ written by Friedrich Schlegel who converted to Catholicism only a few years later. however. and as a remedy for the suffering of an existence which bourgeois society had split up into different spheres of value and areas of activity.

as illustrated in particular by the Catholic revival of the nineteenth century.8 But it seems to me that this simply fails to reveal the essential historiographical and analytical yield of this concept. I would rather opt for an approach that would enter upon the perspectives of contemporary observers. as it became apparent that traditional forms of piety could be changed fundamentally or disappear completely. how in the course of their lives people were known as Catholics or became members of the Church. Martin Greschat. we could see this term refers to a profound upheaval that assigned religion a new place in the social structure as well as in individual patterns of action. its internal constitution was affected. a new form of constitutional. because every de-Christianization has been followed by a religious revitalization. secondly.9 During the French Revolution. In this way. thirdly. . national statehood was translated into reality. it was affected as a community of believers. 9 Hahn (1997). Mc Leod (2000). and Catholic religiosity in particular. The associated transformation process affected the Catholic Church in a number of ways: first. See also the contributions by Friedrich Wilhelm Graf. it was obliged to adapt ecclesiastical social integration to the changes in the social order—that is. This article focuses on these four levels. and thus its form as a political legal corporation. With this it became clear to what extent religion in general.234 rudolf schlögl Much of the present-day scholarly energy devoted to researching the concept of ‘secularization’ concentrates on demonstrating that it is inappropriate. its relationship to political order. and the long-running transformation of a society based on status groups or estates into a bourgeois society organized according to egalitarian principles was legally ratified. looking at the period from 1750 to 1850 in each case. and fourthly. and which therefore also redefined the church and religiosity as necessary. was called into question. were intertwined with the disintegrating order of Old Europe. 8 An example of this view is Lehmann (1997). and Margaret Lavinia Anderson in the same volume.

a German Gallicanism plus an episcopacy based on its church’s statehood seemed so threatening that. and thereby to erect a firewall against secularization. The concordats negotiated between Rome and the constitutional states of the German Confederation from the Congress of Vienna to 1830 guaranteed the churches a legal form of privileged corporation. The Church itself saw this attitude merely as a response to the secularization proviso which had been in place since 1648.10 However. on the issue of the enunciator. the churches had to endure smothering state supervision. . when the secular territories in the League of Princes (Fürstenbund ) finally turned against the Empire. the Catholic Church’s political-legal constitution in the Holy Roman Empire made it one of the state-like units overarched by the empire. supported this arch. Aretin (1997). and which kept the imaginations of imperial politicians working. in turn. Napoleon’s Organic Articles and the Bavarian 10 Lottes (1997). This is not the place to demonstrate how the imperial church’s state-like nature had placed the Holy Roman Empire’s political structure under considerable strain since 1648. The Empire’s confessional structure. did not offer the least support for a national church bringing the confessions together. Febronian attempts to renew the National Church. For Rome. Thus. on the other hand. In return. and especially its Estate-based statehood. there was no way back to a state-like church. while encouraging the church to place itself outside the imperial constitution in that it continued to regard Protestants as heretics. it was clear that the imperial church had no future. it. which reached from the early 1760s to the archiepiscopal reform congresses in Koblenz (1769) and Ems (1786). Pius VI decided for a territorial state church. After the implosion of the ancien regime. were therefore initially motivated by the desire to make ecclesiastical law conform to imperial law. and could make only limited use of confessional privilege.secularization: german catholicism I From the Church as an Estate of the Empire to the Church as a Privileged Religious Association 235 As we know. either. it became increasingly obvious that the Febronian enthusiasm for reform was neither beneficial to the imperial structure nor in the interests of Rome.

market-based society it was difficult (and quickly became unreasonable) to link earning one’s living with saving one’s soul. Huber (1957: 416–441). guaranteed freedom of religion.. Differences in belief thus acquired a new legal and social quality. As a corporation. the principle of a social hierarchy derived from an Estate-based state. and for the first time a standardized legal area.). the legal and institutional order of society could not adequately deal with the increasingly significant differentiation in how people lived their lives. it was already combined with the freedom of choice of confession. and stated explicitly that choice of confession could not justify “differences in civil and political rights. however. Huber (1957: 398).”13 11 12 Hömig (1969: 30 pp. . organizing religion according to individual conscience was no longer completely unthinkable. of course.236 rudolf schlögl Edict on Religion of 1817 further developed the paradigm of this institutional transformation of religion. and legally securing power and influence continued to be effective—although they now had to be harmonized with the idea of a free and equal society of Bürger.11 The new legal and political order.12 However. the church had lost all state-like qualities. The tension between the corporate hedging-in of the confession and its liberation as a religion reveals that. in the first half of the nineteenth century. 64 pp. from the church’s perspective. spanning the confessions. The Catholic Church was therefore set free as one confession among others. even if. the many social relationships into which their lives had to fit not only required combining these roles. 13 On provisions relating to the church in the Reichsdeputationshauptschluß see Strätz (1978: 48). but also binding them together into a biographical identity. These non-simultaneities produced the constitutional confessional state. Paragraph 16 of the Vienna Federal Act had suspended the territorial jus reformandi. In an industrializing. as was the case in the Bavarian Edict on Religion. was assigned to ‘religion’. the question now arose as to how the ‘rest’ of society was to be reached. In its privileged position. looked forwards and backwards at the same time. To be sure. Ammerich (2000). conversely. Conversely. For the institutional shape of religion this meant that the state-like (and thus privileged) corporation was not ultimately appropriate. as the altar’s support for the throne was trusted more than legitimation of power through participation.

14 Not until the Paulskirche Constitution of 1848 was religion socially organized on the principle of individual conscience and protected by fundamental rights.secularization: german catholicism 237 Confessional constitutionalism and the corporate privileges of the church together initially prevented this principle’s observation. Maier (1988: 157–188). in his Athanasius.’ which meant that piety finally lost any claim to priority among the many individual. which. Yet the legislators had not considered the confessionally mixed landscapes and confessional diasporas that had resulted from Napoleon’s cleanup operation. until the end of 14 15 von Görres (1998). As the fundamental lines of development have now been made clear. Lamennais and his ideas were still excluded. Above. The eruption of the Cologne Troubles was a disquietingly dramatic demonstration of this. and which now became potentially explosive in the relationship between church and state. both points can be discussed more generally. which had freed the church and completely separated it from the state. reaching far down into the smallest branches of the church constitution. Huber (1957: 779). . religion was to organize itself in ‘associations.15 II Internal Constitution: From the Aristocratic Church to a Bureaucratic Organization The development which changed the external institutional aspect of religion from the church as a state into a religious community with associational status also influenced the church’s internal organization. and the notion of ‘religious communities’ smoothed the differences between churches and sects. It is well known that the imperial church survived the Reformation only as part of noble society. This term therefore stands for a combination of power and property. Joseph Görres still spoke with complete abhorrence of the Belgian constitution. there was a rich associational life in which these manifold interests could publicly be articulated. I referred to this as its internal constitution and the relation of the religious to the social order. In 1837. Henceforth. and that it therefore remained an aristocratic church until secularization. The idea of a privileged corporation was abandoned. personal motives and interests. After all.

In the dioceses this clerical feudalism meant that the cathedral chapters were largely not available to support the church administration. Andermann (2000). most recently. meant that political power too was seen primarily as domination. For this reason. the bishops of the imperial church were. the direction and content of ministry was often blocked by the archdeaconates held by the canons. were benefices. non-aristocratic secondary clergy from a higher. Whereas as we have seen state legislation for the church revealed some continuity beyond the end of the ancien regime. primary clergy repeated the worldly hierarchy of rule within the church.17 In general.16 applied equally to the church organization. which broke the jurisdiction of the vicar-generals. right down to the village priest and his vicar. prelacies. as for example in the Schönborns’ patronage policy. . On this see. which Josef Edler von Sartori had discovered in an oft-quoted treatise. The interests and objectives of officeholders were also shaped by these connections. as the adoption of the function-orientated principles characteristic of bureaucratic organizations was often blocked. which meant that the high and middling church offices were firmly integrated into the network underpinning aristocratic status and rule. aristocratic cavaliers. This had far-reaching consequences for the internal shaping of the church. The defects in the constitution of the ecclesiastical states. Estate-based counterweight which even on spiritual matters worked against the spiritual leaders. and in general by the system of patronage among the lower clergy. The top positions in the church hierarchy were reserved for the high and middling Catholic aristocracy of the Empire. but rather developed their own aristocratic.238 rudolf schlögl the ancien regime. spiritual offices in the church. The same applied to the majority of positions in cathedral chapters. secularization 16 17 von Sartori (1787). and other canonries. This not only distorted and undermined the hierarchy of the church by the accumulation of offices—for example. which prevented a thorough-going overhaul of training for the ministry and significantly weakened the Episcopal powers of supervision and direction. Therefore the separation of a lower. the Wittelsbach Sekundogenituren in the NorthWest of the imperial church—but also frequently overlaid the canonical hierarchy with dynastic solidarities. aristocratic. by education and in their own view. Until the end of the eighteenth century.

and it was emphasized when the states initiated diplomatic relations of various sorts with the Holy See. This happened at the moment when the Roman Curia (and not the bishops) appeared on the concordats as the contractual partner of the states of the German Confederation. 5 pp. . Cathedral chapters were de-feudalized. But they did without claiming the rights of a national council and put themselves completely under the Pope’s authority on this point. This began with the Offizialate. much smaller part. The other. In this situation Rome almost as a foregone conclusion assumed the role of guaranteeing the unity of the church. state power had definitively been transformed into politics by the separation of power and property. which were restructured and whose jurisdictional competence was in future separated from that of the church administrative authorities. After a 18 Freisen (1916: vii pp. This liberated the dynamic core of functional creative power in the church hierarchy. secularization separated office. While the church was still treated as a corporation in legal terms.).18 This external hierarchization of the church was reflected in its internal re-organization. similarly. internally it gradually transformed itself into an efficient. had been taken by Rome. bishop-centered organization. at least in the upper ranks of the hierarchy. the bishops’ judicial authorities. The structures of the secular state had absorbed most of the church’s former state-like substance and transformed it into state supervision of the church. Only in the mood of national upheaval generated by the events of 1848 did the bishops of the German Confederation meet for the first time in a German Bishops’ Conference.. in the church. Since the collapse of the ancien regime. from benefice and property. The fact that the previous state-like status of the church had evaporated in two directions affected the institutional position of the church within the German Confederation as a whole.secularization: german catholicism 239 created space and pressure for a fundamental restructuring of the church as an institution. Thus the Catholic clergy’s Ultramontanism was also based on the episcopate’s inability to integrate independently of the state structures or in opposition to them. and by the middle of the nineteenth century it had already made considerable successes in the bureaucratization and professionalization of the spiritual institution possible.

An investigation of the paintings owned by priests would additionally show that the clergy was also being marginalized in aesthetic terms. many priests were young.240 rudolf schlögl brief period of transition during which—when the state church nominated bishops—the cathedral chapters lost a clearly defined field of duties. This was to a small extent because the orders were slowly gaining ground again.20 But this alienation had been underway for some time. Nonetheless. The Cologne Edict of 1827 mentioned that the newly installed deans would preserve the individual members of the diocesan clergy “from fatigue.21 III Social Order and Religious Socialization This observation again shows us that the whole process of the church’s institutional re-organization was only superficially to do with strength- 19 20 21 Eberts (1993: 71). They were all the more puzzled. the supply of priests had attained new standards of quality and depth. and maintain them all in God-fearing and lively activity. for the first time systematically. The efficiency and scope of Episcopal power improved markedly once the archdeacons had lost theirs and the deans’ administrations had been cut back. and its origins lay in clerical professionalization itself. which now. why “of all social groups. Priest’s libraries reveal that the intellectual horizons of the clergy and educated laymen had been moving further and further apart since the last third of the eighteenth century. this power was given directly to the bishops. From the 1830s. the canons took over offices subject to direction by the Episcopal administration. Schlögl (2001 a: 139–44). committed men who spoke confidently about their theological studies. but it was mainly the result of setting up seminaries and reforming training for the ministry. combined theological studies and preparation for pastoral work. as a clergyman from Cologne put it in 1831 at a Conference of Deans. by the third decade of the nineteenth century.” Priests were no longer able to appoint their own assistants. . Schlögl (1995: 144). priests have the lowest standing” among the general population. therefore.19 Directly after the secularization. the church lacked clergy prepared to engage in ministry.

political. through processions or pilgrimages. acquired unprecedented significance.23 It is obvious that. and death linked social life and religious observance together. for the urban communities the identity of social and religious integration could only be created symbolically. The family as the core of Catholic Christianity also belongs to this context. On the whole. At the local level. the rural community and the parish were identical as a living community. The issue of mixed marriages and the debate about confessional schools drew their dramatic and explosive quality from here. and social order had never. with the loss of church sovereignty. had always been more significant in towns. or that of the ruler equipped with the jus reformandi. At its heart lay the problem of the overlap between non-church forms of socialization and church membership. Maier ( 2000). at least for the middle and upper classes. Parish schools. at the supraregional level the church’s sovereignty itself. at any time. marriage. Schlögl (1995: 178). So long as the church was an aristocratic church. however. the integration of people via upbringing and education. The various forms of voluntary religious socialization. this form of religious inclusion via social institutions had always been much more difficult because the legal.secularization: german catholicism 241 ening it by adopting the principles of bureaucratic organization. it had been well-known since the beginning of the nineteenth century that increasing horizontal and vertical mobility threatened the parish association. catechists. and the sacramental as well as social aspects of birth. took care of membership.24 Against this background. the new forms of observance and ministry that increasingly characterized Catholicism since the 22 23 24 Holzem (2000: 55–155). The complaints quoted at the beginning about the state of religion show that baptism alone was hardly enough to turn citizens into Catholics in a way which gave the church ‘reality’ and weight as a community of believers. . and that stable inclusion in the church could no longer be achieved via the parish community alone. coincided with the parish. Especially in the larger towns. as well as baptism.22 In the towns. therefore. Thus the practice of faith and social regulation were so closely intertwined as to be indistinguishable. The parish community was absorbed by the urban community. such as confraternities and Marian congregations.

and made the church as a mass organization widely visible. although it could now be combined with political options.27 25 26 27 Schieder (1974). pilgrimages. and Munich.26 A Catholic association movement. however. which was edited by Ringseis and Görres starting in 1828. it was no longer possible to infer religion from politics. and therefore no longer presupposed a permanent identity of social and religious socialization in order to make the individual Christian a member of the church community of faith. Clemens Brentano had already accused Joseph Görres of scratching himself theologically when he had a political itch. they created media for milieu integration which made it possible for Catholicism to politicize itself without direct ties to churchbased piety. Nothing reveals the new position religion had found in the functionally differentiated spheres of bourgeois society since the second third of the nineteenth century more clearly than the fact that. Landshut. but now those in many rural areas suffered the same fate. The pilgrimage to the Holy Coat of Trier in 1844 was the provisional climax of this ecclesiastical success.242 rudolf schlögl 1830s also gained social and religious meaning. ecstatic piety now possible in all classes. and confraternities replaced the ties of parish and of a socialization that had already become fragile in the cities. which grew hesitantly in the 1840s before taking off rapidly with the Pius Associations of 1848. were able to experience how fundamentally the times and the (social) forms of religiosity had changed in the fact that confraternities and pilgrimages were now firmly in the organizing and disciplining hands of the parish clergy—whereas just two generations earlier laymen had dominated in initiating and carrying out these activities. With publications such as Katholiken. Brentano (1991: 254). Eos. and Historisch-politische Blätter für das katholische Deutschland. which was first published in 1821 in Mainz. created friendship circles in Koblenz. Lill (1978). These forms of visible mass religiosity had the character of events. finally. it became synonymous with an expressive. Intellectual Catholicism. Mainz. Lay missions. . also built bridges between milieu-related social integration and the church—bridges which were able to differentiate themselves from a parish-bound church piety. Sperber (1984). which Görres was also involved in after 1838. nor to predict the political from the religious position. and thus to overarch it.25 Believers.

as the image 28 Schlögl (1995). the various regions and towns of France. because. second. individual motives and personal religious experience give rise to religion as a social phenomenon only when these individual convictions are communicated in social contexts. As already mentioned. and this increased the distance between them and their priests.28 The sources consulted were primarily inventories of books. the obvious change in the form of piety. and Totenzettel (death announcements). the proportion of religious titles in the possession of the urban bourgeoisie of the Rhine area fell from 30 to 10 per cent. art. Thus. supplement and support each other. In any case it was becoming increasingly questionable whether traditional religious forms were still appropriate. In 1820. and finally. and Münster). Pammer (1994). and especially those for saying masses for the soul of the departed. Among lay people. relate to the religious behavior of Catholic Christians. and my own on towns in the Rhineland-Westphalia area (Cologne. whereas one century earlier the figure had been over 50 per cent. and the associated institutional reorganization of religion.’ They began to ignore large areas of contemporary literature. On France see McManners (1998). The few studies on the Habsburg area. fewer than 10 per cent of those leaving wills felt compelled to leave such bequests. and philosophy. declined permanently and unavoidably. the associated shifts in the economy of salvation. Wills show clearly that from the 1740s bequests ad pias causas. the number of masses donated also fell distinctly. Discussion here will be limited to three aspects: first. since the last third of the eighteenth century the Catholic clergy in the process of professionalizing had shown less and less interest in ‘worldly knowledge. Scholarship finds it hard discover reliable answers. the place believers assigned Christianity in their own self-image. both in quantity and frequency. the inventories of books document an almost contrary development.secularization: german catholicism IV Religious Conviction and Individuality 243 This brings us to the question of how the church’s social reorientation. wills. Aachen. naturally. however. From 1780 to 1830. . but also the layman directed theological discourse in the form of prayer books and devotional books. In the lay intellectual world interests were obviously changing.

They spread since the end of the eighteenth century. with expressions in which salvation was bound directly to Christ’s redemptive death.244 rudolf schlögl of God was reshaped. special part of everyday life and one’s biography. wrote Andreas Frey. but by the second decade of the nineteenth century bourgeois imaginations had developed a theology with room neither for punishment by a vengeful God nor for divine mercy—and certainly not for the intercession of the saints. He argued that the church and the state did not need to take account of each other when declaring their respective holidays. The desire for saintly intercession for the soul. and not mingling religious norms with the rationalities of the other spheres. endured longer. would make the difference. in their wills. but that it had been reduced to a defined. Instead of continuing to stress renunciation of the world. The Totenzettel and the descriptions they give of the deceased’s life demonstrate how powerfully personal identity and Christian existence had been moving apart since the 1820s and in all social classes. On the occasion of a funeral they could be printed rapidly and handed out to the community. a canonist from Bamberg. and one whose relationship with the other aspects of personal identity was not without problems. much devotional literature from the second decade of the nineteenth century on reflects the bourgeois desire to contribute to their own salvation.). These memorial devices contained prayers for and biographical information about the deceased. The theology of devotional and prayer books reacted to this retrograde development in the significance of church sacraments and treasury of merit for the salvation of believers by differently accenting the doctrine of salvation. the urban bourgeoisie had increasingly dispensed. this was done in the awareness that silent dedication of daily work. The Christian could very well attend to his duties as a citizen and a Christian on one and the same day. and especially by Mary.29 Such expressions signaled acceptance that being a Christian did not encompass the totality of life. From the 1740s on. It obviously suited the autonomous bourgeois subject better to expect salvation from the caring love of the divine. by emphasizing that fulfilling the duties of their station in life and being successful in their professional lives was a means thereto. and from his or her own efforts. To be sure. so the emphases in the economy of salvation changed. in this 29 Plassmann (1968: 107 pp. .

and to ask believers to pray for it. The full significance of this semantic change is revealed by the fact that it applied only to the middle classes and the artisan class. the different roles in the life of the deceased as described in the Totenzettel fell into separate compartments. particular conventions about the form and content were quickly established. as the husband was placed next to the father and the successful merchant. In the Totenzettel of the end of the eighteenth century. or conscientious official. which permanently replaced the Old European hierarchical social order with a functionally differentiated bourgeois society. which then increased the pace of further change. and mourners were exhorted to remember him or her. More and more frequently. I have described how. Whereas in the Totenzettel of the end of the eighteenth century it was customary to see the deceased’s identity as summed up in his soul. Finally. but also quite extensively document the spiritual beliefs of all layers of society. artisan. the form in which the person was presented also changed markedly. See Schlögl (2001 b: 34 pp. in principal. in the course of this structural shift. a dramatic process of transforming social structures culminated in secularization as a historical event. In conclusion. the Catholic One issue to discuss is what contribution the religion of pre-modern times made to the rise of modernity itself.) and von Greyerz (2000: 325–41). And only then— but by no means in every case—was the reader reminded that the deceased had lived as a Christian. Old European society. 30 . around 1840 the bourgeois concept of the subject in a functionally differentiated society had also reached this sphere. Although the Totenzettel could. while the aristocracy continued to use the language of hierarchical. The name (and not the soul) now stood for the person.secularization: german catholicism 245 way even disseminating a person’s life to the lower social classes. by contrast. they are most relevant since they entail not just the testaments. Historically considered. be designed according to the preferences of the family members and were only exceptionally ‘advised’ from the side of clerics. the brief formula ‘lived as a Christian’ could still be used to describe the integral wholeness of a successful life. religion took a new place in the social structure.30 This necessarily involved a change in the form of religion.

but each one individually and all of them in their entirety can be ‘understood’ if they are brought into connection with the transformation of social structural patterns to which I have alluded. such as that between religion and politics. to cite re-Christianization or a ‘Catholic revival’ as arguments against secularization is only to a limited extent helpful. In the modern world religion was (and remained) one social sphere among many. Kurt (2000). Weißenhorn: Konrad. historians are well advised to accept the judgment of theologians. were blurred again. From its origins. Ammerich. One substantive and one methodological conclusion can be drawn from this.246 rudolf schlögl Church’s legal position vis-à-vis state and society changed. and therefore. These processes did not always run completely parallel in temporal terms. This can also imply an irreversible alienation from the church. and where it was attempted the result came close to integralistic fundamentalism. there are references by Catholics to how difficult it became to integrate being a Christian with the differentiated roles of bourgeois life. secularization concerns the place religion occupies in the social structure of the world. “Die geistlichen Staaten am Ende des Alten Reiches. .” In: Historische Zeitschrift 271: 593–619. 2000. The methodological conclusion is that it makes sense to observe the world from the perspective of religion. Translated by Angela Davies References Andermann. in this case. Das bayerische Konkordat 1817. Hans (ed. and consequently the form in which religion possible and necessary in these structures.). Thus. and then to speak of secularization. In them. The substantive conclusion is that the Romantic hope for a new social unity and individual subjectivity in religion was not realized. however. Finally. as it transformed itself from a sovereign association to one religious community among many—though certainly a privileged one. piety and church membership sometimes moved so far apart that other differences. In its internal structure. while the plurality of life orders in nineteenth-century society made new forms of integrating social contexts and membership of a confession possible and necessary. it merged hierarchical order and bureaucratic principles of organization after the abolition of the system of benefices.

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Historians of ideas have often hinted at the close affinity between religion. this study traces eminent transitional momentums in the process of secularization of knowledge. Starting from this assumption. philosophy. which points in the direction of undermining inherited theological-transcendental connotations of knowledge.2 Generally. authors like Löwith. Blumenberg. among many others. religieux ou politique. For the European context. 2 1 . and also as bringing down the traditional barriers between religion. Reflexive secularization shall stand for a typical conceptual strategy practiced by scientists. Hegel’s Phenomenology and Comte’s Law of the Three Stages. This term refers to a particular form of secularization which could be specified as reflexive secularization. qui inspirent souterrainement nombre d’interrogations d’apparence épistémologique. and Gogarten.RELIGION. the emergence of modern science since the sixteenth century is interpreted as altering the cultural bedrocks of the ancient world for all time. PHILOSOPHY AND SOCIAL SCIENCE: THE RISE OF MODERN SOCIAL SCIENCE FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF CONCEPTUAL HISTORY Daniel ”uber Il faut répudier les vestiges de moralisme. philosophy and modern science.1 I Introduction The following contribution deals with intellectual developments that occurred in the field of academic knowledge since modern times. The first part of this contribution follows the intellectual formations and social settings of conceptual strategies which contributed to the Bourdieu (1997: 11). embraced particular interpretations of this relationship. Voegelin. have opposed the secularization thesis from a cultural historical viewpoint. in the wake of Schmitt. The presented story begins in the scene where the spheres of religion. The late Durkheim gave a vague but original account indicating the religious roots of modern science. politics and science. and political thought had not yet been separated. With systematic intentions.

This had taken up the responsibilities formerly mediated by religion. politics and philosophy did not qualify on the other.”6 He thus made the distinction between modern philosophical knowledge on the one hand and a peculiar constellation where the modern separation of religion. Tenbruck has argued that modern social science conveyed particular cultural visions about man’s position in the world. and Mannheim embarked on prevalent philosophical concepts. Simmel. could only be resolved by means of a reassessment of its cultural-historical roots. as the neo-Platonists or the deists of Enlightenment had attempted. II ‘The Old Studies’:5 the Unity of Religion.4 The crisis of contemporary social science. Still today. replacing the traditional forms of community (Gemeinschaft ).3 Comte. We want to pursue this line of thought by examining how Weber. the epistemological efforts of sociological classics are denied their philosophical ingenuity. 6 Windelband (1915c: 295). They had thus fuelled current misunderstandings about the status of sociology. See also Wahl (2000) who starts from similar starting points. 76). Tenbruck (1984: 63. In the final part of this contribution this common sense shall be challenged against the background of the developments presented in the first part of this study. The German scholar Friedrich H. 5 I borrow that term from Hall (1983: 210) where it refers to the pre-modern form of academia. Spencer. Tenbruck concluded. which had been neglected by the majority of twentieth century sociologists.250 daniel “uber overthrow of established notions to the emergence of the social sciences in second half of the nineteenth century. The following may hint at some historical watersheds in Tenbruck (1984). Politics and Philosophy In 1902 the German neo-Kantian Wilhelm Windelband wrote that philosophy no longer intended “to derive a religion from science. while at the same time incorporated them into a genuine ‘theory of knowledge’ and added a distinct meaning to them. and others linked up in the idea that a rational and secularized world view must be instituted. 4 3 . The pride of place will be devoted to their treatment by the founding fathers of modern sociology. Marx.

Intentionally or not. at the same time. Leibniz. philosophical and political motives in Central European medieval society. This process took the form of ardent attempts. Finally. Medieval science modeled theology at the center and. The German scholar Rainer Specht has argued profoundly (notably with regard to empiricism and rationalism) that modern philosophy widely accepted the main kernel of medieval natural theology. philosophy and social science 251 the development of the pre-modern notion of knowledge to modernity. However. A closer look at the writings of such alleged leading figures of early Enlightenment. Hobbes.). the sixteenth century bore the phenomenon that outstanding academics “flourished in the service of a prince. It was only God Himself who could bestow knowledge of transcendental matters.”8 This is personified by Leibniz. The achievements of natural scientists like Kepler and Galilei supported the emancipation of reason and nature from theological pretensions. Specht (2000: 24). like Locke.religion. The history of Western science since the early Middle Ages was substantially shaped by the respective form of connection between theological and philosophical knowledge. Spinoza. their personal fates remonstrated the close interconnectedness between theological. must not be upheld. who rejected many invitations to academic positions and deliberately opted for political services.9 Typically. He acted out of the impression that a political career would serve better in his ambition to reunify Christian civilization. . Hence. It was Aquinas who posited a division between philosophy and theology which carried with it a particular conceptual tension. which was occasionally spread. 7 8 9 See among others Pannenberg (1996: 26 pp. in principle. In general.7 Accordingly. encouraged by men of science. Aquinas continued to assert that. philosophy as the highest form of human reasoning could not grasp the transcendence of God. Hall (1983: 210). Descartes. each of the cited authors provided a genuine theory of Creation. to reveal the Godly plan within their respective academic fields. at the top of all intellectual ambition. and others reveals the prevalence of conventional theological topics. the idea of an abrupt revolutionary dismissal of religious matters. philosophical investigation would also have to be devoted to knowledge of the world’s principles. he thus supplied the seed which would later breed the overcoming of theology in the name of (philosophical) reason.

10 For this reason. Montesquieu). thus. and Spencer fiercely rejected Hegel’s interpretation on the centripetal forces of history. So defined. For apostles of Leibniz and Descartes. even though figures like Comte. novel historical-philosophical impetus to the notion of secularization.13 Hegel’s account brought forth another intellectual innovation: it added a particular. III Secularization in the Name of PHILOSOPHY : from GOD to GEIST Historians of ideas have ascribed the beginning of sociology to varied philosophical pedigree movements. Rationalist philosophers up to Kant presupposed that man’s faculties of knowing were bestowed by God.11 From the point of view of intellectual history. 13 It. See (2000: 28). a distinction between the human and social sciences was not yet discernible. and Singer (2004). 14 Conze (1984: 791). the ideological departure from theologicaltranscendental notions will be interpreted as a move towards secularization of knowledge. the field of a genuine scientific discipline elaborating ‘society’ had only been sown by Hegel. Droysen. which had already been at the core of medieval science. Jonas (1980). Descartes’ physics was not grounded on a mechanical notion of force. 11 10 . Marx. the Scottish Moralists. Olson (1993). Hegel conceived of these spheres as being governed by one and the same driving force. such as the French Enlightenment (Rousseau. Koselleck (1996: 120 pp. namely the ‘Spirit’ (Geist ).). See among others Aron (1968). He had instituted the domain of Gesellschaft as an autonomous social sphere at the side of ‘state’ and ‘family.’12 This innovation becomes pivotal with regard to the history of social science. Manicas (1987).’ For this process and its preconditions see Lepenies (1985). had only been in the course of historical procession in the second half of the nineteenth century that they were perceived as constituting two different ‘cultures. 12 Szacki (1979: 133 pp. that nature was imbued with reason and structured according to a Godly plan.). In the following account.14 It presaged the initial concepts of a social science.252 daniel “uber they agreed upon the idea. Wagner (2001: 129). or Marxism. but rested upon God as the prime mover. the profound efficiency of nature discovered in natural laws eventually postulated the existence of God.

Lilla (2001: 862). since it gave rise to the possibility to account for large-scale and longue durée interactions. in contrast to the Hegelian. the celestial and terrestrial realm. 16 15 . 19 The Kantian thought style. 20 See Koselleck (2003: 182) and his contribution in this volume. In summary. Instead. simultaneously. there was See Hardimon (1994) and Lilla (2001).17 In consequence. the German conceptual historian Reinhart Koselleck has hinted at the significance of Saint Augustine’s doctrine of the two kingdoms. He had limited religion to inner morality and. thus. values on a higher level of philosophical reflection.19 The hypothesis unfolded in the following chapters assumes that.18 The paradigm-shifting momentum of Hegel’s approach is embodied in the all-embracing category of the Spirit. but also philosophical thinking. philosophy and social science 253 Recently. rooted out of its dogmatic predicaments (Lilla 1998: 432). imbuing them with new meanings. Like many other scholars. 17 Before Hegel. refurbished traditional theological and political concepts. or rather Christian.”15 While the question of the relationship of his system towards theology or even Christianity remains intricate today. religion could do so directly while politics. appears to be relatively restricted and inflexible with regard to the capacity to account for complex relations of that kind. reason. Kant had already staged a “theological-political revolution“ (Lilla 1998). Both meet in the effort to relocate the structuring intellectual ideas—God. his philosophy has been recounted as a “project of reconciliation. which had informed Western intellectual history throughout. at the threshold of the modern age. religion has been dignified by Kant as a human need whereas it was. 18 See Zabel (1984: 812).religion. only indirectly. curtailed the weight of the churches. and adopt them to modern contexts.. Depicting Hegel as the key figure that. and Spirit—into an original theoretical framework. according to Kant. secularization meant the integration of theological. He declared development of morality to the ultimate aim of human activity to which religion necessarily had to contribute. at the heart of not only theological and metaphysical. hardly anything could be stated about ‘real’ correlations from a strict Kantian perspective that would rely upon the hiatus between the noumena (things-in-themselves) and the phenomena (appearances). See also OeingHanhoff (1964: 78 pp.16 it is understood that he aimed at reconciling the philosophical consciousness of his time with the prevalent political and social conditions. requires some information about the social-structural settings of Hegel’s period.20 Hence.). 89 pp. However. the establishment of human and social sciences must be understood as a turning away from theological principles. both. in turn.

the latter has been secularized in that it was taken for granted that “all tasks and challenges are to be solved within historical time. Especially the repercussions of the French Revolution had demonstrated that political constitutions could alternate within a very short sequence of time. inaugurated the modern one. 27 Oeing-Hanhoff (1964: 96). and the railway.e. An overview can be obtained from Giesen and ”uber (forthcoming). with and through historical time itself. As had been affirmed pervasively. Marx. progress and development. Instead. since it brought with it a conception of time that had abandoned the Christian eschatological implications. At this stage we encounter a critical conceptual shift that shall be elaborated in more detail.’ which stands in a particular contrast to its original meaning. See also Giesen (1992). 22 Koselleck (2003: 183). at the same time. .24 The decoupling of human creation from transcendental forces was fostered by industrial and economic innovations like telegraphy. 23 Koselleck (2003: 183). The circulation of concepts which transported a temporal index were disseminated at the turn of the eighteenth to nineteenth century. but man himself entered the stage of history. and Dilthey “all dispense with a rigorous separation between the beyond and the here.”23 Thus secularization and temporalization make up two sides of the same coin.26 Philosophers like Kant and Tennemann had already introduced a “philosophising history of philosophy. successors like Feuerbach. is rooted in this episode. however.) and Bollenbeck (1996: 75 pp. Comte. 24 For a broad account see Koselleck (1969).).21 In the wake of the Hegelian attempt to ‘sublate’ both realms by means of a reappraisal of history of thought. very soon received (meta)philosophical ennoblement. 25 See Koselleck (2000: 339 pp.25 the most prominent ones. i.254 daniel “uber a strict division between the spiritual and the worldly.”22 With regard to the perception of a new age this was of crucial importance. the steam engine. The acceleration of transformations profoundly shattered the conventional metaphysical accounts and transcendental visions. that was itself a strand of philosophy”27 21 Manicas (1987: 7) depicted Copernicus the figure that had initiated the dissolution of this cosmology and. the modern notion of ‘revolution. 26 See Plessner (1962: 100). No longer did God appear as the master of historical progression. This intellectual innovation was induced and supported by everyday experience.

religion. 187). 34 See Marquard (1974: 182. 31 Lilla (2001: 869 pp. Giesen (1998: 82).) gives a splendid image of this development. philosophy and social science 255 before Hegel supplied a philosophical system in the form of a fullscale history of thought.”33 The etymology of the concept ‘Geist’ displays that it was attributed those features which traditionally had been assigned to God. Representative of the close connection between these spheres is the materialization of a peculiar “transcendental code”28 among the Romanticist intellectuals in Germany. While the young Hegel assumed that the existential rift between thought (Denken) and being (Sein) could only have been overcome by “religion as a way of life. Rather. 890).” the (more) mature Hegel of the ‘Phenomenology of the Spirit’ gave the task of ultimate reconciliation to philosophy.34 The Christian category. Novalis even claimed that “poets and priests should again be one. 32 Hegel (1986: 70). He had changed his mind on the question of which historical agent was bestowed with the potential to bring about man’s reconciliation with the world. 33 Lilla (2001: 872).30 We will take a more cautious look at the dominating cultural movements in order to understand the origins of those philosophical roots which bred the idea of the social sciences. thereby stimulating each other. as Kant’s ethical and historical-philosophical writings testify.. he called for philosophy to “follow the negative power of the false to realize truth. What is probably most characteristic of the German development is the fact that political-institutional and philosophical-ideological transformations went hand in hand. which had risen to a central cultural momentum in the course of the nineteenth century. religious-theological pretensions. was potently Bernhard Giesen (1998: 80 pp. It comes as no surprise that this period also saw the emergence of the ‘historical consciousness’ in Germany. The indicated modification can again be discerned within the development of Hegel’s own thinking.31 He wanted to push philosophical thinking to surmount its archetypal “fear of truth”32 that he had attributed to Kantian as well as Romantic thinkers. 30 It was probably Plessner (1962: 93) who inaugurated the afterwards manifold reappraised allegation according to which philosophy meant an ersatz religion for the Germans in 18th century.”29 These indications alone suggest that philosophy was heir to timehonored. 29 28 .

a representative phrase by Fritz Ringer that indicates the prominent position of academics—who were expected to orientate about the major cultural-political issues—shall be quoted: The whole complex of institutional. unparalleled in Western intellectual history. since their principles amalgamated with other theoretical assessments carried forward by ideological as well as political societies. and cultural pattern which insured the mandarin’s influence had its center at the universities.256 daniel “uber lurking in the background. the preconditions of the establishment of the so-called HumboldtUniversity were so specific that one spoke of a “miracle” that it did. Authors like Ringer. See Marquard (1974: 183 pp. Bollenbeck (1996). Yet Kant refused to incorporate the concept of the ‘Spirit’ systematically into his transcendental philosophy. 36 In Schelling it was connected to aesthetical experience. the singular career of the concepts of Bildung and Kultur. the ‘mandarin intellectuals. 38 Ringer (1969). Giesen. but also on the formation of the key institutions that emerged in Germany in the ensuing decades. succeed. 39 See Bollenbeck (1996: 129 pp.35 Only in the work of Hegel did it acquire philosophical-systematic prominence. 41 Ringer (1969: 96). 40 Ringer (1969: 81).37 but secure the major role that academics would play in public life until the Great War. and Giesen (1998). Symbolically. shall be outlined. administrative.). However.36 The idealist movement not only exerted a major influence on the cultural-political discourse in general. as a matter of fact. which would not only lead to the realization of the particular ‘German’ idea of university in Berlin. Ringer saw himself entitled to conclude that “Idealism was a creed as well as a philosophy from the very beginning. 37 In fact.”41 Even for remnants of the For a systematic philosophical evaluation of Kant’s failure to restore the idea of God into philosophy see Jaeschke (1986: 24–90). social.). No one could speak with more authority for the elite as a whole than the men of learning. 35 . and governmental agents. its influence cannot be traced straightaway.’40 Drawing on a close examination of primary sources. See Ellwein (1992: 111).39 Both concepts condensed some of the key ideas of idealist philosophy in a form that would make them applicable in praxis. and Bollenbeck have elaborated on the minutiae necessary to contrive a coalition between academic.38 Without going into detail.

g. formal ‘self-referential’ discourse. 43 42 .). 44 Ringer (1969: 253 pp. philosophy and social science 257 idealist movement in the beginning of the twentieth century. deemed the coincidence that the influence of philosophy on public affaires began to vanish right at the moment when it peaked in the newly established system of university and “irony. It has only recently been taken into account that the development of German academic philosophy since the 1840s ran in an opposite direction than did. Lichtblau (1996: 398). the abandonment of the “mandarin doctrine that the university must be dedicated to the search for a ‘total.” thereby using the definition introduced by Peter Wagner and Björn Wittrock (1991 b: 333. Wilhelm Windelband. the author of another eminent contribution to the history of nineteenth century German philosophy. Many academics welcomed the new task delegated to them. among other things. but.43 According to Ringer and others. above all. 45 Schnädelbach (1999: 88 pp. the severe “crisis of identity”46 within academic philosophy had finally resulted in a “revolution of the very concept of science. These circumstances hint at a particular historical constellation. e. 48 Ringer (1969: 106).’ philosophical verity. the various strands of Historicism.). In order to come to terms with the meta-theoretical stance of modern science it makes sense to focus on the labyrinthine paths which had unfurled between natural science and human sciences on one side and philosophy on the other. 47 Schnädelbach (1999: 22). The borderlines. the ‘crisis’ of the traditional system had unfolded only since the 1890s. 119).44 In contrast.”47 This meant. 337). which had been established in the aftermath of the decay of idealist systematic philosophy Windelband (1915 a: 46). for certain reasons.”45 Correspondingly. of moral and ethical import. philosophers resolutely refused to conflate science and politics. The stupendous effort undertaken by Klaus Christian Köhnke (1991) to reissue the history of post-Hegelian German philosophy have brought to surface many exiting details and insights about that period which will be subject to further elaborations in the decades to come. Herbert Schnädelbach. thus. it was still sacrosanct that “philosophy is the science of the principles of absolute judgment”42—and. and Bambach (1995: 5). 46 Schnädelbach (1999: 89. 49 The term ‘scientization’ refers to the “development of a closed of a closed.religion.”48 We can assume that the move towards scientization49 taken by philosophy ran counter to the inherited theological program.

. the former leader in the system of sciences itself was in the position to justify its scientific character. i.. had been invigorated by ethical-scientific problematiques. The pressure on philosophy to get rid of speculative presumptions was enforced by the rise of the special sciences and by the separation of the natural sciences from philosophy.50 The reasons for this development are intricate. who opted for a clear distinction between philosophy and religion. 1993: 311)..258 daniel “uber since the 1840s. Philosophy was trapped between the Scylla of playing the role that idealism had bestowed on it on one side. Köhnke has pointed to the political reverberations of the 1848 Revolution as a turning point in the history of modern philosophy. . In reaction to the self-restriction of philosophers. wrote: . which was supported by radical conservative representatives of philosophy. Suddenly. In the preface to his ‘Philosophy of Right. and the Charybdis of becoming deprived of its scientific status on the other. those functionaries launched an attack against so-called pantheist elements in philosophy. The subsequent years ushered in an institutional as well as public dwindling of its reputation. .e.’ Friedrich Julius Stahl. which can be immediately grasped by such factors as the massive closing of philosophical journals and the heavy decline of the number of students and docents. providing political and cultural orientation. Even greater pressure was put on philosophy by the political leaders in the aftermath of the failed 1848 Revolution.’ which had compensated for the loss of the theoretical function of God as a fundamental principle?’ IV Secularization in the Name of SCIENCE : the CRISIS of Knowledge Before we turn to the social sciences. the rector of Berlin university between 1852–1853. To put our problem into a single question: ‘what happened to the ‘Spirit. which were current in the discourse about the possibilities of a scientific social science half a century later. . A well-deserved judgement has been passed 50 Köhnke (1991: 77 pp. . short notes about the new criteria of scientific knowledge brought about by the cited “revolution” are required. respect for philosophy is now lower than at any time in the history of civilized nations. . 198 pp.

52 it becomes more understandable why any attempt to promote the autonomy of philosophical reflection was perceived as a dangerous step towards secularization. the way of thinking to which all modern (rationalist-pantheist) philosophy belongs has at its centre a denial of the living God and that the disruption in church and state is only the ultimate practical fulfilment of the philosophical teaching admired for so long.religion. theory of science (Wissenschaftstheorie). by then. . and psychology obtained their modern form. reference has to be made to a broad theoretical movement that sprang from idealist philosophy itself. Moreover. scientization was equated with secularization in its negative connotation. the formation of such disciplines meant a turning towards the practices of the new special sciences and a shifting away from metaphysics and speculative philosophy that. It was around the mid of the nineteenth century that philosophical sub-disciplines like history of philosophy. but followed its way towards strict scientific values and criteria. The prosecution of allegedly anti-religious doctrines went so far that even conservative philosophers like Erdmann and Braniß had to defend themselves. namely Historicism. epistemology. the leading figure of the Historical Köhnke (1991: 90). German philosophy resisted the call uttered by political and ideological leaders. In the political atmosphere of 1850s Germany. Peter Wagner and Björn Wittrock (1991 a: 11) have indicated that even “in the early twentieth century a sociologist could still be denied a professorship on the grounds that it was both inappropriate and dangerous to establish a concept of society besides those well-understood and appreciated ones of church and state. Most characteristic is the mere fact that such eminent philosophical figures like Schopenhauer.51 Considering that at that time the process of separation of church and state had not yet been initiated in Germany. and Marx were doomed to support their careers outside of the university. Carl von Prantl and Kuno Fischer had been dismissed from their teaching assignments. Feuerbach. The loss of philosophy’s reputation is directly connected to its ideological function. was predominantly symbolized by the Hegelian system.” 52 51 . The move towards scientization had many different faces. philosophy and social science 259 on philosophy . The dispute between Hegel and Friedrich Carl von Savigny. However. The consequences of that association were disastrous for philosophy. Which institution succeeded philosophy now that it had refused to fulfill any meta-scientific needs? Not coincidentally. .

).’ i. See Iggers (1976: 4 pp. singular historical events or personalities.). The 53 54 55 56 For details see Rothacker (1930: 40 pp. Ranke wrote that each historical period was ‘immediate to God.’ historical ‘reason. the sheer number of historical accounts produced over the last decades would devalue any single explanation.260 daniel “uber School of Jurisprudence. the introduction of definite historical methods spurred the process of scientization on the one hand. almost all domains of the later socalled Geisteswissenschaften were largely influenced by the Historicist concept of science. however. featured some significant differences to the former. Scholtz has hinted at the failure of historians to provide evidence for their normative assumptions as a major cause for the upcoming “crisis of historicism” (Troeltsch). The function of value systems that underlie historical descriptions was to imbue the historical process with a certain meaning and purpose (Zweck). Hegel’s phenomenology still perpetuated the idea of one single mover of history. Lamprecht. By the end of the nineteenth century the historicist model of science was challenged by critics like Nietzsche. Thus. Tenbruck (1959: 595). its influence was so pertinent that the nineteenth century was even labeled the century of history. while it still claimed to promote central values by exemplifying singular events in detail on the other.’ which implied that the historical process could not be conceived as a fulfillment of one single Godly plan.e.) and Schnädelbach (1999: 291 pp. We find here the same paradox that had led philosophy to give up on the task of orientation entirely.’ and metaphysical force as the organizing principle.54 As a matter of fact. . The Historicist conception. The Historicist model thus introduced a polytheist notion of Geist.56 Yet for another reason the Historicist doctrine of measuring historical epochs and events only in terms of criteria taken from the same objective structure lost its appeal.55 It was based on the conviction that dealing with ‘historical individuals. Scholtz (1991: 47). Burckhardt.53 Although it is not possible to associate the doctrine of Historicism with a certain author or philosophical school. and others. For that reason. signifies the moment at which the separation of Historicism from idealist system philosophy became overt. As Nietzsche already indicated. informed also the present with values and ethical orientation. Historicism still relied upon a certain notion of the ‘Spirit.

57 His effort to constitute a theory of a different type of knowledge. Guillemin (1998). 58 Köhnke (1991: 136 pp. we want to resituate the questions which Dilthey attempted to answer. In this situation many philosophers fell back on Kant as a point of reference. the political and cultural climate in Germany had changed drastically in the wake of the so-called Kulturkampf of the late 1870s. . an institutional division of church and state. but also should be considered the starting point of the theoretical discourse on the social sciences in general.religion. philosophy and social science 261 problem implied in this constellation would later be coined the problem of relativism. because the soon-toemerge discourse on social sciences centered around the quest for an ‘objective’ knowledge. for philosophers of Dilthey’s generation. and Bakker (1999). He not only strove to provide a theoretical foundation to the practice of historical work.). This is important to mention. At the next stage. the number of philosophical tenures at universities and philosophical journals increased markedly. had to dispense with any metaphysical categories that had integrated the works in the human sciences so far. Different theoretical schools could eventually concentrate on genuinely philosophical problems instead of adhering to those imposed on them from outside. to associate the rising movement of neo-Kantianism with a particular philosophical position would be misleading.58 They had little more in common 57 Dilthey’s significance for the establishment of sociology as an autonomous discipline has been acknowledged and elaborated by a small number of scholars such as Johach (1974).. Before proceeding to work out the confines of his theoretical framework. Science policy became relatively unrestricted by ideological motifs. Philosophy had to deal with the type of knowledge that was produced by the special sciences and. It is crucial to notice that. Consequently. had strong influence on Simmel’s and Weber’s conceptions of sociology as well as Husserl’s and Heidegger’s versions of phenomenology. 1992). Acham (1985. The vast number of approaches were centered around the critical task to deliver a new foundation for empirical knowledge. 206 pp. most importantly. apart and independent from the natural sciences. However. Wilhelm Dilthey will be portrayed as the central figure. thereby. It brought about a liberalization of societal domains from any immediate ideological involvement and.

60 59 .61 Philosophy was suddenly in the difficult position of maneuvering on a completely secular ground. . can only be understood in terms of that difficult constellation. 63 Dilthey (SW I: 437. A handful of alternative founding disciplines and approaches were offered by the 1880s. Koselleck (1996: 133).”60 Let me again quote from a manuscript of Dilthey’s: Idealist pathos has lost its effectiveness. The struggles of philosophers like Dilthey. I want to point at Husserls ‘Krisis’ that was infused with virtually the same concerns according to Orth (1999: 179). The extent of concern that the crisis of knowledge was met by contemporary scientists might best be grasped from a note that Dilthey set down in a letter in the early 1880s: The great crisis of science and European culture. positivism.59 In order to evaluate this expression in balanced terms.62 Typically. and the human sciences positively can the Spiritual life of Europe receive a new impetus. nearer to that of Voltaire. epistemology. 61 Dilthey (1976: 109 pp. who committed his whole life to the task of creating an adequate and general theory of knowledge..63 Dilthey’s theory of knowledge shall now be outlined. Misch (1933: VII). anthropology. let me recall that the overthrow of the idealist system. which had borne the human sciences until the late nineteenth century.262 daniel “uber than Kant as a starting point. 62 Just to give an idea of the continuity of that particular crisis consciousness and its backdrop. Diderot. which we face these days. Our mood is. He thus defined the role philosophy had to perform as “to organize the work of the human sciences. They shared a common awareness of the complexity and intricacy of the venture ahead. inner experience. and materialism. in this respect. Dilthey maintained that the crisis could only be resolved by means of philosophy itself.” since Only when we succeed in developing anthropological reflection. affects my frame of mind so completely and deeply that it has extinguished any personal ambitions in me. . GS XIX: 275). meant an “epoch-making turn. GS VIII: 191). . such as psychology. with special regard to its implications for philosophical reflection in general and the social sciences in particular. logic. or Frederick the Great than to that of Goethe or Schiller. and thus had to invent new methods and conceptual tools. empiricism.

religion, philosophy and social science V Secularization in the Name of LIFE : Dilthey


The scope of Dilthey’s philosophical endeavor is ubiquitous. He designed it to work towards a “generalization,” which would “be the expression of struggle of our whole culture to reach a stage higher than any previous one.”64 It resembled Hegel’s phenomenological account in that it took the shape of a reappraisal of the whole of the history of knowledge. Therefore, it might be helpful to enter Dilthey’s systematic framework by turning initially to its superior category. Although it may be disputed, the notion of ‘life’ shall figure as the central concept of Dilthey’s systematic philosophy in the presented interpretation. Yet Dilthey’s application of the term differed from such famous contemporaries as Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Tolstoy, Bergson, or Simmel. Although Dilthey put himself in accord with the broader life-philosophical movement,65 he was aware that he was, unlike them, urging to reconcile their general claims with the very idea of science. For the same reasons, Dilthey’s version of life-philosophy has been labeled a “scientific life-philosophy.”66 Life in Dilthey’s sense was not a metaphysical concept ( just as Hegel’s Spirit was not by definition), but a fundamental and empirical “structure.”67 A valid foundation of knowledge, according to Dilthey, would have to account for the various properties of the whole ‘nexus of life.’ Consistently, the project envisioned by Dilthey entailed a renovation of “epistemology, logic, methodology, theory of value, and ethics.”68 Leading scholars have illustrated that the systematic framework that underlies the whole of Dilthey’s compound work had already been set down as early as 1865.69 In order to indicate that it would go beyond a mere epistemological endeavor, Dilthey introduced the term “self-reflection” (Selbstbesinnung) as the main title for his foundational philosophy.70 At the same time, he was clear about

Dilthey (1976: 121; GS VIII: 204 pp.). See for instance Dilthey (GS V: 352, 370). 66 Glock (1935). 67 Dilthey (GS XIX: 355). See also Ermath (1978: 109). 68 Dilthey (GS VIII: 179). 69 Rodi (1985: 142, 155). 70 In concreto this programme said: “This analysis of the total content and nexus of the facts of consciousness, which makes possible a foundation for the system of the sciences, we call ‘self-reflection,’ in contrast to ‘theory of knowledge.’ (Dilthey: SW I: 268; GS XIX: 79).



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the point that philosophy would be unqualified to solve religiouseschatological questions.71 He summarized:
What we seek to show is life itself; we are not doing this in order to disclose something transcendent. To show life as it is-that is what we strive for.72

Dilthey is chronically accused of having elicited irrationalist standpoints and even to be responsible for the “enslavement of the Spirit”73 and the “crisis in the German genius.”74 From the illustration presented so far, it can be concluded that such an interpretation would not comply with Dilthey’s self-image whatsoever. Let us now take a closer look at what the obscure concept of “life structure” was finally about. Dilthey constantly portrayed structure as a structural coherency. In his early works Dilthey distinguished between “willing,” “feeling” and “thinking” as major components of this nexus.75 They constitute the “three sides of the psychic process.”76 Later, he reinforced his study after he had designed his “descriptive psychology.”77 It would have to rely upon the essential that the structure of the whole be not dissected by means of analysis, but rather maintained in its original form. He was far from naïve to assume that any natural scientific approach could help to promote a theory of knowledge on that basis. Against such “explanatory” methods he held two arguments. The first asserted that “We are unable to reduce the facts of consciousness to a degree that they would constitute the grounds for a whole theory.” The second point, which is more essential, claimed “It is the nexus of life itself which brings about knowledge. We cannot go behind it.”78 This conclusion represents the most important philosophical theme of Dilthey’s systematic work. In the following we will refer to it as Dilthey’s life-philosophical key concept. With regard to the problem of the foundation of knowledge, this idea has bestowed Dilthey’s successors with a compelling, but
See especially Dilthey (SW I: 463 pp.; GS XIX: 306). Dilthey (SW I 491; GS XIX: 330). 73 Antoni (1962: 36). 74 Antoni (1962: 38). See also Scholtz (1997: 23). 75 Dilthey (SW I: 51; GS I: xviii). 76 Dilthey (GS XX: 172). 77 These results have posthumously been published in volumes 18 and 19 of the German edition of his Selected Works. The most essential works are added to the first volume of the English version of the work edition. 78 Both citations are from Dilthey (GS XX: 321).
72 71

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also weighty baggage. Conclusively, a theory of structure (Strukturlehre) in Dilthey’s sense would go far beyond any exclusively psychological, anthropological, or epistemological proposition. Due to Dilthey’s “axiom of phenomenality,”79 which he considered to be the starting point for any modern philosophy, the structure of life is to be traced in human consciousness (Bewußtsein). Correspondingly, his “descriptive psychology” was designed “to disengage the structural nexus of evolved psychic life.”80 Since the 1890s he abandoned the idea that life could be grasped by means of a psychological approach after all. Instead, he strove to acknowledge a particular “tragedy“ which “springs from the impossibility to fully separate life from the totality of reality.”81 His later approach in the Aufbau was, however, grounded on the same basic presumptions, but now depicted the process of “Verstehen” as the royal road to the nexus of life. By first look, it is hard to understand how such unlike methodological strategies could reasonably aim at one and the same goal. Only when compared to the basic attributes of the structure of life, according to which the “concepts: being, reality only stand for a certain mode of how particular contents are represented within my consciousness,”82 does it become clear that life could be approached from different angles. We could only afford to give a very rough sketch of Dilthey’s framework. The impetus of Dilthey’s life-philosophical scheme was not only to reduce the functions that Hegel had attributed to the category of the Spirit in his phenomenology, as had been suggested by Koselleck,83 but rather an extension and complication of the problem of knowledge. By introducing his life-philosophical key concept, he cemented the doctrine that the relations between world, perception, and knowledge were so intricate that one could not come to terms with the footing of the traditional fetters of philosophical thinking. More than his psychological and epistemological insights, the mere fact that he failed ever to consummate the second volume of his project of an ‘Introduction to the Human Sciences,’ even after
79 This principle presumes “the beginning of all today serious and consistent philosophy is represented by the insight: all objects [. . .] are only given to me as facts of my consciousness.” (Dilthey: SW I 245). See also Dilthey (GS V: 90). 80 Dilthey (1977: 58; GS V: 176). 81 Dilthey (GS XIX: 356). 82 Dilthey (GS XX: 170 pp.). See also van der Hoeven (1998: 95). 83 Koselleck (1996: 132 pp.).


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a devoted struggle of 30 years, had informed his contemporaries about the intricacies of a foundation of human knowledge. Even today, it is often stated that the project outlined by Dilthey is still unresolved and blatant.84 As Riedel has made it utterly clear, this endeavor was primarily directed against the prevalence of metaphysics within the domain of epistemology.85 In that respect, Dilthey had been substantially successful in his critique of the conventional assumptions of the representatives of the Historical Schools as well as his intellectual mentors Schleiermacher and Trendelenburg. Although he eventually had to contend that life was “the sole, dark, and frightening subject of all philosophy,”86 this did not lead him to resort to non-empirical, artificial solutions. He continued the tendency of postrevolutionary German philosophy to secularize their subject matter from any speculative categories and to restrict itself to purely scientific means. He had even put an end to this movement by taking in utmost seriousness the position that even such complexities as ‘Spirit’ or ‘life’ could be elucidated with reference to empirical realities. Ever since, knowledge could, in principle, be founded without any resort to cosmological fictions. VI Secularization of Philosophy in the Name of CULTURE : Badian neo-Kantianism In terms of the emergence of modern sociology, we have to account for the so-called Southwest or Badian School of neo-Kantianism, because eminent founders of German sociology such as Simmel and Weber referred to Windelband and Rickert as their main intellectual models relating to epistemology. Hence, it is commonly held by many social scientists that sociology rests upon neo-Kantian intellectual roots. Windelband’s concept of “Wirklichkeitswissenschaft” and Rickert’s “Kulturwissenschaft” represented an alternative and even rival project to Diltheyan life-philosophy.87 We will focus mainly on Rickert’s concept of science, since he, a disciple of Windelband, fleshed out the rough sketches inaugurated by his mentor.

84 85 86 87

See for instance (Otto 1988: 38). Riedel (1968/69; 1993). Dilthey (GS VIII: 140). Riedel (1978: 100).

religion, philosophy and social science


Rickert rejected the nomenclature introduced by Dilthey and replaced the term Geisteswissenschaft with Kulturwissenschaft. His foundational philosophy is built upon a particular understanding of culture. He introduced a theory of knowledge which is by definition concerned with transcendental logic, not with ontology or any empirical science which, still, it was designed to found.88 His strong division between science and life and, in accord with that, between the task of philosophy and the special sciences, must be viewed as problematic for reasons that will be explained.89 Rickert did not doubt that philosophy was concerned with the genuinely theoretical exploration of the “whole of the world” (Weltganzes). Like Cohen, Natorp, and other representatives of neo-Kantianism, he based his work upon the Kantian dualism of appearance and thingas-it-is. He reformulated Kant’s philosophical problem by pointing at the gap between concept and reality which had to be bridged by novel philosophical means. Although Rickert shared the idea according to which “Any thing being (Seiende) only exists as content of my consciousness”90 with Kant and Dilthey,91 he did not believe in the direct access to reality by means of human faculties. Alternatively, he defined the task of epistemological foundation of knowledge in terms of the problem of concept formation. The respective type of knowledge produced by scientists would depend on the interests of the scientific observer. Rickert distinguished two basic forms of concept formation, one so-called “generalizing” which is mainly applied by the natural sciences and directed at formulating general laws, and the “individualising” type which is dominant in the historical sciences that scrutinize single events. Thus, the criteria that would differentiate natural and historical sciences would neither be related to differing subject matters nor to inner-scientific aspects, but to subjective interests. So defined, this conception would for obvious reasons evoke a form of scientific relativism that would leave any methodological as well as substantial decisions completely in the hands of the scientist. Rickert, well aware of these problematical implications, developed a
88 Only lately have scholars accounted for a particular reorientation towards ontology in Rickert’s later philosophy. See Schulz (forthcoming), Breil (1996: 10; 29), and Orth (1998: 80 pp.). 89 Orth (1998: 85). 90 Rickert (1915: 29 pp.). 91 See Orth (1998: 95).


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theory of values that was meant to guarantee the objectivity of science. The most important concept with regard to this issue was named “value relevance” (Wertbeziehung). The theory of value relevance limited the realm of potential subject matters for each scientist to a few, because only those events and questions would be interesting to him which expressed a value that called to the observer in the first place. The crucial question would thus be how historical events could ultimately articulate any meaning at all. Only by considering that the whole notion of culture had undergone some fundamental transformations since the end of the nineteenth century,92 and that the rising neo-Kantianism contributed significantly to that change, does this shift, apparent in Rickert’s philosophy of value, make sense. Not only from the accumulation of the term in the titles of philosophical works, but even more so from the material explorations of historians and sociologists, it must be concluded that culture had risen to one of the main signatures of early twentieth century German science. While culture had originally been perceived as an organic form of community in the sense of Tönnies’ concept of “Gemeinschaft” until the first half of the nineteenth century, the radical experiences of industrialization and its social repercussions had effected a general awareness that culture followed its own dynamics which, therefore, had to be reckoned with. Culture had become an ubiquitous concept that could serve equivalent functions to the concepts of the Spirit in Hegel or life in Dilthey. With Rickert, culture was even granted epistemological glorification. He defined it as those “goods” (Güter) which were endowed with value by human beings.93 From this superficial definition we can already grasp the close interdependence between culture and value that allowed Weber to summarize: “The concept of culture is a value-concept” (Wertbegriff ).94 Still, values and cultural goods belonged to different ontological spheres. While values were ‘unreal’ but ‘valid,’ goods were ontologically ‘real’ in the program of Rickert.95 He eventually distinguished nature as the domain of things that have no meaning on the one hand from culture as the subject matter of the

92 For a closer description see Tenbruck (1994: 78 pp.), Orth (1998: 79), and Bollenbeck (1999: 18 pp.). 93 Rickert (1986: 35). 94 Weber (1949: 76). 95 Rickert (1986: 39).

99 Rickert went on to derive a complete system of values that would entail the whole territory between subjective and objective values. From this perspective it becomes clearer why Rickert’s prima philosophia took the shape of a system of values: because culture is constituted by and through “relation to values” (Wertbeziehung). which would link the value sphere to the real sphere. by establishing a genuine link to the “real world.religion. He himself announced right away that it was restricted to the exploration of “unreal carriers of meaning. Under these specific premises the problem of scientific truth would not be solved ontologically. entail the entire philosophical knowledge of the world.). philosophy of history. the “prophysical” and the “metaphysical. hence. He introduced the act of consenting to a value as constituting a third mediating sphere.100 Despite similar theoretical starting points and objectives. Rickert and Dilthey advanced contrasting theories of the foundation of knowledge and. at the same time.”96 In his last systematic account. in the end. . in the eyes of Rickert. Rickert (1982: 179 pp. philosophy and social science 269 historical sciences on the other. also concepts of philosophy. which could be subsumed under a systematic theory of values. Rickert (1921: 260).” but was reformulated as a problem of validity of values (Wertgeltung). “System of Philosophy”. Rickert added two more levels to the dualist structure of reality and value sphere. to consider their connection to the real sphere. cultural philosophical assumptions which it could 96 97 98 99 100 Bast (1999: XVIII). the problem of objectivity appeared as resolved by the very act of acknowledging true values. Rickert’s concept of philosophy. We have learned that Rickert’s version of philosophy would deal with the complexity of the world from a transcendental position.”97 These four “forms of being” (Seinsarten) would.).98 Maintaining that reality could only be grasped by reference to unreal values. Herbert Schnädelbach argued against Rickert that his system would presuppose a number of concrete. World and culture appear as interchangeable. as Orth has inferred. moreover. Bast (1999: XXIII pp. displayed the form of cultural philosophy and. This enterprise led him to account for the abundance of cultural goods which carried values and. Orth (1998: 83).

Scientific knowledge must relate to a transcendental sphere of values.101 That conclusion can lead to believe that both approaches could be merged into a single. The same must be said for Heidegger and Husserl who could be viewed as the main heirs of Dilthey and Rickert. but. From his perspective. Like Hegel. A similar interpretation is provided by Signore (1994: 497). We want to close the section on the philosophical background of the social scientific discourse by explaining why Rickert’s approach.103 Most philosophers had no difficulties in subscribing to the new agenda. considering the direction German philosophy had taken since the second half of the nineteenth century. he affirmed. 103 In 1859. Although the Southwest neo-Kantians themselves continued to maintain that their system started from the acknowledgement of the “factum of the sciences” (Cohen). because it draws on an ontological distinction between reality and a transcendental sphere of validity. philosophy was forced to learn that it was no longer in position to dominate the special sciences. he perpetuated the dualist. must be regarded as a step backwards. but as phenomena in the 101 Schnädelbach (1974: 158). expose its scientific character in the modern meaning of the term. . Rickert’s promulgation of a strong distinction between philosophy and special sciences becomes problematic.102 But their antithetical philosophical positions should not be neglected. Since then. in addition. Dilthey opted for a holistic starting point that would not allow for a difference between these two realms in the first place. While both of them strove for a universal theory that would not only comprise the whole of human knowledge. He furthermore claimed that the hermeneutic tradition had just delivered those conceptualizations which Rickert’s system lacked. it must yet be noted that philosophy was assigned to approach these “facts” not as concrete phenomena like the special sciences. more fruitful system. the 46 years-old Dilthey mocked the “philosophical vanity which still dreamt of a supremacy over the special sciences” (Misch 1930: 81). Kantian scheme that draws a distinction between the concrete and abstract. Rickert did not believe that an obscure notion of life could serve the purpose. 102 Dilthey and Rickert kept on repeating the far distance between their works.270 daniel “uber not account for within its theoretical spectrum. Therefore. portrayed above as scientization. We introduced Dilthey’s life-philosophical system as the beginning of modern philosophy by noting the reluctance to resort to metaphysical categories in principle.

only the recent past has 104 105 106 107 108 See Krijnen (2002: 175). . Bohman (1991: viii). philosophy and social science 271 modus of transcendence. that they meant a radicalization of the secularization movement in several respects. Very rarely. second.106 who neglected.”107 this “sociological turn”108 has not yet generated a wide-spread consciousness about the systematic relation of sociological knowledge vis-à-vis its meta-theoretical status.e. i. It shall be argued. For an overview see Vollhardt (1986: 189 pp. that the epistemological writings of Simmel. Brown (1984). Finally. and Mannheim must be considered genuine and ground-breaking solutions to the crisis of knowledge. The examples so far have provided us with a map of meta-theoretical positions. denying the functions of subsuming categories like Spirit or life. VII The Foundation of Modern Sociology in Light of Secularization of Knowledge Many scholars agree that sociology as an autonomous discipline emerged simultaneously with modern society and modernity in the more general sense. Weber.religion. mirrors the difficulty implied in Rickert’s value philosophy.105 Additionally. the contribution of the founders of social science to the problem of knowledge receives attention. Despite the announcement that “the turn to history and to practices has placed the social sciences at the center of contemporary epistemology and philosophy of science. as abstract carriers of meaning. the systematic and value-theoretical ideas of Rickert entirely. we can turn to the question of how modern sociology fits in this picture. See Vollhardt (1986: 189) and Scholtz (1997: 25). the theoretical strategy of Rickert and Windelband of counting on a transcendental grounding of historical knowledge and. and. ran counter to the general tendency to secularize the discipline. Symptomatically. both. at the same time.104 Their dualist opposition of reality and validity has since been the main cause for critique and rejection.). in turn. which can help to contextualize the formative period of modern German sociology from a more general perspective. Probably the fact that Rickert’s account today is largely known through Weber’s adoption. first.

Typically. Obviously. .] it is this circumstance alone which enables me to discuss these problems here. Their occupation with epistemological problems was not only due to their ambition to establish sociology as an autonomous academic field. Husserl’s and the neo-Kantian approach. similar. . but was led to methodRitzer (1992: 7). in some crucial respects at least. there is [.”109 The situation of the founding fathers of sociology was.110 The “circumstances” that Weber was referring to were the unresolved “basic logical and methodological problems”111 of the historical sciences. 110 109 . almost twenty years later. the convoluted body of Weber’s Wissenschaftslehre started off with an excuse for him as an empirical scientist being concerned with philosophical issues: Since I am not professionally competent to deal with the literature on logical problems [. we will take a closer look at the relationship between empirical science. For an explication of this problem. See also Ritzer (1991) and Fiske and Shweder (1986). For Mannheim’s evaluation of Dilthey’s. 113 Mannheim (1982: 151). The question of whether the distrust of the adepts of social science exhibited against philosophy rested upon random criteria or whether it was systematic becomes urgent. neither Weber in 1903 nor Mannheim. Almost two decades later. see ”uber (forthcoming). . Weber (1975: 209). Karl Mannheim would still feel the need to work towards “a novum organon in the humanistic sciences. 112 Mannheim (1982: 150). Although they are quite elementary.272 daniel “uber witnessed the “coming of age of metatheorizing. 111 Weber (1975: 53). As already indicated.”113 The negative judgment of contemporary philosophy is eye-catching in both instances.] only a very limited recognition of their bare existence. Weber did not have any ambition to contribute to the actual philosophical discourse.”112 He complained about “the circumstance that the new disciplines of human scientific research have grown out of a philosophy different from that in which the still dominant methodological theory originated. philosophy and epistemology articulated in the conceptual works of sociological classics before we turn to their epistemological key concepts. but has to be placed against the background of the crisis of knowledge. deemed the common philosophical systems suitable to base a conception of sociology upon. . However. the specialist in a single discipline cannot afford to ignore these problems either.

authors like Burger. see Wagner and Zipprian (1985: 115 pp. purely epistemological and methodological reflections have never played the crucial role in such developments. Weber’s epistemological convictions flew in the face of his alleged paragon. the question of what this dissimilarity entails for Weber’s adoption of Rickert’s Tenbruck (1959). Hempel. it was Karl Jaspers. on can dissect two opposing strands of position with regard to the question of the status of Weber’s Wissenschaftslehre. 120 Weber (1949: 116). and Runciman interpreted it as a genuine answer to the philosophical problems of his time. and Lazarsfeld disagreed with the traditional over-estimation of Weber’s epistemological works. another friend of Weber’s. Ever since. See Löwith (1989: 139). It has long been disputed whether the canonization of Weber’s “occasional methodological exertions”114 to a Wissenschaftslehre was in accord with Weber’s proper intentions. 116 Weber (1949: 113). Parsons. For this reason. Still. Rickert didn’t view Weber as a philosopher. Besides Tenbruck. Karl Löwith gave a similar reasoning as Jaspers. 117 Rickert (1989: 85). 115 114 . On the other hand. On the other side. Weber’s reservations about exclusively philosophical reflections shines through in the following passage: Only by laying bare and solving substantive problems can sciences be established and their methods developed.118 Jaspers’ estimation was based on the particular attitude that Weber displayed with respect to the philosophical problems of his time.117 However. It has been Friedrich H. 119 For a closer examination see Bianco (1994: 306 pp. 118 Jaspers (1988: 94). Tenbruck (1959) who attacked the post-war reception history of Weber’s epistemological contributions already in 1959.). It is impossible to evaluate Weber’s position towards the problem of the foundation of knowledge as long as the prejudgment of his dependency on Rickert is maintained.). who considered him “the true philosopher of his time.”116 He thus had a very restricted interest in philosophy.” despite the fact that he neither developed a philosophical system nor taught a particular form of philosophy.religion.119 My interpretation tends towards Jaspers’ verdict and offers a more concrete reasoning. from a systematicphilosophical point of view. Henrich. philosophy and social science 273 ological meditations from concerns about his own discipline. Furthermore. For an overview.120 This statement reveals that Weber’s position with regard to philosophy could not be more at variance with Rickert’s strong separation between empirical sciences and philosophy.115 Weber was principally concerned with the “logic of the cultural sciences.

He maintained that science per se cannot provide criteria to decide whether “that which is produced by scientific work should be important in the sense of ‘being worth of knowing‘. it was the community of scientists who would have to define good and bad scientific results.”124 In the end. reflected their consequences with regard to social and cultural sciences. moreover. 124 Weber (1989: 18). in fact. that he wanted each scientist to obey. See Weber (1949: 76).274 daniel “uber dualist world view must be left open. namely “in what sense are there in general ‘objectively valid truths’ in those disciplines concerned with social and cultural phenomena?”123 The problem of objectivity sprang out of the concept of value relevance. we will rather stress the points where Weber leaves the ground of neo-Kantian philosophy. It is not necessary to retell this story to the last detail. he nevertheless was convinced enough about the validity of his findings to put the term objectivity in quotation marks. It is certain that Weber took up Rickert’s definition of reality as “an extensively and intensively infinite multiplicity of phenomena”121 as well as the neo-Kantian concept of ‘culture’122 to the letter.”125 It is crucial to realize that these criteria were external to science per se in that they were still related to the subjective predispositions on the part of the observers. Weber renounced meta-theoretical solutions.” i. Whereas the latter conceived a complex theory of values as a proper means to secure objectivity for historical knowledge. he theorized the actual practices of historical work and. The German philosopher Odo Marquard coined this principle the “cooptative self-definition of science” (1986: 107). so stunned by the results of his 122 121 . This also holds true for the “norms of thought. This is the case with regard to the main question that he struggled with in his Wissenschaftslehre. Weber rests entirely on the conceptualizations and theoretical models provided by Rickert. which has been pubWeber (1975: 55). since it belongs to the stock knowledge of sociological theory. the rules of logic and causal explanation. since “scientific truth is precisely what is valid for all who seek the truth.126 In his summarizing speech. 123 Weber (1949: 51). 125 Weber (1949: 84). Instead. Aware that he did not provide a solution to the problem of objectivity at all (or at least not in a form that would be acceptable to his colleagues). In the formulation of his theoretical problems. 126 Tenbruck reported that Weber was. as we have already noted in the case of Rickert.e.

From this perspective. but to many precarious impediments that must be discerned by a special science. he handed in the Knies-essay unfinished.” he generalized this idea: “No science is absolutely without assumptions. . he called for actors to resonate about the moral reasons and consequences of their deeds.”127 In the eyes of Rickert. each individual held so-called “ultimate attitudes towards life”131 as reference points of thinking and acting. The point of Weber’s talk was finally to free traditional institutions such as religion and politics. the particular attitude to which Jaspers was referring should be appreciated as a product of Weber’s conviction that modernization had not led to a rationalization of life. 129 Weber (1989: 13). 128 Bianco (1994: 303).” Its essence proclaimed that each individual was supposed to reflect upon his “demon which holds the threads of his life. to give account of the ultimate meaning of his own actions. 132 Weber (1989: 26).”129 which restrained him from believing in the feasibility of a rational foundation of knowledge through philosophical reflection. the proclamation of a transcendental sphere of ideal principles would not be sufficient and even dysfunctional for the purpose of building up a scientific discipline designed to account for the repercussions of intellectualization.”130 In other words.religion. due to the affirmation that an individual decision to serve this or that God. 130 Weber (1989: 31). See Tenbruck (1959: 619). it shall be argued that it was rather due to his deep understanding of and concern about the consequences of the process that he described as “intellectual rationalization through science and scientific technology. Thus. We only get a full picture of Weber’s modern attitude if we include the individualistic ethics he developed most clearly in “Science as a vocation. philosophy and social science 275 lished under the title “Science as a vocation. Instead. 131 Weber (1989: 18). 127 Weber (1989: 28). but also science itself from the task of providing orientation for individual actions. Even afterwards. a “pessimistic outlook on cognition”128 was characteristic of Weber.”132 This ethics has been termed a decisionist account. The role of philosophy was reduced to “forc[ing] the individual. In defense of Weber. methodological meditations that he postponed the finishing of his essay on Knies for the sake to get the Objektivitätsaufsatz published right away. or at least help[ing] him.

in Simmel we face difficulties due to the complexity of his opus. the case of Simmel betrays obstructions for opposite reasons. which betrayed an element of voluntarism and even arbitrariness at its roots. Schelers original term „Ausschaltung“ seems to be much stronger than the English translation “exclusion. was inescapable. he continually revised his positions without giving clear reasons for his reconsiderations. who were convinced that philosophy provided the proper means of mediation. However. because he had left us without any systematic reflections on these questions. which are noted in his diverse accounts on the “Problems of the Philosophy of History. Simmel revised the first version entirely and issued the second edition under the same title. religion and positive science. This character of his working style rendered the development of his oeuvre highly opaque. Whereas we had to reconstruct Weber’s theory of knowledge from different parts of his work. What is more. Windelband (1915 b: 136–160). He was concerned with epistemological and philosophical questions from the very beginning of his career to the end of his life. Scheler (1989: 93). from Weber’s rather subjectivist ethics that appealed to the actor’s consciousness. Weber’s strong and calculated distinction between theory and practice that provoked acute responses from steadfast philosophers of values like Rickert and Scheler. and he did not even play a crucial role for the sociology of the interwar period.137 Twelve years later. Again.136 Weber’s standpoint represented the exception to the rule.”135 It was.” 137 Simmel (1892).”134 The insistence that values would have no significance for objective phenomena led Scheler to the hypothesis that Weber pursued the “exclusion of philosophy.133 Max Scheler criticized Weber’s underlying “assertion that the material values have only subjective significance. hence two years before Windelband set down the principles of the Southwest neo-Kantian account in his famous rector’s speech.” The first edition had already been published in 1892.” 136 Scheler (1989: 94) denoted philosophy “that mediator between faith. In comparison to Weber. Tenbruck was right to distinguish the traditional version of decisionism. 134 133 . 135 Scheler (1989: 92). His philosophical thinking is foremost articulated in his explorations of the presuppositions of historical knowledge.276 daniel “uber as Weber had put it. ten years later he began to work on another revision of the Tenbruck (2002: 68). as a matter of fact.

religion.140 We note that Simmel’s evaluation of Kant went in a different direction than Dilthey’s. 139 138 .138 Still.” Simmel maintained that the description of historical events was rather dependent on an a priori that would determine what aspects of the material were significant. however.). but presents an original and specifically modern view on philosophy and science. As shall be outlined. See for a detailed account Fellmann (1980: 177 pp. as opposed to “historical realism” which held the position that history could mirror the past “how it really was.’ he developed the idea according to which there is no relation between reality and the form of its knowledge.”141 Simmel’s position presumed a dualism of reality and knowledge. Simmel developed the key categories of his theoretical thinking in dialogue with Kant’s metaphysical worldview. Windelband and Rickert. and contended that there are manifold combinations between the material and the forms of knowledge. which have both overshadowed the ingenuity of his own epistemological effort. 142 Rickert commented to Simmel’s second edition of the ‘Problems’ that he was content with Simmel’s turn away from psychologism. He took up the Kantian distinction between knowledge and experience and applied it to historical knowledge. Apart from Southwest neo-Kantianism and similar to Dilthey. He criticized the stubbornness of the Kantian conception of a priori. calling Rickert’s version to mind. Thereby. Fellmann (1980: 164). as he summarized in an autobiographical sketch. Simmel’s theory of knowledge cannot be reduced to any of these accounts. 140 Simmel (1892: 2).142 This picture would. psychological and anthropological.”139 In the ‘Problems. From then on. 141 Dilthey (GS XIX: 51). he was especially drawn by Kant’s refutation of sensualism and empiricism. which he did not finish. The following picture will reveal that Simmel’s theory of knowledge navigated the middle between the neo-Kantian and Dilthey’s systems. Similar to Dilthey. he enhanced the distinction between form and content to an universal “metaphysical principle. He left us with a few essays which hint at the direction the new edition would have taken. philosophy and social science 277 book. tell only one side of the story. Simmel was moving on life-philosophical rather than on transcendental-philosophical grounds. Simmel (1958: 9). who had disputed that “The a priori of Kant is fixed and dead. he wanted to lay bare the empirical.

life can breed a “surplus or excess of the actual life process” to the extent that it can even become its own “antithesis.145 However. his attention Simmel (1892: 4 pp. ‘life’ is introduced as the most fundamental concept in the sense that it is prior to forms.). 144 143 . The clearest evidence for the suggestion that Simmel should not be called a neo-Kantian may be found in the prevalence of the problem of understanding throughout his methodological works. 148 Some hints can be grasped from the description by Oakes (1980: 55 pp.148 Simmel’s turn from the exploration of manifold intellectual forms towards the content in 1910 might be explained by the growing insight into a certain characteristic of life.149 The forms appear as the means by which life is able to transcend itself.”146 Still. Kant’s notion of experience was.147 During the last decade of his life. The exact motifs which inclined Simmel to resituate historical knowledge in a broader philosophical context remain obscure. 1975: 152 pp. 145 Simmel (1892: 18).). too weak. Simmel turned to ontological and life-philosophical occupations. Also.”150 Although Simmel never went on to objectify life as Dilthey tried. life becomes ‘more-life’ if those forms became autonomous from their original content. and his distinction between the empirical and the a priori too strong.). 146 Simmel (1892: 15).144 Simmel acknowledged that there must be a certain psychological prerequisite for any understanding. In 1892 he confessed that he had not yet developed a “positive picture. through those forms. 147 See for this aspect the study by Fellmann (1980: 171). Simmel asserted.’ Here. Max Weber referred to Simmel’s ‚Problems’ as the most significant source with regard to the concept of understanding (1980: 1. it has only been in the later phase of his life that Simmel arrived at a clearer description of the process and impact of understanding. so that Kant was incapable of accounting for the “unconscious and unproven precondition”143 of concept formation. Thus.278 daniel “uber preconditions upon which any form of knowledge rested. He ascribed this position to an “empiricist historicism. 149 See Simmel (1918: 24). which he summarized in the definition of ‘life’ in his last book ‘Lebensanschauung. 150 Simmel (Simmel 1967: 24).’ Simmel distanced himself from the Diltheyean idea that psychological aspects were essential to historical concept formation. in his second edition of the ‘Problems.” which had to be overcome.

not differences of category. Simmel (1980: 85). since Simmel’s theory of understanding hardly deserves the label ‘theory. Historical knowledge rested. Simmel (1980: 124).”156 Simmel acknowledged the necessity of accounting for the interrelations between the forms of knowledge and its empirical foundations.”154 To paraphrase this verdict. prevalent in the nineteenth century hermeneutic tradition from Schleiermacher to Dilthey.”155 We recognize that Simmel reproduced the figure of the hermeneutic circle. and historical— that are relevant for historical knowledge. Simmel (1980: 124). where Simmel. Thereby. Simmel’s theory of interpretation. which was developed on the plane of history.153 We will not repeat the complex story of the intricate interactions between the three different types of interpretation—psychological. . was to the same degree valid for a theory of sociology. thoroughly quotidian understanding. deliberately or not. “differences between interpretations are differences of nuance and stress. primitive phenomenon in which a universal relationship between man and the world is expressed. Dilthey’s expression was “Life grasps life” (Dilthey: 1976: 181).’ As Oakes concluded. the notion of life became important.”152 Because of this universality of the phenomenon. interpretation consists of an interplay between the givenness of life. See also Lichtblau (1993: 32 pp. This proximity can be substantiated by referring to the following conclusion. 151 152 153 154 155 156 Simmel (1980: 124). upon the intricate and complex process of understanding. which is the prerequisite of any interpretation on one side. Simmel explains why: “this circle is inevitable . and the respective interests which constitute the specific form of knowledge on the other. quotes Dilthey’s lifephilosophical key concept: “Life can only be understood by life. . understanding is conceived as “an irreducible. according to Simmel. . immanent.religion. Typically.”151 It is important to note that Simmel defined scientific understanding as “a variant of our contemporaneous.) and Kim (2002: 455). Simmel (1980: 102). his reappraisal of the question “how is historical knowledge possible?” went in a much more abstract and anthropological direction. At this point. philosophy and social science 279 shifted to meta-theoretical preconditions of intellectual forms. For a systematic reason we can allow for that negligence. because life is the ultimate authority of the Spirit.

hence. From this wider perspective. he did not draw distinctions between theory and practice or philosophy and empirical science. The case of Simmel discloses an interesting amalgamation of Kantian and life-philosophical conceptual schemes.). Simmel.159 although he used to defend himself against such objections. which was indeed the wrong term for his principle. his separation of philosophy and special sciences was arbitrary in that it was not supported by an ontological criterion. 158 157 . because it “[did] not claim exemption from its own Krijnen (2001: 582). he inserted.).”157 It is overdue to account for the consequences of the presentation of Simmel’s ideas with regard to our topic of the foundation of knowledge. religion. In contrast to Windelband and Rickert.160 denoted a “positive metaphysical principle”161 and eventually “the essential feature of truth. it becomes clear why Simmel directed his attention to a stupendous range of intellectual fields.280 daniel “uber This distinguishes him from Rickert. would be predicated on a particular a priori. 162 Simmel (1990: 116). relativism. under the auspices of Dilthey. He deliberately put up with being accused of relativism. 159 Simmel himself used the term for the characterization of his approach (1958: 9 pp. and art. Becher (1971: 19). He began by postulating a dualism of knowledge and experience. who attended exclusively to the “theoretical man. Simmel rejected the Kantian premise of the transcendental subject altogether and. For him. scientific or not. It was due to one’s cognitive attitude. 161 Simmel (1958: 117 pp.”162 It avoided falling into the same trap as absolutist standpoints. the plain idea of one universal theory of knowledge was discarded altogether. Under these premises. Simmel even radicalized this implication by adding that every intellectual perspective should work out its proper epistemology on the one hand and its wider cultural-historical significance by means of metaphysics on the other. became a purveyor of the ideas of perspectivism and methodological pluralism by insisting that each form of knowledge was autonomous and could not be reduced to any other. which led him to conclude that any form of knowledge. 160 In accord with Köhnke (1996: 480) I would suggest that Simmel’s intention rather resembles a relationist position. replaced it with “empirical human beings. from history and sociology to acting.”158 In consequence.

Oakes (1980: 22). and further incommensurable. Only the publication of two unknown manuscripts on the logic of cultural-sociological knowledge in 1980 revealed a more detailed picture of the epistemological ideas on which Mannheim’s sociology of knowledge was grounded. it [was] not destroyed by the fact that its validity [was] only relative. With Karl Mannheim the last illustration of a critique of philosophical reason in the name of social science is presented. Mannheim (1982: 163). For a more systematic exploration of the following ideas. see ”uber (forthcoming). were aimed at scrutinizing the “fact of inner connection between thinking and existence. Mannheim is registered as one the founders of that sociology of knowledge which systematically accounts for the “social determination of knowledge. Mannheim (1982: 283). Mannheim (1982: 159). Oakes belongs to the few who recognized that it was not Simmel’s intention to “eliminate philosophy as an inquiry.religion.”164 but that his theoretical examination of the foundations of historical-cultural knowledge gave rise to his particular stance. .”169 They had failed to recognize that “there is a wide undercurrent of knowledge about whose methods we are not as yet able to give ourselves an accounting.165 he was for the most part perceived as a Marxist. philosophy and social science 281 principle.” In the broad discussion that his version of sociology of knowledge provoked. according to which.166 Already his early drafts.168 Mannheim was convinced that any “attempt to construct an epistemology without ontological presuppositions must today be regarded as having already failed. which date back to the early 1920s. We will restrict ourselves to the basic philosophical principles and their interconnectedness with the sociology of knowledge. Mannheim (1982: 160). Mannheim seemed aware that he would need to found a comprehensive theory of knowledge on a particular philosophical basis. or rather relationism. must be situated within the context of his essential perspectivist view on science.”167 From the very beginning of his systematic reflection on this issue. He ruled out any approach that would rest upon Kantian grounds because it would be oriented to natural scientific rationales.”170 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 Simmel (1990: 117).“163 The consequence of relativism. In the textbooks of the history of ideas. See Meja and Stehr (1990).

282 daniel “uber In the works of Dilthey. He especially deemed Dilthey’s theory of world-views as the most eminent theory of history. He demonstrated the impact of the social setting for the prototypical constitution of knowledge on the case of dyadic relations. indeed less dramatically than Dilthey.e.’ ‘acting. Mannheim sensed “philosophical grounds more congenial to the humanistic sciences. but the ‘whole man. i. was the basis any form of experience—of ‘things’ as well as feelings. as Mannheim concluded. the parallels to Dilthey’s endeavor of a ‘Critique of historical reason’ become overt. figurative terms for what he named “total consciousness”173 and Dilthey had earlier conceived as the “unity of consciousness. which Mannheim rephrased “knowledge is only one side of a more far-reaching existential relationship. was open to such preconditions which had been commonly neglected. Mannheim demarcated the particular type of knowledge affected by that undercurrent as the realm of “qualitative knowledge” and separated it from “quantitative knowledge. The difference between inner and outer experience was only relative to secondary aspects as biographical and social context. as a “theory of knowing the qualitative. Mannheim (1982: 50).”175 to his conclusion which quotes Dilthey’s famous image of the ‘whole person:’ “the subject of cultural-scientific knowledge is not the mere epistemological subject. according to Mannheim. which. Dilthey (SW I: 317 pp. Mannheim labeled his attempt to explore the fundamentals of the qualitative sphere. Mannheim (1982: 187). Mannheim (1982: 160). Mannheim could only think of abstract.”172 Similar to Dilthey. .”171 He sprang from a very different philosophical tradition.’”176 Other aspects of human existence in the sense of Mannheim were “‘loving. Mannheim (1982: 187). Historicism or Romanticism. He drew the conclusion that it is impossible for outside observers who 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 Mannheim (1982: 162).”177 He depicted the process of constitution of unity between subject and object as “contagion”178 which. Mannheim (1982: 186). Mannheim (1982: 187).’ ‘wanting to change’.).”174 We can identify almost all of the basic notions which had already figured centrally in Dilthey’s theory of knowledge from Dilthey’s life-philosophical key concept.” Already from these efforts.

Mannheim (1982: 151). Mannheim refused to resort to any vague temporary solutions. Typically. 180 179 . and hence not objective in the traditional sense.181 Parallel to Simmel. Accounting for the life-philosophical.).183 Mannheim (1968a: 149 pp.179 He warned one must nor forget that philosophy. 181 For an elaboration of this argument see also Meja and Stehr (1982: 903 pp. Mannheim might have rather preferred the term existential. We conclude that these observations marked the starting-point for a sociology of knowledge. he was more consequent than Dilthey in concluding that the type of knowledge to which human and cultural sciences were exposed was inherently conjunctive. 183 Mannheim (1968b: 76).”182 which signifies merely that all of the elements in a given situation have reference to one another and derive their significance from this reciprocal interrelationship in a given frame of thought. it was systematic reasons which persuaded him of the necessity of a sociology of knowledge. Instead he promoted his concept of “dynamic relationism. Barnes and Bloor (1982). life. and Endress (2000: 329). it was one of his mainline efforts to lay bare the existential preconditions for the diverse philosophical standpoints in order to prove the right of his presuppositions. always arises. philosophy and social science 283 were not part of the same “experiential community” (Erfahrungsgemeinschaft) to make sense of either the language or the content of communication. This type of knowledge was obviously exclusively relevant and valid for direct participants. out of a current of life.religion. due to its restriction of the possibility of objective knowledge. Philosophy.180 The sociology of knowledge has been widely perceived as an agent of relativism. in its various tendencies. and scientific knowledge never go along side by side in isolation. It would exactly account for the interplay of ideas with their social context. under allegedly ‘post-modern conditions.). rather.’ it is a common strategy to ignore the epistemological dimension of the subdiscipline. key figures. Mannheim took over the term “conjunctive knowledge” from Victor von Weizsäcker to denote it. 182 Mannheim (1968b: 88). Even today. Thus.

In Simmel and Mannheim this feature was more acute so that they were immediately exposed to denigra- . it is possible to evaluate the meta-theoretical significance of the protagonists of sociology and their contributions to secularizing knowledge from nonscientific impetus. the theories of sociology provided by Simmel. they came to similar conclusions with regard to the problem of knowledge. Weber. the traditional ideal of objective knowledge rested on theoretical and ontological presumptions that were no longer bearable under present conditions. In consequence. For this reason we made a detour through the wider intellectual history of modern philosophy. They produced particular relativizations of philosophy as the main agents for a foundation of knowledge. were dissatisfied with the form of philosophy offered by leading contemporary philosophers. The examination concludes that the promoters of modern German sociology. Dilthey’s theory of knowledge provided some basic ideas that were especially important to Mannheim and Simmel. Weber. Accordingly. A transparent sensitivity towards the perspectivity of knowledge lies on the basis of modern sociology. they rejected an abstract-philosophical system. as a sound philosophical base on which to ground their cultural-sociological inquiries. and Mannheim. Simmel. transcendental images. and Mannheim supported a notion of knowledge that only allowed for ‘objectivity. as provided by the various strands of neo-Kantianism.284 daniel “uber VIII Conclusion It has been one of our main objectives to take a closer look at the formation and separation process of modern social science from the human sciences in order to learn about the social and cultural sciences’ meta-theoretical identity. to paraphrase Weber. Instead they opted for accounts that went beyond the confines of academic philosophy and reckoned with the interconnectedness of knowledge and this-worldly conditions. Starting from differing theoretical assumptions. Their struggles to transform the latters’ ideas into an appropriate notion of science that was fitting with the conditions of modern times decried any attempt to fall back on non-empirical. the study followed the movement of human-scientific knowledge’s emancipation from its traditional association with ultimately religious-theological concerns. In concert. which led Weber to assert that he was neither willing nor capable of imposing his vision of social science on others (1980: 6). In particular.’ not for objectivity. Against this backdrop.

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that allows notions of “religion” and “secularization” to be contextualized and historicized.2 their conventional theories of secularization ignored the nation-state as the institutional framework of relations between politics and religion in modernity. been coined by Jürgen Habermas who previously supported a rather strong secularization thesis. to the astonishment of many. and globalization. To the degree that the social sciences fell victim to what has been called a “methodological nationalism”. For a recent critique of “methodological nationalism” in the social sciences see Wimmer (2002: 5). 2 That conventional methodologies. While recent sociological theory has taken up the challenge of historicizing the sociological epistemologies and methodologies that assumed national “society” as a natural given. such a self-reflexive mode of theorizing still needs to be extended to a sociology of the secular. theories and research questions in the social sciences were premised on the assumption of territorially bounded and culturally integrated national societies. indeed. Rather they have to be understood as part of larger institutional transformations of the modern nation-state.POLITICS AND RELIGION IN EUROPEAN NATION-STATES: INSTITUTIONAL VARIETIES AND CONTEMPORARY TRANSFORMATIONS Matthias Koenig I Introduction The following contribution addresses the changing relation of politics and religion in Western European nation-states that has recently given rise to announcements of a coming “post-secular society.3 Such a problem-shift. the sacralization of the secular that went along with it. has become increasingly clear with the rise of discourses of post-colonialism.). See Habermas (2001) as well as Eder (2002). 3 For preliminary attempts to elaborate a reflexive anthropology of the secular see Asad (2003: 16 pp.”1 Contrary to such announcements it is argued that contemporary changes in the relation between politics and religion do not constitute an exit from the secular condition of European modernity. . post-modernity. They thereby neglected the charismatic constitution of the nation-state and. is necessary to understand the changing relationship 1 The notion of “post-secular society” has.

while emphasizing different aspects and dimensions of secularization. religious fundamentalism. Finally.292 matthias koenig between politics and religion. I show that in spite of considerable historical path-dependencies all three cases attest to institutional changes in the relations between politics and religion which result from the shift of charisma from the nation-state to universal human rights. I then provide an ideal-typical sketch of institutional varieties of secularism as exemplified by the historical processes of state-formation and nation-building in Britain. and new religious nationalism that amount to what has been called a resurgence of religion. Berger. and Germany. However. generally entails a rationalization of previously religious world-views. and Germany. France. II Theoretical Background The theory of secularization has become highly contested in the sociological discourse about politics and religion within modernity. these assumptions have been seriously challenged by recent empirical phenomena such as new religious movements. France. drawing on evidence from comparative studies on the incorporation of Muslim immigrants in Britain. shared at least some basic assumptions that could be integrated in a multidimensional theory of secularization. national identity. Thomas Luckmann. Taking as my point of departure recent controversies over the theory of secularization. or Bryan Wilson. That religion is invested with new legitimacy as a category of collective identity and is thus becoming an important resource in struggles for recognition in secular public spheres. a differentiation of religion and non-religious institutions. of a structural decoupling of statehood.4 The rise of modernity. more precisely. Niklas Luhmann. a pluralization and privatization of religious beliefs. . so the argument went. Whereas 4 For the theoretical integration of various theories of secularization within a single multidimensional paradigm see Dobbelaere (1981) and Tschannen (1992). Major social theorists such as Peter L. Against this background. is in fact a result of the nation-state’s loss of charisma and. I first highlight the embeddedness of relations between politics and religion within the institutional framework of the classical modern nation-state. and individual rights. and in the long run even a general decline of religion.

he claims that as part of a pluralistic civil society composed of multiple voluntary associations and as a moral voice within the rational discourse of an autonomous public sphere. See in this respect most notably Séguy (1986).politics and religion in european nation-states 293 proponents of the classical paradigm have tried to interpret this resurgence of religion as a reaction against. José Casanova has persuasively argued that empirical evidence. to identify religious elements in various other social domains. Stark and Bainbridge (1985) and for criticism Pollack (2003).”7 By moving from the sociology of religion to a sociology of the religious.g.8 While these and other contributions9 are an important step towards a more self-reflexive sociology of the secular condition. one that situates its belief within a tradition. See e.5 Danièle Hervieu-Léger has challenged the theory of secularization from a different perspective. modernity. Taking up the Weberian problem of meaning in modernity and its elaboration in recent French philosophy and political theory. including politics. are not only empirically possible but also normatively legitimate. in particular. she claims to better grasp the fluid and ephemeral character of de-institutionalized religiosity and. Thus. which have incorporated the basic premises of modernity. by highlighting the deficiencies of their underlying concepts of religion. 135). 9 See most notably the supply-side interpretation of religion. that contrasts the impact of religious pluralism on religious vitality in the United States with the effects of monopolistic religious organizations in Europe on the decline of religion. and the United States. 8 See Hervieu-Léger (1993: 158.6 she wishes to account for the ways in which modernity does not only not entail a decline of religion but is actually productive of ever new social forms of religion that respond to the modern condition of uncertainty and contingency. 7 Hervieu-Léger (1993: 119. a “lignée croyante. be they functionalist or substantialist. or regression from. public forms of religion. such as the public role of both conservative and progressive Roman Catholicism in Latin America. Moreover. She proceeds by elaborating an analytical definition of religion according to which the religious is a specific form of believing. 6 5 . 1993). critics have called into question the basic assumptions of the secularization paradigm and argued that there was a permanent and perhaps even legitimate place for religion within modern society. they hardly See Casanova (1994: 19–39. building on Habermas’ theory of communicative action. invalidates the assumptions of a steady decline of religion and of its continuing privatization. 232). Poland.

which reduces religious beliefs and practices to a specific form of moral argumentation within a separate domain of human life. These movements that crystallized in the Protestant Casanova (1994: 5. Hervieu-Léger’s definition of the religious has normative implications. In his account of religious de-privatization. 13 In his critical reply to Hervieu-Léger. Eisenstadt’s Weberian analysis of Axial Age civilizations and their internal transformations. Tenbruck (1993). See on this point Talal Asad’s perceptive analysis of Casanova’s argument (2003: 181–201). namely the thesis of a differentiation between politics and religion. 12 See Hervieu-Léger (1993: 171. arguing that religion may not raise any claims to power within the political system proper.” It has to treat the “secular” as well as “religion.” See Michel (1994). as a result of heterodox movements within Christianity. in a critical perspective. 1997: 374). 211). Patrick Michel has therefore suggested pushing further the analysis towards a sociology of (religious and political) “belief. 14 Such a problem-shift has been suggested. The imagination and sacralization of the “secular” is a crucial aspect of the emergence of modernity as a cultural program and its institutionalization in the nation-state in which various patterns of differentiation between politics and religion developed. 11 10 .294 matthias koenig problematize what is perhaps the core of the classical paradigm of secularization. by Joachim Matthes (1995) and Friedrich H.14 The following remarks provide some preliminary elements of such a reflexive sociology of the secular. as discursive phenomena.” in other words. most notably. the pragmatic function of the semantic distinction between “religion” and “politics” within the political discourse of European modernity remains opaque.12 While this conceptual move allows her to discern. religious elements within both institutional religion and politics. The emergence of modernity in Europe can be described. when she associates it with heteronomy as opposed to the autonomy of the political.10 He thereby takes for granted an essentialist definition of religion. by focusing on the institutionalization of the nation-state and its semantic repercussions. 65.11 Similarly.13 A more thorough theoretical revision of the secularization paradigm therefore has to contextualize this semantic opposition between “religion” and “politics” within cultural construction of the “secular. Casanova explicitly upholds a normative concept of functional differentiation. following Shmuel N.

” The project of modernity was thus institutionalized in the form of the nation-state in which a specific type of political organization. and attempted to resolve it by means of an inner-worldly reconstruction of society. thus opening up the possibility of absolute politics. it was the sovereign State that was conceived as the organizational center for projects of rationalization and disciplinization.18 This shift of charisma to “secular” authorities did not. most notably in the See.15 Concomitant with the breakthrough to modernity. was structurally coupled with a specific type of collective identity. 19 On this point see. science. 17 See also Thomas and Meyer (1984). imply that “spiritual” matters and the Christian tradition more generally became politically irrelevant. into which both former feudal or corporate units and individual actors were incorporated. Berman (1983. between the civitas Dei and the civitas terrena. Eisenstadt (1989) as well as his contributions in this volume. to use the Augustinian distinction. cannot be equated with a differentiation of politics and religion has been shown by Alessandro Pizzorno (1987: 33. for instance. 44). Christian symbols could be drawn upon to construct collective identities. The state gained organizational control over practices and institutions which formerly were placed under “spiritual” authorities.politics and religion in european nation-states 295 Reformation both radicalized the Axial tension between the transcendent and the mundane order or. such as private and civil law. That this shift of charisma and absolute politics from “spiritual” to “secular” authorities. 16 15 . 18 See Anderson (1991).16 In that context. 2004) as well as Prodi (2003). with respect to the monopolisation of the legal system. the political sphere gained institutional autonomy vis-à-vis the Church and became the major focus for such rational reconstructions of society.19 Furthermore. however. the charisma which in medieval Roman Christianity was invested in the “spiritual” authority of the Church (ecclesia) shifted to “secular” authorities (imperium). In other words. what was now called “religion” could be incorporated into the nation-state’s projects of rationalization and disciplinization. the imagined community of the nation. most notably under the impact of the Great Revolutions through which political authority became accountable to the “People” or the “Nation. the State was seen as the focus for symbolic constructions of collective identity. On the contrary. education. which has to be understood against the background of the Gregorian Revolution.17 Similarly. etc. the sovereign territorial state.

it also has a relativistic and historicist meaning (“a religion”/“religions”) and thus allows different actualizations of the essence of “religion” to be discerned by identifying historical systems of belief that are assumedly shared by a certain group of people. 1997). but also later. was re-conceptualized as unlimited time-space within which both “religion” and “politics” are situated. it was in postReformation political vocabulary that the concept of “religion” received its particular modern meaning. when a new conceptual opposition was formulated between the State and what was now understood as “civil society” 20 As Ernst Feil has shown in numerious studies in conceptual history. politics. a generic meaning signifying a presumably distinctive phenomenon (“religion”). The breakthrough to modernity and the institutionalization of the nation-state were accompanied by several semantic changes. Thus.e. In the eighteenth century. in the nineteenth century. it should be noted that it contributed to the establishment of symbolic boundaries between “public” and “private” which were of constitutive value in the political discourse of modernity. when national identities were constructed with reference to confessional traditions.21 Although the larger semantic field within which this concept was embedded cannot here be analyzed in its entirety. Secondly. . reformulated the medieval conceptual framework.” See. first of all. Koenig (2000). i. 29. “religion” was located in a private sphere opposed to a State that was considered to transcend all “religious” particularities. previously conceived as interlude between Creation and eschaton.296 matthias koenig confessional age when sovereign rulers assumed the right to determine the “religion” of their subject. See Feil (1986. who gained cultural authority against the theological elite. The saeculum. 154). law and science. 22 See in this respect Reinhart Koselleck’s analysis of post-Reformation political discourse in Koselleck (1973: 18. with reference to the Korean case.20 This modern concept has. A new stratum of intellectuals.22 During the formation of absolutist territorial states after the confessional wars and the Peace of Westphalia (1648). of economy. enacted in their common rituals and embodied in mutually exclusive membership organizations. 21 Note that this occidental concept was later exported into non-occidental contexts and contributed to the reconstruction of various traditions as “religions. distinct in essence from the newly emerging and equally essentialized domains of rational action.

are reflected in 23 The second variant of the secularization narrative is mainly associated with German philosophical controversies that date back to Hegel and Hegelian theologians such as Richard Rothe and extend.” Originally this term was used in a strictly legal sense. to the debate betweeen Carl Schmitt. However. most notably from Islam. the semantic dichotomy of “religion” and the “secular” was transposed on to a narrative structure commonly associated with the concept of “secularization. over the Kulturprotestantismus. of which the relations between State and Church are but one among several components. non-European experience. with an inverse evaluation.” This metaphorization is characterized by a relatively flexible narrative structure that can be couched in either utopian or nostalgic idioms. These institutional arrangements. the narrative of a radical discontinuity between religion and (secular) modernity. A French perspective on this controversy is presented in Monod (2002). . and Hans Blumenberg. From the French Revolution onwards. Karl Löwith. the shift of charisma from “spiritual” to “secular” authorities resulted in new arrangements of political organization. Basically two variants of the meta-narrative associated with the metaphor of “secularization” can be distinguished. Yet. since the nineteenth century a metaphorical usage became common in European historiography to account for the emergence of “modernity. 24 On the function of the concept of religion within the orientalist discourse see Stauth (1993) and Salvatore (1997). for instance in the Codex Juris Canonici where it meant a status transition of a monk (religiosus) from monastic to priestly office. it should be stressed that a similar concept of secularization was already available at the time of the French Revolution. See Manent (1987). by representatives of the Roman Catholic Church. First. the second variant was more prominent within Protestant theological discourse and its philosophical counterparts.24 To conclude.23 Both meta-narratives reflect the political-theological background of Christianity and result in specific semantic self-descriptions of modernity as a social condition set apart from any other. “religion” was further privatized conceptually. While the first variant was embraced by both anti-clerical political elites and.politics and religion in european nation-states 297 and the “public sphere” as loci of social transcendence. and later in public law where it referred to the state’s appropriation of ecclesiastical property. collective identity and religion within the modern nation-state. and second the narrative of a continuity of religion and its secularized derivates within modernity.

it can be assumed that the cultural construction of a secular space and the institutional arrangements of politics and religion within it took different forms. and its articulation within meta-narratives of “secularization”—has left its imprint on the emerging sociological discourse of modernity. On the “secularization” of modern knowledge more generally see Daniel ”uber’s contribution in this volume. all the while multiple forms of (de-) differentiation between “politics” and “religion” remain possible within the nation-state. such institutional varieties of relations between politics and religion are often reduced to legal arrangements between State and Church. Monsma and Soper (1997). As John Milbank has argued in his provocative and fundamental criticism of sociology. I would stress that the de-differentiation takes place within the modern condition and its conception of a “secular” social space. the sociological discourse of modernity was premised on a historically contingent conception of the “secular” as a social space. for instance. .26 It is in this sense that secularization is indeed concomitant with the emergence of modernity. co-operation. within which both “politics” and “religion” are situated. with special reference to the government of religious diversity. 28 See. has been stressed by Philip Gorski (2000: 150). so as to distinguish regimes of separation. 27 That de-differentiation of politics and religion was a major phenomenon in early modern Europe.28 Against this conventional typology. including even patterns of de-differentiation. but this interaction can only be understood in the context of the emergence of nationalism in the nineteenth century” (2001: 20). III Institutional Varieties of Secularism Given the diverse historical trajectories of state-formation and nationbuilding in early modern Europe. most notably in the construction of the “secular. For a more balanced account of how the sociological discourse thematized religion see Tyrell (1995). most notably within Lutheran territories. 26 See Milbank (1990). Yet.298 matthias koenig semantic changes. while I concur with his criticism of the differentiation thesis as a paradigmatic core of the secularization theory. and of State or national Church. Religion produces the secular as much as the reverse. These institutional varieties of secularism comprise different patterns of functional differentiation.”25 The emerging knowledge culture—including the concept of “religion”.27 In the literature. the larger semantic field structured by the “religious”/ “secular” dichotomy. I 25 To quote Peter van der Veer: “With the rise of the nation-state comes an enormous shift of what religion means.

This implies recognition of a pluralism of individual religious orientations in the public sphere. 30 See Eisenstadt and Giesen (1995).29 In addition. Furthermore. these models display elective affinities to different constructions of national identity. the more pronounced are the potential cleavages between political and religious authorities. and (b) the degree to which the individual has substituted former feudal units as an autonomous actor. In spite of the establishment 29 For the most recent and comprehensive formulation of this typology see Jepperson (2002). and only provides the legal guarantees and political conditions for the individual’s rational pursuit of interest in civil society. modes of citizenship.politics and religion in european nation-states 299 propose to focus more systematically on varying characteristics of the nation-state as the institutional framework of political modernity. the liberal polity refrains from incorporating individual actors into a centralized project of rationalization. no corporative units but only individuals are recognized as legitimate actors in the public sphere.31 I wish to sketch its implications for institutional arrangements of politics and religion by focusing on the historical cases of Britain. Drawing on a well-established typology in sociological neo-institutionalism. and more as a decentralized process of negotiations in civil society. Public religious policy is regarded less as a state affair.” conflicts between state and ecclesiastical authorities display only low profiles. . and Germany. while privileging an associational and voluntary mode of religious organization. for instance. the stronger the degree of state centralization. While space does not permit this typology to be developed in more detail. which can be symbolized in more universalistic or more particularistic codes. Due to the weak degree of “stateness. 31 For further elaboration see Chapter 2 in Koenig (forthcoming). state corporatist. each model contains specific implications for the relations between politics and religion. In liberal polities. and social protest movements. and social corporatist. France. Four ideal types of modern polities can thus be distinguished: statist/republican. patterns of formal organization. liberal. varieties of political modernity or polity models may be distinguished by cross-tabulating two institutional dimensions: (a) the degree to which the modern project of rationalization is carried by a centralized state.30 Each polity model provides a distinctive institutional environment for public policies. However.

this element was continuously transformed so as to extend the symbolic boundaries of the British nation and to integrate Christianity more generally. . institutional arrangements of religion and politics have been oriented at the liberal polity model in Britain.300 matthias koenig of the Anglican Church since the 1534 Act of Supremacy under Henry VIII. widow-burning) as “religious” and. The public sphere is regarded as homogeneous and as being composed of formally equal individuals. especially those that are categorized as “religious. The historical path of relations between religion and politics followed the institutional characteristics of a statist or republican polity model. Christianity was propagated as the foundation of modern civilization. while individuals are incorporated into the collective project of rationalization without taking into account their respective position in civil society. Britain. like other Anglo-Saxon countries. exempting Sikhs from having to wear motorcycle crash helmets. in metropolitan Britain.” are excluded and restricted to the private 32 33 See Baubérot and Mathieu (2002). has seen the development of relatively pluralistic modes of organizational incorporation.33 In comparison with the British case. the cultural program of modernity is institutionalized in a central state. the discourses of the British Government in the colonies drew upon the first variant of the secularization narrative by criticizing social practices (e. pre-modern. See van der Veer (2001: 41–52). 1858 to Jews) without ever being anchored constitutionally in individual rights to freedom of religion. whereas the representation of particularistic identities. the French development of institutional arrangements of political organization. which starts with the Toleration Act (1689) and continues until the Religious Exemption Act (1976). hence. Anglicanism was an important symbolic element in the construction of collective identity and of nation-building in Britain. Here.g. the privileges granted to the Church of England were successively expanded to other religious communities (1829 to Catholics. As a corollary to the establishment of the Church of England. In a tradition of legal exemptions for individuals belonging to religious minorities. In the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Yet. collective identity and religion has taken a rather different course.32 This is reflected in the dominance of the second variant of the secularization narrative. with the inclusion of other religious communities. At the same time.

who exhibit a similar combination of nationalist and secularist elements. throughout the nineteenth century. with the foundation of non-confessional state schools in 1882 and the constitutional separation of State and Church in 1905. most notably by establishing the concept of laïcité. often couched in orientalist terms. the two parties of what has been described as the “guerre des deux Frances. the political conflict between the Republic and the Roman Catholic Church in the nineteenth century has left its imprint on the political vocabulary and public institutions of the French Republic. Thus. the first variant of the secularization narrative dominated the political discourse in France. Conflict characterizes the relations between the state and ecclesiastical authorities.politics and religion in european nation-states 301 sphere. was clearly legitimated by the cultural scheme of the secularization narrative in its first variant. Jules Ferry. and public religious policies are aimed at controlling the symbolic boundaries of the state and on projecting relatively homogeneous national identities in various social fields.”34 In both cases. The impact of the secularization narrative on the formation of political order and on the construction of collective identity was particularly strong at the end of the nineteenth century. both on the part of the Catholic monarchists’ reaction and on the part of the Republican laïcists. . Religion(s) used to be regarded as a component of the public sphere. not least. At the level of dominant discourse we may think of writers such as Ernest Renan. evaluated either as threat or as promise. and religious organizations are even invested with public or state functions. Hence. modernity was understood as a fundamental break with the religious past as exemplified by the French Revolution. It is in their capacity of being members of a corporative religious organization that individuals are perceived as religious actors. individuals are incorporated into centralized projects of rationalization via corporative intermediate units. Until today. Charles Renouvrier and. the state’s public policy of religion is mainly 34 See Poulat (1987). Emile Durkheim. The situation of bi-confessionality was highly important both with respect to state-formation and the construction of collective identities. At the level of political institutions. In the state corporatist polity model. which is characteristic of the bi-confessional German-speaking region. notably in the education system. the adoption of state secularism in the Third Republic.

but also with respect to public policies vis-à-vis religious minorities. contrary to conventional theories of secularization. particularly in the Kulturkampf. the second variant of the secularization narrative. against German Catholicism. Its political dimension is the continuing strong influence of the two Christian Churches in the public sphere. different varieties of secularism emerged within European modernity that are characterized by different patterns and degrees of differentiation between “politics” and “religion. legislative and contractual regulation that constitute the so-called Staatskirchenrecht within which rules of a selective co-operation between the religiously “neutral” State and the Churches are laid out and the conditions for granting religious communities the status of “corporations of public law” are specified. Needless to say that this is but a brief sketch of institutional trajectories of state-formation and nation-building and their impact on institutional varieties of secularism. to the the famous “secularization” thesis by the German jurist Ernst-Wolfgang Böckenförde. was particularly formative. by Protestant Prussian elites propagating a nationalized and secularized form of Protestantism (Kulturprotestantismus) against both French secularism and. The legal dimension of this model is epitomized by the complex set of constitutional. 36 35 . See for instance Smith (1995). In the case of the Federal Republic of Germany.36 The state-corporative model is reflected by institutional arrangements of close cooperation between the State and the two Churches as set forth in the Weimarer Reichsverfassung and adopted in the Grundgesetz of the Federal Republic. Also needless to stress that the three cases correspond to the above-mentioned ideal types only to a limited extent. that narrative was re-formulated so as to conceive of (Christian) religion in general as factor of social or national integration. even after formal separation of State and Church.” These patterns continue to affect struggles over the legitimate place of religion within the public sphere until today. of course.e. notably in the fields of social welfare and education.35 After the Second World War. i. according to which the “secular constitutional State lives on presuppositions that he cannot guarantee himself ” (1981: 71). the analysis suggests that. Yet. which was already drawn upon by the carrier groups of the German Reich founded in 1871. The obligatory reference is.302 matthias koenig concerned with regulating the public functions of corporative religious communities.

Borrowing their conceptual categories from post-colonial studies and the sociology of religion.37 Only recently has the religious dimension of international migration and integration been moved up the agenda of academic research and public policy. More recently. this line of research has left the deliberate policy initiatives. See. Vertovec and Peach (1997). in greater detail. and by following mainstream theories of secularization. and religion which result from the distinctive historical paths of state-formation and nation-building (a). the following section deals. for instance. of immigrant communities or diasporas. Similar assumptions were shared by theorists of multiculturalism who stressed that migration processes were accompanied by new claims for recognition of particularistic cultural or ethnic identities. Saint-Blancat (1995). collective identity. Fetzer and Soper (2004). scholars have started to acknowledge that religious practices play a crucial role in the construction of immigrants’ identities. (2001: 259). hybridity. to the degree that The following passages draw heavily on my article in Koenig (2005 a). Yet. political opportunity structures. and institutional repertoires of European nation-states and their respective impact on the incorporation of Muslim migrants in Europe largely unexplored. For a long time. Tietze (2001).39 Taking up this problem. 39 See on this point Rath et al. researchers tended to assume that traditional and religious attitudes of immigrants would successively dissolve in the acculturation and assimilation to industrial societies.politics and religion in european nation-states IV Contemporary Transformations of Secularism 303 To exemplify the impact of these institutional arrangements of religion and politics.38 But in spite of its incontestable value. they have highlighted the individuality. particularly among the so-called second and third generation of immigrants. Pace (1995). I argue that divergences in public policy responses to Muslim claims for recognition can be explained by varying institutional arrangements of political organization. Césari (1997). and indeed the modernity of Islamic identifications in Europe as well as the emergence of new Islamic networks and organizations. however. but ignored the specifically religious dimensions of such identities. with the public incorporation of Muslim immigrants in Britain. 38 37 . and of transnational migrant networks. France and Germany.

the secular and the religious. without religious identities being excluded a priori. third. Muslim immigrants can call for their own autonomy in organizational spheres of society. It goes beyond . of ritual slaughter. And. finally. (a) As a starting point for a comparative macro-sociological analysis of the public incorporation of Muslim immigrants it is useful to analyze more systematically the claims for recognition articulated by this religious minority.g. most notably the inclusion of “religion” as a legitimate category of identity in the public sphere (b). Claims for the toleration of religious dress codes in the public sphere. or at gaining access to the political center. e. it also seems to induce isomorphic transformations of institutional arrangements of politics and religion.. which would influence the processes of societal construction. of the muezzin call. Muslim immigrants can contest the legitimacy of politicized symbols of national identity and request liberties for the articulation of different identities. Elaborating on the above-mentioned theoretical considerations concerning the classical model of the nationstate. First. Taking into account that the public responses to such claims of recognition can be either rejection or approval yields a highly differentiated conceptual framework for analyzing modes of public incorporation. Furthermore.304 matthias koenig immigration challenges the nation-states and contributes to the development of post-national forms of citizenship. I propose to distinguish different types of claim-making. claims for tolerance. A combination of these two analytical distinctions yields four different types of claim. Due to the centrality of the political arena in the cultural program of modernity. More demanding are. the content of claims for recognition can either be aimed at redefining the symbolic boundaries between the public and the private. etc. by introducing new religious holidays in the national calendar or by extending the existing blasphemy laws. for instance by asking for the establishment of subsidized private schools or the guarantee of religiously motivated exemptions from obligations within the state education system. claims for recognition can either address the organizational structure of the state or the prevalent symbols of national identity. given the structural connection between political organization and collective identity within the classical model of the nation-state. are examples of this type. Second. These are claims of recognition which call for a recombination of the central symbols of national identity. Muslim immigrants can call for an equal participation in the organizational center of the state.

and multiculturalism by distinguishing more clearly between organizational and symbolic aspects of the incorporation process. Yet. it is necessary to point out that the extent to which claims of recognition have been articulated by this group is. the number of Muslim immigrants with formal citizenship status still varies today. as we shall see. including naturalization. at least to some degree. about 50 per cent of the Muslim population. India and Bangladesh. In France. although after struggles and negotiations. In Britain. 80–90 per cent of the Muslim population. mostly of Maghrebian origin.politics and religion in european nation-states 305 classical distinctions of differential exclusion. Muslim claims for recognition entered the public sphere about a decade earlier than in France. This sequence is not surprising. when European industrial states adopted more restrictive policies of immigration. In Germany. . dependent on their formal citizenship status and typical patterns of migration flows. 41 Due to different citizenship regimes and policies of naturalization.41 In Britain. to claims of recognition aimed at tolerance and participation (2001: 246). claims for the recognition of Muslim religious identities have only appeared in the 1970s.40 Before utilizing this conceptual framework to analyze the incorporation of Muslim immigrants. mostly from Pakistan. claims of tolerance and participation appeared considerably later. are British citizens. a more refined conceptual framework allows to differentiate more clearly between different aspects of “multi-religious” forms of civic incorporation. What he describes as “multicultural” incorporation— the inclusion of outsiders not only as individuals. which were accompanied by programs of family reunification and integration policies. assimilation. with Germany following only in the 1990s when jus sanguinis elements of nationality became increasingly supplemented by jus soli elements. as it reflects the emergence of the so-called second and third generations who had started to acquire formal citizenship and electoral rights and thus constituted a new carrier group of more demanding claims. While the politics of Muslim recognition focused first on claims of toleration and autonomy. only 10 per cent have become German citizens. but also the recognition of their particularistic attributes or qualities—is a positive reaction. hold a French passport. the incorporation of Muslim immigrants generally followed a pattern of continuous negotiations of rights between civil 40 It also captures some elements of Alexander’s recent useful attempt to systematize modes of incorporation by distinguishing between the inclusion of individuals and that of their attributes. The timing evidently varies from country to country. where even the first generation of Muslim immigrants had easy access to formal membership by virtue of their status as Commonwealth subjects. in Western Europe. For details on these demographic data see Koenig (forthcoming). In Britain. Thus.

encountered by claims for tolerance in the sense of a recognition of religious difference within the set of national symbols. Due to decentralization and the high autonomy of local government.306 matthias koenig society and the government. even the Protestant or Christian elements in the set of British national symbols have a potential for pluralistic modes of incorporation. thus it is not by accident that many Muslims have expressed themselves in favor of the establishment of the Anglican Church. Claims for the toleration of religious symbols and for autonomous organizational spheres. Muslim claims for recognition focused predominantly on the granting of equal public subsidies for Islamic private schools and on a law against religious discrimination. highlighted the symbolic boundaries between Islam and the British nation and functioned as a catalyst for the organizational mobilization of Muslims in the national public sphere. Even Muslims’ claims for political participation at the local level did not go unnoticed during this period. contrary to local practice. 42 . arguing that. in the 1990s. Yet. the establishment of Muslim cemeteries. the exemption of religious instruction and of school worship.42 Hence. In the liberal polity model. were already granted in the 1980s. The “Rushdie affair”. in which British Muslims demanded the extension of blasphemy laws that until then only protected the Anglican faith. Conflicts only arose to the extent that claims focused on the modification of symbols of British identity. 2000). To be sure. the government had already institutionalized the idea of a “multicultural society” in the anti-discrimination laws of the Race Relations Act (1976). including the building and registration of mosques. however. the permission for ritual slaughter. pluralistic modes of incorporation therefore seem to have developed rather in a bottomup process without strong conflicts. negotiations often took place at a local level. 43 This point has been stressed by Tariq Modood (1994. it recognizes a positive role of religion in the public sphere. Muslims participated in the drafting of curricula of multi-religious instruction in state or public schools.43 For an analysis of the defense of the liberty of expression against the claims for Muslim recognition see Asad (1993: 239–268). The Education Act (1988). for instance. but religious discrimination was explicitly excluded from these institutional rules. Resistance was. even strengthened the Christian character of school worship and confirmed the privileged status of confessional private schools. unlike secularist multiculturalism.

which is characteristic of the German case. as shown by the ongoing conflicts over the wearing of the veil by Muslim schoolchildren. Particularistic. Muslim groups have applied to be granted the status of a corporation of public law. . the state intervenes rather strongly in the politics of Muslim recognition. notably in the field of education. Pierre Chévènement initiated a “consultation” with Muslim associations who had to declare their compliance with core values of the French Republic. The major obstacle to the development of more pluralistic modes of incorporation in Germany was the particularistic coding of national symbols. After the failure of the Conseil de Réflexion sur l’Islam en France (CORIF) created by Pierre Joxe in 1990 and a similar initiative of Charles Pasqua. These attempts at controlled organizational incorporation. as were similar claims to have Islamic religious instruction established in state schools. Hence. In the state-corporatist polity. such claims have met continuous resistance by the administration and the courts. “religious” identities are relegated to the private sphere. would be inconceivable in Britain. they were highly controlled by the state. the government has continuously attempted to create a central representative organization of French Muslims. However. combined with the national symbol of laïcité. due to which Islam was perceived as ethnically or culturally alien. to the degree that pluralistic modes of incorporation developed at all. in order to participate. Although some obstacles began to be removed by policy-makers in the 1990s.politics and religion in european nation-states 307 In sharp contrast to the British experience. all four types of Muslim claims for recognition have encountered strong resistance in France. Furthermore. conflicts which most recently have resulted in the legislative prohibition of religious symbols in state schools. perhaps paradoxically. incorporation has similarly been controlled by the organizational center of the state. which have resulted in the creation of the Conseil Français du Culte Musulman (CFCM) in 2003. Religious claims for recognition are thus easily perceived as transgressing the symbolic boundary between the public and the private. This is basically due to the high degree of state centralization of public functions. while at the same time the public sphere is defined in expansive terms. or as polluting the sacred core of the nation. For a long time these attempts were without success. it took a different form than in France in centering on legal questions of including Islamic organizations in the system of privileged relation between the state and the religious communities. Since the 1970s. Since the 1990s.

including even French laïcité. for instance. which are triggered by religious claims for recognition of immigrants. Rath et al. Following neo-institutionalist theories of citizenship. and of the German Staatskirchenrecht. The possibility to conceive of a “laïcisation de la laïcité ” in the French discourse is perhaps most indicative of the underlying structural transformations. Preliminary evidence suggests that the institutional environment of incorporation indeed triggers internal change among Muslim migrants and thus affects the very claims for recognition articulated by this particular group. we may hypothesize that Muslim collective identifications crystallize around the dominant national symbols of each polity. 2004). Furthermore. The increasing awareness of the religious dimension of integration policies has led to contestations and debates about the future of the Anglican establishment. This notion has been coined by Jean-Paul Willaime (1991. characteristic of each case and its underlying polity model. focusing on the individual’s right to religious freedom as well as on the collective rights of minorities. the classical model of the nation-state has been de-institutionalized in the post-war period by the development of what is called a “post-Westphalian” interna44 45 See. we may expect that corporatist polities induce the development of hierarchically structured religious organizations. these convergences can be explained by changes in the institutional or cultural environment of modern nation-states. we may go one step further and ask how they shape the forms of collective organization and identification among Muslims themselves. They attest to a far-reaching transformation of the nation-state as an institutional framework of political modernity.308 matthias koenig While these institutional arrangements of political organizations. (2001). explain divergent patterns of organizational and symbolic incorporation of Muslim immigrants. .45 These debates. most notably.46 In fact. have been increasingly framed in the cognitive and normative categories of a human rights discourse. For instance. For a related analysis see also Marcel Gauchet (1998). 46 See.44 (b) The successive emergence of more pluralistic modes of incorporation has in all three cases been accompanied by considerable institutional changes. Soysal (1994). of the French laïcité. national identity and religion. recent attempts of Muslim organizations to form corporations of public law in Germany point precisely in that direction.

First. emphasizing that human rights discourses provide new repertoires of contestation and justification to both individuals and states and. linguistic. 49 For an analysis of the secular. integration and.47 at least a weaker version does hold. as demonstrated by the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (1990). redemptive vision of human rights see Asad (2003: 155).politics and religion in european nation-states 309 tional system. attached independently of formal state membership or nationality. Secondly.49 As a consequence of the emergence of new institutional bases of rights and the transnational diffusion of a “multicultural” citizenship model. or a variety of activities of the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. For an extended analysis of the emergence and global diffusion of a discourse of cultural diversity see Koenig (2005 b). the UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic Religious and Linguistic Minorities (1992). the transnational diffusion of ideas of human rights in the post-war period and their institutionalization in international organizations. we may expect institutional changes in a variety of policy fields including immigration. with charisma being invested in the redemptive vision of human rights.48 It has been since the 1990s. as they oblige states to adopt a proactive approach to promote the identity of ethnic or national. both governmental and non-governmental. Two transformations directly affect the institution of citizenship: the decoupling of state membership and individual rights. that the concept of a right to cultural identity has taken hold in transnational human rights discourses. Of particular importance in this respect is the further specification of rights of equality and non-discrimination in articles on individual rights to cultural identity and minority rights. 48 47 . at least in principle. change domestic political dynamics. the management of religious diversity. and religious minorities on their territory. these two transformations amount to a de-charismatization of the nation-state. thereby. and the decoupling of state membership and national identity. within the transnational human rights discourse there has been a proliferation of new rights that clearly go beyond the classical European political tradition. as I argue. in particular. As statehood and national identity For criticism see Joppke (1999). Together. has established a charismatic status of “universal personhood” to which rights are. Even though a strong version of this thesis is controversial.

welfare provisions. Council of Europe Doc CRI (2001)36 (on Germany). p. In the wake of the selective adaptation of this citizenship model. governments increasingly co-operate with organized religious bodies in many institutional fields including education. 71–80). legislation and even jurisdiction. current debates about a potential legislation on religious discrimination in Great Britain—one of the recurrent Muslim demands in the nineties—explicitly refer to European legal standards of human rights. The European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI). p. which re-affirmed a strict interpretation of French laïcité. 10. which has formulated a Policy Recommendation “Combating Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims” (27 April 2000). Even the more recent legal prohibition of visible religious signs in state schools. the emergence of more pluralistic modes of organizational incorporation can be discerned which largely correspond to the globally diffused model of “multicultural” citizenship. See Council of Europe Doc. cultural. 5. An important factor explaining this convergence is the above-mentioned decoupling of formal membership and national identity in transnational discourses of human rights. new categories of identity have been legitimated and sanctioned in the public sphere. as well as the ethnic definition of German nationhood and British blasphemy laws. for instance. was framed by references to global and European norms of religious liberty. p. explicitly places the French tradition in a broader international perspective (2004: 47–50. in all three cases. The Council of Europe.52 As a result. the convergences of citizenship regimes analyzed elsewhere in neo-institutionalist literature are equally to be found in the field of religious policies.310 matthias koenig have become increasingly decoupled.50 has particularly criticized the French republican model of relegating religious diversity to the private sphere. and Council of Europe Doc CRI (99)5. 5 (on France). written by a Commission of political and intellectual leaders under Bernard Stasi to prepare new legislation.51 States respond to these expectancy structures by legislative changes and administrative policies. increasingly monitors state policies vis-à-vis Muslim minorities in Europe and exercises normative pressure on governments to adopt religious anti-discrimination legislation. 52 The Report Laïcité et République. CRI (2000) 21. See for instance Council of Europe Doc CRI (98)47 [15 June 1998]. Without officially privileging a particular religious organization. according to which states are obliged to recognize and even promote ethnic. including “religion.” Thus. 51 50 . For example. European states have started to develop new routine relations with religious minorities. and religious difference.

54 For a comparison of such symbolic boundary shifts with the controversy over national language in the United States see Zolberg and Woon (1999). of course. I have tried to shed some light on contemporary transformations of the nation-state that result in institutional rearrangements of politics and religion. On the other hand. I have mainly referred to “religion” in its more narrow.”53 V Conclusion The analysis presented in this contribution has gone some way towards a more reflexive sociology of the secular. to be sharply distinguished entire transcendental visions in Axial Age civilizations that we retrospectively conceive as world religions. which correspond to the development of cognitive and normative expectancy structures at the transnational level and amount to a decoupling of political organization and national identity. And. we witness new struggles for public recognition. most notably the delineation of boundaries between the private and the public and. I have highlighted the nation-state as a major institutional framework of political modernity and its imaginations of a “secular” social space. finally. on the one hand. shaped by the institutional arrangements of political organization. in spite of such path-dependencies. 54 On this distinction see Eisenstadt (1993). it also points to convergent trends. within which various modes and degrees of differentiation between politics and religion—institutional varieties of secularism— are possible. who himself is primarily concerned with the civilizational dimension of religion and its impact on modern politics. 53 . Hand in hand with the emergence of “multicultural” modes of incorporation. I have emphasized the modernity of the very concept of “religion” and its pragmatic function within the semantic field of the modern political discourse. which are characterized by the inclusion of “religion” as a legitimate category of identity in the public sphere and by successive symbolic boundary-shifts between the “religious” and the “secular. the definition of legitimate politics. Furthermore. collective identity and religion characteristic of the historical trajectories of modern nationstates and their specific polity model. modern sense which has. hence.politics and religion in european nation-states 311 The analysis of the incorporation of Muslim immigrants in Western Europe shows that the way in which nation-states respond to new forms of religious diversity is. Throughout the argument.

55 a return of religious languages into the public sphere of rational discourse and. Jeffrey C. Anderson. religion had never been entirely privatized within the framework of the classical nation-state. 57 To quote Talal Asad: “If the secularization thesis no longer carries the conviction it once did. See Habermas (2001: 22). Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism.” (1999: 195). to a disenchantment with the classical instrument of disenchantment: the modern nation-state. Benedict (1991). Far from challenging the major premises of political modernity.57 Furthermore. is misleading on several accounts. including religious ones. in other words and perhaps paradoxically. Imagined Communities. London: Verso. and Multiculturalism as Varieties of Civil Participation. this is because the categories of politics and religion turn out to implicate each other more profoundly than we thought. they indicate a shift of charisma from the nation-state to human rights. who rightly emphasizes the internal transformation of religious languages. a relativization of secular or secularist arguments. Asad. Discipline and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Islam.312 matthias koenig In conclusion. rather. Talal (1993).” This diagnosis which assumes. claims to the recognition of religious identities contribute. Multiple patterns of differentiation and even de-differentiation between politics and religion were possible within the nation-state. For a related argument see Joas (2004: 122–128).56 First of all.” In: Sociological Theory 19: 238–249. “Theorizing ‘Modes of Incorporation’: Assimilation. 56 55 . as a result of which new particularistic identities. Hyphenation. a discovery that has accompanied our growing understanding of the powers of the nation-state. I would like to return to the diagnosis of a coming “post-secular society. to recall Habermas’ main argument. contemporary transformations in the relation between politics and religion. are sanctioned as legitimate expressions of the universal. Genealogies of Religion. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Conventional theories of secularization have ignored these aspects to the degree that they did not problematize the cultural constitution of the nation-state as an institutional framework for processes of functional differentiation. References Alexander. Moreover. the “secular” sphere was itself invested with charismatic or sacred qualities in the emergence of political modernity. are far from constituting an exit from the secular and modern condition. epitomized by struggles over the recognition of religious identities. (2001). hence.

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47f. 259.. 249. theory 6f. 154 church/state 8. 259 Breasted. 27f..A.. 253. 169. 88ff. P. 23. 158.. Islam 153. Book of Prophets 156 Book of Psalms 43 Braniß. 267. 253. 17ff.. 158 A.. 108.J. 117 Confucius 39. civilizations 34. 292. 185f. 146.. 294. E. 178 de-axialization 49 post-Axial Age cultures 117. 179. vers. M. 185 Bildung (education) 256 Blumenberg. 184. 147. 50 Alexander.. 117ff. 31. 5 clubs 120ff..H.C. Aton 44 Augustine 6. 3. 168ff. 101 Akhenaten 43. J. 4 Berger. 297 chosen people 146f.. 163. J. Bellah. 186.. M.. 305 Amarna religion 44 Amarna Revolution 43. N. 295ff.... J. 165. H. 201f. 175. 116. 181. 79. 125 pre-Axial civilizations 163. 84. 89. 242 Buddha 39 Buddhism 20. 22f. H. 162f. 50. 79. 163 Copernicus 254 .. F. and anthropology 58. 149. A. 216 Bakunin. 158.. 196 citizenship 10. 187 Artasharta 165 Assmann. Christianity 3. 168 C. 89f. 149. 300ff. 181f. 81f. 4. 11. 78. G. 184. 196. Baptism 88. 193. T. 256 Book of Daniel 145 Book of Hiob 124 Book of Judges 156 Book of Numbers 69ff. 213ff. 154.. 231 civil society 22. 305f.A. Aquinas. 295 Axial Age A. 208ff. 308 animism 78 apocalypse 11 apocalyptic movements 85 apocalyptic prophecies 207f. tension 109. 293. 297 Bobbio. 181 Aron. 48.INDEX acceleration 11. 299f. 158. 70 Bacon. 87. 162ff. 293.. 94. Agamben. R. 311 Communism 10. 252. 45 Anglicanism 88. 183. 296. 220f. I. 90. 295. Catholicism 2. Cochin. J. 231ff. 113 Confucianism 78. 297 Christian orders 113ff. 95. 293f. 94.. 127.. 175. 212 Comte. C.L. 211. 292 Berlin. 170 Cohen. G. 2. 241 Babylonian exile 46.. 112. 2. 165f.N.-W. 76. 260 Calvinism 168 Casanova. 302 Bollenbeck. civilization clash of c.. 309 City of God/City of Man 6.. R. 9–10 Assyria 45f. 44 Brentano. 297. 211. 300. 261. 254 Condorcet. 202. A. 249f. 303f. 12. Cicero 194. Burckhardt. 7. C.. 145. 47. 166 Bürger 235f. religions 31 A. 311 Axiality 48. 186. 39 A... 210ff. 131f. 25 Arnason. 48. J. 67f. 75. 94. 33 comparative c. 235ff. 156ff. 89. J. 150. 306.. Böckenförde. 23. 4. 302 C. 28. 214. 166. 50f. 187. 151.. 270 collective identity 10. 27. 295 civil religion 4–5. 171. 1. 161f.

. 75. 32f. 201 functional differentiation 2. 1. B.W. 75. 216 crisis c.F. 62. 262 existential c. 251 Gehlen. 292 rise of f.. 264 Euripides 10. 161. E. 211. 156. 11. É. K. 4. 151 Enlightenment 1.318 index evangelicalism 89 Evans-Pritchard. 263. 98ff. 259 eschatology 155..N. L. 60. philosophy 257 c. 66 Foucault. 33. 47f. L. 134 tale of d. 9–10. of knowledge 12. 233. 31. 59.. 1.. 265. 117. 78.. 253f. 51. 297 hegemony 30. 153. 175ff. 252ff. 291.. 166. 93. 91. deviance 8. 9. 202 Ferguson. M. 312 division of labor 79f. J. 62.. Giesen. 171.. 251f. T. J. 151. 151. 130. 73. 312 Han Fei 113 Hannerz. 49f. J. É. 177 Freud. 176 Hermeticism 145 hero 8. 238 Eisenstadt. 99f. 124 Erasmus 174 Erdmann. 134 tale of e. 166. 224 djihad 143 Douglas.. 135 c. 158 grid-group 57. 28.. 20. 25 Hegel. Heidegger. 301 Edler von Sartori.. Gilson. disenchantment (Entzauberung) 18. Deuteronomy 46. 95. Hervieu-Léger. F. 143. 6. 173ff. 294 fundamentalism fundamentalist movements 3. 117ff. Görres. 145. 7 Droysen. J.E. 210. 193 evolution 6 exclusivism 149. B. 105. 158. 143. 59. 4. 108 transcendence of d.G. E. 237. G. S.. 156 development 208. 1. 147f. 294 Elias. 186f. 96. 254. D. 301 Feuerbach. 270. F. 193f. 17. 153. of reason 117. A.G.. 30f. 75 Gentile. 216. 96.. 262 Dilthey. 27f. 170 Galilei. Descartes. 56 DuPerron. 126. 169f.W. 12. A. 96. of normative order 97. 30. 56 evil 130. 33 Engels. 259 Fiore. 259.. 156. e. 26. 80. 250 epiphany 8. 261 Herder... 61. 255f. 183. 124 Diderot. 201 . 154 Exodus 40. M. 63. L. 103. 101. 242 Golden Calf 50. 198 cultural bias 7. 108f. R. 245. of science 250 Critias 10. 142. 124. 217ff. W.. transcendence of e. 26f. 155.. J. 4 c. 39 Durkheim. 86 Furet. 193f. 293. 108 Fleck. D. 2. 152 German Idealism 12.. 87. 75. 202. 134. 177 emancipation 211 end of history 10. 249. 262 globalization 24f. 211 Goethe. J. de-secularization 2f. 163 cosmopolitanism 28 covenant theology 45. 186. 211. A. 66ff. 96. N. 93. 6. U. S. 33. 131 religious heroism 142f. 12. 96ff. M. 117 Ferry. 117ff. 77 Hinduism 20. 254. 256ff. 64 Habermas. 211. J. Marsilio 195 Fischer. 132. 252 Dumont. 176. G. 259 Ficino. 291 Gnosis 6. 254. 126f. 94. 184 religious f. J. 150 decisionism 275f. 249. hierarchy 58f. 62 Däubler. 261ff. 82. 83. 293f.

79 Luckmann. 151ff.. 50. 80 Ibn Khaldoun 165 idolatry 47. 147 Montaigne. 163. 151. I. Jaspers. 66. Islam 9. 75. 185ff. 271. 267. 181. 172 loyalism 43. 66 Kultur (culture) 256. J. E. S.. 172f. T. 181ff. 297 logos 164. 266ff. H.L. 11. 252ff. 91 Mosaic distinction 9. 9. Moses 47. K. 292 Luther. 131 Leviticus 69ff. 45ff. 151. 270.. 199 individualism 3. 170. 197. 82. 272 hydraulic societies 8. Islamism 134. 193. 4. 303ff.. 218ff.W. 261f. Lactantius 214 Lamprecht. 251f. R. 7. . 10 m. 59.. 188 program of m. 254. M. 141ff.. I. 84f. T. 32f. 301 ambivalence of m. T. 270 homo sacer 101 Hsunt-su 165 Huntington 3 Husserl. 259 Mauss. 78. K. 147. 7–8. 181 Leibniz. 174 Montesquieu. 1–2. 250. 62 Melanchton. 277.E. 60. 156. C. and violence 141ff. 273. 185 Luhmann. 253. 278. 9. 23. 259ff. K. G. 95.. 157 Kant. 101 Köhnke. M. 161. 51. Israeli Kingdom 7 Jacobinism 6. 168 discourse of m. 71 modernization process of m. 213. 215. 233. 251 Kierkegaard. 39. 11f. 117. 30. 134 Mandeans 145 Manicheans 145 Mannheim. P. 24. 246 inner man 146 Inquisition 113f. 78. 96. T. 211.index Historicism 257. monotheism 7. 142. 26.. 251 Löwith. 281 Kantorowicz. 185 dilemma of m. 173ff. 12. 201f. Li Si 113 319 Locke. 3–4. 64. 298 monopoly of m. 150.d. 275 project of m. 215 Mencius 113 Methodism 88 Middle Kingdom 42f. 265 Kuhn. 86. 187 Lessing. 96. 168. 39. 282 Hobbes.. 260 Laotse 39 Lefort. 201. 273 Jesus 194 Jingzong 116 Judaism 9. 232 Machiavelli 109 magic 79. 117. 274 martyrdom 145 Marx. K. 197. 31ff.. 49.. 252. J. 156. 249. multiple modernities 29. K. 98. M. 292 Lübbe. 158...C. P. 141. Lenin. 298 Milgrom. 22. 10. 252 morality 76ff. 175f. 194f. 146.. 202. 95. 46ff.. 161f. invisible religion 4f. N. 261f. 155f. 258 Koselleck. 31f. 211. V. 151 Marquard. 26ff... 108ff. Milbank. 251 holism 59ff. 29. 6. 51. 202. Katulya 165 Kepler. 294f. 10. 26. 185. K. 216. 76. 29. theory 61 modernity 2. 31. 7. 225.. O. 121. 145.. J. 17.I. E. justice idea of j. 5. Mao. 69. instrumental rationality (Zweckrationalität) 25. 170ff. 100. Mohammed 194 monastic asceticism 112f. G. 18. life 263ff. 271f. 296. 250. 291. 62.. 82. 93. 200f. 20. 281ff. M. 153ff. 49. C. 45 Loyola.. 218 Levi.. monotheistic revolution 48. J.

L. 263 Novalis 233. 232. f. 146ff. as illusion 201 r. 99. 178 Renan. A. 295 . 301. T. 108f.R. 177ff. Puritanism 107. Overbeck. 156f. 126.. 219. 66.. 101f. B.. 281 Oedipus 97 Old Kingdom 7. vers. 255. 197ff. 267 natural law 172 natural theology 251 Naudé. 211. 8. 157f. 266ff. 234. 176. 129. 100. 156 turn in f. 310f. 193f.. 273 Pentateuch 70ff.G. 162. 295 regicide 115 Reinhold. 21. 196 Oakes. 30. 185f. 130f. 47. 18. 129f. P... 51 Old Testament 7. 195f. 255 political theology 10–11. 124. as fiction 193f. 96. 123. 231 Platonism 145 Plessner. 126. 254 English R. 295 Gregorian R. Motzu 165 multiculturalism 2..320 index polytheism 9. 211.. 108 f. of Israel 46. 301 Natorp. 222ff. r. nationalism 150. G. 170 paganism 14.. 301 revolution concept of r. religion political r. 31.. 105. 296. 280f. 222.. 211. 49. 115. 291. 210ff. Reformation 168ff. 167 Protestantism 2. 18. 166. 237. 302 public sphere 10. 176. philosophy 258 Renaissance 171. 156 phenomenology 60. L. 75.. G. New Age 84ff. 47. 267. 281 practical r. 40ff. 260 reason 9. 254 prophet 8. 18. 172.t. 163. 21. 259 Presbyterianism 88 privatization of religion 4. 170 Pythagoras 195 Phytagoraeans 145 Quianlong 119 Moses of Strabon (Moses Strabonicus) 196ff. 174f. 223 Nietzsche. 251 historical reason 260. 297.. 124ff. 211 Ozouf. Parsons. 276ff. 56 Ramesside Age 42 Ramses II 45 Ramus 216 Ranke. C. 134. 303. 134. 215 Newton. 69ff. 307. 122f. 222 Radcliffe-Brown. 261. F. medieval f. 198f. 142. 6.... 218 Orpheus 195 Orphics 145 Osiris 41f. 260. 173f. 283f. 28. 223. 260 postmodernism 9. 116. 292f. 200 relativism 3. pharaoh 42. 307. biblical f. 254. I. 99. personal piety 42ff. 156.. private s. 282 philosophical r.t. 75. 51 philosophy of history (Geschichtsphilosophie) 209.... C. 216ff. 137 neo-Kantianism 12. 134. 187.. 231. 49.. 208. 301 Renouvrier... 117. 310 Great r.. 304. C. F. 121ff. 261 f. negative theology 211 negative transcendence 97. 219 reason and revelation 162f. 97.s. 291 postmodern movements 25. 117. 255 Numa Pompilius 194.. 81ff. 40. 48 Polybios 10. 89f. 261f. 90 New Testament 209. 152f.. 183. of religion 78. 76. M. 156 perpetrator 8. vers. 109. E. H. 149.. 184.t. r. 222 French R. 208 Niebuhr. 110. progress 6. 229. 32 postmodern skepticism 135 Prantl. 22. 162. 305f.t. 168ff. 118ff. 269. 193ff.

218. 96 figure of the sovereign 98f. 202f. G. 20f. 276ff. 17. 250. 260 Schopenhauer. 259. 151 state modern s. 175. 217. 107. Diodorus 195 Siemens. 90.. 81. 135 solidarity 127. 78. 276 theodicee 125 theo-mimesis 158 Tiburtinian Sibyl 207f. 266 thesis of s. G. 152. A. 174 transcendence figures of t. 207ff. H. 198ff. value-theory 268ff. A. 271 Siculus. 179 321 tale of s. 250.A. 10. 12. 292. 261. M. 255. 260 Turner. 75.J. 9. 11. F. as replacement for god 131 Sunna 79 taboo 57. . F.K. 258 Stalin. V. 100. 232. 76. process of s. 4.C.. R. C. 2–3. 213 Tiryakian.. 95ff. 249. E. F.E. 108 ideology of s. F. 12. Rousseau. 103. 267 Schlegel. F. 78 minor t. 124. 265f. skepticism 5. 252 Spinoza. 251 Spencer. L. 219 rois thaumaturges 48. 117.. 119. 257. 21ff. 299 university 256 value-rationality (Wertrationalität) 175f. Savigny. Toulmin. trauma 1..-J.. critique of s. transcendence of s. 212 s. 20f. H. 282 Ross. 8–9. 297 Schnädelbach. E. 231. 80.W. 170 revolutionary state 10. 259 Scheler. 62. 127. 256ff. 25. scientific r. 40. 223 revolutionary movements 18. 276 Schelling. Vereine 120ff. 171 de Tocqueville. 207f. 7. J. 127. 123. W.J. 262 Schleiermacher. J. 10. 209ff. 29. 116. 269ff. 246.. F.. 128. 68. S. 252 sacerdotes iustitiae (priests of justice) 110 sacred/profane 78. 17. 131 Sombart. 291ff. 275 Scottish Moralists 252 secularization concepts of s. 75 scientism 25. 95f. 196ff. F. 149f. 291ff. 279 Stahl. H. 76. 5. 257. 10. 155 Shils. 269 Scholtz. 196. 256 Robbespierre.H. Rickert. 252ff. 271. 233 Schlögl. 11 Schmitt. A. 251 Spirit (Geist) 12. 134.D. F. 266ff. 134. 23. 104.A. 150. 133f. 78 transcendental philosophy 256. 183. 210 nation-s. 256 Schiller. A. M. 45f.. 93.index Industrial R. 130 Taoism 78 Taylor. 233.. Ringer. 87. 150. R.. 170. F. Tolstoy. Trendelenburg.. 7. J.. 266. 12. princely s. 201. 10. terrorism 65 Tenbruck. 88 Toland. 291 shamanism 78 Shia 79.. 1. 29. C. 83 intermediate t. 154f. 158 Romanticism 30. 267 Trismegist 195 Troeltsch. 259ff. 263 Schutz.. B. 250. 96. 102ff. s. 131f. 96 universalism 20. 273f. 145 salons 120ff. W. great t. 185 Simmel. 81. 270. 181. 12. 211. 4. 94 revolutionary s. 176. 1 sovereignty 8. 124 Specht. 68 temporal foreshortening 11. and science 259. Simmel. E. 263 Totenzettel (death announcements) 243ff. G. 11. 291ff.

292 Windelband. v. hero 127ff. 124f. G. 201. P. 195 Zoroastrianism 39 . 95. 134 tale of the v. 177. 283 Wieland. 51. E. 280 Wittgenstein. 231. vers. 7. Zoroaster 39. 259 world view 77ff. 134 victimhood 127.. C. L. 112. 96. 186. 132f.. 249 void 8. 219 Wiesel. 180 Voltaire 117.. 131 Wilson. 50f. 271ff. 176 victim 8. 250. 101f. 60. Warburton. W. B. 266. 75. 284. Voegelin. vers. 12. E. 134. 100. V. 271. Weber. 96 Wittrock. 293 Weizsäcker. 39. 169.322 index 94..M. 10. Xianzong 116 Xuannang poetry Xunzi 113 119 Vico. 4. sacrifice 125f. 39. B. A. 68. 133 volonté générale (general will) 118. 167. 268.. Weber. transcendence of the v. 259 W. 276. 124. M. 120f. 262 Wagner. 261 1–2. 104. 176. 124ff. 250. 266. 198ff. 153. 4. v.

J. & J.INTERNATIONAL STUDIES IN RELIGION AND SOCIETY ISSN 1573-4293 1. ISBN 90 04 13943 5 2. Violence and Visions for Peace. Pieterse.A. 2004. B. G. 2005.J. Giesen. van der. Z 3. J. 2005. & D. ter.) Religion and Politics. Dreyer & H. Busuttil (eds. Is there a God of Human Rights? The Complex Relationship between Human Rights and Religion: A South African Case.. ISBN 90 04 14463 3 . Haar. Religion. ISBN 90 04 14209 6. Ven.C. Suber (eds.S. Cultural Perspectives.) Bridge or Barrier.J.

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