Browsing by Subject "secular"

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  • Gillin, Joel (Helsingin yliopisto, 2017)
    This study is a descriptive account and analysis of the ideas and arguments of Canadian philosopher James K. A. Smith (1970 - ) in regard to religion and the secular. Using Smith’s published texts, the study examines some of the problems he sees with these concepts from different subfields of philosophy and evaluates Smith’s proposed solutions. The study begins with a discursive overview of the issues scholars face in the study of religion and the secular. Next, the study examines Smith’s engagement with theological traditions and postmodern thought to critique the epistemology and ontology of the secular, followed by Smith’s articulation of a “liturgical” anthropology as a model for understanding religion and secular practices. The final chapter explores the implications of Smith’s analysis and his advocacy of a post-secular approach to 1) the study of religion, 2) the public square, and 3) religious conflict. The study finds that Smith cogently employs postmodern thought to deconstruct the foundationalist epistemology of the secular. Furthermore, he argues that the secular relies upon an unsubstantiated ontology of closed, autonomous nature that gives secular theorizing and science an unwarranted privileged epistemic status. Modern philosophical anthropology is also found to be overly cognitive, and Smith proposes an original model emphasizing embodiment in which humans are desiring beings shaped by formative practices (“liturgies”). With these results, Smith’s post-secular approach to the study of religion shows that common distinctions between secular and religious beliefs and practices are misleading. A liturgical framework may provide better conceptual tools to locate and explain human behavior, including religious/secular violence, with some complications requiring further research. His analysis suggests a normative post-secularism which allows space for religious identities in the public sphere could potentially meet the challenges of pluralism and religious conflict.
  • Kurenlahti, Mikko Sakari; Salonen, Arto O. (2018)
    Due to the global challenges that are posed by the Anthropocene and the academic focus on the fragmented state of modernity, we extend an invitation for shared dialogue on the all-pervading nature of consumerism as the seemingly problematic ethos of Western consumer culture. To this end, we outline a way to approach consumerism as an implicit religion, theorized as having adopted functionalities related to explicitly faith-based traditions within secular settings. We suggest that a similar kind of holistic and multidimensional approach might be of great benefit in the implementation of sustainability, as this would allow, e.g., (i) a more holistic analysis of the all-pervading nature of consumerism; (ii) acknowledgement of the functional diversity of the phenomenon; (iii) recognition of the shallowness of the critique of consumerism as a way of life; and, (iv) shared dialogue across a spectrum of academic perspectives under a unified model. This approach problematizes standard interpretations of consumerism as being about the promotion of the individual against the collective and as leading to a general sense of purposelessness. The perspective of religion reveals how patterns of consumption become illuminated with meaning and connected to a shared way for individuals to articulate a sense of purpose in contemporary contexts.