CONTENTS

TOPIC OF THE ISSUE:

RELIGION AND THE PUBLIC SPHERE

Issue Editors: Galina Goncharova, Teodora Karamelska

RELIGIOUS ETHICS AND THE BOUNDARIES OF MODERN CAPITALISM

Capitalism as Religion

Walter Benjamin

Through a Glass Darkly: Remarks on “Capitalism as Religion”

Vladimir Gradev

Ecollapse: Thinking Capitalism through Historical Limits

Deyan Deyanov

The Analytic of Dasein and Christian Existence

Johannes Weiss

CLASSICAL HERITAGE

The Pharisees (an excerpt from „Ancient Judaism“, Part 3 of The Economic Ethics of the World Religions 1915–1919)

Max Weber

BEYOND (DE)SECULARIZATION

Post-secularity and Ethics of Engagement

StilianYotov

Liberal Democracy as a Secular Religion (A Romance)

Kiril Vassilev

Religion in Public Debates. The Example of Bioethics

Friedemann Voigt

ISLAM FACING THE CHALLENGES OF DEMOCRACY

Critical Islam in the Focus of the Western-Islamic Public Sphere

Dilyana Mincheva

Virtual Umma: Constructing a Religious Community in the Social Media

Slavka Karakusheva

AGEING, RITUALS AND SOCIAL CHANGE

Religion in the Life of Older People

Peter G. Coleman, John H. Spreadbury

Exploring Belief: Challenges and Lessons of a Comparative Project

Joanna Bornat, Daniela Koleva

Socialism in a Biographical Context: the Religious Perspective on the Recent Past in Bulgaria and Romania

Galina Goncharova, Teodora Karamelska

ENERGY INDUSTRY AFTER FUKUSHIMA

The Honesty of the Humanities in Face of a Catastrophe

Nishiyama Yuji

Green Energy Industry in Bulgaria: Challenges to Its Development

Martin J. Ivanov

DEbuts

The “Syrian Crisis” in Bulgaria, or How Facebook Constitutes Civic Associations

Kalina Ganeva

Guests from Syria: Policies and Media Images of Refugees in Turkey

Georgetta Stoykova

ACADEMIC LECTURES

The List of Ships: on Devoted and on Absentminded Reading, Late at Night

Alexander Kiossev

Salt and Pepper

Raicho Pozharliev

THE HISTORICAL SOCIOLOGY OF SOCIALISM

Poland’s “Generation of 89”: Rebellion, Ridicule and the End of History

Tom Junes

MONETARY PRACTICES: A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE

Money without a State. Money and Monetary Signs of Orthodox Christians in the Ottoman Empire (17th – 19th Century)

Nikolay Nenovsky, Pencho D. Penchev

MARGINS

Declensions of the Possible (Darin Tenev. Digressions. Essays on Jacques Derrida)

Boyan Manchev

IN MEMORIAM

Richard Grathoff (1934–2013)

 

Scientific Events

Summer School “Digital Work, Globalization and Creative Industries” (July 22–26, 2013, Sofia/Razlog)

Hristina Stoyanova

Non-hegemonistic Sociologies: From Contexts to Practices (Sofia, October 17–19, 2013)
Civil Society, Politics, Solidarity: the Contribution of the Social Sciences (October 28, 2013 Sofia)

Nadezhda Krandeva

City and Village: the Challenges of the 21st Century (November 14–15, 2013, Sofia)

Luchezar Njagolov

On the Boundaries of the Body: Premodern, Modern and Supermodern (November 20, 2013, Plovdiv)

Stoyan Stavru

Central and Eastern Europe: Work, Employment and Societies between Transition and Change

(November 21–22, 2013, Evry, France)

Petya Ilieva-Trichkova

The Middle Class as a Prerequisite for Social Stability: Fifteen Years Later. A Conference Dedicated to the 60th Anniversary of Nikolay Tilkidjiev (December 3–4, 2013, Sofia)

Dimitrina Popilieva

Е/immigration: How to (Re)think the Migrant Struggles (May 8–9, 2014, Sofia)

Slavka Karakusheva

 

Reviews and Comments

How is Sovereignty Made? (Todor Hristov. Liberty and Sovereignty in the April Uprising)

Momchil Hristov

On Political Imagination and the Risk of Elitism (#The Protest. Analyses and Standpoints in the Bulgarian Press – Summer 2013. Edited by Daniel Smilov and Lea Vajsova)

Valentina Gueorguieva

Policies of the Existential (The Death of Socialism. Heroics and Post-heroics.
Edited by Daniela Koleva)

Ivan Elenkov

New books

Abstracts

 

RELIGION AND THE PUBLIC SPHERE

Abstracts


THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY: REMARKS ON “CAPITALISM AS RELIGION”

VLADIMIR GRADEV

This article is a commentary on Walter Benjamin’s fragment 74, written in 1921 and published posthumously under the title “Capitalism as Religion”. The author clarifies Benjamin’s thesis about the fundamental, essentially religious connection between money and life in modern capitalist society, and the transformation of life itself into a “living currency”. Keywords: capitalism, religion, money, life

ECOLLAPSE: THINKING CAPITALISM THROUGH HISTORICAL LIMITS

DEYAN DEYANOV

Although it proceeds from Max Weber’s interpretive sociology (in these evidently non-Weberian times), my article, through Weber, sets a problem to the Husserlian ontology of Lebenswelt, hence, sets a phenomenological problem. Though it sets this problem to Husserl, it provokes critical theory through Husserl: it accuses critical theory of not being able to think capitalism through historical limits, an inability that I find scandalous. That is why the article comes to a possible method of thinking modern capitalism, and hence thinking what I call super-modern capitalism. This is a capitalism of ecollapse, or ecological collapse provoked by the fateful meeting - within super-modern technologies - between the capitalist economy and what Husserl called the Galilean science. The stake of the solution provided by the non-classical critical theory I propose, the illusio of the solution, is the living earth, and what is required of us, in order to overcome the limits of capitalism and to save this earth, is evidently a revolutionary practice. This revolutionary practice, however, is not conceived of in terms of the Marxian model, in terms of barricades, but as similar to the Protestant ascesis, only in reverse – an ascesis with regard to capitalist productive labour. In Marx this is the labour that produces surplus value, and in Weber it is labour oriented to profitability, “to constantly renewed profit” (but in any case we should not forget that ascesis is also one of the revolutionary practices). It hence follows that the limits of the economy of super-modern capitalism can be theoretically interpreted and practically surmounted only if it is thought in terms of a new economic ethos and a new religious ethics (which again leads us to Weber, specifically, to his sociology of religion). Keywords: super-modern capitalism, Galilean science, idealizations of lifeworld, living earth, ecological collapse

THE ANALYTIC OF DASEIN AND CHRISTIAN EXISTENCE

JOHANNES WEISS

In Heidegger’s lecture “Phenomenology of religious life” (1920/21) a still elementary form of his “hermeneutics of facticity” is applied to the interpretation of early Christian existence. Here, constitutive phenomena of Christianity are not derived from general concepts but related, by way of “formal indication” (formale Anzeige), to structural features of “factual life” as such. In Being and Time, this religious background is still recognizable, but neutralized, and that also by reinterpreting some of those Christian phenomena (like the expectation of parousia, or living in the world “as though not”) in a non- or even antireligious sense. In the course of Heideggers “turn” from fundamental ontology to the history of being Christianity completely loses its ontological importance. Instead, together with modern science and for very similar reasons, it is regarded to be nothing but an expression and moving force of metaphysics coming to its end in “European nihilism”.
This outcome is unconvincing, if not an aporia for several reasons – one, and not the least of them, being the principal separation of “thinking” (Denken) or “consideration” (Besinnung), accessible to “the few” only, on the one hand, and the „unsubstantial knowledge“ of science, the realm of “the many”, or the public, on the other. Keywords: Christian existence – being there, fundamental ontology – history of being, thought – science, the few – the many, public

POST-SECULARITY AND ETHICS OF ENGAGEMENT

STILIAN YOTOV

The article focuses on the interpretation of post-secularity as a state of the processes of modernization and on the public role played in these processes by religion. In this connection the author offers some generalizations regarding alternative models of explanation and conceptualization based on the guiding principle of secularism and desecularization, and discusses the consequences these models have for the full understanding and recognition of pluralism. Against this backdrop, the analysis closes in on the problem of the connection between liberal democracy and post-secularity, especially on interpretations of this connection proposed by John Rawls and Jürgen Habermas. The attempts to overcome the deficits of classical liberalism (through a motivational support for neutrality), and to distribute the asymmetrical burden without discrimination by including radical difference in a common political project, are illustrated by reference to events that occurred in 2013 in the Balkans. The generalizations derived from these observations help provide a critical assessment of the formal and procedural ethics that permeates Rawls “political liberalism” or Habermas’s “Kantian republicanism”, and point to the need for complementing this ethics with ethics of engagement that seems to altogether transcend the limits of Kantian thought. Keywords: post-secularity, secularism, secularization, pluralism, neutrality and motivation, asymmetry, exclusion understanding and sharing justifications

LIBERAL DEMOCRACY AS A SECULAR RELIGION (A ROMANCE)

KIRIL VASSILEV

The article presents the neo-pragmatist interpretation of the place of religion in modern liberal societies offered by Richard Rorty in a series of essays. Rorty sees liberal democracy as a form of non-religious religion, the substance of which is faith in the future of a moral humanity. The prophets of this religion are the poets who are capable of creating an inspiring image of this future. Traditional religions have a place in liberal democracies but only as projects for individual perfection. Keywords: Richard Rorty, pragmatist philosophy of religion, religion and liberal democracy

RELIGION IN PUBLIC DEBATES. THE EXAMPLE OF BIOETHICS

FRIEDEMANN VOIGT

The article examines the meaning of religion in the German public sphere and raises the issue of the impact of religious activists on bioethical discourse in Germany. The author first of all outlines a model in which the institutionalized discourses of working groups, committees and commissions are not viewed separately but in their connection with ethical discourses at various functional levels. Only by seeing the mutual interaction of these bodies and the individuals participating in them can the norms and values, ways and strategies of argumentation in ethical commissions be understood. On the basis of this model and through examples of bioethical debates in the National Council for Ethics in Germany, the author studies the role of religion and of religious representatives; concrete empirical material is adduced. Finally, the article discusses problems related to the definition of religion in ethical discourses and commissions as well as the consequences of these problems for the topic of “religion and publicity”. Keywords: religious activists, bioethical discourse, ethics commissions, clinical committees for ethics, Germany

CRITICAL ISLAM IN THE FOCUS OF THE WESTERN-ISLAMIC PUBLIC SPHERE

DILYANA MINCHEVA
The paper introduces and explores the theoretical dimensions of the concept ‘Western-Islamic Public Sphere’. This is a space of intellectual exchange and interaction inspired by the secular, skeptic and tragic praxis of critique and interrogation that a group of Western-educated Islamic intellectuals pioneers and defends. Labelled in this paper as ‘critical Islam’, those intellectuals point to religious critique as the only way for handling and humanizing some of the most rigorous, fundamentalist and dogmatic, practices of Islam. In order to show the intellectual scale of ‘critical Islam’s’ project (via the concept of a Western-Islamic Public Sphere), the paper also discusses the notions of ‘autonomy’ and ‘heteronomy’ in Islamic context. Keywords: critical Islam, critique, public sphere, autonomy, heteronomy

VIRTUAL UMMA: CONSTRUCTING A RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY IN THE SOCIAL MEDIA

SLAVKA KARAKUSHEVA
The article discusses the social media as a factor for constructing the Muslim community (umma) in the virtual space. The Muslim community in Bulgaria, left in a marginal position within the national identity project and the access to the public space, professes its religious affiliation through membership in various Facebook groups and pages, where it exchanges information, supports causes, finds adherents. Thus, due to the lack of adequate debate recognizing the existence and the cultural rights of the Muslim community in Bulgaria, this community is building its own alternative publicity in the social media. Keywords: Islam, social media, virtual umma, religion 2.0.

RELIGION IN THE LIFE OF OLDER PEOPLE

PETER G. COLEMAN, JOHN H. SPREADBURY

Religion has been an important part of older people’s lives in most human cultures, but has been surprisingly neglected in post-war studies of ageing. Much of the recent renewal of interest has taken placed in the US and has focused on the role of religious belief and practice in sustaining physical and mental health. However what is needed is more understanding of how the different religious faiths, as well as alternative secular philosophies of life, sustain meaning in life when faced with the existential challenges of loss that accompany ageing. We cite as examples our own studies which highlight the various ways in which religion can sustain older people following bereavement of spouse. We need more studies of the role of religion in ageing in different societies with varied historical experiences, of the decline and recovery of traditional religion as well as of the development of new forms of spiritual practice. Keywords: existential meaning, health, bereavement, spiritual development

EXPLORING BELIEF: CHALLENGES AND LESSONS OF A COMPARATIVE PROJECT

JOANNA BORNAT, DANIELA KOLEVA
‘Marking Transitions and Meaning across the Life Course: Older People’s Memories of Religious and Secular Ceremonies in Eastern and Western Europe’. With colleagues in Romania, Bulgaria and the UK we crossed boundaries which were conceptual, geographical, linguistic, disciplinary and historical as well as belief-based. Here, we summarise what has been learned from a multidisciplinary approach to a comparative oral history in the area of religion and ageing. Drawing on oral history material generated during the project and on reflections of our co-researchers we address the issues of complexity of cultural-historical contexts, irreducibility of translation, and especially, in regard to conducting research on religion, reconciling the sometimes diverse perspectives of religious and non-religious researchers. Keywords: religion, belief, secular, comparative, Bulgaria, Romania, UK

 

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