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

 

SOCIALISM IN A BIOGRAPHICAL CONTEXT: THE RELIGIOUS PERSPECTIVE ON THE RECENT PAST IN BULGARIA AND ROMANIA

GALINA GONCHAROVA, TEODORA KARAMELSKA

The article discusses the specific features of the relationship between the state and the Orthodox Church in Bulgaria and Romania after World War II. The authors show that, despite these being neighbouring socialist societies, religious activities were constructed differently in them: while in Bulgaria we see a “successful” reformulation of Orthodox cultural identity and its substitution by a secular worldview, in Romania the institutionalized forms of Christian ritual were preserved through a continuation of traditionalist policy dating from pre-socialist times. On the basis of biographical narratives about the recent past, the article describes and compares the tensions between state programmes for management of religiosity, the community strategies for slipping by the imposed dynamics of social life, and individual practices. Keywords: religious rituals, comparative studies, biographical method, Bulgaria, Romania

THE HONESTY OF THE HUMAN SCIENCES IN THE FACE OF CATASTROPHE

NISHIYAMA YUJI
In 2011 Japanese society suffered a triple catastrophe, unprecedented in history: an earthquake, a tsunami, and a nuclear power accident. The etymology of the word “catastrophe” comes from the Greek word for “turn”, and we may well say that the date March 11 indeed marked a great turn for Japanese society. Faced with this disaster, researchers in the natural and social sciences were able to provide concrete and effective help. But in such a situation, what kind of scientific contribution can be expected from the human sciences, which study man’s spiritual activity? The critical situation is a time for a fundamental rethinking of the concept and reality of all boundaries, now laid bare – those between man and nature, man and civilization, man and history. The author proposes a reflection on the representations, concept and thought of catastrophe, a reflection carried out primarily through the prism of literary and philosophical texts. Keywords: catastrophe, human sciences, March 11, 2011, Fukushima, nuclear power, Albert Camus, honesty

GREEN ENERGY INDUSTRY IN BULGARIA: CHALLENGES TO ITS DEVELOPMENT

MARTIN J. IVANOV
The article discusses the dynamic development of renewable energy sources (RES) in recent years in Bulgaria and analyzes various problems confronting its integration in the Bulgarian electrical energy system, including: the separation of the Electricity System Operator (ESO) from the National Electric Company (NEC) which has been postponed for years, and which, if done, might put a priority on investments in the electricity network; the failure to introduce the EU Third Liberalisation Package, the aim of which is to entirely set the system on market principles; legally regulated conditions that primarily tolerate the large and medium RES projects, while leaving a comparatively limited field for genuine local entrepreneurship; lack of possibilities for investments in domestic installations; political-economic ties and lack of transparency, which have characterized a large share of the investment projects. The article devotes attention to the question why environmental organizations, paradoxically and unlike their counterparts in Western Europe, are among the fiercest opponents of RES. Keywords: green energy, photovoltaics, actor-network theory, path dependency, NEC, ESO, corruption

THE “SYRIAN CRISIS” IN BULGARIA, OR HOW FACEBOOK CONSTITUTES CIVIC ASSOCIATIONS

KALINA GANEVA
The article discusses the potential of Facebook to mobilize various groups of citizens around important public causes. The first part of the article is focused on the basic characteristics of the social network, the principles of the establishment of ties between participants in the network and the strength of these ties. In the second part, the author analyzes attitudes in two Facebook groups created after the Syrian refugee wave in 2013. Keywords: social networks, Facebook, homophily, mobilizations, refugees

“GUESTS” FROM SYRIA: GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND MEDIA IMAGES OF REFUGEES IN TURKEY

GEORGETTA STOYKOVA
In March 2011, Syria was shaken by a series of demonstrations that gradually grew into a civil war. Hundreds of thousands of Syrian citizens, with or without official documents, through official border points or through illegal channels, left their native country and became political refugees. The impact of immigration waves was strongest on the bordering states – Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey. The article presents the problem in one of its regional contexts, focusing both on the politics of the Turkish state towards refugees and on the various media images of this category of people. Keywords: Syrian refugees in Turkey, integration policies, images of otherness

POLAND’S ‘GENERATION OF 89’: BETWEEN REBELLION, RIDICULE, AND THE END OF HISTORY

TOM JUNES
This article discusses youth and in particular student youth that came of age in the final years of communist rule in Poland and which actively came to oppose the then regime. While some scholars deny the existence of a specific generational experience and thus the formation of a distinct generation, this article argues the opposite: that the age-cohorts of youth that entered higher education institutions from the mid-1980s had a common socialisation experience and subsequently were forged into a generation through their collective experience of political action, culminating the in period from 1988 to 1989. To this end, the article first explores the socialisation process of the age-cohorts of youth that would constitute the ‘generation of 89’ from the historical perspective and context of late state socialism in Poland. Secondly, the article presents a discussion of the social movements that characterised the political actions of these youths while also outlining an ideological typology of the youthful oppositional activists of the late 1980s. Finally, the article elaborates on these youths’ decisive experience, the generational event, which was constituted by their role in and their experience of the demise of the communist regime in Poland. Keywords: Poland, generations, youth, communism, student movements, anti-communist opposition, social movements

MONEY WITHOUT A STATE. MONEY AND MONETARY SIGNS OF ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS IN THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE (17TH – 19TH CENTURY)

NIKOLAY NENOVSKY, PENCHO D. PENCHEV

The paper offers a historical and theoretical analysis of the emission of local moneys (coins and banknotes) undertaken in various forms by Orthodox Christians in the Bulgarian provinces of the Ottoman Empire. The study has two main goals. First, to add to the discussion regarding the variety and complexity of monetary practices in a historical perspective. Second, to contribute to a better understanding and rethinking of the economic and social processes in the Ottoman Empire that helped it maintain its century-long stability. The topical importance of this type of studies can be found in other directions as well. First, given the growing role of civil society today and the mass spread of new information technologies, the creation of money and monetary relations become less centralized and the architecture of money becomes increasingly complex. Second, the crisis of the Eurozone, the common monetary project in Europe, sets the very urgent task of seeking new projects of monetary organization of the European Union. Keywords: diversity of money, local and community currency, history of money, Balkans monetary history

Copyright © 2012 sp-bg.eu. All Rights Reserved.