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Two of Europe’s Greatest Minds: The Ratzinger-Habermas Connection

December 18, 2006

How about this! That historic debate between Pope Benedict XVI (then Joseph Ratzinger) and Jürgen Habermas that I’ve mentioned a few times is going to be published in its totality by Ignatius Press under the title The Dialectics of Secularization: On Reason and Religion.

I mentioned in an earlier post that the discussion between Habermas and Ratzinger has already been published by Fordham University Press in a collection called Political Theologies: Public Religions in a Post-Secular World.

For those who do not know, Habermas is one of the most famous, notorious and brilliant social thinkers of our age. Influenced by the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory, which was made known to the world through the works of Horkheimer and Adorno, Habermas has been a constant critic of the excesses of capitalist Western culture and its consumerist industry. He is reknowned for the development of his theory of communicative reason, which seeks to discover the seat of reason in discourse among subjects rather than in the cosmos (Greek) or the knowing self (modernism). An avowed atheist and neo-Marxist, Habermas has recently commented on the manner in which Christianity alone can serve as the matrix for the preservation of Western values. He and Pope Benedict have come to agreement on a number of socio-political issues as the Pope mentions in his Values in a Time of Upheaval.

As someone who will be studying social and political philosophy at Texas A&M this spring, I look forward to this publication. I will warn you, however, Habermas is no walk-in-the-park. Only Spinoza’s Ethic and Kant’s critiques have rivaled the kind of arid and esoteric reasoning found throughout Habermas’ writings. Nevertheless, it will be quite a ride witnessing the dialogue between two of the greatest minds of Europe today.

If you are interested in some background on the meeting between Ratzinger and Habermas, see the CathNews write-up here.

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