27 September 2009

"We have no other options." (UPDATED)

J├╝rgen Habermas, one of the world's leading contemporary proponents of philosophical hermeneutics and an atheist, writes about Christianity:

"Christianity, and nothing else, is the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, the benchmarks of Western civilization. To this we have no other options. We continue to nourish ourselves from this source. Everything else is postmodern chatter."

PoMo chatter, indeed. . .unless, of course, Western civilization and its Christian foundation deems your favorite sin as. . .well. . .a sin.

UPDATE: The quote above is attributed to Habermas. It is a paraphrase. Here's the real deal from Times of Transition (2006):

". . .Christianity not only fulfilled the initial cognitive conditions for modern structures of consciousness; it also fostered a range of motivations that formed the major themes of the economic and ethical research of Max Weber. Christianity has functioned for the normative self-understanding of modernity as more than a mere precursor or a catalyst. Egalitarian universalism, from which sprang ideas of freedom and social solidarity, of an autonomous conduct of life and emancipation, of the individual morality of conscience, human rights, and democracy, is the direct heir of the Judaic ethic of justice and the Christian ethic of love. This legacy, substantially unchanged, has been the object of continual critical appropriation and reinterpretation. To this day, there is no alternative to it. And in light of the current challenges of a postnational constellation, we continue to draw on the substance of this heritage. Everything else is just idle postmodern talk.” (150-1)

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  1. Anonymous12:30 PM

    Many thanks for your good work! I look at your posts regularly.

    I would point out that Wikipedia on Habermas (more precisely of course, the W. author or authors) disputes the H. quotation. With some merit, it seems to me, although I don't have access to the H. texts themselves. The Wikipedia author attributes the mistaken text to Dr Sandro Magister, whose work you doubtless know.

    It is probably a question of legitimate journalistic paraphrase, translation, etc.

  2. Did you take this from his dialogue with (then) cardinal Ratzinger? if so i would like to see what other notable content came of that discussion. I'd read it myself but it all seems quite over my head right now.