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Friday, April 06, 2012

Secular Religions

"His critique of those universal philosophies of history (Marx, Toynbee, Spengler) that have made a lasting mark on our century: philosophies which all claim to have discovered the ultimate meaning of history, both the basic principle of historical structures and the causal force behind historical development). To him, these philosophies show themselves to be a ‘secularization of theologies’. In the act of the ‘idolization of history’,’ such theologies obey the personal philosophical possibilities of their creators in a secularized civilization. By contrast to other political ideologies, the secular religions absorb metaphysical, spiritual components; in Aron’s view, they are nourished by the substantive core of the universal philosophy of history, for they adapt to the above-cited elements in order to establish a historical truth.

In its character of promising inner-worldly salvation, the secularized religion, eschatological promise and proclamation of an absolute, dogmatic truth instrumentalize history as an instance of legitimation of their respective world-views - world-views that are fixed in stone as true. Accompanying the substitution of Christian belief in a secularized mass society, one finds here both a simplification and a banalization of transcendent belief — even a caricature of it. The secular religions, which therefore have pejorative connotations, transpose the individual human being’s formerly transcendent expectation of benefit and salvation into collective, inner-worldly promises of liberation. These are supposed to provide an ‘equivalent of the lost eternity’ in the form of new kinds of homogeneous social structures."

--- Totalitarianism and political religions / Hans Maier


This was originally conceived as applying to totalitarian ideologies, but one can see how it also applies to others like Environmentalism and Feminism.
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