«Jürgen Habermas: Religion, Cultural Diversity and Publicity Paula Montero Department of Anthropology, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brasil ...»
If the principle of publicity is the utmost rule of the game in the production of legitimacy, as suggested by Lavalle (2002: p. 78), there is, then, a limit to Habermasian theory in the exercise of polyphonic reasons. Between the “savage life” of the public sphere and the formal procedures of political bodies there is, for the author, an institutional demarcation, “a filter that allows only secular contributions from the Babel of voices to pass through” (Habermas, 2006: p. 9). Nevertheless, the force of religious discourses will continue to exercise its right as a persuasive language in the public sphere while other more convincing languages are not conventionalized to express a certain type of experience. What is required is the exercise of a type of reflexivity that relates faith to other points of view—an epistemic attitude that is inherent to communicative action and is based on the independence of one religion from the others, and from religions to secular thinking, the reasons of which prevail in the properly political arena (Habermas, 2006: p. 14). Thus, although Habermas excludes communicative action from the field of politics and confines the latter to the systemic world governed by instrumental action, it is possible to make the very concept of politics more encompassing in order to include the symbolic disputes governed by discourses by retaining the “principle of visibility” as a key notion.
4. Conclusion The re-reading of the notion of public sphere elaborated in his work in 1962 makes it possible to constitute as new objects of anthropological analysis, not only the objectification of pre-constructed religious identities, cultures, and beliefs that defend their (natural) rights in the political arena, but also the communicative flows from the life-world and the way they discursively establish identities, traditions, and beliefs. Cultural controversies and negotiations between various publics concerning the validity of certain propositions occur and become visible in the public sphere. By focusing on processes of reflexivity, anthropology may contribute to shedding new light on the modalities of consent from which operation every political activity derives.
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