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«Jürgen Habermas: Religion, Cultural Diversity and Publicity Paula Montero Department of Anthropology, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brasil ...»

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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. From the perspective of political relations conceived of in this more encompassing way, what is possible to retain as a significant advance of the Habermasian model is its articulation of what is cognitive and motivational in the religious world—already known by the tradition of anthropological studies—and the discursive processes of production of visibility in the impersonal flow of communication. Because they are intangible, it is necessary for anthropological observation to have the means to describe these evanescent and unsystematic moments in which “the formation of opinion emerges from the life-world and comes to public light” (Lavalle, 2002: p. 80).

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.

References Araújo, L. B. L. (1996). Religião e Modernidade em Habermas. São Paulo: Loyola.

Benhabib, S. (1996). Models of Public Space: Hannah Arendt. The Liberal Tradition and Jünger Habermas. In C. Calhoun (Org.), Habermas and the Public Sphere. MA: Massachusets Institute of Technology.

Costa, S. (1977). Contextos da construção da Esfera Pública no Brasil. Novos Estudos do Cebrap. N. 47.

Costa, S. (2002). As cores de Ercília. Esfera Pública, democracia e configurações pós-nacionais. Minas Gerais: UFMG.

Eley, G. (1996). Nations, Publics, and Political Cultures: Placing Habermas in the Nineteenth Century. In C. Calhoun (Org.), Habermas and the Public Sphere. MA: Massachusets Institute of Technology.

Giddens, A. (1995). Politics, Sociology and Social Theory. Cambridge: Polity.

Habermas, J. (1984). The Theory of Communicative Action. Boston: Beacon Press.

Habermas, J. (2006). Religion and the Public Sphere. European Journal of Philosophy, 14, 1-25.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0378.2006.00241.x Lavalle, A. G. (2002). Jünger Habermas e a virtualização da publicidade. Margem, No. 16.

Marcus, G. (1991). Problemas de la antropologia contemporânea em el mundo moderno. In Retóricas de la Antropologia.

Madrid: Jucri.

Marcus, G., & Fischer, M. (1986). Anthropology as Cultural Critique. An Experimental Moment in the History of Social Sciences. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Montero, P. (2006). Religião, pluralismo e esfera pública no Brasil. Novos Estudos-Cebrap, No. 74.


P. Montero

Nobre, M. (2008). Curso Livre de Teoria Crítica. São Paulo: Papirus.

Nobre, M., & Terra, R. (2008). Direito e Democracia. Um guia de leitura de Habermas. São Paulo: Malheiros.

Wagner, H. R. (1983). Alfred Schütz. An Intellectual Biography. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Weber, M. (1946). The Social Psychology of the World Religions. In From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology. New York:

Oxford University Press.

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