Beyond Idols: The Shape of a Secular Society by Richard K. Fenn

By Richard K. Fenn

This ebook makes an attempt to articulate the character of an earthly society, describe its advantages, and indicates the stipulations less than which the sort of society may well emerge. To turn into secular, argues Fenn, is to open oneself and one's society to a variety of probabilities, a few fascinating and fascinating, a few burdensome and dreadful. whereas a few sociologists have argued "Civil faith" is critical to carry jointly our newly "religionless" society, Fenn urges that there's not anything to fear--and every little thing to gain--from dwelling in a society that's not sure jointly via sacred stories and ideology, or via sacred associations and practices.

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Hacking reminds us that, at the time of these investigations of double consciousness and of hysterical symptoms, France was no longer confident of its historical destiny or even of its ability to survive. Suffering acutely from the experience of defeat, France faced the prospect of not being able to stand the test of time. It was becoming, in a word, secular. Speaking of the widespread interest in one case of double consciousness,    Hacking (1995, 165) places those participating in the debate over extraordinary mental states in the context of their time: They were part of a larger politics, a battle for the character of France itself, for a France that had just been disgraced in war, for a France that was obsessed by the problem of degeneration, for a France that saw its science in visible decline before the vigor of the German- and English-speaking worlds.

Their words alone have authority and spell the difference between life and death. That is why in a ritual one has entered a zone that is virtually timeless, in the sense that the clock of mundane calculation has come to an end. One is also incarnating and reliving the past in such a way that the present becomes a mere extension of the past. So also indeed, as Bloch points out, does the future become a mere projection of the past. There is no other way, no other possibility, no alternative response, no different viewpoint, than the one being uttered in that particular context.

For Marcuse, as I have noted, it is the attempt to recover the maternal world that is the source of a new reality principle, of an imagination that can provide the rational as well as the instinctual basis for a new social order. As he describes it, “Eros strives for eternalizing itself in a permanent order” (1955, 203). However, such a striving delivers only uncertainty about one’s own being and stimulates a relentless demand for self-giving and sacrifice. The search for the sacred is the source of a fundamental doubt about one’s own being.

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