Secularisation et experience religieuse: L'ambiguite de la modernite
Doctor of Philosophy
Related but not limited to French studies, my work seeks to understand the variety and complexity of religion and religious experience today. With the rise of modernity, Western societies came first to doubt the foundations of religion in the name of reason, then to subject reason itself to critique. The result has been our now familiar circumstance in which we find ourselves wholly without grounds or foundations in any domain at all, and in which, since the nineteenth century, religion itself has become just one thing among others, one more institution among other institutions. Accordingly, the first step in my work is to describe, both as a philosophical project and as a practical necessity of social reality, the implications of this historical trajectory winch has culminated in what we today call a "pluralist society." The second part of my inquiry concerns the problematic status of religious experience in an environment dominated by individualism. The question arises: do we live in an entirely "disenchanted" world, or is religious experience still a real and significant phenomenon? Assuredly, the decline of religion as a social institution does not imply the utter destruction or impossibility of religious experience. It involves, rather, a major change in social relations, moral values and authority in general. I address these matters with reference to the works of Georges Bataille, Jacques Maritain, Emmanuel Mounier, Mircea Eliade, or Friedrich Nietzsche. Naturally, my investigation includes historical references to philosophers and writers from the seventeenth century to our days (Descartes, Leibniz, Spinoza, Kant, Feuerbach, Marx, Freud, on one hand and romanticism on the other). As a conclusion to my research I demonstrate that secularization is not a completed phenomenon but rather a partial process that guarantees neither the end of religion nor the retreat of religious experience. It does, however, require a reconfiguration of the traditional ways of conceiving modernity.
Philosophy; Romance literature; Religion; Sociology