Translating Worldviews: Incorporating Religion in Public Discourse

By Jonathan Napier.

Published by The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The relationship between religion and politics needs to be reconsidered in order to address the demands of our time. Two scholars who are attempting to do this are the political philosopher, Jürgen Habermas and Abdullah Ahmed An Na'im, Professor of Law. Though clearly writing from different dispositions, they analyze the increasingly urgent issue of the role of religion in public discourse. Each offers a method which seeks to leverage the importance of religion and religious identities in the social and political spheres by considering the process of translating religious worldviews into secular language. Though laudable, the aims of Habermas and An Na'im must be checked by the difficulties arising from such translation—a process imbricated in certain ideological biases. I will consider these problems and propose ways by which both Habermas’ and An Na'im’s overall programs can be implemented while admitting the necessarily perspectival nature of any consolation of their arguments. By leveraging the dynamic, tense equilibrium at the heart of metaphorical predication—a dialectic at the heart of translation—I propose a nuanced reading of their projects which facilitates further political and social discourse while making space for religious identities in the framework of modernity.

Keywords: Religion and Politics, Public Discourse, Secularism, Multiculturalism, Pluralism, Hermeneutics, Religious Identity, Dialogue

The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp.17-24. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 370.328KB).

Jonathan Napier

PHD Student, Religious Studies, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Jonathan Napier is currently pursuing a PHD in Religious Studies at the University of Calgary. Research interests include interfaith dialogue, the politics of religion, and religion in the public sphere.