“Reason cannot have its religious cake and eat it.”
Jürgen Habermas and Religion
Compiled and Introduced by Kenneth G. MacKendrick
Comments and suggestions: firstname.lastname@example.org
The bibliography has been constructed keeping in mind the various distinctions and conflations of theology, religion, and the study of religion within Habermas’s writings. Primary sources are essays by Habermas dealing with symbols and symbolism, mythic thought, ritual, religious studies, theology, and religion in the public sphere. I have refrained from including essays on the relation between moral philosophy and ethics, political theory and multiculturalism as well as essays on aesthetics, all of which may be relevant to the study of Habermas and religion. Likewise, I have not included his essays on the pragmatics of social interaction which, in essence, deal with learning processes that liberate individuals from dependence upon tradition.
Secondary sources have been limited to writings pertaining almost exclusively to religion or theology in relation to Habermas’s writings. Discussions about multiculturalism and citizenship have been excluded with the caveat that this exclusion can only be justified in lexical terms: if it doesn’t mention the word religion, it didn’t make the short list.
Introduction to Habermas and Religion: There are three principal directions that Habermas’s thoughts on religion offer.
1) A critical theory of society provides a critique of theology and religious thought.
2) Habermas’s theory of social evolution and communicative rationality explains and accounts for the function of religion within processes of socialization and individuation.
3) Habermas’s political theory outlines a programmatic understanding of the appropriate place of religion and religious language within ethical, moral, and political discourses.
Introduction to Secondary Literature: There are three principal responses to Habermas’s work.
1) Responses from theologians and religious thinkers who argue that Habermas underestimates or misunderstands the potential of religion to serve as a progressive or vitalistic force within society.
2) Sociologists and social theorists interested in using or responding to Habermas’s conception of religion and its role within society.
3) Responses from political theorists and moral philosophers on Habermas’s understanding of the relation between religion, law, and morality.
Forewarning: the bibliography is a work in progress; the material listed is not as thoroughly documented as it could be. In future revisions I hope to list material by individual chapter and include German publication dates.
A rough guide, collected from the footnotes of Habermas’s writings on religion. The notes are not exhaustive and are the work product of a quick skim over the authors and titles that are associated with many of the primary sources. Not included in this section are writings pertaining to cognitive development and social evolution.
Habermas, Jürgen. 1984. “Introduction: Approaches to the Problem of Rationality” and “Max Weber’s Theory of Rationalization.” In The Theory of Communicative Action: Reason and the Rationalization of Society, 1-142, 143-271. Translated by Thomas McCarthy. Boston: Beacon Press.
Habermas, Jürgen. 1987. “The Paradigm Shift in Mead and Durkheim: From Purposive Activity to Communicative Action.” In The Theory of Communicative Action: Lifeworld and System: A Critique of Functionalist Reason, 1-111. Translated by Thomas McCarthy. Boston: Beacon Press.
Habermas, Jürgen. 1987. The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity: Twelve Lectures. Translated by Frederick G. Lawrence. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
Habermas, Jürgen. 1992. Postmetaphysical Thinking: Philosophical Essays. Translated by William Mark Hohengarten. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
Habermas, Jürgen. 1992. “Transcendence from Within, Transcendence in this World.” In Habermas, Modernity, and Public Theology, 226-250. Edited by Don S. Browning and Francis Schüssler Fiorenza. New York: Crossroad.
Habermas, Jürgen. 1993. “To Seek to Salvage an Unconditional Meaning Without God Is a Futile Undertaking: Reflections on a Remark of Max Horkheimer.” In Justification and Application: Remarks on Discourse Ethics, 133-146. Translated by Ciaran P. Cronin. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
Habermas, Jürgen. 1995. “Communicative Freedom and Negative Theology.” In Kierkegaard in Post/Modernity, 182-198. Editied by Martin J. Matuštíl and Merold Westphal. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Reprinted in Religion and Rationality (2002).
Habermas, Jürgen. 2001. The Liberating Power of Symbols: Philosophical Essays. Translated by Peter Dews. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
Habermas, Jürgen. 2002. Religion and Rationality: Essays on Reason, God, and Modernity. Edited and with an Introduction by Eduardo Mendieta. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
Habermas, Jürgen. “The Unrest is Growing: Habermas in Iran.” Interview with Christiane Hoffmann. 18 June 2002. New Social Democrats. 14 Jan. 2009.
Habermas, Jürgen. 2003. “Are there Postmetaphysical Answers to the Question: What is the ‘Good Life’?” In The Future of Human Nature, 1-15. Cambridge: Polity.
Habermas, Jürgen. 2003.”Faith and Knowledge.” In The Future of Human Nature, 101-115. Cambridge: Polity. Reprinted in The Frankfurt School on Religion: Key Writings by the Major Thinkers, 327-337. Edited by Eduardo Mendieta. New York: Routledge, 2005.
Habermas, Jürgen. 2003. “Fundamentalism and Terror: A Dialogue with Jürgen Habermas.” In Philosophy in a Time of Terror: Dialogues with Jürgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida, 25-43. Edited by Giovanna Borradori. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Reprinted in The Divided West (2006).
Habermas, Jürgen. 2003. “Intolerance and Discrimination.” International Journal of Constitutional Law 1, no. 1: 2-12.
Habermas, Jürgen. 2004. “Religious Tolerance – The Pacemaker for Cultural Rights.” Philosophy 79: 5-18. Reprinted in Between Naturalism and Religion (2008).
Habermas, Jürgen. 2005. “Israel and Athens, or to Whom Does Anamnestic Reason Belong?” In The Frankfurt School on Religion: Key Writings by the Major Thinkers, 293-301. Edited by Eduardo Mendieta. New York: Routledge.
Habermas, Jürgen. 2005. “On the Relation between the Secular Liberal State and Religion.” In The Frankfurt School on Religion: Key Writings by the Major Thinkers, 339-348. Edited by Eduardo Mendieta. New York: Routledge.
Habermas, Jürgen. 2005. “Transcendence from Within, Transcendence in this World.” In The Frankfurt School on Religion: Key Writings by the Major Thinkers, 303-325. Edited by Eduardo Mendieta. New York: Routledge.
Habermas, Jürgen. 2006. “A Conversation about God and the World.” In Time of Transitions, 149-169. Edited and Translated by Ciaran Cronin and Max Pensky. Cambridge: Polity.
Habermas, Jürgen. 2006. “Fundamentalism and Terror.” In The Divided West, 3-25. Edited and Translated by Ciaran Cronin. Cambridge: Polity.
Habermas, Jürgen. 2006. “How to Respond to the Ethical Question.” In The Derrida-Habermas Reader, 115-127. Edited by Lasse Thomassen. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Habermas, Jürgen. 2006. “Pre-political Foundations of the Democratic Constitutional State?” In The Dialectics of Secularization: On Reason and Religion, 19-52. Edited with a Foreword by Florian Schuller. Translated by Brian McNeil. San Francisco: Ignatius.
Habermas, Jürgen. 2006. “Religion in the Public Sphere.” European Journal of Philosophy 14, no. 1: 1-25. Reprinted in Between Religion and Naturalism (2008).
Habermas, Jürgen. 2006. “Symbolic Expression and Ritual Behavior: Ernst Cassierer and Arnold Gehlen Revisited.” In Time of Transition, 53-70. Edited and Translated by Ciaran Cronin and Max Pensky. Cambridge: Polity.
Habermas, Jürgen. 2008. Between Naturalism and Religion. Translated by Ciaran Cronin. Cambridge: Polity.
Habermas, Jürgen. 2008. “Notes on a Postsecular Society.” Sight and Sound 18/06/08. 19 Jan. 2009
Adams, Nick. Habermas and Theology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Afrasiabi, K. L. 1998. “Communicative Theory and Theology: A Reconsideration.” The Harvard Theological Review 91, no. 1: 75-87.
Arens, Edmund. 1997. “Interruptions: Critical Theory and Political Theology between Modernity and Postmodernity.” In Liberation Theologies, Postmodernity, and the Americas, 222-242. Edited by David Batstone et al. New York: Routledge.
Barbato, Mariano and Friedrich Kratochwil. 2008. “Habermas’s Notion of a Post-Secular Society. A Perspective from International Relations.” MWP Working Papers. 14 Jan. 2009.
Benhabib, Seyla. 2002. The Claims of Culture: Equality and Diversity in the Global Era. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Berger, Johannes. 1991. “The Linguistification of the Sacred and the Delinguistificaiton of the Economy.” In Communicative Action: Essays on Jürgen Habermas’s The Theory of Communicative Action, 165-180. Edited by Axel Honneth and Hans Joas. Translated by Jeremy Gains and Doris L. Jones. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
Berman, Russell A. 1999. “From Brecht to Schleiermacher: Religion and Critical Theory.” Telos 115: 36-48.
Bertland, Alexander. 2000. “Habermas and Vico on Mythical Thought.” In Perspectives on Habermas, 71-87. Edited by Lewis Edwin Hahn. Chicago: Open Court.
Billings, Dwight B. and Shaunna L. Scott. 1994. “Religion and Political Legitimation.” Annual Review of Sociology 20: 173-202.
Borradori, Giovanna, ed. 2003. Philosophy in a Time of Terror: Dialogues with Jürgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Browning, Don S. and Francis Schüssler Fiorenza, ed. 1992. Habermas, Modernity, and Public Theology. New York: Crossroad.
Calhoun, Craig. 2008. “Secularism, Citizenship, and the Public Sphere.” The Hedgehog Review 10, no. 3: 7-21.
Campbell, Margaret M. 1999. Critical Theory and Liberation Theology: A Comparison of the Initial Work of Jürgen Habermas and Gustavo Gutierrez. New York: Peter Lang.
Cheng, Chung-Ying. 2000. “Confucian Reflections on Habermasian Approaches: Moral Rationality and Inter-humanity.” In Perspectives on Habermas, 195-233. Edited by Lewis Edwin Hahn. Chicago: Open Court.
Chambers, Simone. 2007. “How Religion Speaks to the Agnostic: Habermas on the Persistent Value of Religion.” Constellations 14, no. 2: 210-223.
Chidester, David. 2002. “Global Citizenship, Cultural Citizenship in World Religions and Religion Education.” In Global Citizenship, Cultural Citizenship in World Religions and Religion Education, 1-20. Cape Town: HRSC Press.
Cooke, Maeve. 2001. “Critical Theory and Religion.” In Philosophy of Religion in the 21st Century, 211-243. Edited by D. Z. Phillips and T. Tessin. London: Palgrave.
Cooke, Maeve. 2006. “Salvaging and Secularizing the Semantic Contents of Religion: The Limitations of Habermas’s Postmetaphysical Proposal.” International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 60: 187-207.
Cooke, Maeve. 2007. “A Secular State for a Postsecular Society? Postmetaphysical Political Theory and the Place of Religion.” Constellations 14, no. 2: 224-238.
Davis, Charles. 1990. Theology and Political Society. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Dillon, Michele. 1999. “The Authority of the Hoy Revisited: Habermas, Religion, and Emancipatory Possibilities.” Sociological Theory 17, no. 3: 290-306.
Enns, Phil. 2007. “Habermas, Reason, and the Problem of Religion: The Role of Religion in the Public Sphere.” The Heythrop Journal 48, no. 6: 878-894.
Fields, Echo E. 1991. “Understanding Activist Fundamentalism: Capitalist Crisis and the ‘Colonization of the Lifeworld.’” Sociological Analysis 52: 175-190.
Fortin-Melkevik, Anne. 1992. “The Reciprocal Exclusivenes of Modernity and Religion among Contemporary Thinkers: Jürgen Habermas and Marcel Gauchet.” In The Debate on Modernity: Special issue of Concilium, 57-66. Edited by Claude Geffré and Jean-Pierre Jossua. London: SCM Press.
Garrigan, Siobhan. 2004. Beyond Ritual: Sacramental Theology After Habermas. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing.
Gillan, Garth. 2000. “Communicative Action Theory and the Possibility of Theology.” In Perspectives on Habermas, 113-122. Edited by Lewis Edwin Hahn. Chicago: Open Court.
Giri, Anata Kumar. 2004. “Knowledge and Human Liberation: Jürgen Habermas, Sri Aurobindo and Beyond.” European Journal of Social Theory 7, no. 1: 85-103.
Goldstein, Warren S., ed. 2006. Marx, Critical Theory, and Religion: A Critique of Rational Choice. Boston: Brill.
Harrington, Austin. 2007. “Habermas and the ‘Post-Secular Society.’” European Journal of Social Theory 10: 543-560.
Harrington, Austin. 2007. “Habermas’s Theological Turn?” Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 37, no. 1: 45-61.
Henry, Paget. 2000. “Myth, Language, and Habermasian Rationality: Another Africana Contribution.” In Perspectives on Habermas, 89-111. Edited by Lewis Edwin Hahn. Chicago: Open Court.
Hewitt, Marsha A. 1995. Critical Theory of Religion: A Feminist Analysis. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.
Hewitt, Marsha A. 2000. “Reasons without Consolation: The Misappropriation of the Discourse Theory of Jürgen Habermas and Their Implications for the Study of Religion.” In Secular Theories on Religion: A Selection of Recent Academic Perspectives, 33-50. Edited by Tim Jensen and Mikael Rothstein. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press.
Hoelzl, Michael. 2004. “Recognizing the Sacrificial Victim: The Problem of Solidarity for Critical Social Theory.” Journal of Cultural and Religious Theory 6, no. 1: 45-64.
Hudson, Wayne. 2004. “Postreligious Aesthetics and Critical Theory.” In Critical Theory after Habermas: Encounters and Departures, 133-154. Edited by Dieter Freundlieb, Wayne Hudson, and John Rundell. Boston: Brill.
Joas, Hans. 1996. The Creativity of Action. Translated by Jeremy Gaines and Paul Keast. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Joas, Hans. 2008. Do We Need Religion? On the Experience of Self-Transcendence. Boulder: Paradigm Publishers.
Kelly, Ute. 2006. “Discourse Ethics and ‘the Rift of Speechlessness’: The Limits of Argumentation and Possible Future Directions.” Political Studies Review 4, no. 1: 3-15.
Kim, Andrew E. 1996. “Critical Theory and the Sociology of Religion: A Reassessment.” Social Compass 43, no. 2: 267-283.
Lafont, Cristina. 2007. “Religion in the Public Sphere: Remarks on Habermas’s Conception of Public Deliberation in Postsecular Societies.” Constellations 14, no. 2: 239-259.
Lakeland, Paul. 1990. Theology and Critical Theory: The Discourse of the Church. Nashville: Abingdon Press.
LaLonde, Marc P., ed. 1995. The Promise of Critical Theology: Essays in Honour of Charles Davis. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier Press.
LaLonde, Marc P. 1999. Critical Theology and the Challenge of Jürgen Habermas: Toward a Critical Theory of Religious Insight. New York: Peter Lang.
Lara, María Pía, ed. 2001. Rethinking Evil: Contemporary Perspectives. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Lee, Hak Joon. 2006. Covenant and Communication: A Christian Moral Conversation with Jürgen Habermas. Landham: University Press of America.
Leeper, Roy V. 1996. “Moral Objectivity, Jürgen Habermas’s Discourse Ethics, and Public Relations.” Public Relations Review 22, no. 2: 133-150.
MacKendrick, Kenneth G. 2006. “Intersubjectivity and Religious Language: Toward a Critique of Regressive Trends in Thanatology.” In Marx, Critical Theory, and Religion: A Critique of Rational Choice, 179-201. Edited by Warren S. Goldstein. Boston: Brill.
Marsh, James.1993. “The Religious Significance of Habermas.” Faith and Philosophy 10: 521-538.
Matuštík, Martin Beck. 2004. “Between Hope and Terror: Habermas and Derrida Plead for the Im/possible.” Epoché 9, no. 1: 1-18. Reprinted in Thomassen, The Derrida-Habermas Reader (2006).
Matuštík, Martin Beck. 2007. “Towards an Integral Critical Theory of the Present Age.” Integral Review 5: 227-239.
McCarthy, Thomas.1991. “Critical Theory and Political Theology: The Postulates of Communicative Reason.” In Ideals and Illusions: On Reconstruction and Deconstruction in Contemporary Critical Theory, 200-216. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
McLennan, Gregor. 2007. “Towards Postsecular Sociology?” Sociology 41, no. 5: 857-870.
Mendieta, Eduardo. 2000. “Modernity’s Religion: Habermas and the Linguistification of the Sacred.” In Perspectives on Habermas, 123-138. Edited by Lewis Edwin Hahn. Chicago: Open Court.
Mendieta, Eduardo, ed. 2005. The Frankfurt School on Religion: Key Writings by the Major Thinkers. New York: Routledge.
Meyer, William J. 1995. “Private Faith or Public Religion? An Assessment of Habermas’s Changing View of Religion.” The Journal of Religion 75, no. 3: 371-391.
Morrow, R. 1985. “Critical Theory and Critical Sociology.” Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology. 22:710-747.
Nielsen, D. 1987. “A Theory of Communicative Action or a Sociology of Civilizations? A Critique of Jürgen Habermas.” International Journal of Politics, Culture and Society 1, no. 1: 159-188.
Nemoianu, Virgil. 2006. “The Church and the Secular Establishment: A Philosophical Dialog between Joseph Ratzinger and Jürgen Habermas.” Logos 9, no. 2: 17-41.
Pecora, Vincent P. 2006. Secularization and Cultural Criticism: Religion, Nation and Modernity. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Perkins, R. L. 2004. “Habermas and Kierkegaard: Religious Subjectivity, Multiculturalism, and Historical Revisionism.” International Philosophical Quarterly 44, no. 4: 481-496.
Peukert, Helmut. 1984. Science, Actions, and Fundamental Theology. Translated by James Bohman. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
Postel, Danny. 2006. Reading Legitimation Crisis in Tehran: Iran and the Future of Liberalism. Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press.
Ratzinger, Joseph. 2006. “That Which Holds the World Together: The Pre-political Moral Foundations of a Free State.” In The Dialectics of Secularization: On Reason and Religion, 53-80. Edited with a Foreword by Florian Schuller. Translated by Brian McNeil. San Francisco: Ignatius.
Reiner, Hanan. 2006. The Web of Religion and Science: Bellah, Habermas and Giddens. Piscataway: Gorgias Press.
Rodriguez, A. M. G. 2005. “The Ground of Solidarity in Post-Metaphysical Polities.” Philosophy Today 49, no. 3/5: 211-224.
Rosati, Massimo. 2003. “The Marking and Representing of Society: Religion, the Sacred and Solidarity among Strangers in a Durkheimian Perspective.” Journal of Classical Sociology 3, no. 2: 173-196.
Rosenfeld, Michel. 2007. “Habermas’s Call for Cosmopolitan Constitutional Patriotism in an Age of Global Terror: A Pluralist Appraisal.” Constellations 14, no. 2: 159-181.
Rothberg, Donald Jay. 1986. “Rationality and Religion in Habermas’s Recent Work: Some Remarks on the Relation between Critical Theory and the Phenomenology of Religion.” Philosophy and Social Criticism 11: 221-246.
Rouner, L. S., ed. 1986. Civil Religion and Political Theology. Notre Dame: Notre Dame Press.
Salvatore, Armando. 2006. “Power and Authority within European Secularity: From the Enlightement Critique of Religion to the Contemporary Presence of Islam.” The Muslim World 96, no. 4: 543-561.
Sargent, Seymour. 1993. “Jürgen Habermas and the Ethics of Gatekeeping.” Cataloging and Classification Quarterly 16, no. 3: 7-15.
Shaw, Brian. J. 1999. “Habermas and Religious Inclusion: Lessons from Kant’s Moral Theology.” Political Theory 27, no. 5: 634-666.
Sidel, J. T. 2001. “‘It takes a madrasah’?: Habermas meets Bourdieu in Indonesia.” South East Asia Research 9, no. 1: 109-122.
Siebert, Rudolf. 1985. The Critical Theory of Religion and the Frankfurt School: From the Universal Pragmatic to Political Theology. New York: Mounton.
Siebert, Rudolf. 1989. From Critical Theory to Communicative Theology: Universal Solidarity. New York: Lang.
Simpson, Gary. 1989. “The Linguistification (and Liquifaction?) of the Sacred: A Theological Consideration of Jürgen Habermas’s Theory of Religion.” Exploration 7: 21-35.
Stanley, Timothy. 2006. “From Habermas to Barth and Back Again.” Journal of Church and State 48, no. 1: 101-126.
Thomassen, Lasse. 2006. “The Inclusion of the Other?: Habermas and the Paradox of Tolerance.” Political Theory 34: 439-462.
Truran, Mark Modak. 1997. “Habermas’s Discourse Theory of Law and the Relationship between Law and Religion.” Capital University Law Review 26: 461-481.
Wallace, Andy. 2003. “Reason, Society and Religion: Reflections on 11 September from a Habermasian Perspective.” Philosophy and Social Criticism 29, no. 5: 491-515.
Walsh, T. G. 1987. “Religion and Communicative Action.” Thought 62: 111-125.
Wilber, Ken. 2001. “On the Nature of a Post-Metaphysical Spirituality: Responses to Habermas and Weis.” 14 Jan. 2009.
Yates, Melissa. 2007. “Rawls and Habermas on Religion in the Public Sphere.” Philosophy and Social Criticism 33: 880-891.
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It is implicit here that Habermas is familiar with many of the writings of Kant, Schelling, Hegel, Schleiermacher, and Kierkegaard on religion.