Rethinking Secularism

The Social Science Research Council has posted the transcripts and videos from the Rethinking Secularism conference held at Cooper Union on October 22, featuring Jurgen Habermas, Charles Taylor, Judith Butler, and Cornel West. 

While Habermas, Taylor, and West all had their moments, it was Butler’s presentation on state violence and ethical reconciliation that really seemed to capture the minds of the audience. In beginning with the idea of alterity and arguing for an ethical conception of co-habilitation between diverse people, she claimed that “we not only live with those we never chose and to whom we may feel no social sense of belonging, but we are also obligated to preserve those lives and the plurality of which they form a part.” Interestingly, Zizek made a similar point at that same Cooper Union venue that month by stating it as a fact that Israelis and Palestinians have no choice but to negotiate and live with one another, since neither are leaving. 

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