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Werblowsky, Beyond Tradition and modernity, London 1976

[But by and large it could be said] [to fuss about] [to pride himself on the fact that] [glib
adoption] [veneer] [to come to grip with]
Reading notes:
Bibliography:
T.S. ELIOT, After Strange God, 1934
T.S. ELIOT, The Idea of a Christian Society, 1939
T.S. ELIOT, Notes Towards the Definition of Culture, 1948
C. FABRO, God in Exile: modern Atheism, 1968
K. LWITH, Meaning in History: The Theological Implications of the Philosophy of History, 1950
A. MACINTYRE, Secularization and Moral Change, 1967.
N. ROTENSTREICH, Basic Problems of Marxs Philosophy, 1965.
N. ROTENSTREICH, Jewish Philosophy in Modern Times from Mendelssohn to Rosenzweig, 1968.
G. SCHOLEM, Jewish Theology Today, The Center Magazine, vol. vii, pp. 58-71.
E. SIMON, What Price is Israels Normalcy?, in Commentary, vol. vii, pp. 341-437.
E. SIMON, Are we Israelis still Jews? The Search for Judaism in the New Society, in
Commentary vol. xv, pp. 357-336 [sic!].
Chapter I. Secularization and Secularism: Cultural Process and Ideological Critique
Books from Marcel Gauchet, Le Monde dis-enchant.
(pp. 4-5): Over and against the conservative functions of religious traditions, the history of
religions also knows utopian and revolutionary forms of eschatology and messianism. Their role
in processes of change, and especially as religious precursors of later secularized legitimations of
radical change, is a commonplace that does not require detailed comment here. What should be
stressed in the present context is that also radical forms of eschatology usually try to legitimate
themselves by appeal to one or more elements of tradition. With E. Shils, we should regard
rejection, innovation and even revolt as new emphases on hitherto marginal strands of tradition.
Every New Testament, so to speak, appeals to the authority of an Old Testament in order to
legitimate itself as being according to the scriptures.
a. Importance to study not only the process of change, but also the images of changes [viz. the
presence or absence of such images] in the various cultures.
b. (p. 5): In fact, the word change oscillates between a scientific-conceptual and a politicoideological function, much as do others key terms figuring in our discussion (e.g.
secularization, modernization).
Read Max Weber!
Authors dealing with the subject of secularization:
Hegel (as proved by Lwith); Weber; Tnnies (Gesellschaft as a kind of secularized Gemeinschaft);
Blumenberg (Legitimitt der Neuzeit).
(p. 11): As regards the scientific use of the term (secularization), two connotations are relevant to
our discussion. The one is secularization as the process of the emancipation of certain areas of
social, cultural and political life from the dominance or control (be it only in the sense of ultimate
legitimation) not only of ecclesiastical institutions but of traditional religions ideas and
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representations. The other is the implied allegation of continuity between certain ideas, values,
orientations or structures in their present secular form, and their religious antecedents, as happens
quite frequently, e.g., when Marxism is described as a secularized form of biblical eschatology, or
when peace, justice, the brotherhood of men or the sanctity of life are advertised as secular
versions of biblical ideals. There are a great many insufficiently explored assumptions behind these
usages, e.g., the notion that earlier culture were not only dominated in some sense (in which sense
exactly?) by ecclesiastical institutions and authorities, but that they were also, in some other and not
always clearly defined sense, more integrated and in their totality pervaded by religion. Very
often there is lurking in the background the oversimplified picture of an idealtypische total religious
civilization whether the Christian High Middle Ages in the West, or the age of the four rightly
guided caliphs in Muslim traditional mythistoire or the Ashokam age for Buddhists []
(p. 13): Bet whereas the neo-Weberian sociologist will examine religions for their role in the
process of modernization, our main emphasis will be on the question what modernization does to
religion.
[the truth of the matter is that modernization means Westernization: Hamilton Gibb,
Mohameddanism].
(p. 16): Not only modernity and secularization, but the very concept of secularization and
secularity as handled in sociology and in the study of religions are rooted in the tradition of the
enlightenment with its criticism of religion. This nexus, and the powerful tradition of the spirit of
the enlightenment together with its positivist and historicist offspring, place a heavy burden on the
modern study of religion. The burden is not made lighter by the tendentiousness of the, at times,
very thinly disguised so-called hermeneutical, phenomenological and other crypto-theological
exercises in that field. Here I am repeating in slightly different words what I said before in
connection with secularization. The modern study of religion is itself a secular phenomenon.
Hence when we study religion we not only try to understand a major historical and cultural
phenomenon; we are in the very act of doing so already engaged willy-nilly in Ideenpolitik.
Tradition means a certain presentness of the past, but this past is always being re-created and
hence it is to a significant extent more than an objective past (p. 17).
Perception of a traditional culture is part of a groups self-identification.
(p. 17): Members of a group simultaneously observe and discover their tradition as well as define
it thereby in some degree creating it.
Romano Guardini, Das Ende der Neuzeit (1950).
(p. 20): Western religions claims that criticism of authority (and hence the resulting erosion of all
authority) was as much part of their traditions as the sacralization of authority. Post-modern religion
will not only have to discover its substantive contents, but also and perhaps primarily new
canons of authority.
Chapter III. Sacral Particularity: the Jewish Case (with a digression on Japan)
(p. 42): Particularism (as an ism) is different from the affirmation of particularity. Universalism
is very often little more than a euphemistic name for the imperialist-expansionist pretentions of a
particular religion or ideology. A genuine human universality, it could be argued, is made up of
particularities. The human community is not necessarily a community of individuals that artificial
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construct of rationalist minds but a community of communities. This much seems fairly evident
today, when pluralism is being widely affirmed as the one acceptable basis of universality. The
student of religion will note in passing that [] there is a close connection between pluralism and
secularization. As applied to our present subject this means that Judaism, with all its temptations of
ethnocentrism and exclusiveness, also harbours a potentials paradigm for a meaningful variation on
the theme of the dialectic between particularity and universality.
(p. 42): Secondly, Judaism comes closest to Christianity in its involvement in modernity and
secularity. This is due to the fact or to the historical accident, if you prefer of the emancipation
of Western Jewry. The history of this emancipation is rooted in the European enlightenment and its
growing ideals of tolerance. European Jewry did not enter modern European society in a long
process of endogenous gestation and growth, but they plunged into it as the ghetto walls were
being breached, with a bang, though not without prolonged whimpers. Moreover the Jews were not
merely the beneficiaries of modernity and secularization but also among their most active and
dynamic agents not of their genesis, to be sure, but in the development of these processes.
(p. 49): Judaism is the religious dimension of the Jewish people. Israel to call the people by the
name by which since biblical times they called themselves is a people born of, and with, religion.
(p. 49): The people and the religion have grown together, the religion not only proclaiming beliefs
and dictating behaviour which the people adopt, but imposing these very specifically on that
particular people as its vocation, life-giving purpose, and guarantee of existence
(p. 50): It has been said of nineteenth-century Kulturprotenstantismus that what it cultivates is not
Protestantism but a pious reverence for Protenstantisms past. A similar quip could be made, mutatis
mutandis, with reference to modern Judaism. The name of Ahad haAm is the first to spring to mind
when mention is made of modern, secular culture-Judaism, but that of Mordecai M. Kaplan is no
less significant from a sociological point of view. Kaplans Reconstructionism which considers
Judaism as a cultural social totality is perhaps not a major formative influence, but it is surely a
symptomatic expression of much contemporary Jewish life. In fact, it could be argued that much of
what is called Judaism both in Israel and in the Diaspora is a series of variations on the Kaplanian
theme, often coupled with a determined effort to dissimulate this fact
(p. 51): The fact that Judaism is the religion of a people not in the sense of being a religion that
happens to have been adopted by a certain people, but an essential dimension of its national identity
renders a (temporary?) retreat into secular forms possible.
N.B. (p. 51) Judaism was always in this world, even when dispossessed of it, exiled and
ghettoized; its Torah conceived of the world as the area incumbent on a people on whom God had
imposed such responsibility. For unlike the Church which is a metaphorical people, and unlike the
umma which is no people but embraces many, the Jews are an historical people even though their
theologians taught them that they were also more. The corpus historicum was also a corpus
mysticum [].
(p. 52): No doubt the problems posed by modernity have been tackled very inadequately, if at all,
by Jewish theology, and secularization in the sense of emancipation not only from religious
institutions but even from ultimate religious legitimations is a challenge that has not yet been met.
Yet, as we have seen, there is at least one aspect of secularization which creates no basic problems
for Judaism. Judaism did not have to discover the world. It had its business in this world, though
it had to find its way back into the world after centuries of forced seclusions.

Gogarten, La Secolarizzazione come problema teologico (check it out!)


From a Jewish perspective, maybe oversimplifying, secularism could be seen not only as a
development of religion but equivalent to religion itself.
(p. 54) Rosenzweig Atheistic Theology can be considered an anticipatory polemic against the
later Death-of-God theology.
(p. 55): [] after centuries of seclusion it [Judaism] needed a re-entry into the larger world but
no discovery of it, let alone conversion to it.
(pp. 56-57): The secular theology of Rav Kook: Kook was convinced that everything that was true,
right and spiritually meaningful ultimately derived from Judaism including such apparently
ungodly phenomena as secular socialism, atheistic materialism, and modern enlightenment. These
movements, misunderstanding their true essential nature, outwardly presented an irreligious or antireligious veneer, not knowing that their substance was from God. Kooks argument, incidentally,
provides another illustration of the standard theological procedure of serving the secularist critics in
their own coin. Enlightenment criticism and its successors claimed that they knew what religion
was all about much better than did the believers themselves. The theologians, in turn, get their own
back by claiming that they possess a much more adequate and deeper insight into the nature of
secularism than the secularists.
(pp. 59-60): Jewish particularity, however, functions ab initio within a universal setting, and its
symbolic reference-system is unified and integral. Historical Judaism is the affirmation of one
particularity; to be more precise, of a sacral particularity; to be even more precise, of a sacral
particularity that is a vocation, a command and a promise, and that in all its particularity has a
universal ground (namely a universal God) as well as a universal reference. Its incarnation in the
concrete historical life of a people constitutes that dimension of secularity which makes Jewish
thinkers assume, perhaps overconfidently, that their tradition possesses the resources necessary for
dealing with modernity. The assumption is, of course, incapable of proof, for even if Judaism
modernizes successfully, this success (whatever the criteria adopted for measuring it) may be due
not so much to specific elements in the Jewish tradition as such, and of the dialectical interplay
between the two.