Liberal Modernity, Catholicism, Islam

Author: José Casanova

December 1, 2008

In "Liberal Modernity, Catholicism, Islam," José Casanova reviews The Public Sphere: Liberal Modernity, Catholicism, Islam by Armando Salvatore. Casanova praises the book's rehabilitation of the concept of tradition in the field of sociology. In particular, Casanova argues that Salvatore makes a compelling argument for "tradition" standing as a foundation and origin point for reason in the public sphere. Casanova notes how Salvatore shapes his argument through the viewpoints of both Medieval Christianity and Islam in their respective territories, as well as in Ancient Greece. Casanova argues that Salvatore's thesis provides a strong critique of modern liberal concepts of the public sphere, which tend to interpret the past solely as the fulfillment of their own beliefs and values. Salvatore's approach, Casanova suggests, will enable sociology to take a more pluralistic view of society. It also implies that "tradition" retains more flexibility than liberal theorists believe. Finally, Casanova notes that Salvatore manages to weave together Habermas' idea of "theory" with sociological understandings of genealogy and MacIntyre's concept of tradition. This review was published in the European Journal of Sociology.

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