The Secular and Secularisms

Author: José Casanova

January 1, 2009

In "The Secular and Secularisms," Professor José Casanova explains the differences between secular, secularism, and secularization, followed by a discussion of several definitions of secularisms. Casanova explains that the term "secular" is used to describe or explain a world removed from the religious realm. Secularization refers to the process by which the religious and secular spheres are separated from one another, oftentimes in an air of inevitability which has been deflated in recent decades. Secularism, on the other hand, can refer to either world views or ideologies on secular subjects, or as a knowledge regime which immediately and constantly accepts a secular world. Casanova argues that there is a key distinction between secularism as an ideology and secularism as a principle of governance (defined as akin to separation of church and state); the first defines religion and seeks to remove it, while the latter does not view or acknowledge religion. Casanova states that an ideological secularism in Europe seems to emerge primarily out of fears of "others," while secularism as statecraft seems to be neither necessary nor sufficient for democracy. This article was published in the New School's journal Social Research.

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