Photo Credit: Flickr/University of Essex
MF CASR Lunch with Marius Timmann Mjaaland
Secular Formatting of the Sacred: Human Rights in the Post-Secular Society
In his latest book on the Power of the Sacred, Hans Joas argues that human rights may actually fill the need for sacred values in the post-secular world, both in secular societies that reject religious hegemonies and in societies that cling to a specific religious hegemony. Mjaaland thinks Joas has a good case in his critical reading of Max Weber, but underestimates the new problems coming up if we give human rights such a sacred status. He will argue that “sacredness” is a dubious honor and a problematic status, paving the way for duplicitous political strategies in the name of human rights. The future relevance and authority of human rights are therefore not only undergirded but also undermined by the sacralization Joas describes. If they achieve the role of a secular formatting of the sacred, the ideals of human rights may profit from a more modest and pragmatic approach to their history, their genealogy, and their future influence.
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