Sunday, August 19, 2007

Rousseau, in Defense of Religion

From the cover story of the New York Times Sunday Magazine, on why the "Great Separation" between politics and religion that occurred in the West is not inevitable elsewhere:

The short section of (Rousseau's) Emile, which he called 'The Profession of Faith of the Savoyard Vicar,' has so deeply shaped contemporary views of religion that it takes some effort to understand why Rousseau was persecuted for writing it. It is the most beautiful and convincing defense of man's religious instincts ever to flow from a modern pen ....

Essentially, 'The Profession' argues that religion is necessary for moral expression; whether factually true or not, man needs it and cannot function well without it. If true, the question becomes: can religion be entirely expunged from the political sphere, and should it be? Perhaps what the rest of the world does with religion is more natural, in a sense, than what we've done.

I'd never read the piece ... here's a link.

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