Author: Robin W. LOVIN, Senior Research Fellow, Center of Theological Inquiry, Princeton University
Contemporary Western religious, moral, and political thought emphasizes the problems with universalism. European Enlightenment rationalism held out the promise of truths that would transcend cultural and theological differences but these claims now frequently seem to be instruments of power relationships and cultural hegemony. Nevertheless, the problems that motivated the search for human universals remain, and unless all those problems are to be reduced to questions of effciency and security, scholars who explore the world’s cultural traditions must ask whether those traditions can provide channels for communication in an increasingly global community. Universalism is more difficult to achieve than the European Enlightenment thought, but thinking across boundaries of culture, conviction, and history is more necessary today than it has ever been. The task of the humanities is to develop a more realistic, dialogical approach to human universals that will permit collaboration and mutual understanding, even when it does not result in agreement.
Enlightenment, postmodern, progress, realism, reason
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