“Secularization” or Plurality of Meaning Structures? A. Schutz’s Concept of a Finite Province of Meaning and the Question of Religious Rationality

DOI: 10.4236/ojpp.2012.22014   PDF   HTML     4,397 Downloads   6,591 Views   Citations


Referring to basic Weberian notions of rationalization and secularization, I try to find a more accurate sense of the term “secularization”, intending to describe adequately the position of religion in modernity. The result of this query is—or at least should be—a new, original conceptualization of religion as one of finite provinces of meaning within one paramount reality of the life-world, as defined by Alfred Schutz. I proceed by exposing a well known, major oversimplification of the Weberian concept of secularization, very well outlined in Peter Berger’s The sacred canopy, in order to point to the genuine, much more differentiated position of Max Weber in this matter (especially from the period of Foundations of social economic and Economy and society), and, consequently, to return to the roots of Berger’s thought: phenomenological sociology of Alfred Schutz, an attempt to assure the philosophical foundations of Weber’s sociological theory. At a closer glimpse, transformation of religion in the modern process of rationalization does not consist—according to Weber—in eliminating religion and thus depriving society of the religious source of meaning, but in parallel emancipation of many different domains of rationality, including religion itself. Using Schutz’s analysis of the social world as a complex structure of many different final provinces of meaning, I describe religion as such a province and show what does the process of rationalization of this province consist and what it should consist in: a complex, ongoing exchange of cognitive relevances and contents, combined with growing autonomy of many different sub-worlds. Schutz’s theory of symbol, rooted in Edmund Husserl’s description of constitution of complex objects in mono- and polythetic acts of consciousness, moves the analysis to the epistemological level, pointing to a chance of intensifying our cognitive relation to reality through increasing interpenetration of various sub-universes of meaning.

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Chojnacki, M. (2012). “Secularization” or Plurality of Meaning Structures? A. Schutz’s Concept of a Finite Province of Meaning and the Question of Religious Rationality. Open Journal of Philosophy, 2, 92-99. doi: 10.4236/ojpp.2012.22014.

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The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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