Bilgrami on Deus Absconditus and Disenchantment

Over at the Immanent Frame, Akeel Bilgrami provides some insights in the question on modernity and secularism:

Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age is an inspired yet rigorously argued Wagnerian effort to analyze the distinctive anxieties of modern intellectual and social life, by one of the most important and interesting philosophers of the last five decades.

I will pick up one strand that illustrates Taylor’s central themes of religion and secularity and the conceptual and historical continuities and discontinuities between them: the process of so-called ‘disenchantment’ that is supposed to mark our modernity. And I will stress in particular the identification of a fault-line (that may seem like a tendentious expression but I believe it captures Taylor’s own view of things) in some of the intellectual and theological and social alliances that emerged in the Early Modern period in the West.

If, as Taylor thinks, our modern life is beset with distinctive anxieties, then the Early Modern period of history (and intellectual history) provides a good focus for a genealogical diagnosis of the conditions in which we find ourselves today. It is a focus that can get lost—partly because Weber’s term “disenchantment,” which in the past had so dominated our description of the distinctiveness of modernity on these matters, though not false, is too omnibus to be useful, and partly because the hectoring tomes written by our up-to-the-minute atheist bully-boys like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, pick up the thread of contemporary secularism in a much later period than Early Modernity.