Is absolute secularity conceivable?


Numerous applications of the displacement model of secularization are current, but here I will point to just one. It concerns philosophical anthropology. The argument is that certain post-Enlightenment concepts of the human (or of “man”) remain Christian in their deep structures. Of these, the most important is the philosophical anthropology of negation (to use Marcel Gauchet’s term), according to which human nature is not just appetitive but necessarily incomplete, that is to say, inadequate to its various ecologies and conditions, and for that reason beset by fear, uneasiness, anxiety, and so on. For those who accept the displacement model, this anthropology, even in its modern forms, remains dependent on the revealed doctrine that human nature as such is fallen. Philosophical anthropology is important for thinking about secularization because the secularization thesis often becomes a proxy for the argument that secularity places human nature at risk. The displacement model also makes it difficult for theorists of secularization to suppose that total secularization will ever be achieved. But this argument—the incomplete secularization argument, as we could call it—is of especial significance because it is here that the interests that stand behind and motivate particular articulations of the secularization thesis are most clearly revealed. To show this more clearly, let me present just one version of the incomplete secularization argument—Carl Schmitt’s essay “Das Zeitalter der Neutralisierungen und Entpolitizierungen” (1932).

more from Simon During at Immanent Frame here.