Full Issue

Introduction

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Lectori Salutem

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PDF

Studies

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This article addresses the question ‘Do we live in a secular, disenchanted world devoid of gods, or do we live in a world populated by new gods?’ Some cite Max Weber in assuming that disenchantment is a fact. Others cite Émile Durkheim who points to ongoing forms of enchantment and the development of new religious forms to take the place of Christianity. In this article I use the case of nationalism to examine this question. I analyse two arguments, one that sides with Weber, the other with Durkheim. I not only side with Durkheim, but argue that Weber sides with Durkheim, too. I then go beyond Durkheim, and argue, from a Christian theological point of view, that nationalism is not only a religion, but an idolatrous one at that.

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PDF
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The essay aims to examine the National Festival established in early unified Italy from a juridical standpoint. It intends to take a closer look at this issue by examining three prominent cases, the de-clericalisation of the Savoyard Monarchy’s Constitution Day and the so-called Albertine Statute, the Italian ‘Jubilee of the Fatherland’, and the blessing of the flags according to military discipline. In doing so, I will address the question of the ‘civil’ and ‘purely civil’ religion.

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PDF
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Despite all contents of secularisation, a certain kind of religious element is important in every modern totalitarian system, like Communism or National Socialism. Therefore, totalitarian systems can be regarded as political religions. The following historical and philosophical reflections on the history of ideas of political religions will contain three major parts: First, early uses of the concept ‘political religion’ by Campanella and Clasen in the 16th and 17th centuries will be considered, then the interpretation of totalitarianism as political religion will be analysed, with regards to Eric Voegelin, Raymond Aron and several ramifications, and finally, the perspective of political messianism in Jacob Leib Talmon’s work will be discussed.

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PDF
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The term ‘secular religion’ first appeared in the description of modern totalitarian ideologies but soon became a general category applied to other political, socio-economic and cultural phenomena. The first problem with this approach is the inherent contradiction of the term, since ‘secular’ by all modern definitions means ‘non-religious’, making a secular religion something like a ‘nonreligious religion’. The second is the wide range of examples from communism to liberalism, from capitalism to ecology, or from transhumanism to social media, which suggests that with some creativity almost anything can be described as secular and religious at the same time. The first part of the paper deals with the terminological difficulties, while the second outlines the history of drawing secular-religious analogies, concluding that the ultimate failure to give a coherent narrative of secular religions is rooted in the impossibility of giving an adequate definition of religion in the first place.

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This paper aims to show the connection between ideas on natural law, human dignity and tradition in the legal-political thought of Ernst-Wolfgang Böckenförde, an influential earlier judge of Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court. It starts out from the Catholic background of the legal theorist, and his close connection to Carl Schmitt, probably the most charismatic legal thinker of the age, who, however, burnt himself by his support of the Nazi regime. Böckenförde was politically closest to the Social Democrats, yet political theology remained crucial for his legal thought. His interpretation of the German Grundgesetz was founded on a very strong, universalist interpretation of the concept of human dignity, which he took as the most important, founding value in the value catalogue of the Basic Law. Although not a conservative, Böckenförde also claimed that in a specific legal sense, tradition also plays a major role in legal interpretation. He took over from the writings of his brother, the theologian Werner, the idea that tradition and reception can serve as checks on the way natural law is interpreted. All in all, as Böckenförde points out, the three concepts (natural law, human dignity and tradition) provide a strong foundation for legal and constitutional interpretation.

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The concept of human rights, supposedly of universal importance, is usually derived from the tradition referred to as ‘Western’. Although the ‘classic approaches’ – Greek, Roman and Christian, refer to the norms of natural law, making them the basis or limits of the rights of individuals, in modern approaches the relation is reserved, in the manner that rights become primary to norms. Although liberals of the 17th and 18th centuries consider the law of nature as a tool for their protection, starting from the 19th century, the rights (already called human rights) have been increasingly perceived as positive abilities to articulate own, subjective preferences of individuals. This evolution needs to be accounted for in the studies carried out by representatives of various cultures, since the comprehension of an individual (and even a ‘human person’ as in contemporary Catholic social teaching) as an essentially culturally unconditioned one, is its ineradicable element.

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The position of the Roman Catholic Church as a community of believers, with priests serving in its hierarchical structure as guides to salvation, was shaped in late ancient and medieval monarchies and republics.

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This paper studies in parallel the history of empire and the development of universals. It uses as its preliminary orientation the work of Eric Voegelin who argued that universals develop in history alongside and through universalising empires. We find this basic contention highly credible as it is empires that force us to develop cognitive approaches that encompass both colonised and coloniser in any subsequent social structure. So conceived, the paper then argues that empires are synonymous with human history as such and that even those entities (such a Greek city states) which are eulogised for escaping this logic are on examination no less imperial than the empires they oppose. The paper then argues that the development of universals is not a byproduct of empire but rather that it drives imperial expansion in the first place. It seeks to argue that ideation is the casual factor in human history, social structures and behaviour. It argues contra thinkers like Francis Fukuyama, there is no biological foundation for the qualitative distinctions of civilisation, rather the paper contends that the origin of civilisation lies in human conceptuality not human biology, locality or indeed any other material force impinging on life. So configured, the paper then concludes that the primary political question lies in bringing together the question of the good with empire – a process most advanced in human history by Christianity.

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Outlook

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Christianity has played a crucial role in building and maintaining civilisation and cultures in Europe until this very day. People living on the continent share the legacy of antiquity and Christianity in balance, while respecting the values of religion and still maintaining neutrality in their constitutional systems. This causes the question to stand, whether Christianity still is a part of European culture, and if so, in what religious, political or cultural ways.
All these questions are examined in the volume, which incorporates 16 studies of various authors. Essays show clearly that not only the merge of different cultures, disputes of interests, the connection between law and religion, but also and mainly the ideas of Christianity are all special legal theories and questions waiting to be examined.
Even though the various academics contributing to this volume have their own individual concepts and different views, most of the studies concentrate on problems and questions of basic freedoms, such as human dignity, freedom of speech and religious freedom. As it is stated by the Editor in the foreword, all 16 studies are written in English by academics from different research institutes all over Hungary, also easily accessible internationally, inviting researchers to contribute to this international scientific debate.

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