Tijdschrift voor theologie vol:48 issue:3 pages:282-301
Over the last forty years there has been a profound shift in the debate on the relationship between religion and secularity/modernity. Whereas earlier theologians like Edward Schillebeeckx tried to integrate the idea of secularity positively, today theologians increasingly argue the need for a post-secular paradigm. This article analyses the epistemology that undergirds this post-secular twist. The author focuses his analysis mainly on Alasdair MacIntyre and JohnMilbank, two authors who have explicitly developed such an epistemology. These two thinkers also represent the two extremes in a tradition-dependent, post-secular epistemology. While MacIntyre defends a dialectical variety, Milbank opts for a post-dialectical, rhetorical epistemology.
The author asserts that while MacIntyre does not manage to think through his epistemology consistently, Milbank does; yet, Milbank’s epistemology is problematic because of its
violent character. The article does not intend to provide an introduction into the complexity of MacIntyre’s and Milbank’s thinking. The author restricts his study to these two thinkers’ epistemologies to get an overall view of what a consistent, post-secular, tradition-dependent epistemology
would look like and to provide access to the problems attendant on this type of epistemology. Attention is always drawn to the way specific philosophical and theological tendencies(like hermeneutics)often unconsciously or unintentionally give rise to what the author labels a
‘new traditionalism’. The article’s more general thesis on this is that all currents/thinkers that undermine the idea of a transcendental element (as being independent of tradition) contribute directly or indirectly to the development of an undesirable traditionalism in which the various symbolic orders are ultimately played off against one another in a dangerous way. In concluding, the author seeks the minimum requirements for developing an alternative with particular reference to the boundaries of what he calls a ‘new transcendentalism’ in an attempt to go
beyond traditions (particularity) in search of traces of continuity.