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Secularization or secularisation is the transformation of a society from close identification with religious values and institutions toward nonreligious (or irreligious) values and secular institutions.

CONTENT : A - F , G - L , M - R , S - Z , See also , External links


Quotes are arranged alphabetically by author

A - F[edit]

  • Émile Durkheim, one of the founders of modern sociology, ... strove to insert and settle “society” in the place vacated by God and by Nature viewed as God’s creation or embodiment—and thereby to claim for the nascent nation-state that right to articulate, pronounce and enforce moral commandments and command the supreme loyalties of its subjects; the right previously reserved for the Lord of the Universe and His anointed earthly lieutenants. ... The true happiness Durkheim recommends be sought by humans has been redirected from a love of God and obedience to His Church to a love of nation and discipline to a nation-state.
  • Secularization theory is a term that was used in the fifties and sixties by a number of social scientists and historians. Basically, it had a very simple proposition. It could be stated in one sentence. Modernity inevitably produces a decline of religion.
  • There is a continuous skewing of the historical perspective toward religious explanations. Secularization is the wonderful mechanism by which religion becomes nonreligion. Marxism is secularized Christianity; so is democracy; so is utopianism; so are human rights. Everything connected with valuing must come from religion. One need not investigate anything else, because Christianity is the necessary and sufficient condition of our history. This makes it impossible to take Hobbes or Locke seriously as causes of that history, because we know that superficial reason cannot found values and that these thinkers were unconsciously transmitting the values of the Protestant ethic. Reason transmits, routinizes, normalizes; it does not create. Therefore Weber gives short shrift to the rational side of our tradition. Philosophy’s claims are ignored; religious claims are revered. Dogmatic atheism culminates in the paradoxical conclusion that religion is the only thing that counts.
    • Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind (New York: 1988), p. 211
  • We must discover the rational substitutes for those religious motives that have, for so long, served as the vehicle for the most essential moral ideas.
    • Émile Durkheim, Selected Writings, A. Giddens, trans. (Cambridge: 1972), pp. 94-115
  • Augustine claimed that human beings had totally lost their capacity for free will as a result of Adam’s original sin. Their souls were severely damaged and they were totally dependent on external intervention for any possible hope of redemption. Augustine developed his interpretation at a time when Christianity unexpectedly attracted the “blessing” of imperial power. “By insisting that humanity, ravaged by sin, now lies helplessly in need of outside intervention, Augustine’s theory could not only validate secular power but justify as well the imposition of church authority—by force if necessary—as essential for human salvation.” The parallel with Institutional Mental Health is chilling. Whereas Institutional Christianity impressed upon individuals the sense that they were helplessly damaged as a result of original sin, Institutional Mental Health now impresses upon individuals that they are helplessly "mentally ill” as a result of “bad” child-rearing or “bad” genes.
    • Seth Farber, “Institutional Mental Health and Social Control: The Ravages of Epistemological Hubris” (Quote is from E. Pagels, Adam, Eve and the Serpent (1988), p. 125)

G - L[edit]

M - R[edit]

  • Secularization is a welcome process if it allows us to analyze literature and art without moral preconception and sermonizing; but secularization is pernicious when it strips the spiritual dimension from experience.
    • Camille Paglia, “Junk Bonds and Corporate Raiders: Academe in the Hour of the Wolf,” Arion, Third Series, Vol. 1, No. 2 (Spring, 1991), p. 174
  • Citizens of a Jeffersonian democracy can be as religious or irreligious as they please as long as they are not “fanatical.” That is, they must abandon or modify opinion on matters of ultimate importance, the opinions that may hitherto have given sense and point to their lives, if these opinions entail public actions that cannot be justified to most of their fellow citizens.
    • Richard Rorty, “The priority of democracy to philosophy,” Objectivity, Relativism and Truth (Cambridge: 1991), p. 175
  • When the individual finds in her conscience beliefs that are relevant to public policy but incapable of the defense on the basis of beliefs common to her fellow citizens, she must sacrifice her conscience on the altar of public expediency.
    • Richard Rorty, “The priority of democracy to philosophy,” Objectivity, Relativism and Truth (Cambridge: 1991), p. 175

S - Z[edit]

  • As the dominant social ethic changed from a religious to a secular one, the problem of heresy disappeared, and the problem of madness arose and became of great social significance. In the next chapter I shall examine the creation of social deviants, and shall show that as formerly priests had manufactured heretics, so physicians, as the new guardians of social conduct and morality, began to manufacture madmen.
    • Thomas Szasz, The Manufacture of Madness: A Comparative Study of the Inquisition and the Mental Health Movement (1997), p. 160

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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