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Saving the Sacred from the Axial Revolution

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Abstract:

Prominent defenders of the Enlightenment, like Jurgen Habermas, are beginning to recognize that the characterization of human beings in entirely rational and secular terms leaves out something important. Religion, they admit, plays an important role in human existence. But the return to a traditional monotheistic religion seems sociologically difficult after the death of God. We argue that Homeric polytheism retains a phenomenologically rich account of the sacred, and a similarly rich understanding of human existence in its midst. By opening ourselves up to the moods of wonder and gratitude at the root of Homer's sense of the sacred, we can re-appropriate a polytheistic understanding of the sacred that allows us to recover and revive the intensity and meaningfulness that Homer's polytheists enjoyed.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0020174X.2011.559058

Affiliations: University of California, Berkeley, USA,Harvard University,

Publication date: April 1, 2011

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