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Publication - Professor Gregor McLennan

    Is Secularism History?


    McLennan, G, 2015, ‘Is Secularism History?’. Thesis Eleven, vol 128., pp. 126-140


    In recent years, the intellectual tide has moved strongly against the kind of secular thinking that characterized Gellner’s work. Whether couched in terms of postcolonialism, multiculturalism, genealogy, global understanding, political theology, or the revival of normative, metaphysical and openly religious perspectives, today’s postsecular and even anti-secular mood in social theory seems to consign Gellner’s project to the dustbin of history: a stern but doomed attempt to shore up western liberal rationalism. Under some revisionary lights, it has even become pointless to distinguish flexible secular thinking which still retains some firm ‘bottom lines’ from what is routinely portrayed as rampant ideological secularism. Unconvinced by key assumptions and motivations on this
    terrain, I reactivate Gellner’s essential concerns and propositions around secularity and secularism, feeding these into the current debates. Whilst Gellner’s stringent, unrivalled exposure of intellectual cant continues to be hugely valuable, and his sense of the utter historicity of social life and thought indispensable, Gellner’s critical positivism could not, by his own admission, produce a coherent cultural politics.

    Full details in the University publications repository