First, the link. This probably won’t be of interest to most of you, but some might like this: the published version of Habermas’ lecture titled “Religion in the Public Sphere“. Here’s Habermas’ outline of the lecture (from p. 3-4):
I would like first of all to bring to mind the liberal premises of the constitutional state and the consequences which John Rawls’s conception of the public use of reason has on the ethics of citizenship (2). I shall then go on to treat the most important objections to this rather restrictive idea of the political role of religion (3). Through a critical discussion of revisionist proposals that do touch on the foundations of the liberal self-understanding I shall develop a conception of my own (4). However, secular and religious citizens can only fulfill the normative expectations of the liberal role of citizens if they likewise fulfill certain cognitive conditions and ascribe to the respective opposite the corresponding epistemic attitudes. I shall explain what this means by discussing the change in the form of religious consciousness which was a response to the challenges of Modernity(5). By contrast, the secular awareness that one is living in a postsecular society takes the shape of post-metaphysical thought at the philosophical level (6). In both regards, the liberal state faces the problem that religious and secular citizens can only acquire these attitudes through complementary learning processes, while it remains a moot point whether these are ‘learning processes’ at all, and ones which the state cannot influence by its own means of law and politics anyway (7).
It’s an interesting lecture, though it will probably leave you with more questions than answers.
Now the note. About a year and a half ago, I wrote a few posts outlining the case for and the case against recovered memories. I sided with the skeptical camp. To this day, I get emails from people who suffer from recovered memories (I will call them recovered memories, even if I’m not convinced that’s what they are) in response to those posts, and anytime I mention recovered or false memory research in a post, I get more emails. This serves to make me feel very guilty for openly expressing skepticism. The people who write me are suffering from very real pain, and they often feel that my skepticism, which is shared by most memory researchers, minimizes their suffering. I’ve seen the suffering up close, and the last thing I want to do is minimize it. It’s for this reason that I haven’t written a post that focuses on the debate in such a long time, despite the fact that there have been recent developments. For example, this excellent review by Elizabeth Loftus and Deborah Davis.
On the other hand, I feel strongly enough about this to want to do my part to educate the public. So I’m torn. Inevitably, if you write about repressed memories, trauma victims will find it through the internet. If you don’t write about it, many people will continue to believe that there is hard scientific evidence for the existence of repressed and later recovered memories for traumatic events, when there isn’t.
What do you think the best way to approach this is? If I write about repressed memories, should I begin with a warning? Should I just leave the subject alone, and write about other stuff?