Master Class: "The Power of the Sacred" with Hans Joas

Nov 5, 2022
Gavin House
1220 E 58th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
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Open to current students and faculty. Others interested in participating should contact All registrants will receive pdfs of the selected readings. The first 15 registrants will receive free copies of The Power of the Sacred. 

In the last twenty or thirty years, the co-called secularization thesis has lost much of its plausibility. This thesis means more than empirical statements about quantitative developments in the area of religious faith, practices or institutions. Rather, it refers to a particular explanation for such developments - namely, that there is a strong causal connection between societal modernization and the weakening of religion - in such a way that economic growth, rising prosperity and scientific and technological progress increasingly displace religion with inner necessity and ultimately make it superfluous. But if modernization and secularization do not form an indissoluble combination, then the assumptions about the prehistory of modern European secularization are also shaken, especially the most influential of them, namely the narrative, going back to the famous sociologist Max Weber, of a process of disenchantment that had already begun with the Old Testament prophets and made the Christian or the Jewish-Christian tradition appear as a step toward secularization.

In this master class the precise meaning of the concept of disenchantment and the contours of an alternative to this suggestive and highly influential narrative of modernization and modernity will be discussed.

This program is made possible through the support of ‘In Lumine: Supporting the Catholic Intellectual Tradition on Campuses Nationwide’ (Grant #62372) from the John Templeton Foundation. 


Hans Joas, The Power of the Sacred, Introduction, pp. 1-9, 110-153, 234-273.
Recommended reading: pp. 88-110.