Danny Postel’s email interview with philosopher Richard Rorty was Rorty’s last. Postel’s usually at opendemocracy.net and AFAIK is still based in Chicago. He recently published the increasingly relevant Reading “Legitimation Crisis” in Tehran: Iran and the Future of Liberalism. He blogs at Postel Service. (You don’t have to know any of the people named below to get the point, although it helps.)
“The pope recently said: ‘A culture has developed in Europe that is the most radical contradiction not only of Christianity but of all the religious and moral traditions of humanity.’ Dewey and Habermas would reply that the culture that arose out of the Enlightenment has kept everything in Christianity that was worth keeping. The West has cobbled together, in the course of the last two hundred years, a specifically secularist moral tradition — one that regards the free consensus of the citizens of a democratic society, rather then the Divine Will, as the source of moral imperatives. This shift in outlook is, I think, the most important advance that the West has yet made. I should like to think that the students with whom I spoke in Tehran, impressed by Habermas’s writings and inspired by the courage of thinkers such as Ganji and Ramin Jahanbegloo, may someday make Iran the nucleus of an Islamic Enlightenment.”
I would include the market as one important way of determining the free consensus of citizens. But I still don’t quite get it: where is the space in this moral universe for minority opinion to sometimes be right and the “free consensus” to be wrong?