On the one hand, romanticism will always seem like a continuation of religion by other means—the secular reception and transformation of "religion" over the past years have guaranteed this. On the other hand, romanticism's restless critical and institutional energies find ways to disrupt its own susceptibility to spiritualization—and in those disruptions one may read a critique of the secularism for which spiritualization is a primary way of containing the religious.
Secularism has always been a cosmopolitan project, as the various careers of early modern philosopher-diplomats suggest. He failed, but bequeathed to early modern Europe an influential formulation of religious tolerance that strove to honor both Baconian inductive reasoning and the diversity of world religions as he understood them Ward On the French side, Montaigne's skepticism and Descartes's dualism both seek to preserve "true religion" as a common meeting point while dispensing with such epiphenomena as doctrine and ritual.
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Notably, too, for Montaigne, Descartes, and—a bit later—John Locke, the idea of the Netherlands as a locus of cosmopolitan tolerance played an important role. Leibniz, meanwhile, pursued a different and rather idiosyncratic vision of the common ground: as opposed to tolerance of different denominations, Leibniz wanted to undo the Protestant Reformation and reunite the various churches around the shared principle of reason.
Yet his extensive correspondence with, responses to, and disagreements with figures as various as Pierre Bayle, Samuel Clarke, Robert Boyle, Isaac Newton, and members of the house of Hanover during the years of its meteoric rise, help to round out the picture of an early modern cosmopolitan secularism that linked Paris, London, and Amsterdam through a network of courtiers, diplomats, philosophers and elite men of letters. In many ways this picture remains, mutatis mutandis, our dominant picture of cosmopolitanism today.
What Peter Berger calls a "globalized elite culture" of secular intellectuals 11 is our version of that European network of the early modern period, with the model of secularism switched from "common ground" to "independent ethic" in order to accommodate a wider array of metaphysical orientations. The advent of international human rights advocates, experts on transitional justice, and other transnational intellectual actors, for example, raises important questions about the relationship between Western human rights discourse and the indigenous, local, and often religious traditions it encounters on the ground.
Perhaps the most well-known example is the active debate about the discourse of "reconciliation" in South Africa, and whether it can, or should, be abstracted from its largely Christian context and "internationalized. According to Amanda Anderson, such exclusionary and relatively elite cosmopolitanism has historically been in tension with a more inclusive version. In inclusionary cosmopolitanism, by contrast, universalism finds expression through sympathetic imagination and intercultural exchange" Most contemporary iterations of cosmopolitanism, Anderson finds, try to produce a dialectic between these poles, counting on both the normative pressure of universalism and "an emphasis on tact, sensibility, and judgment, which seems fundamental to the cosmopolitan's reconfigured relationship to universality" Could a move towards "inclusionary cosmopolitanism," then, serve also to de-secularize it?
Anderson herself addresses this question obliquely when she defends a picture of the intellectual life based on "ethos" or "character. Against this criticism, Anderson argues that "intellectual and aesthetic postures are always also lived practices" 7. This bracing and persuasive account echoes other descriptions of the intellectual life; one thinks for example of Edward Said's description of intellectuals and their love of "process" and "vital exchange.
Might there not be "lived practices" that certain "intellectual postures" find antithetical? And might not religion be one such practice? When it comes to religion, in other words, the ethos of the intellectual stance that Anderson celebrates may run up against its limits. We might note, for instance, that Connolly's critique of secularism proceeds in part via a critique of Habermas, while Anderson's defense of cosmopolitanism proceeds in part via a defense of Habermas.
It does seem unlikely that a Habermasian cosmopolitianism, no matter how supplemented and thickened, is going to be able to open itself to forms of ethos and character that come from religious traditions. We know that cosmopolitanism and secularism are historical fellow-travelers. Anderson's argument raises the question of whether they are theoretical fellow travelers as well. Does criticizing secularism necessarily entail criticizing cosmopolitanism, even "inclusionary cosmopolitanism," and so falling back, however warily, upon the modes of group identity and affiliation "tribalism," in neo-liberal parlance that dominate the discourses of globalization?
We need to dwell on this point for a moment, for the question of the relationship between globalization and cosmopolitanism becomes especially live when we turn to the issue of religious globalization, and specifically the globalization of Christianity. Both cosmopolitanism and secularism bear a special relationship to Christian history in part because of the way that Christianity has spread around the globe. First, the Christian Bible after the early modern period has generally been experienced, read, and absorbed in translation.
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The end of the thousand-year reign of the Latin Vulgate unleashed a flood of vernacular translations of the Christian Bible that continues to this day. Second, the influence of Western European modernization is massive, deep, and ongoing. That flood of translations has made the Bible a global carrier not only of post-Reformation Christianity but also of the "values" that seem to attend it: self-determination, a market economy, instrumental rationality. An understanding of the ongoing globalization of Christianity, therefore, is central for any analysis of the relationship between cosmopolitanism and secularism.
Considering the argument that Christianity will sink into irrelevance unless it updates its thinking about sex and gender, Jenkins comments:. Are the churches, or church members, of the global South cosmopolitan? They are cultural hybrids, to be sure, combining indigenous traditions with Christian theology in manifold ways.
And many of these churches operate outside of the usual bounds of the nation state: they perform the social services that the state cannot or will not provide, and they seem less bound by affiliations of nation than those of creed and region. Could such modes of group identity, prolifically combining the global and the local, serve as one basis for constructing a "cosmopolitanism from below"?
Let me here contrast two volumes of collected essays that take up precisely this question—though, symptomatically, they largely ignore global religion: Cosmopolitics, a volume edited by Pheng Cheah and Bruce Robbins and originating with the Social Text collective; and Cosmopolitanism, a volume associated with the journal Public Culture and the Society for Transnational Cultural Studies.
Both volumes could be said to embrace the "new cosmopolitanism" in that they are critical of any cosmopolitanism content with a detached view from nowhere or a merely aesthetic appreciation of cultural difference. Both acknowledge the importance of treating cosmopolitanism in the plural, as a local, situated, practice.
Yet the volumes differ in how far they wish to go in this direction, and that difference can help us see how and in what manner secularism intersects the discourse of cosmopolitanism. As Bruce Robbins writes in his introduction to Cosmopolitics, "something has happened to cosmopolitanism. It has a new cast of characters. Many of the contributors to the volume, however, are ambivalent about this development, or at any rate about what they perceive as its potential excesses—an ambivalence raised in some cases to the level of a methodology, as the volume's concluding essays by Rob Wilson and James Clifford make especially clear.
Pheng Cheah, for his part, offers this skeptical account: "The world is undoubtedly interconnected, and transnational mobility is clearly on the rise. However, one should not automatically take this to imply that popular forms of cosmopolitanism already exist" According to Cheah, cosmopolitanism cannot be simply folded into globalization; it remains at least in part an ideal. The Public Culture volume, meanwhile, dispenses with such ambivalence and fully, even breathlessly, embraces a reading of cosmopolitanism as that which precisely does already exist.
At this point we note the following distinction. The Social Text volume is committed, in both its theoretical articulation of cosmopolitanism and its methodological ambivalence about varieties of "new" cosmopolitanism, to moving dialectically between the poles of universal and particular, theory and practice, philosophy and anthropology. The volume strives to give voice to universalism's normative pressure and to acknowledge the importance of particularism.
The Public Culture volume, by contrast, deliberately unmoors itself from the universalist or philosophical pole, insisting that cosmopolitanism can be understood only as a lived process. Cosmopolitanism is infinite ways of being" For them, cosmopolitanism's normative power derives solely from what Anderson calls an "anthropological ethics" 82 : that is, from the ethical claims exerted by the mere presence of the marginal and coerced.
What does this distinction have to do with secularism? Consider how Pheng Cheah expresses his skepticism about the Public Culture version of cosmopolitanism: "The globality of the everyday," he writes, "does not necessarily engender an existing popular global consciousness" And: "it is doubtful whether transnational migrant communities can be characterized as examples of cosmopolitanism in the robust sense.
It is unclear how many of these migrants feel that they belong to a world" Here I wish to draw attention to Cheah's emphasis on consciousness. In order to be a cosmopolitan, a given subject has to understand herself as one. The drama here is the very modern one of self-recognition; or, to put the matter another way, the norm driving Cheah's conception of cosmopolitanism is the norm of reflexivity. As such, his cosmopolitical thinking is grounded in the kind of modern subject formation that Saba Mahmood calls "normative secularity.
The emphasis on self-recognition and reflexivity—an ability to distance oneself from one's own formative discourses that is modeled and made possible by certain modes of "literary" reading—is what ties this vision of cosmopolitanism to secularism. The Public Culture volume, on the other hand, seems less interested in locating a cosmopolitan consciousness and more interested in cosmopolitanism as a practice that we engage in willy-nilly, whether we choose to or not.
We are always already cosmopolitans. In turn, this makes possible a more decisive break with modernity: "What the new archives, geographies, and practices of different historical cosmopolitanisms might reveal is precisely a cultural illogic for modernity that makes perfectly good nonmodern sense" Cosmopolitanism within the context of globalization is not continuous with the modern project but sits decisively athwart it. To return, then, to my question above: are the Christian churches of the global South cosmopolitan? For the Social Text volume I think the answer would be "no," because those churches do not by and large recognize themselves as global actors although in groups like the worldwide Anglican Communion this seems to be changing.
For the Public Culture volume I think the answer would be "yes," because those churches are largely populated by people for whom the promises of global modernity have not materialized. From these different answers I draw a further conclusion.
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A cosmopolitanism oriented by varieties of cultural practice in a globalized world makes theoretical room for a critique of secularism, or more specifically allows us to parochialize secular theoretical assumptions, whereas a cosmopolitanism organized by a dialectic of the universal and the particular remains within a modern problematic that tends to validate secular theoretical assumptions. This is not to say that we should prefer one to the other.
Indeed, my own response is asymmetrical: I am drawn to the critique of secularism offered for instance by Mahmood, but I find the picture of cosmopolitanism offered by the Public Culture volume rather breezy and analytically imprecise.
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When it comes to cosmopolitanism I am drawn to the dialectical model of the Social Text volume, but the way that collection relies on secular dramas of self-recognition strikes me as a problem for any discourse that hopes to keep up with a world situation in which religion plays an increasingly central role. If nothing else, this asymmetrical response suggests the challenge of thinking through the relationship between the secular and the cosmopolitan.
For if secularism and cosmopolitanism were largely coterminous in the early modern period, when Locke and Leibniz tried to imagine how to repair a war-torn Europe, they are now discourses that diverge and converge, overlap and separate, across an expanding, global array of norms and practices. The essays collected here invoke in various ways a transnational reality, marking in turn both the production of nationalist paranoia and the possibilities of cosmopolitan mentalities. Mark Canuel's contribution provocatively takes the mobilization of fear, commonly associated with nationalist fear of the foreign, and re-writes it as a "formal accompaniment" of a newly secular disposition toward the fact of multiple and competing beliefs.
My own essay on Byron's Eastern Tales plays the figure of the Islamic fundamentalist off against the reflexive capacities of the putatively modern subject, figured here by the Byronic hero and by New Critical celebrations of literary paradox. And Paul Hamilton identifies a nonsecular cosmopolitanism variously anticipated and enacted by romantic models of conversation. Yet as Bruce Robbins notes in his response to the three essays, cosmopolitanism remains for the most part a background figure against which secularism and romanticism are variously positioned.
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I think that this is more than a simple register of the difficulty of keeping all three terms in play though it is that, too. The asymmetry between secularism and cosmopolitanism runs deeper than that. Cosmopolitans have generally been happy to identify themselves as such; cosmopolitanism names a mostly honorable aspiration, however much one may quibble over details. The same cannot be said for secularism, which generally strives for invisibility, nor for secularists, who outside a few safe enclaves generally keep their mouths shut.
Depending on one's perspective, this makes secularism either more tenuous or more sinister than cosmopolitanism. Despite the historical and conceptual intertwining of the cosmopolitan and the secular, then, it simply takes a lot of effort to render the latter term visible as an object of analysis. Romanticism can help in this process, but only once we understand how the traditional picture of romanticism has distorted the landscape.