The darling of the 68ers and Benedict XVI find a surprising amount to agree onby Edward Skidelsky / November 20, 2005 / Leave a comment
Published in November 2005 issue of Prospect Magazine
Left-wing German philosopher Jürgen Habermas treats religion with respect (photo: Wolfram Huke)
On 19th January last year, two old men came to the Catholic Academy of Bavaria to debate the imposing-looking topic: “Pre-political moral foundations of the liberal state.” Both are German; both grew up under the third reich; both went on to achieve distinction in their respective fields. But here the resemblance ends. Jürgen Habermas is a leftist philosopher and advocate of “democratically enlightened common sense.” His championship of untrammelled debate as the foundation of political legitimacy has inspired radicals across the world. His antagonist, Cardinal Ratzinger, came to prominence as an enforcer of doctrinal orthodoxy throughout the Catholic church. He is now Pope Benedict XVI.