The Religion of the Future – Roberto Mangabeira Unger, 2016


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Verso 2016       p. 385  “Openness to the other is what the doctrine of the relation of self to others teaches.  The religion of the future takes this view over from the struggle with the world and pursues it free of the equivocations that surround it in that tradition.  Its supreme form is personal love among equals rather than benevolence offered from on high or from a distance.  Its more diffuse expressions, outside the circle of our closest attachments, are communities cemented by difference rather than by sameness and the higher forms of cooperation, organized institutionally in the practices of production, politics and civil society.  Its work is the same as its presupposition:  attenuation of the conflict between our need for other people and our need to escape the jeopardy in which they place us.

Openness to the new is the virtue that describes the moral consequence of the doctrine of the relation of spirit to structure.  The religion of the future inherits this doctrine from the struggle with the world, and radicalizes it.  This virtue acts out the human truth of our relation to the settled contexts of our life and thought.  That they are ephemeral and defective, that they cannot accommodate all the experience and insight that we have reason to value, that there is always more in us, individually as well as collectively, than is, or can ever be, in them are facts giving us persistent reason to rebel against structures.

In rebelling against them, we must seek to change their character as well as their content:  their relation to our structure-defying freedom.  If we surrender to them and allow them to have the last word, rather than keeping the last word for ourselves, we interrupt our attempt to increase our share in the attributes of divinity.  We cease to be fully human.”

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