The belief that modernity can be completed—and not merely in some ungraspable “fullness of time”—is the little that remains of art's utopian promise. But this is at the same time the promise of a fully achieved secularism. There is no way, I think, that anyone could have predicted the return of religion in its more public forms in recent decades, any more than one could have foreseen the great reopening of the question of secularization within social theory since 1990. If, as I argue, the complete eradication of religious thought, which is to say a “finished” project of secularization, is itself an incoherent (and therefore, strictly speaking, irrational) quest of modern philosophy and social theory, then how should we understand secularization as a permanently “unfinished” project?

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