ABSTRACT. This paper begins by considering the concept of European modernity and claims made for it by Göran Therborn who argues, following Habermas, that it consists in learning to break from the prejudices of its religious past. From this starting point the paper explores the growing political differences between “Europe” and the “United States of America” reviewing the combined position of Habermas and Derrida in defining a “core” Europe against a neoconservative US. The argument of the paper, against Habermas and Derrida, is that it is too early and historically self-serving to place one’s hope in “the rebirth of Europe” and an Enlightenment attitude that releases us from immaturity of religious bigotry and ethnonationalism, especially in light of the Holocaust and the current encounter with Islam.


University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
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