Kies de Nederlandse taal
Course module: 700005-M-3
Philosophy of Religion and Secularization
Course info
Course module700005-M-3
Credits (ECTS)3
CategoryMA (Master)
Course typeCourse
Language of instructionEnglish
Offered byTilburg University; Tilburg School of Humanities and Digital Sciences; TSH: Department of Philosophy; Philosophy;
Is part of
M Philosophy
prof. dr. W.B. Drees
Other course modules lecturer
Academic year2019
Starting block
Course mode
Registration openfrom 14/10/2019 up to and including 24/01/2020
Through this couse, the student will develop the ability
1) To understand cultural, scholarly and existential dimensions of debates on religion and secularization;
2) To think critically and clearly about philosophical and cultural issues regarding religion and secularization;
3) To articulate philosophically a constructive, well-considered position of one’s own on an issue related to religion and secularism today.
‘Religion’ has been, and for many in our time continues to be, a major marker of human identities, which shapes communities and frames normative discourse. However, for many Europeans it has lost its relevance, and even its intelligibility. Secularism has many faces too, as it might mean the exclusion of religion from the public sphere, be a frame for non-belief or atheism, or be understood as frame for religious pluralism or an individualistic turn towards ‘spirituality’. As an influential historical text, we will read carefully, in English, Friedrich Schleiermacher’s Über die Religion: Reden an die Gebildeten unter ihren Verächtern (1799). This constructive proposal came shortly after Immanuel Kant’s critical philosophy. How did Schleiermacher understand religion? What did he see as the challenges, and how did he address those? The first assignment will involve an analysis and evaluation of a section of Schleiermacher\'s text.

We then will consider what someone in our time might offer as a constructive proposal on such existential, moral, societal and metaphysical issues, whether as a religious or a non-religious position. We will consider some voices on religion and secularization in our time. Last but not least, students will be invited to prepare, in writing, a short constructive ‘speech’, to articulate their philosophical view on these issues, rather than merely discuss the views of other philosophers.

Compulsory Reading
  1. Friedrich Schleiermacher, On Religion: Speeches to its Cultural Despisers, translated and edited by Richard Crouter, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988. 1988 or another English translation or the German editition of Über die Religion: Reden an die Gebildeten untern ihren Verächtern (orig. 1799). An electronic version of the book is available via the university library. 
  2. Contemporary texts on religion and secularization (as indicated in canvas).

Recommended Reading
Will be listed in Canvas

Assignments (for details, see Canvas)

The first assignment will be to offer a brief philosophical analysis and evaluation of sections from Schleiermacher’s Über die Religion: Reden an die Gebildeten unter ihren Verächtern, which we will read in English.

The second assignment is for the student to articulate constructively his or her position on religion, spirituality, atheism, pluralism, agnosticism or another related issues, in writing, and to present this in the final session of the class. What is graded is, of course, not the position of the student, whether liberal or orthodox, whether religious, anti-religious, or otherwise, but the quality of the articulation and argumentation.


  • 15 %    Participation in class and minor assignments
  • 35 %    Essay 1
  • 50 %    Essay 2 and presentation
Resit, preferably avoided, will be
  • for the minor assignments (or part thereof) an additional essay;
  • for essay 1: an essay on one of Schleiermacher's Speeches (to be assigned)
  • for essay 2: a revised and develop version of the concluding essay; grading may be reduced in as far as the revision relies on the feedback given on the earlier version or on the work of other students.
Contact person
prof. dr. W.B. Drees
Timetable information
Philosophy of Religion and Secularization
Required materials
University Library Tilburg provides access to e-book. Other editions or German Original may be used as well.
Title:On Religion: Speeches to its Cultured Despisers
Author:Friedrich Schleiermacher
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
Recommended materials
Additional etxts will be announced via Canvas, and made digitally available in as far as possible.
Final Result

Paper (35%)

Paper (50%)

Minor assignments (15%)

Kies de Nederlandse taal