Areshidze, Giorgi, Democratic Religion from Locke to Obama: Faith and the Civic Life of Democracy, University Press of Kansas, 2016.
Abstract: Debating or making speeches, American politicians invariably cite tenets of Christian faith—even as they unfailingly defend the liberal principles of tolerance and religious neutrality that underpin a pluralistic democracy. How these seemingly contradictory impulses can coexist—and whether this undermines the religious tradition that makes a liberal democracy possible—are the pressing questions that Giorgi Areshidze grapples with in this exploration of the civic role of religion in American political life. The early modern Enlightenment political philosophy of John Locke has been deeply influential—if often misunderstood and sometimes contested—in shaping both the theoretical and practical contours of contemporary debates and anxieties about religion in a liberal society. Areshidze demonstrates that Locke anticipated a great theological transformation of Christianity in light of modern rationalism, one that would make Christianity into a tolerant religion compatible with liberal political principles. Locke’s experiment, as this book shows, has succeeded in important respects, but at a tremendous cost—by demanding a certain theological skepticism about revealed religion that could ultimately undermine the public concern for religious or theological truth altogether. Democratic Religion from Locke to Obama evaluates these results in light of the role of religion in American political development, particularly as this role has been further defined in the work of political philosopher John Rawls. In the political theologies of Martin Luther King, Jr., Abraham Lincoln, and Barack Obama, Areshidze shows how, while working under Locke’s influence, all of these thinkers draw upon religion, including traditional revealed Christian ideas, in their efforts to reshape America’s moral consciousness—especially on the question of racial equality—in ways that might have surprised Locke. Finally, drawing on Alexis de Tocqueville’s encounter with the Lockean experiment in America, this book suggests that the dissonance between how tolerant we want religion to be and what we expect it to accomplish in our civic life is a consequence of the liberal transformation of religion. By reminding us of this religious transformation, Tocqueville’s “political science” may explain some of the deepest spiritual and civic anxieties that continue to beset American democracy.
Areshidze, Giorgi. "Does Toleration Require Religious Skepticism? An Examination of Locke's Letters On Toleration and Essay Concerning Human Understanding.” Interpretation v43 n1, 2016, 29-56.
Abstract: Does toleration depend on religious skepticism? This article attempts to answer this question by uncovering a foundational ambiguity in John Locke’s theological teaching. In his Letter on Toleration, Locke presents toleration as a Christian duty grounded in man’s obligation to search for religious truth. But the argument of the Letter proves to be incomplete, and is itself interwoven with Locke’s skeptical epistemological assumptions, which Locke increasingly emphasizes in his decade-long debate with his Anglican critic Jonas Proast as well as in his Essay concerning Human Understanding. This article shows that in his most popularly oriented theological-political work Locke deliberately mutes the obstacles that epistemic uncertainty poses to the quest for religious truth, in order to avoid the promotion of religious indifference and unbelief. Locke pursues this strategy not just for rhetorical but also for substantive reasons, since it makes his political legacy more congenial to a civil religion that can support liberalism.
Areshidze, Giorgi. "Georgia's Election Was About More Than Russia," in The National Interest, December 20, 2016, http://nationalinterest.org/feature/georgias-election-was-about-more-russia-18799?page=show
This piece provides an account of Georgia's 2016 October parliamentary elections and their significance for Georgia's democratic transition as well as for US regional interests in Central Eurasia. This analysis is based in part on interviews and materials collected during two recent research trips to Georgia (in October and June 2016).
Areshidze, Giorgi. “John Rawls and EU Multiculturalism: Is Post-Enlightenment Rawlsian Liberalism Sustainable” in Constitutionalism, Executive Power, and the Spirit of Moderation: Murray P. Dry and the Nexus of Liberal Education and Politics, edited by Giorgi Areshidze, Paul O. Carrese, and Suzanna Sherry. SUNY Press, 2016.
Areshidze, Giorgi and Paul O. Carrese. “Introduction: Liberal Education and Politics.” Constitutionalism, Executive Power, and the Spirit of Moderation: Murray P. Dry and the Nexus of Liberal Education and Politics, edited by Giorgi Areshidze, Paul O. Carrese, and Suzanna Sherry. SUNY Press, 2016, 1-10.
Areshidze, Giorgi, Paul O. Carrese, and Suzanna Sherry, eds. Constitutionalism, Executive Power, and the Spirit of Moderation: Murray P. Dry and the Nexus of Liberal Education and Politics. SUNY Press, 2016.
Abstract: In Constitutionalism, Executive Power, and the Spirit of Moderation, contributors ranging from scholars to practitioners in the federal executive and judicial branches blend philosophical and political modes of analysis to examine a variety of constitutional, legal, and philosophical topics. Part 1, “The Role of Courts in Constitutional Democracy,” analyzes the proper functions and limits of the judiciary and judicial decision making in constitutional government. Part 2, “Law and Executive Authority,” reflects on the tensions between constitutionalism and presidential leadership in both domestic and international arenas. Part 3, “Liberal Education, Constitutionalism, and Philosophic Moderation,” shifts the focus to the relationship between constitutionalism and political philosophy, and especially to the modern modes of philosophy that most directly influenced the American Founders. A valuable resource for specialists, the book also will be of use in political science and law school classes.