Friday, December 24, 2004

Heidegger and Critical theory

I came across a very interesting book on the subject by Prof. Dr. Hauke Brunkhorst It is called Adorno and Critical Theory

I will try to post a good review (if I can find one) and some comments on the book in the coming days. I have discovered Prof. Dr. Hauke Brunkhorst only recently but he seems to be someone with an insight.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Lifeworld/System distinction (1)

"On the basis of this theory of argumentation, Habermas develops the two-level approach of lifeworld and system.


The lifeworld, then, has a twofold meaning: on the one hand, the horizon-forming contexts of culture, society and personality within which communicative action takes place, and, on the other hand, the resources of possibilities from which participants in communicative action can transmit and renew cultural knowledge, establish solidarity and build social identity.


Habermas’s theory of social evolution takes an important turn when he argues that the action-oriented approach of the lifeworld cannot account for all the complexities of modern societies. The process of rationalization should be understood not only as a differentiation of the lifeworld as a symbolically reproduced communicative order, but also in terms of the ‘material substratum’ of society (Habermas, 1987a: 23S-82). This twofold perspective indicates that societies have to secure the transmission of cultural values, legitimate norms and socialization processes, and, in addition, they also have to efficiently manipulate and control their environment in terms of successful interventions. Habermas therefore supplements the perspective of the lifeworld with a systems theory, specifically paying attention to the economic and the political system (Habermas, 1987a: 338-43).

These systems have in the course of history split off, or ‘uncoupled’, from the lifeworld to function independently, no longer on the basis of communicative action aimed at understanding, but in terms of the functionality of the steering of media, money and power. Actions coordinated through these steering media relieve communicative action from difficulties in reaching consensus in complex societies characterized by a range of action alternatives and, therefore, a constant threat of dissent. Actions coordinated by the steering media of money and power differ from communicative action in that they aim at the successful (cognitive-instrumental) organization of the production and exchange of goods on the basis of monetary profit (economy) and the formation of government to reach binding decisions in terms of bureaucratic efficiency (politics).

Habermas does not conceive the ‘uncoupling’ of system and lifeworld as problematic in itself. The coordination of action in systems can best be secured by steering media because they manage to relieve communicative actions from the possibility of dissent, and they can do so with a high level of productivity and efficiency. However, systems also have the capacity to penetrate back into the lifeworld. Coordination mechanisms oriented to success thereby enter into the domains of the lifeworld (culture, society and personality) that should be secured through communicative action oriented to mutual understanding if they are to remain free from disturbances and crisis manifestations (Habermas, 1987a: 318-31). This process Habermas refers to as the colonization of the lifeworld: the communicative potentials aimed at understanding in the lifeworld are eroded in terms of the systemic imperatives of monetary and bureaucratic systems interventions."

Introduction: Law in Habermas’s Theory of Communicative Action

continued from here

Lifeworld/System distinction in Habermas

"Habermas's system/lifeworld distinction ... has to be viewed as making possible a more complex interpretation of what Marx and Engels supposedly understood as the basic components of social labor. As Habermas remarks, system and lifeworld appear in Marx as "realm of necessity" and "realm of freedom"(Theory of Communicative Action 2:340).

Habermas's aim in further dividing system and lifeworld, the one into economy and state administration and the other into private and public spheres, is to provide for an understanding of advanced capitalism that takes into account the increasing complexities of welfare state democracies. Specifically, he wants to allow for examination of the crucial interchange between lifeworld (public and private) and system (economy and state administration). According to Habermas, the system/lifeworld interchange takes place in the media of money and power and is institutionalized in the social roles of employee, consumer, client of state bureaucracies, and citizen of the state. In reference to the consumer role, he describes private households as having been "converted over" to mass consumption, "redefined" as system environments, and made subject to the economic and administrative imperatives of the "monetary-bureaucratic complex."


"While Habermas is less explicit in his theory of communication action about the gendered identities and obligations attached to socialization processes, he continues to understand social evolution in terms of learning processes connected to interactive competences and moral-practical insight, and he still holds that socialization processes are centered in family institutions. In some respects, he views the nurturer/socialization role as even more important for modernity than it was for the earliest "human" societies. For example, he argues that in "premodern" lifeworlds, where there are underdeveloped personality systems, socialization is relatively unimportant. By contrast, in modern lifeworlds, strong personality systems are the key to the successful reproduction of the lifeworld, and the dominant reproduction process is socialization (140-41). Because Habermas understands socialization processes as crucial for sustaining and renewing the individual competences associated with strong personality systems, the "female" work of socialization not only does not lose its importance in modernity, but comes to dominate the overall process of reproducing the lifeworld."


". . .Habermas advocates a theory of socialization that can connect Freud with Mead, put more weight on structures of intersubjectivity, and replace "hypotheses about instinctual vicissitudes with assumptions about identity formation." He argues that the transformation of the bourgeois family should not be understood simply in functionalist terms, that is, as serving the interests of capital; it can also be understood in structural terms, that is, as providing for the development of egalitarian relations within the family, individuation in discursive practices, and liberalized childrearing (386 ff.). These developments do not, however, translate into questions of gender equality, as one might have thought. Rather the point of Habermas's discussion is to determine what the transformation of the bourgeois family means for understanding the new conditions of socialization."

"Habermas argues that there is a "growing autonomy" of the nuclear family because it is now cut off from the figure of the father that once represented societal repression and so brought system imperatives into the family context. He also regards the structural changes in the bourgeois family as representing the "inherent rationalization of the lifeworld" because, in the transformation from a family unit based on paternal authority to one providing for egalitarian relations, "some of the potential for rationality ingrained in communicative action is also released." It is apparently because the communicative infrastructure of familial lifeworlds gains a new independence that familial lifeworlds are able to understand economic and administrative imperatives as "coming at them from outside." In Habermas's view, this development means that socialization processes now take place in a "largely deinstitutionalized communicative action," that is, in communication structures "that have freed themselves from latent entanglements in systemic dependencies." He suggests that the increasing polarization between a communicatively structured lifeworld and the formally organized contexts of the system brings with it a "different type of danger" for socialization because, while the Oedipal problematic is no longer so significant, the adolescent's adjustment to adult social roles now becomes more complex and risky. The reason for this, he explains, is that the competences, motives and attitudes learned in the socialization processes of the familial lifeworld, that is, in a relatively independent communication infrastructure, are to some extent incompatible with the functional requirements of adult social roles (located in the system/lifeworld interchange). As a result, adolescent crises grow in significance (387-88)."

"... Habermas places a more explicit weight on the family as a site of freedom. Socialization processes are tied up with claims not only about the family's internal structures of communication, but also what those structures represent in and of themselves."

"In his discussion of the rationalization of the familial lifeworld, Habermas uses identical terms to those he uses in his more general characterization of the rationalization of the lifeworld. In each case, there is "growing autonomy" from the processes of material reproduction and a release of the "potential for communicative rationality ingrained in communicative action." The rationalization of the lifeworld would appear to involve not just one process, but rather two parallel processes, the one in the familial lifeworld sphere and the other in the lifeworld's public sphere. He remarks, for example, that "the inner logic of communicative action 'becomes practically true' in the deinstitutionalized forms of intercourse of the familial private sphere as well as in a public sphere stamped by the mass media" (403). There seems to be no retreat from the immediacy he assigns to family relations. Thus, even though he aims at a theory based on equality, and even though he admits that power and money still pervade the relations of the private household, his theory does not, and apparently cannot, provide for criticism of the power and economic relations of a gender-structured lifeworld."

Habermas on Social Labor and Communicative Action

Weak naturalism in Habermas' early writings

"Habermas's aim, in reconfiguring the concept of social labor as a nexus of rules of instrumental/strategic and communicative action, is to bring out what Marx and Engels meant by social labor, but the point of this exercise, in 1976, is to provide a framework for testing their claim that social labor distinguishes human and animal life. Referring to recent anthropological work on primates and hominids, he states that if social labor (understood as socially organized instrumental action) indicates the specifically human reproduction of life, we should not be able to find within hominization any evidence of the rules of instrumental and strategic action, nor of the rules of communicative action. But, once we examine hominization, he maintains, we find that those rules apply to both hominid and human life. He argues that the cooperative hunt introduced by the hominids was driven by instrumental action and sustained by social interaction, that hominid society fulfilled the conditions for an economic reproduction of life, and that their cooperative hunt was the first mode of production. He concludes that the concept of social labor, even when reformulated to represent Marx's and Engel's meaning, cannot help us understand the difference between human and animal life. How, then, he asks, are we to understand that difference? Habermas provides a clue as to how he will answer that question in his discussion of hominid society. His argument that the hominids fulfilled the conditions for an economic reproduction of life refers to the economic activities of the adult male hominids and is based on a prior exclusion, from the concept of social labor, of the economic activities of adult females (and children). According to Habermas, the "division of labor in the hominid groups presumably led to a development of two subsystems." The "adult males [came] together in egalitarian hunting bands and occupied, on the whole, a dominant position," whereas the "females...gathered fruit and lived together with their young, for whom they cared" (133-35)."


The social role system that eventually comes to integrate social labor in a human society is linguistically and culturally organized, requires highly competent individuals, and is crucially dependent on the transmission of competences from one generation to the next. From an evolutionary point of view, the males in the hunting band, on the threshold of becoming "human," needed controlled access to the female and child system to ensure not simply biological reproduction, but, more significantly, the symbolic reproduction associated with the linguistic and cultural bases of the social role system needed for the integration of the social labor in the (male) hunting band. This symbolic reproduction is the basis of the moral-practical insight that, according to Habermas, is just as important for social evolution and historical progress as the technical knowledge needed for production. He maintains that the specifically human mode of reproducing life cannot be adequately described without recognizing the familial principle of organization, alongside the system of social labor. He concludes that, production and socialization are "equally" important for a human species that reproduces itself through social labor and that depends for its social integration on the interactive competences of a social role system (136-38)."

Habermas on Social Labor and Communicative Action

Monday, December 13, 2004

Öffentlicher Raum und politische Öffentlichkeit

Habermas' Nov. 11th acceptance speech for the Kyoto Prize can be read in original German here

courtesy Jeremy J. Shapiro

naturalism in philosophy

Alex Rosenberg writes:

...we may characterize naturalism in philosophy as follows:

1. The repudiation of 'first philosophy'. Epistemology is not to be treated as a propaedeutic to the acquisition of further knowledge.

2. Scientism. The sciences-from physics to psychology and even occasionally sociology, their methods and findings - are to be the guide to epistemology and metaphysics. But the more well established the finding and method the greater the reliance philosophy may place on it. And physics embodies the most well established methods and findings.

3. Darwinism. To a large extent Darwinism theory is to be both the model of scientific theorizing and the guide to philosophical theory because it maximally combines relevance to human affairs and well foundedness.

Naturalism in the philosophy of science adds another element to this credo:

4. Progressivity. Arguments from the history of sociology of science to the non-rationality, or nor cumlativity, or non-progressive character of science, are all either unsound and/or invalid.

A Field Guide to Recent Species of Naturalism

Just a quick note with reference to Habermas:

Speaking very roughly I would say Habermas would accept the first proposition wholeheartedly as far as Epistemology is conceived as a project of first philosophy. He would probably also accept the 4th proposition with may be some rephrasing. However he would reject 2 & 3. He would say about (2) that it is not naturalism it is reductionism. Scientific method and Sciences are tiny part of "nature and knowledge about nature". As for (3) he would say what we need is to combine Kant and Darwin (see
Truth and Justification, introduction)

Professor Rosenberg's above paper can be downloaded from here

Also few other papers by Rosenberg are available for download from his site Alex Rosenberg

Also an interesting course on naturalism with links to some very interesting papers Naturalism Course Schedule

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Habermas on Quine

"Strong naturalism, whose paradigmatic representative has been W. V. Quine, allies itself with a scientific understanding of our cognitive abilities. All cognition is ultimately reducible to empirical processes. The transcendental architectonic drops out, as does the difference between the conditions of how world is constituted (or of world disclosure), which calls for conceptual analysis, on the one hand, and states of affairs and events in the world, which can be explained causally, on the other. If we repudiate the transcendental difference between the world and what is innerworldly, then we also get rid of the assumption that it is necessary for governing scepticism about a "world of appearances," which might represent a partial segment or a prospectively distorted view of a "world in itself." And as the methodological dualism of an interpretive reconstruction of our lifeworld, on the one hand, and the explanation of processes in the objective world, on the other, dissipates, so does the paradoxical task of somehow reconciling the "internal perspective" of transcendentally conceived practice of lifeworld with the "external perspective" of their causal genesis."

Truth and Justification p. 23

continued from here

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Quine and Habermas

I am planning to write a section on Quine and Habermas in my thesis. I have been thinking about it for some time now and have been reading a lot of Quine (a lot relative to my own standards!). Habermas has not written much on Quine however in his book Truth and Justification he has some discussion of Quine. He brings in Quine as a paradigm case of 'strong' naturalism in order to differentiate his own ‘weak naturalism’ from it [on the other hand he brings in Heidegger as a paradigm case of what I would call 'strong' idealism and again in order to differentiate his own version of anti-naturalism (i.e. why his naturalism is ‘weak’)from it].

Today I am going to put couple of quotes from Quine with brief comments just in order to show the direction of my thinking at this moment:

Qunie describes naturalism in these words:

...naturalism: abandonment of the goal of a first philosophy . . .
The naturalistic philosopher begins his reasoning within the inherited world theory as a going concern. He tentatively believes all of it, but believes also that some unidentified portions are wrong. He tries to improve, clarify, and understand the system from within. He is the busy sailor adrift on Neurath's boat.

Theories and Things p. 72

I will try to note as much similarities between Habermas and Quine as I can think of (or make up) as their differences are already very well known and somewhat overstated.

1) Habermas agrees with Quine on the need for the abandonment of first philosophy and as in Quine, in Habermas as well, it is the logical conclusion of a thoroughgoing naturalism.

2) Habermas would also agree with Quine that we must start with the given (although they would certainly disagree on the nature of this given). Furthermore Habermas shares Quine's 'tentative' (hypothetical) and fallibilistic attitude towards truth claims or theory construction.

3) Habermas would also agree with Quine that we do not have any Archimedean point available to us and we develop our theory or raise validity claims from "within" - the example of sailor and boat is also appropriate to describe Habermas' stance in this regard.

Having noted above points let us quote Quine a bit more:

[Naturalism] sees natural science as an inquiry into reality, fallible and corrigible but not answerable to any suprascientific tribunal, and not in need of any justification beyond observation and the hypothetico-deductive method.

Theories and Things p. 72

This clearly shows what separates Habermas from Quine is the latter's scientism. Importantly Quine contrasts his naturalism to 'suprascientific tribunal' while Habermas would contrast it with 'supernatural tribunal' which implies that for Habermas suprascientific is not supranatural.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Habermas’ weak naturalism

Habermas’ weak naturalism:

. . . “our” learning processes, that are possible within the framework of sociocultural forms of life, are in a sense simply the continuation of prior “evolutionary learning process” that in turn gave rise to our forms of life. For then the structures that form the transcendental conditions of possibility of our kinds of learning process themselves turn out to be the result of less complex, natural learning processes – and thereby themselves acquire a cognitive content. The “continuation” of learning process at a higher level, however must be understood in the sense of a “weak” naturalism that makes no reductionistic claims. A “strongly” naturalistic explanatory strategy aims to replace the conceptual analysis of practices of the lifeworld with a scientific neurological or biogenetic explanation of the achievements of the human brain. In contrast, weak naturalism contents itself with the basic background assumption with the basic background assumption that the biological endowment and the cultural way of life of Homo sapiens have a “natural” origin and can in principle be explained in terms of evolutionary theory.

Truth and Justification pp. 27-28

Few off the cuff remarks (need to edit and revise them later)

1)Habermas introduces his meta-theoretical assumption of ‘weak naturalism’ in the context of his attempt to preserve the distinction between “world” and “innerworldly” even after “detranscendentalisation” (i.e. thoroughgoing naturalism in the sense of soft naturalism).

2)The distinction between world and innerworldly requires some sort of distinction corresponding to Kant’s distinction between “transcendental” and “empirical”. However Habermas wants to do this without reverting back to Kant’s distinction between “pure intelligible” world and “empirical world”. Kant’s realm of pure intelligence has been detranscendentalised that is brought back to “this world”.

3)So Habermas aims at a thoroughgoing detranscendentalisation without however surrendering the Kantian distinction between “transcendental” and “empirical” which now takes the form of distinction between worldly and innerworldly.

4)At this point Habermas suggest that in order to preserve the Kantian distinction we do not need to abandon naturalism, what we need to get rid of is rather a representational model of knowledge.

5)It is here that Habermas introduces his “weak naturalism” as a meta-theoretical assumption.

6)The meta-theoretical assumption is not about the purported “conformity between mind-independent world and the structure of mind.” The problem of the conformity of the structure of mind with reality belongs to the representational model of knowledge and becomes irrelevant after a thoroughgoing detranscendentalisation.

7)What Habermas needs to assume is rather a general notion that both “world” and “mind” are natural (in the sense of soft naturalism).

8)However after above assumption he needs to show that mind’s spontaneity can be explained in naturalistic terms, that is without referring back to the Kantian distinction between intelligible and phenomenal world.

9)If he can show the above it will strengthen his initial assumption in turn.

10)Thus on the one hand (nature and culture) are continuous in the sense that both are to be ultimately explained in natural terms (in the sense of soft naturalism), however we also need to explain discontinuity between them, however without going back to the Kantian dichotomy. Habermas believes that in order to do that he only needs to make one assumption and that is his assumption of weak naturalism.

continued from here

Morality, Law and Deliberative Democracy

Morality, Law and Deliberative Democracy - An Enquiry Concerning Jürgen Habermas’ and Karl-Otto Apel’s Discursive Programs of Justification

It is my overall critical thesis that neither Habermas ́s programs, nor Apel ́s program succeed in fully overcoming the major immanent problems of the discourse ethics. The first major immanent problem consists of the fact that the discourse ethics on the one hand reduces practical validity to be the outcome of a purely formal procedure, but on the other hand strives to give substance (moral relevance) to this formal procedure. The second problem concerns how these few transcendental fundamental norms can play a significant role in regard to all the substantial norms that are not transcendentally justified.

A thesis on Habermas and Apel by Sigurd Lauridsen can be downloaded from here

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Heidegger and Habermas

An interesting article on Habermas Heidegger relation is available online Heidegger's Challenge and the Future of Critical Theory

The article seems to be a previous version of what finally appeared in Habermas: A Critical Reader Edited By: PETER DEWS as "Heidegger's Challenge and the Future of Critical Theory / Nikolas Kompridis." I have not checked it though.

There is an interesting discussion of this paper here and here

Earlier I had come across another interesting article on Heidegger's conception of freedom called Primordial freedom: The Authentic Truth of Dasein in Heidegger's 'Being and Time' from here. I have not thoroughly studied it yet but it might be very relevant to Habermas Heidegger debate.

Also see this article which has been very fruitful for my pursuit of Habermas Heidegger connections

Christopher McNicholls (1991) “Ontological Freedom as the essence of Dasein: Heidegger’s overcoming of Objectivism and Subjectivism” Gnosis; 3(4): 1-33.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Reason, Society and Religion

Reason, Society and Religion: Reflections on 11 September from a Habermasian Perspective

Andy Wallace
Department of Philosophy, California State University, Sonoma, CA, USA

I have two main objectives in this essay: (1) to situate the events of 11 September within the context of the impact of modernization on religious consciousness and institutions; and (2) to suggest, albeit without adequate empirical support, that militant Islamic opposition to the West in general and the United States in particular is itself an effect of the peculiar path of modernization that has unfolded in the Gulf region of the Middle East over the last 200 years. To develop my argument, I draw upon Habermas's theory of social evolution. Since this strategy requires explaining the key components of that theory, I devote a good part of the article to this task.

The paper has five parts. In parts one and two, I criticize competing explanations of the events of 11 September from left, right and center. All these positions fail in one way or another to take seriously the religious significance of those events. In part three, I explain the six central dimensions of Habermas's theory of social evolution: (1) communicative rationality; (2) communicative action; (3) life-world; (4) system; (5) social typology; and (6) the systemic colonization of the life-world. In part four, I examine the relation between religion and modernity. In part five, I examine the modernization processes in the Gulf region of the Middle East. Empirical evidence tentatively suggests that such a process has been one-dimensional, focusing on systemic complexity to the detriment of the communicative rationalization of the life-world. Such evidence also indicates the existence of widespread systemic colonization of the life-world. If the empirical data are correct, then we can explain the emergence of extreme militant Islamic fundamentalism as an effect of a retarded development of those socio-political structures necessary for the realization of communicative rationality.

Apparently it can be downloaded for free from here. At least I did.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Henrich's critique of Habermas

I need to consider Henrich's critique of Habermas in detail later but I want to make couple of brief points about Henrich's critique as presented by Peter Dews. Dews writes:

"Recently, however, Dieter Henrich has claimed that the naturalistic strain in Habermas's thought cannot be easily reconciled with his borrowings from the traditions of phenomenology and transcendental philosophy. Habermas claims that one of the tasks of contemporary philosophy is a hermeneutical exploration - from 'within', as it were - of the structures of meaning which constitute the lifeworld. But such a conception of shared meanings as constituting the 'condition of possibility' of experience, is hardly compatible with the efforts to achieve a naturalistic reduction of phenomena of meaning and consciousness which characterise analytical philosophy. On Henrich's view, analytical naturalism has at least the merit of presenting a coherent 'anti-metaphysics', whereas Habermas seems to be pulled in two directions at once."

Naturalism and Anti-naturalism in Habermas's Philosophy

Elsewhere Peter Dews writes:

"Henrich argued that Habermas' philosophy finds itself torn between the contradictory tendencies of naturalism and transcendentalism. Habermas' position, he claimed, is philosophically inconsistent, because - on the one hand - it presupposes a pragmatic and socio-scientific conception of language and communication, and - on the other hand - also draws on the tradition of transcendental phenomenology in its elaboration of the concept of lifeworld."

The Limits of Disenchantment Essays on Contemporary European Philosophy p. 160

I want to make two brief comments on the above passages:

1) Henrich considers Habermas' attempt to combine naturalism with transcendentalism a contradiction while I consider it an innovation and investigate logic of any such enquiry in my thesis.

2) It should be noted that when Henrich talks of "naturalism" or "analytical naturalism" what he means is "hard naturalism" and does not seem to have considered the difference between "hard naturalism" and "soft naturalism" we have mentioned earlier here. If this is true then it takes lot of sting out of Henrich's criticism at the outset.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Ein letzter Gruß

Ein letzter Gruß
Derridas klärende Wirkung

Jacques Derrida hat, wie nur noch Michel Foucault, den Geist einer ganzen Generation in Bewegung gesetzt. Er hält diese Generation bis heute in Atem. Aber anders als Foucault, obwohl ein politischer Denker wie dieser, hat Derrida die Impulse seiner Schüler in die Bahnen eines Exerzitiums gelenkt. Primär geht es ihm nicht um den Inhalt einer Lehre, nicht einmal um die Einübung in ein Vokabular, das einen neuen Blick auf die Welt erschließt. Darum geht es auch. Aber die Einübung in das mikrologische Lesen und das Auffinden von Spuren in Texten, die der Zeit stand gehalten haben, ist Selbstzweck. Wie Adornos Negative Dialektik, so ist auch Derridas Dekonstruktion wesentlich eine Praxis. Viele wussten von der schweren Krankheit, mit der Derrida souverän umging. Der Tod kam nicht unerwartet. Aber nun trifft er uns doch als ein plötzliches, ein voreiliges Ereignis - es reißt uns aus der Gewohnheit und dem Gleichmut des Alltags heraus. Gewiss wird der Denker, der seine ganze intellektuelle Energie an die inständige Lektüre großer Texte verausgabt und der den Vorrang der überlieferungsfähigen Schrift vor der Präsenz des gesprochenen Wortes gefeiert hat, in seinen eigenen Texten weiterleben. Aber jetzt wissen wir, dass uns Derridas Stimme und Derridas Gegenwart fehlen werden.

Seinen Lesern begegnet Derrida als ein Autor, der jeden Text solange gegen den Strich liest, bis er einen subversiven Sinn preisgibt. Unter seinem unnachgiebigem Blick zerfällt jeder Zusammenhang in Fragmente. Jeder vermeintlich feste Boden gerät ins Schwanken, verrät einen doppelten Boden. Die gewohnten Hierarchien, Ordnungen und Oppositionen eröffnen uns einen gegenläufigen Sinn. Die Welt, in der wir zuhause zu sein scheinen, ist unbewohnbar. Nicht von dieser Welt, bleiben wir Fremde unter Fremden. Zuletzt war die religiöse Botschaft kaum noch chiffriert.

Selten gibt es Texte, die den anonymen Lesern auch das Gesicht ihres Autors so deutlich zu enthüllen scheinen. Tatsächlich gehört Derrida aber zu den Autoren, die ihre Leser bei der ersten persönlichen Begegnung überraschen. Er war anders, als man erwartete - eine ungemein liebenswürdige, fast elegante, gewiss verletzbare und sensible, aber gewandte und, sobald er Vertrauen gefasst hatte, sympathisch offene, eine freundliche und zur Freundschaft bereite Person. Ich bin froh, dass Derrida wieder Vertrauen gefasst hat, als wir uns hier in der Nähe Chicagos, in Evanston, von wo aus ich ihm diesen letzten Gruß zuschicke, vor sechs Jahren wiedersahen.

Derrida ist Adorno nie begegnet. Aber bei der Verleihung des Adorno-Preises hat er in der Paulskirche eine Rede gehalten, die im Gestus des Denkens, bis in die geheimen Falten der romantischen Traummotive, Adornos eigenem Geist nicht hätte verwandter sein können. Die jüdischen Wurzeln sind das verbindende Element ihres Denkens. Gershom Scholem blieb für Adorno eine Herausforderung, Emmanuel Levinas ist für Derrida zu einem Lehrer geworden. Derridas Werk kann in Deutschland auch deshalb eine klärende Wirkung entfalten, weil es sich den späten Heidegger aneignet, ohne an den mosaischen Anfängen neuheidnisch Verrat zu üben.

Jürgen Habermas ist em. Professor für Philosophie an der Universität Frankfurt/M. und lehrt Philosophie an der Northwestern University in Evanston bei Chicago.

Ein letzter Gruß Derridas klärende Wirkung VON JÜRGEN HABERMAS
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