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.

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