Monday, October 25, 2004

matthew piscioneri's recent Ph.D dissertation on Habermas

Matt's thesis is available here for download

Myth of Reason 1

Myth of Reason 2


In this thesis I explicate and assess the second phase of Jürgen
Habermas’s programme to reconstruct the normative conditions of possibility for
undertaking a critical theory of society. The publication, in 1981, of Habermas’s

The Theory of Communicative Action (Habermas, 1995) signals the transition from the first phase of his reconstruction of Critical Theory that commenced in the 1960s with his critical theory of cognitive interests to the second phase of his project. I include Habermas’s Between Facts and Norms (1996) in the second phase of his reconstructive programme for it represents, I contend, the third and completing volume of The Theory of Communicative Action.

I argue that an informed assessment of Habermas’s reconstruction of Critical Theory can only proceed once the domains of application for his project are clarified. I position Habermas’s project first within the Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School, and second, within the more general tradition of Western Marxism. Clarifying the socio-historical and discursive background to Habermas’s project also indicates the practical objectives of the second phase of his reconstructed Critical Theory.

For, in contrast to conventional Marxian approaches, I argue that Habermas intends his reconstructed Critical Theory to intervene practically at the site of discourse. I locate the critical practice of Habermas’s project in his response not only to
Max Horkheimer’s and Theodor Adorno’s critique of instrumental reason, but also to the re-emergent influence of Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophy, via the French post-structuralist school, in the West German discursive milieu during the 1970s and 1980s. My thesis is that the practical or applied moment of Habermas’s critical theory of communicative action is discernible in his undertaking to sustain the persuasive signifier of “reason” in the adversarial socio-philosophical discourse of modernity taking place in the West German polity of that period. His critical theory of society responds to the threat posed by these critiques of reason to the very fabric of the Occidental social order in general, and the continued viability of
the West German political, moral and cultural traditions, in particular.

Habermas’s strategy here, I suggest, indicates his normative appropriation of
Emile Durkheim’s theses on the integrating function of collective ideals in the
consolidation of a social order. In assessing Habermas’s project I argue that on a formal level his reconstruction of Critical Theory effectively theorizes a viable
space for a “positive” critical social theory that resists Horkheimer and Adorno’s
totalizing critique of instrumental reason. On the substantive level, however, I argue Habermas’s Critical Theory is an under compelling alternative to the critique of instrumental reason that Horkheimer and Adorno detail in their later Critical Theory. The strong thesis I develop in Chapter Seven is that Habermas’s project is unable to overcome convincingly the aporetic pathos of pessimism that is generated by Horkheimer and Adorno’s thesis on the dialectic of enlightenment. Furthermore, I
make the case that the social systems model of participation in the critical-emancipatory project Habermas outlines, especially in Between Facts and Norms, ironically risks generating its own aporetic pathos of pessimism.

His depiction of the near-inevitable contribution communicatively-empowered social movements make to the maintenance and reproduction of an existing social order, I suggest, compromises the emancipatory aspirations of these social movements. It is on this basis I conclude that the second phase of Habermas’s reconstruction of Critical Theory remains problematic.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Arguably one of the best reviews of Professor Matuštík's book.

Overcoming Emancipation

Gopal Balakrishnan on Martin Beck Matuštík, Jürgen Habermas: a Philosophical-Political Profile. Bends in the thought of Germany’s leading philosopher, and its engagement with history, across half a century.

"Confronted with current US assertions of America’s eternal supremacy, as the Pentagon gears up to seize Baghdad, Habermas has not been moved to revise his confidence in the West’s new mission civilisatrice. While expressing conventional European misgivings about the dangers of ‘unilateralism’, he has deplored Schroeder’s declaration that Germany would not join an invasion of Iraq, even were the Security Council to mandate one, as failing to display ‘unreserved respect for the authority of the UN’. The more loyal attitude of Foreign Minister Fischer—a favourite of both the State Department and the philosopher—was preferable. For Habermas, once again, the decisive question is the language to be used in justifying the latest state of exception, as if this is what determines the final architecture of world politics. Here is the distinction with which (in a recent Nation interview) he garlanded motives for the Balkan War:

In Continental Europe, proponents of intervention took pains to shore up rather weak arguments from international law by pointing out that the action was intended to promote what they saw as the transition from a soft international law toward a fully implemented human rights regime, whereas both US and British advocates remained in their tradition of liberal nationalism. They did not appeal to ‘principles’ of a future cosmopolitan order but were satisfied to enforce their demand for international recognition of what they perceived to be the universalistic force of their own national ‘values’.

The shell game of principles versus values defines the parameters of the only debate that the later Habermas considers worthwhile. Conversations with Rawls and Rorty—‘the heirs of Jefferson’—boil down to justifying the writ of liberal democracy in different idioms. Acknowledgment that ‘the idea of a just and peaceful cosmopolitan order lacks any historical and philosophical support’ does not deter Habermas from concluding that there is no alternative to striving for its realization, even if its military expressions, for all their good will, so far leave something to be desired. The suspicion that such wishful thinking might preclude historical and philosophical comprehension of the real world has been successfully kept at bay. Habermas recently wrote of Herbert Marcuse that he believed he had to introduce a vocabulary that could only open eyes clouded to realities that had grown invisible ‘by bathing apparently unfamiliar phenomena in a harsh counterlight’. But reconstructing this forgotten language, and learning how to speak it, is the sole vocation of a theory that is genuinely critical."

more here

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Transcendence from within

Transcendence from within

Please note that this is a work in progress. Later much improved versions of this article are available on request. I have kept the original (at points full of errors piece) in order to demonstrate the difficulties involved in grappling the issue at hand.

Related post 1: Habermas’ Between Facts and Norms:Legitimizing Power? by Abdollah Payrow Shabani

Related post 2: Transcendence from within

Related post 3: Between Facts and Norms

Generality, Rationality and Morality . . .

Thus rational argumentation in itself requires the possibility of detachment and reflection (which in a crucial sense requires the production of generality), however moral discourse requires generality more than other discourses because it requires agents to bracket their whole particular orientations and be open to the “other” and her perspective in her unique and irreplaceable otherness. This can not happen without the all inclusivity that involves generality. All rational argumentation requires bracketing particularity, but in moral argumentation this happens in a more radical and all pervasive ways. Moral argumentation like the truth claims and theoretical argumentation, it does not exclude any one in principle. This can in turn happen only to an extent that we are convinced that the particular value orientations and lifeworlds in which we are embedded do not play any essential direct role in regulating human relations as relations.

Decentration . . .

Decentration is a central concept in Habermas and is closely related to his concept of rationality and hence generality. Decentration consists in a possibility of detachment from the specificity and particularity in which individuals and communities are by definition embedded. Decentration can in fact be defined as the condition that makes possible for agents to detach from the specificity and particularity of their respective lifeworlds. This possibility imputes reflective character on the lifeworld concerned and gives it priority over other lifeworlds.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Particularity, generality and Rationality

Particularity and distrust of particularity is fundamental to the Enlightenment thought, at least for its mainstream strands. Utopian thought is so crucial for Enlightenment mainly because it transfers it beyond the particularity, beyond the present (which is by definition specific and particular).

Furthermore, freedom, especially negative conception of freedom, is the core concept of Enlightenment because freedom is nothing but the distrust of particularity.

The will to formality is a will not to be bound by any particularity.

Habermas, though thoroughly reconceptualizes the relation between particularity and generality in relation in positive terms, ultimately he still remains faithful to Enlightenment’s privileging of generality.

The role of a certain conception of generality and its relation to particularity and its bearing on the possibility of reflection is crucial to understanding Habermas’ conception of rationality. Strangely enough it remains an under-researched topic in Habermasiana. I am currently writing a short paper on the topic. Any suggestions, comments, collaborations are most welcome.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Habermas and Rawls

Habermas calls Rawls’ strategy that of avoidance (Habermas, 1998b: 99) and his own strategy a ‘straightforward Kantian strategy” (ibid.). Habermas is right to the extent that Rawls does not justify Liberal political conceptions with reference to Liberal comprehensive doctrines (at least not directly and exclusively). Rawls as we have seen tries to situate Liberal political conceptions in a wide variety of religious and philosophical comprehensive doctrines including the Liberal comprehensive doctrine. Obviously situating a conception and embedding it within a wider spectrum of possible reasons increases the probability of its truthfulness and not the other way round. Why does it bother Habermas then that Rawls’s strategy is not straightforward and is that of avoidance?

Perhaps Habermas thinks that by treating different comprehensive doctrines at par Rawls obliterates the distinction between different levels at which different comprehensive doctrines might be true or false. My impression is confirmed by Habermas’ insistence that “autonomy is not just one value alongside others” (Habermas, 1998b: 99) implying that Rawls does not treat autonomy as the prime value. This is strange given Rawls’ insistence on the priority of liberty or first principle of justice throughout. Habermas is right to the extent that in PL Rawls only endorses the political conception of autonomy and does not argue for the moral conception of autonomy (at least directly). However it should be kept in mind that the political conception of liberalism is treated by Rawls as intrinsically moral and it conditions each and every comprehensive doctrine from behind and establishes its reasonableness. In that sense political Liberalism indirectly maintains the priority of Liberal comprehensive doctrine at least by making all other comprehensive doctrines succumb to its core insight. So I do not think it is right to criticise Rawls for being neutral towards “practical reason” (Habermas, 1998b: 100). Rawls is not neutral towards the conception of “practical reason”, however he realises that today Kantian conceptions cannot be justified in straightforward terms.

The reason why Rawls finds it hard to defend Liberalism in a straightforward way lies in the distance that separates him from Kant and his times. Rawls implicitly realises that the belief in Enlightenment as a comprehensive doctrine has waned beyond any salvaging. When Rawls admits that reasonable pluralism is a fact of Liberal constitutional democracies he implicitly admits that constitutional democracy can only be defended in a roundabout way. It is impossible today to justify Liberalism on its own terms. It must take detours (long detours) to have a semblance of conviction (see Dombrowski, 2001: 3-11). I believe that this is what Rawls tries to do. However from a Ghazalian perspective Rawls’ strategy is very dangerous and effective. Rawls has the humbleness of a theorist and the cunningness of a strategist. He tries to turn the weakness of Liberalism into its strength. As we shall see on the theoretical level the strategy is contradictory and without any justification. However on the practical level it is very dangerous and can be very effective.

On the other hand Habermas still thinks that Enlightenment can be defended on its own terms. He claims that Enlightenment philosophers were unable to do this job adequately because they were caught in what Habermas calls the philosophy of consciousness and the philosophy of subject. In an amazing stroke of generalisation he punishes with this stick philosophers from Hegel to Foucault and beyond. Habermas believes that with his principle of intersubjectivity and linguistically mediated communication he can arrive at the universally valid principles of communication and rationality (Habermas, 1987).

According to Habermas’ straightforward Kantian strategy:

There seems to be no way around the explanation of the moral point of view in terms of a procedure that claims to be context independent. Such a procedure is by no means free of normative implications . . . for it is intertwined with a concept of autonomy that integrates “reason” and “free will;” to that extent it cannot be normatively neutral. Freedom in general consists in the capacity to choose in accordance with maxims; but autonomy is the self-binding of the will by maxims we adopt on the basis of insight. Because it is mediated by reason, autonomy is not just one value alongside others” (Habermas, 1998b: 99, emphases in original).

Habermas rightly differentiates between freedom as a capacity and autonomy. Freedom is a capacity to choose. However autonomy is a particular choice and as any meaningful and controversial choice needs to be defended and cannot be presumed. The claim that since autonomy is mediated by reason it cannot be just one value among others is a claim without any proof. Again consider the following claim “A procedure that operationalises the moral point of view of impartial judgment is neutral with respect to arbitrary constellations of values but not with respect to practical reason itself” (ibid; 100). This is typical Habermas. We ask whether the notion of ‘practical reason’ already contains the notion of autonomy (presuppose it) or not? If ‘practical reason’ implies the notion of autonomy then defending autonomy through practical reason is tautological. It is no defence at all. If however ‘practical reason’ does not contain (imply) the notion of autonomy then ‘practical reason’ must be neutral towards it as well. But if autonomy defines practical reason in the first place as it seems it does here, then defending autonomy on the basis of practical reason is obviously circular. It is due to these reasons that Rawls leaves aside the notion of practical reason and turns back to a much diluted notion of public reason. To be sure Rawls still defends the notion of autonomy but in a roundabout way, which at least indicates a realisation on his part of the difficulty of defending Enlightenment and Kantian notions under postmodern conditions.

Habermas does not seem to realise this. He thinks that he can defend Enlightenment in a straightforward Kantian way! This involves him in the sort of bogus argumentation I have mentioned above. As Cynthia Kaufman perceptively writes, “(t)he notion of the force of better argument must always rely on the interpretive framework out of which a person is operating and there is no way to bridge the gap separating different positions using nothing but argumentation” (Kaufman, 1999:357). Thus the cogency of Habermas’ argument depends on the ‘interpretive framework’, which is presupposed by his argument. This is how minimum neutral rationality works. Habermas assumes that the interpretive framework of Enlightenment is universal. However as many commentators have noted, Habermas has not demonstrated that the Enlightenment interpretative framework is a universal framework. Habermas’ argument for the rationalisation of lifeworld is based on the key notion of ‘decentration’, a term which he borrows from Piaget and applies to understanding society. Roughly speaking ‘decentration’ is an ‘ability’ through which a child begins to differentiate between himself and his surroundings. It happens when children grow up. It is the symbol of expansion of and maturation of a child. Habermas applies this to society. But even if we give Habermas all his moves (which is a very charitable act anyway), it does not prove anything. The fact that a society is more capable of learning and differentiating does not prove that it is normatively superior. It is a simple category mistake on the part of Habermas. As Kaufman again writes perceptively, “It is not clear why we should interpret the fact that people in the so called modern world have more of a tendency to separate themselves off from the world than members of some other cultures as a sign of progress, rather than as a sign of how our worldview organizes experience”(Kaufman, 1999: 358, cf. Rizvi, 2003a).

In sum Habermas as against Rawls does not really appreciate the odds which one faces today in defending Enlightenment on its own terms. This is the reason he is more straightforward than Rawls and more blunt. Thus what he says on religion is not much different from Rawls but much more bombastic and less effective (Habermas, 2003a: 6ff, cf. Habermas, 2002, also see comments on Rushdie in Habermas, 1998: 224).
Cynthia Kaufman (1999) “The Unforced Force of the More Familiar Argument: A Critique of Habermas' Theory of Communicative Rationality” Philosophy Today 43(4): 348-360.

Daniel A. Dombrowski (2001) Rawls and religion: the case for political liberalism Albany, N.Y. : State University of New York Press.

Jürgen Habermas (2002) “Das Bild von einer verstummten Gesellschaft passt nicht: Eindrücke von einer Reise nach Iran” [interview]. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung June 2002, English translation entitled “The Unrest is growing” is available at [ accessed May 9, 2003).

Jürgen Habermas (2003) “Letter to America” The Nation [, accessed May 5, 2003].

Jürgen Habermas (2003a) “Intolerance and Discrimination” International Journal of Constitutional Law, Volume 1, Issue 1, January 2003: 2-12.

Jürgen Habermas (1998) The inclusion of the other : studies in political theory ; edited by Ciaran Cronin and Pablo De Greif, Cambridge, Mass. : MIT PRess.

Jürgen Habermas (1998a) “Reconciliation through the public use of Reason” in Habermas, 1998: 47-73.

Jürgen Habermas (1998b) “Reasonable versus “True”, or the Morality of Worldviews” in Habermas, 1998: 75-101.

Jürgen Habermas (1987) The philosophical discourse of modernity : twelve lectures translated by Frederick Lawrence, Cambridge : Polity in association with Basil Blackwell.

Ali M Rizvi (2003a) “Reading Owen’s Between Reason and History, Habermas and the idea of Progress” (forthcoming).

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Habermas and the universality of Enlightenment (some crucial pointers)

"As is well know, Piaget distinguishes among stages of cognitive development that are characterized not in terms of new contents but in terms of structurally described levels of learning ability. It might be a matter of something similar in the case of the emergence of new structures of worldviews. The caesurae between the mythical, religious-metaphysical, an modern modes of thought are characterized by changes in the system of basic concepts. With the transition to a new stage the interpretations of the superseded stage are, no matter what their content, categorically devalued. It is not this or that reason, but the kind of reason, which is no longer convincing. It is not this or that reason, but the kind of reasons, which is no longer convincing. A devaluation of the explanatory and justificatory potentials of entire traditions took place in the great civilizations with the dissolution of mythological-narrative figures of thought, in the modern age with the dissolution of religious, cosmological, and metaphysical figures of thought. These devolutive shifts appear to be connected with the socio-evolutionary transitions to new levels of learning, with which the conditions of possible learning processes in the dimensions of objectivating thought, moral-practical insight, and aesthetic expressive capacity are altered."

"The Theory of Communicative Action, Volume 1 : Reason and the Rationalization of Society, p. 68

Compare with the following:

"The religious forces of social integration grew weaker in the wake of a process of enlightenment that is just as little susceptible to being revoked as it was arbitrarily brought about in the first place. One of feature of this enlightenment is the irreversibility of learning processes, which is based on the fact that insights cannot be forgotten at will; they can only be repressed or corrected by better insights. Hence, enlightenment can only make good its deficits by radicalised enlightenment . . . ."

"The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity: Twelve Lectures, p. 84

And also note the following:

My thesis is] that anyone who has grown up in a reasonably functional family, who has formed his identity in relations of mutual recognition, who maintains himself in the network of reciprocal expectations and communicative action, cannot fail to have acquired moral intuitions of the kind articulated in propositions such as that of James.* The maxim asserts the reciprocal dependence of socialization and individuation, the interrelation between personal autonomy and social solidarity, that is part of the implicit knowledge of all communicatively acting subjects; it does not merely express a more or less subjective opinion concerning what some person believes is the good life. That proposition articulates an intuition we acquire in various different contexts on the condition that we grow up in surroundings that are not completely undermined by systematically distorted communication."

Justification and Application, p. 114

* The community stagnates without the impulse of the individual, the impulse dies away without the sympathy of the community - William James.


Note in the quote above the presupposition of functional family and also (and more importantly) note an illicit move from "individuation" to "personal autonomy." See further my post on Habermas on Rushdie and Fundamentalism


"I think the crucial point in this debate is whether we must take account of an asymmetry that arises between the interpretive capacities of different cultures in virtue of the fact that some have introduced "second-order concepts" whereas others have not. These second-order concepts fulfil necessary cognitive conditions for a culture's becoming self-reflective, that is, for its members' adopting a hypothetical stance toward their own traditions and on this basis grasping their own cultural relativity. This kind of decentered understanding of the world is characteristic of modern societies. What the argument is about, therefore, is whether such cognitive structures represent a threshold that demands similar processes of learning and adaptation of any culture that crosses it"

Justification and Application, p. 157

This is a crucial passage in understanding Habermas' whole argument about the superiority of modernity over all other systems of thought, so I shall buttress this by two concrete examples Habermas gives.


"Only once did I experience what you could call a barrier among the people I was talking to. A young mullah who graduated in Montreal had traveled from Qom, the old pilgrimage center where the central university for the Shiite clergy is based. He turned up for our meeting with a young son, three fellow-believers -- including one American -- and an interesting question. The latter related to my proposal to translate the semantic content of religious language into a philosophical, also secular language. He said this was all well and good, but would this not cast the world itself in a religious light?

The mild tone of our discussion took a turn when I asked him a question of my own. Why does Islam not rely solely on its own medium of the Word, why doesn't it abandon political means of coercion? The mild, ascetic guest opposite me replied quite brusquely to my request for a religious explanation. It was a moment when the veil appeared to lift for a second, revealing a dogmatic rock of granite. At the end of the discussion, after listening in silence to his pupil, the old ayatollah made an attempt at appeasement by giving me a book -- a textbook he had written that was translated into English by a Center for the Preservation of Ancient Religious Texts in the United States. I later discovered that it really does read like a medieval text."

Unrest is growing

And finally have a look at this:

“As the Rushdie case reminded us, a fundamentalism that leads to a practice of intolerance is incompatible with constitutional democracy. Such a practice is based on religious or historic-philosophical interruptions of the world that claim exclusiveness for a privileged way of life. Such a conceptions lack an awareness of the fallibility of their claims, as well as a respect for the “burden of reason” (Rawls). Of course, religious convictions and global interpretations of the world are not obliged to subscribe to the kind of fallibilism that currently accompanies hypothetical knowledge in the experimental sciences. But fundamentalist worldviews are dogmatic in a different sense: they leave no room for reflection on their relationship with the other worldviews with which they share the same universe of discourse and against whose competing validity claims they can advance their positions on the basis of reasons. They leave no room for “reasonable disagreement.”

Habermas on Rushdie and Fundamentalism

Freedom and bondage

"As historical beings we find ourselves always already in a linguistically structured life-world. In the forms of communication through which we reach an understanding with one another about something in the world and about ourselves, we encounter a transcending power. Language is not a kind of private property: no one possesses exclusive rights over the common medium of those communicative practices we share intersubjectively. No single participant can control the structure, or even the course, of processes of reaching understanding and self-understanding. How speakers and hearers make use of their communicative freedom to take yes or no position is not a matter of their discretion. For they are free only in virtue of the binding force of the justifiable claims they raise toward one another. The logs of language embodies the power of the intersubjective, which precedes and grounds the subjectivity of speakers."

Jurgen Habermas, "The Moral and the Ethical: A reconsideration of the issue of the Priority of the Right over the Good""Pragmatism, Critique, Judgment:Essays for Richard J. Bernstein pp. 38-39

Monday, October 04, 2004

"Flirting with fascism - or 'flirting' with Habermas?"

"At the beginning of September, Sloterdijk published an extraordinary letter (Die Zeit, 2 September) accusing Habermas of agitating against him. The tone of the letter is petulant: `you have talked about me with numerous people, never with me.' It appears that Habermas - who has not published anything on this affair - did, however, write letters and make phone calls to criticize the Elmau address. Sloterdijk also accuses him of sending copies of the text to ex-students working in the press, marked with instructions on how to misinterpret it. All of this is summed up in the claim that Habermas `objectifies' Sloterdijk. Habermas's criticisms position Sloterdijk `as a mechanism, not as a person'. This makes Sloterdijk feel free to vent his own spleen: `You belong to the inhuman heirs of the ideology critique style of thought.... You are, in this, only an average supporter of a problematic habit that one once glossed over with the honorary office of critique.' All very entertaining. The letter rises to its hyperbolic finale in which - on the grounds that Habermas chose to discuss his speech among colleagues and not directly with him - Sloterdijk accuses Habermas of performatively contradicting the premisses of his own discourse theory. If Habermas (of all people) achieves his polemical goals in such an underhand fashion, then what remains of the inheritance of the tradition of Frankfurt Critical Theory. Not much, says Sloterdijk.

Critical theory is, on this Second of September, dead. She was long since bedridden, the sullen old woman, now she has passed away completely. We will gather at the grave of an epoch, to take stock, but also to think of the end of an hypocrisy. Thinking means thanking, said Heidegger. I say, rather, thinking means to heave a sigh of relief. (Die Zeit, 9 September)

Even if we take Sloterdijk's letter seriously, it is still a source of surprise that the author of The Critique of Cynical Reason is overcome in the face of the outrage his own provocation has caused. Manfred Frank (Die Zeit, 23 September), himself no fan of Habermas, dismisses Sloterdijk's claims as a `pointless flirtation with embarrassing material'. Ernst Tugendhat, in his contribution, says Sloterdijk's claims are `rubbish', asking `what have things come to when critique must always first obtain the consent of the author?' If significance is to be granted this exchange then perhaps it could be found in elaboration of Sloterdijk's failure to live up to his own call for bold, kynikal, provocation ?" ["more here"

Saturday, October 02, 2004

". . . empirical, evaluative, and moral statements differ in terms of the category of reasons that are in each case appropriate for justifying the statements in question. And the type of reasons differentiates the sense of validity of the corresponding utterances, that is, their illocutionary meaning"

"Truth and Justification, p. 320

The category of reason is defined by the type of 'evidence.'?
Habermas at Purdue soon"The Kantian Project of Cosmopolitan Law"

Friday, October 01, 2004

"Jürgen Habermas, Herbert Marcuse and the Resources of Solidarity and Resistance by John Brady"

"via wood s lot"

"FUNDAMENTALISM AND TERROR:A Dialogue with Jürgen Habermas"
"The ontological illusion of pure theory . . . promotes the fiction that Socratic dialogue is possible everywhere and at any time. From the beginning philosophy has presumed that the Muendigkeit posited with the structure of language is not anticipated but real. It is pure theory, wanting to derive everything from itself, that succumbs to unacknowledged external conditions and becomes ideological. Only when philosophy discovers in the dialectical course of history the traces of violence that deform repeated attempts at dialogue and recurrently close off the path to unconstrained communication does it further the process whose suspension it otherwise legitimated: mankind's evolution towards Muendigkeit"

"Knowledge and Human Interests, pp. 314-315"
"Analytic insights intervene in life, If I may borrow this dramatic phrase from Wittgenstein . . . . But [rational reconstruction] has no practical consequences. By learning logic or linguistics I do not thereby change my previous practice of reasoning or speaking"

"Theory and practice, p. 23"
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