Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Habermas on pragmatism

[Q:] What are the greatest strengths of pragmatism?

[Habermas:] The combination of fallibilism with anti-skepticism, and a naturalist approach to the human mind and its culture that refuses to yield to any kind of scientism.

[Q: ] What are its greatest weaknesses?

[Habermas:] The message that only differences that make difference should count is often mistaken for advice to blur even relevant distinctions. And just as often, the anti-Platonic distrust in an ideological misuse of abstract ideas is misunderstood as the denial of the transcending force and unconditional meaning of claims to truth. There is an empiricist undercurrent in Dewey’s and an emotivist current in James’s thought. Both threaten the Kantian heritage that is saved, in pragmatist translation, by Peirce – and, by the way, by Brandom. My friend Dick Rorty is most Kantian in the seriousness of his ambition to turn those weaknesses into philosophical strengths. Jürgen Habermas, Postscript to Habermas and Pragmatism, p. 228

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