Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Kant and Darwin

“ . . . I am enough of a materialist to take as my starting point that Kant is right only to the extent that his statement are compatible with Darwin. I have never had any doubts about the primacy of natural history over the history of human species.” On the Pragmatics of Communication, p. 428

“In epistemology – and the theory of truth – Peirce had the strongest influence, from my Frankfurt inaugural lecture on Knowledge and Human Interest (1965) onwards up to Wahrheit and Rechtfertigung(1999). Since Apel and I had remained in contact, it was his interpretation that at first guided my reception. Our early familiarity with, and leaning towards, philosophical anthropology and the analytic of Dasein in Being and Time (Heidegger’s analysis of “being in the world” in particular) had prepared us for a pragmatist epistemology. Peirce’s style of analysis was more up to date and hence more appropriate for a defense of the internal relations between forms of knowledge and types of action, as opposed to the limited view of logical empiricists and their focus on semantic dimension. For Peirce, reason and understanding were from the start embodied in the research activities of a community of investigators. We perceived Peirce’s pragmatist approach as a promise to save Kantian insights in a detranscendentalized yet analytical vein. The promise also pertained, for me more than Apel, to a reconciliation between Kant and Darwin, between a transcendental and an evolutionary perspective. My studies of Shcelling’s philosophy of nature, and the reception of Marx, had made me more open towards a “soft,” non-scientistic naturalism.” in Jürgen Habermas, Postscript to Habermas and Pragmatism, p. 227


Clark Goble said...

It's interesting that he considers Peirce his biggest influence in epistemology since Peirce didn't really discuss knowledge as such terribly often. He discussed belief and fixing ones beliefs, but epistemology as generally conceived of never appears to have been a focus for him. I think there are reasons for this.

Of course his analysis of truth as what the community of investigators agree upon "in the long run" is very important. Although it is, I think, an idealization never actually reached.

It's also interesting he discusses Heidegger's anthropology and epistemology. I wonder what he means there. I confess I'm woefully ignorant of Habermas, although I enjoyed his critique of Heidegger, Derrida and company even if I think he misread them terribly. But sometimes misreadings can be very interesting on their own.

Anonymous said...

notice how Habermas leaves Hegel out of his little philosophical narrative.

Gary Sauer-Thompson

Ali Rizvi said...

I am the culprit here. Habermas does mention Hegel and Hegelianism on the same and next page.

Habermas characterizes his project in Theory and Communicative Action as an attempt to “connect the Hegelian Marxism of the Critical theory with both the methodology of the hermeneutic tradition. . . a dialogical conception of language and communication . . . initially learned from Wilhelm von Humboldt.” (p. 227).

“It was lucky historical coincidence for us young Germans, the first generation of post-war philosophy students, that streams of “our” sources in German idealism (including Humboldt and Marx) – from whom the great pragmatists themselves had once taken off – were again flowing together with what we then discovered were the results of an earlier and overwhelmingly productive American-German encounter.” (p. 227).

“Pragmatism constitutes, besides Marx and Kierkegaard, the third Young Hegelian tradition, and the only one that convincingly develops spirit of radical philosophy” (p. 228).

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