Tuesday, March 15, 2005

detranscendentalisation . . .

Habermas’ use of the term detranscendentalisation is coupled with his critique of the transcendental subjectivity. The whole notion of detranscendentalisation presupposes the Kantian grounding of the distinction between “transcendental” and “empirical” in the two realm distinction (the realm of pure intelligibility and the phenomenal realm). It is only if this Kantian notion is presupposed that the notion of ‘detranscendentalisation’ makes any sense. Habermas says this in his discussion on Quine quite explicitly:

“The heirs of Hume are less affected than the heirs of Kant by the two problems to which the detranscendentalising move gives rise. The unsettling questions regarding the objectivity of knowledge and the difference between the world and what is innerworldly do not even arise unless we start with the assumptions of the transcendental approach in the first place.”

Habermas takes the term “detranscendentalisation” quite literally:

“Detranscendentalisation alters the very concept of the transcendental. Transcendental consciousness loses the connotation of an “otherworldly” dimension rooted in the realm of intelligible. It has come down to Earth in the form of everyday communicative practice, which is no longer sublime. Thus, the profane lifeworld has usurped the transmundane place of the noumenal. Although pragmatism retains the transcendental framing of the issue, it defuses the tension between the transcendental and empirical. To be sure, communicative language still commits participants to strong idealizations. By orienting themselves to unconditional validity claims and presupposing each other’s accountability, interlocutors aim beyond contingent and merely local contexts. But these counterfactual presuppositions are rooted in the facticity of everyday practices.”

Habermas goes on to say that:

“Deflating our original understanding of the transcendental has significant consequences. If transcendental rules are no longer something rational outside the world, they mutate into expressions of cultural forms of life and have a beginning in time. As a consequence, we may no longer without qualification claim “universality” and “necessity,” that is, objectivity for empirical cognition the possibility of which has been established transcendentally. And the transcendental conditions under which we have epistemic access to the world themselves must be conceived as something in the world.”

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