Note: Moving to the front (from Feb 24) due to recent comments
“. . . the capacity for language can only develop along with the spontaneous emergence of a self relation. This emergence in turn requires explanation. And this world require us to speak of an implicit self-relation, which already appears or function at the most elementary level of language acquisition. For it is clear that the capacity to use the grammatical first-person singular (the pronoun ‘I’) is acquired only at late stage in the process of language acquisition. If the existence of a self-relation were dependent on, and determined by, the acquisition of this capacity, then the thesis of the priority of interaction would be unproblematic; it would be a trivial and obvious truth.” (Dieter Henrich, "What is Metaphysics - What is Modernity? Twelve Theses against Jürgen Habermas" in Habermas: A Critical Reader, p. 311).
Consdier however the following:
•Habermas does not deny the biological/physiological/neurological bases of human spontaneity (freedom). Evidently language use and capacity for it presupposes certain degree of freedom and capacity for it. However such capacity is intermeshed, from the start with and ultimately undifferentiated from the capacity to use language. [As Habermas notes: "By no means does (linguistic analysis of the development of consciousness) exclude prelinguistic roots of cognitive development for early childhood: even with primitive rule consciousness, a rudimentary relation-to-self must already develop itself. Such ontogenetic assumptions do not, however, prejudice the description of the functioning of metacognitive abilites at the developmental stage of the mastered mother tongue, where achievements of intelligence are already linguistically organized." (Postmetaphysical Thinking, p. 27 n 18).].
•What Habermas is saying is that human spontaneity (freedom) cannot be explained in terms of biological/physiological/neurological capacity alone. A fuller explanation must involve understanding of the processes individuation through socialization (which obviously involves language use).
• In a sense for Habermas, in a quite contrast with Henrich, the proposition that there is a biological/physiological/neurological basis of human freedom is “unproblematic,” in fact it is “trivial and obvious truth.” What needs explanation is how this capacity grows into a full fledged capability in the face of a thorough going socialization which every individual under goes during his lifetime.
•In order to explain the existence of spontaneity in the fullest sense one needs to understand it in the context of our being in the world and our being with the others.
The above is borne out by what Habermas says here:
“I see the . . . far – reaching contribution of Mead in his having taken up themes that can be found in Humboldt and Kierkegaard: individuation is pictured not as the self.-realization of an independently acting subject carried out in isolation and freedom but as a linguistically mediated process of socialization and the simultaneous constitution of a life history that is conscious of itself. The identity of socialized individuals forms itself simultaneously in the medium of coming to an understanding with others in language and in the medium of coming to a life-historical and intersubjective understanding with oneself. Individuality forms itself in relations of intersubjective acknowledgement and of intersubjectively mediated self-understanding.” (Postmetaphysical Thinking, pp. 152-153).