Friday, May 06, 2005

Reconciliation with Nature: A Habermasian project

I have been arguing that Habermas' project can be understood as aimed at reconciliation between nature and reason. It can be asked however that if Habermas has been committed to the project of overcoming disenchantment in the sense I have described (for example here) why this has not been acknowledged in the literature where he is constantly accused of abandoning the Adornian project of reconciliation with nature. The answer lies in the following:

1)As a thinker who is committed to working from “within” Habermas starts with accepting what he considers to be the legitimate part of the project of both Weber and Adorno. He accepts the Weberian critique of purposive rationality and the Adornian critique of instrumental rationality and presumes them in his project.

2)He wants to counter what he considers to be the pessimism as well as the theoretical mistake of both Weber and Adorno of equating instrumental rationality with rationality as such. Habermas spends considerable amount of time developing an alternative conception of raitoanlity which can not be reduced to the instrumental rationality. This move helps Habermas on the one hand to accept the critique of both Weber and Adorno while countering their pessimism since he shows that rationality cannot be equated with instrumental rationality.

3)By developing a conception of communicative rationality that is an embedded rationality fully anchored in non objectifiable lifeworld(s) Habermas in fact develop a concept of reconciled rationality that is compatible with Modern search for autonomy and with modern individualism (at least this is his project).

4)Finally Habermas believes that with the linguistic turn we have already overcome the epistemological gap between world and reason. The challenge of the new paradigm is different from the one Adorno or Weber concentrated on. The new problematic is contextualism and not bridging the gulf between reason and world (which does not exist in the first place and was only an artificial creation of a false/one sided conception of rationality). With the linguistic turn we have a new challenge. Now we have to think how to preserve the transcending power of reason while respecting the particularities of different lifeworlds and their embedded character.

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