Sunday, June 26, 2005

Apel and Habermas: Some further thoughts. . .

Note: Moving forward this post due to recent comments.

Note:Read a previous related post here and important comments on the post by Andrew Montin here.

Herbert Schnädelbach masterfully brings out the key difference between Apel and Habermas in the following:

“Irrespective of how one may judge the details of the project Habermas develops, I do not in principle see in what way a reconstructive philosophy with merely hypothetical claims is supposed to be suited to generating the ‘moment of unconditionality’ without which ‘normative foundations’ are simply not to be had. The alternative would be hermeneutics as a practical philosophy free of any claim to unconditionality, and all the relativist consequences this entails. It may indeed be the case that communicative action always involves unconditional claims being made, but this does not qualify it to provide the foundations for Critical Theory. To do so, it would itself have to be open to critical assessment. In other words, the theorist would have unconditionally to provide the unconditional standards for critique from the outset and s/he will never be able to derive these form the subject matter via hypothetical reconstruction. It is no coincidence that Karl Otto Apel staunchly retains his transcendental philosophy. Critical unconditionality, without foundationalism – this is the aim Habermas has set himself; doubts are in order whether he has reached it.” (Herbert Schnädelbach, “The transformation of Critical Theory,” in Communicative action : essays on Jürgen Habermas's The theory of communicative action, 7-22, here 22, italics in the original.).

This is an extremely important passage. Schnädelbach alludes to two important distinctions in the above passage. He differentiates between two different conceptions of ‘unconditionality’: a) One conception of unconditionality refers to the ‘unconditionality’ of the claims as claims (within communicative action or discourse). Such claims are raised within communicative action or discourse and are always (in principle) open to criticism. b) On the other hand we have a conception of unconditionality that is the property of certain ‘rules’ or ‘standards’ themselves and not of the claims about standards or rules. This second sort of unconditionality cannot be situated within discourse for the reasons Schnädelbach mentions and hence cannot be open to criticism and reassessment.

As I argue in the thesis Habermas only adheres to the first conception of unconditionality and deems the second conception of unconditionality incompatible with a thoroughgoing detranscendentalisation and with a postmetaphysical notion of rationality. To defend the conception of unconditionality one would have to exclude these conditions from the all encompassing ambit of detranscendentalisation and this is according to Schnädelbach what Apel does.

Thus it is clear from the above that the real difference between Habermas and Apel is about the extent and status of detranscendentalisation. We can make this more clear and specific by focusing on the concrete problem which Apel highlights in his critique of Habermas, i.e. their different conceptions of what the principle of fallibilism is and what it requires in terms of presuppositions. According to Apel the principle of fallibilism is not liable to empirical testing because it is what makes empirical testing possible in the first place:

“. . . whether it makes sense to expect those philosophical statements spelling out fallibilism and its call for ongoing attempts at falsification will themselves one day will prove fallible. The decisive, meaning-critical argument against this possibility runs as follows: If, or the extent to which, this would occur, one could no longer understand what “fallible” or “falsification” mean at all, since the statement at issue here explicate the principle of fallibilism, that is, the presuppositions necessarily implied by it (which are precisely the necessary presuppositions of argumentation that Habermas himself has explicated in the postulates of discourse and consensus). To be sure, these statements can, as explications of meaning, be corrected under the presupposition that they are true. But they are infallible precisely insofar as they state necessary presuppositions of the principle of fallibilism.” (“Normative grounding of “Critical theory”,” 164 n. 9, italics in the original.)

Habermas’ reply is terse and (in my opinion) devastating:

“We understand the term ‘justify’ when we know the rules for an argumentation game within which validity claims can be redeemed discursively. Now, we can make these rules the object of theory of argumentation or truth – or, if we have to do with special discourse, we can make it the object of a moral theory or a philosophy of science. Yet, justifying these theories – as is the case with justifying a theory per se – must itself fit into the framework of an argumentation game to the same extent as must the justification of harmless, e.g. practical everyday utterances. Certainly, the claims made of justification vary according to the argumentation form and context. Yet, which reason counts as a good or indeed as the better reason for what object in what context has to be assessed in terms of standards which under certain conditions become problematical and in turn require justification. Justifications must always be provided in one and the same place – there are no meta-discourses in the sense that a higher discourse is able to prescribe rules for a subordinate discourse. Argumentation games do not form a hierarchy. Discourses regulate themselves. Discourses are in principle open. And it is impossible to predict the outcome of discourses, that is, except from the perspective of an observer who is not a party to the discourse, yet who has to enter into another discourse in order to be able to justify his/her prognosis.” (Jürgen Habermas, “ A reply,” in Communicative action : essays on Jürgen Habermas's The theory of communicative action; 214-264, here 231.)

Habermas starts his argument against Apel through clarification of his understanding of justification. It clearly excludes any notion of ultimate justification as that would require going back to the conception of “transcendental” that is incompatible with detranscendentalisation. When Habermas says that his understanding of justification is ‘grammatical matter’ it is only so within the context of his understanding of Modernity which includes commitment to a thoroughgoing detranscendentalisation. His understanding of Modernity as committed to a thoroughgoing detranscendentalisation excludes conception of ‘ultimate justification’ to which Apel is still committed. It is this same understanding of Modernity which bars acceptance of any hierarchy among discourses as there is no space outside “this world” where to anchor the ultimate or higher discourse. Reflections and distance are possible but they themselves are in turn situated within “this very same world” in which the discourse which is being reflected upon is situated. In this sense there is in principle no hierarchy possible between discourse of reflection and a discourse which is being reflected upon. To still believe that we can step out would be to still clinging to the notion of subjectivity having anchored in a realm beyond this world and hence in fact that would be not carrying out detranscendentalisation thoroughly enough. In fact this is what has happened with Apel.

That Apel still believes in some such notion is evident form the fact that from his Cartesian conception of reflection (on this more later).

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Ending Ph.D. related blogging

because there is not much to blog on the topic anymore. I am in the process of finishing the first draft and then drafting and redrafting (a never ending game it seems)...

I would like to thank all those who commented and gave me advice here or via emails. Sorry to those I have been unable to get back to. Special thanks to Carl Sachs for making me realise the importance of the work of John McDowell for my project.

I do not know what I will do with this blog in the future. For now I will just post occasionally on anything interesting related to Habermas.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

European Journal of Philosophy Annual Lecture 2005 : Given by Jürgen Habermas

European Journal of Philosophy Annual Lecture 2005

Given by Jürgen Habermas

Religion in the Public Sphere

Date: 1 July 2005
Time: 5pm
Location: Beveridge Hall, ground floor of University of London Senate House, Malet Street

All are welcome to attend

Synopsis of the paper

The paper will address the debate that has arisen in the wake of John Rawls' political theory, in particular his concept of the "public use of reason". How does the constitutional separation of state and church influence the role which religious traditions, communities and organizations are allowed to play in the political public sphere and in the state in general, but above all in the political opinion and will formation of citizens themselves? Where should the dividing line be in the opinion of those who wish to challenge the view of these matters that has arisen since the Enlightenment?

"The Public Role of Religion in Secular Context"

"Among ethical philosophers, Jurgen Habermas is a star. Which means he is not quite as famous as Paris Hilton's dog, Tinkerbell.

You won't find him in People or on "Entertainment Tonight." But you will find courses on his thoughts and theories in the philosophy departments of U.S. and European universities. While Habermas, 75, still writes and teaches, his work has acquired a life of its own. There's an entire cottage industry of philosophers who seek to defend or contradict the Habermasian worldview.

That may be why his speech tomorrow at the University of San Diego has already drawn a standing-room-only crowd.

"We have close to 1,400 registered for professor Habermas' presentation," said Stephanie Kellems, who is helping to organize this week's Kyoto Laureate Symposium events. "The Web site has stopped taking reservations."

For 20 years Kazuo Inamori, the founder of Kyocera, has bestowed the Kyoto Prize on international trailblazers in advanced technology, basic science and arts and philosophy.

This is the fourth consecutive year the laureates have visited San Diego, home of Kyocera's North American headquarters.

Among this week's events:

This morning's advanced technology presentation by Alan Curtis Kay, 9:30 to 11, Smith Recital Hall, San Diego State University;

This afternoon's basic science presentation by Dr. Alfred George Knudson, 4:30 to 6 p.m., Price Center Theatre, University of California San Diego; and

Habermas' speech tomorrow, which will be followed by comments from Robert Bellah, professor emeritus at the University of California Berkeley and an old friend.

While Habermas resists talking about himself – "the life of philosophers is rather poor in notable outside occurrences" – the white-haired academic has lived in extraordinary and tragic times. Born in 1929, Habermas grew up in Nazi-ruled Germany. His father was a supporter of the regime and Jurgen himself a Hitler Youth.

The Nuremburg Trials were a revelation to the teen, and he began to ask questions about civil rights, democracy and open discourse.

We had a few questions ourselves. While in Germany preparing tomorrow's speech, Habermas took time off to respond to our queries."

from here

Habermas and Religion: An Interview with Habermas

Spotlight on public role of religion

QUESTION: The title of your speech, "The Public Role of Religion in Secular Context," might puzzle some Americans. As Robert Bellah notes, the Religious Right's strong political role in recent elections has many echoes in American history. Religious figures, for instance, were in the forefront of the abolitionist movement and the struggles for civil rights. Is this a dangerous tradition?

ANSWER: No, the U.S. is the great example for a liberal political culture with roots in an active civil society which is shaped, from the very beginning, by the vital pluralism of churches and religious associations. And the civil rights movement indeed provides striking evidence for the welcome influence of religious leaders and communities who inspire the fight for a more inclusive implementation of human rights. The research of professor Bellah and others stresses the social capital and the civic engagement of religious people. In (the United States), religious organizations do play an important role for the political socialization of citizens and the integration of society at large. At present, the Religious Right is a rather mixed phenomenon, however.

All political programs and legally binding decisions are implemented with the backing of state power. This is why they must be (at) any time justifiable in a language that is equally accessible to all citizens. The state could no longer remain impartial vis-à-vis competing worldviews and different subcultures, once a religious majority, be it in court or parliament, or within the administration, would appeal to its doctrine instead of providing secular reasons. Imposing just its own will on people of different faith or on secular citizens, such a majority could no longer claim democratic legitimacy.

You've written that "religious communities are entitled to be called 'reasonable' only if they renounce the use of violence as a means of propagating the truths of their faith." How, then, should civilization respond to the radical Islamists of al-Qaeda?

Obviously not by going to war with a regime that, albeit being bad enough anyway, had no connection with al-Qaeda. What we must do is clearly to pursue terrorists with all available means of legal repression. We must reach and hit their logistics, we must persecute, find and prosecute them. But we must not let our own society become infected by the enemy's mentality. The virus of ideological fervor must not encroach upon our liberal institutions and practices.

In one of your essays, you encouraged secular society to "retain a feeling for the articulative power of religious discourse." Would you give us some examples of this "articulative power" and its uses in a secular society?

In the past, many of our most powerful conceptions derived from religious sources. That God created man in his own image is a wording of lasting influence. The modern idea of human dignity, which is claimed equally for all and everybody, is inspired by this image of all human beings created "in the likeness of God." A similar connection exists (for example) between the individuating force of a life history, for which each person is responsible, and the expectation of the Last Judgment. In our culture the loaded meaning of an "individual," that is of a unique and irreplaceable person, has Biblical origins. Why should this rich semantic potential not continue to inform our secular culture in the future, too?

You've lived in both the United States and Germany. How would you compare the role of religion in both societies?

The religious life in our countries is shaped by contrasting traditions. While we in Germany have the Lutheran tradition of state church, you enjoy a flourishing plurality of more or less autonomous religious associations. Quite a few of them originate from dissenting sects. Even the Catholics seem to have acquired in this country some of the mental features typical of a religious minority, whereas Catholicism in Europe radiates the aura of an imperial power. The most striking difference today is, of course, the rapid spread of secularism in Europe, especially since after World War II, whereas in this country an incredibly high proportion of believers has remained at the same level throughout the last 60 years.

Don't ask me why. Sociologists discuss several hypotheses. I am not an expert in this field. My American colleague (University of Michigan philosopher) Ronald Inglehart defends the more conventional idea that secularization goes hand-in-hand with an increased existential security in economic and social living conditions; according to this expectation, more developed countries provide more secure life patterns and have a greater proportion of secularized people. This hypothesis is combined with the view that demographic changes in developed countries prevent secularization sweeping the world.

From this perspective, the surprising persistence of a comparatively large religious population in the United States is explained by two facts: first, by a higher level of risk-taking and personal vulnerability in an environment of increasing pressures for competition and increasing inequalities in distribution; and second, by an immigration from more traditional countries with higher fertility rates.

Does that difference help explain why the United States and Germany – and most of Europe, for that matter – have experienced so many fundamental disagreements on how to respond to terrorism?

From a European point of view, there is a much more trivial explanation. Allow me to put it in a nutshell: The horrible event of 9/11 has caused a well understandable shock in the population. It appears as if a clever government had exploited this condition for pursuing a strategy under false pretences, while the media failed to fulfill their critical function. If 75 percent of the Bush voters at election day still believed that Saddam Hussein had a link to al-Qaeda and was somehow responsible for the attack on the Twin Towers, something must have gone wrong.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Habermas, Quine and Heidegger - some more contrasts

Recall that in weak naturalism Habermas’ aim is to explain the transcending power of reason without reverting to the Kantian dichotomy between reason and nature and without reverting to the Kantian two realm dichotomy. In other words the aim of weak naturalism is to explain the transcending powers of reason within overall naturalistic framework. Quine and Heidegger fail in this although on different grounds.

Quine’s strong naturalism cannot account for the transcending powers of reason and consequently the ability of subjects capable of speech and actions to accomplish things rationally. Quine’s theory fails because it does not take seriously the Kantian insight about the normativity and uniqueness of human reason seriously. It does not feel any need to differentiate between the space of reason and the space of causality. However this cannot explain our ability to learn form mistakes as learning is closely related to grounds (reasons). Causality cannot explain the learning process (as well as unlearning process).

On the other hand Heidegger’s fault is that he ignores two important facts: a) on the one hand he ignores causality altogether. Causality is devoured by the all consuming powers of linguistic world disclosure. b) The linguistic world disclosure also devours the ability of subjects capable of speech and act to rationally assess and revise the given meaning. These revisionary powers have two aspects: a) on the one hand given meaning is the condition for subjects to understand and raise validity claims in the first place. In this sense it is an enabling power. b) Thus it is impossible for subjects to transcend their linguistic background in to to. In fact it would be undesirable given this background is the condition of the possibility for anything subjects are capable of doing and saying. Thus the conditions of possibility of understanding and meaning are not only limiting conditions they are also enabling conditions. They enable the formation of subjects that are capable of initiation, accomplishment and revision. Thus though the lifeworld and linguistic background is immune from objectification the process within disclosed world can lead to the indirect revision of the very conditions of possibility sometime partially sometime radically. Thus the revisions are the indirect result of accomplishments of subjects capable of speech and action but they are not the direct subjects of these processes for two reasons: a) Changes in lifeworld are affected by the plurality of subjects and their interactions. So we cannot reduce changes in lifeworld to the intentions of subjects even if their attitudes play a role in the change. b) Even with a) there is no total change as lifeworld and language cannot be objectified in to to. There can be radical changes but there is no overall subject of these changes.

Heidegger though emphasises the disclosive power of language he does not emphasise with equal force the enabling possibilities within the world disclosed and does not in turn relate the disclosive function of language with these enabling possibilities.

Finally both Heidegger and Quine ignore our non linguistic non conceptual non causal contact with the reality. The recalcitrant reality with which we are in direct contact resist both the disclosing function and our accomplishments within it. Both have to prove themselves in the face of this pro-active reality.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Habermas, Quine and Heidegger

While Habermas accuses Quine of levelling the distinction between lifeworld and objective world in the favour of the objective world he faults Heidegger for levelling it in the favour of the lifeworld. Heidegger, according to Habermas, gives so much prominence to the disclosive function of language and lifeworld that the inneroworldly phenomena go into oblivion.

Though the levelling of the distinction between lifeworld and objective world occurs form two different angles in Quine and Heidegger, the result is albeit the same. The transcending power or reason as well as the initiating and accomplishing powers of subjects capable of speech and acts are sacrificed on the one hand on the alter of the objective world and on the other hand on the alter of language and lifeworld.

The above might seem strange on the first impression but should fall in place once we understand that weak naturalism depends on dialectical relationship between lifeworld and objective world on the one hand and disclosed world and innerworldly on the other hand, a dialectical relation which is mediated through the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ of subjects capable of speech and action.

While Quine is lambasted for ignoring the world disclosive function of language, Heidegger for ignoring innerworldly learning processes that have power to revise the disclosed meaning we start with. The linguistic meaning we start with has to prove itself in the tribunal of the exchange of reasons (exchange of the yes and no’s of the participants) as well as against the recalcitrant reality. However such a “revisionory” conception of meaning is impossible either if we consider meaning in causal terms, or if we consider meaning as linguistically given.

Apel, Habermas and 'Weak" Naturalism

In a foot note to his introduction to TJ Habermas attributes his difference with Apel to the theme of 'weak' naturalism. Here is the original note:

"K.-O. Apel has pursued [epistemological project] more consistently since his program of a 'transformation of philosophy" to this day continue to align itself with a Kantian transcendental philosophy. The deeper source of our difference . . . I attribute to my opting for a "weak" naturalism." (TJ: 294 n. 10.).

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Declaration on Globalization

"Jürgen Habermas, David Held and Will Kymlicka published a ”declaration on globalization” in the Spanish newspaper ”El Pais” on June 6, 2005.

It is called ”The Granada Declaration on Globalization” and was written when they in May participated at an international conference in Granada on ”Law and Justice in a Global Society”."

from here

Declaration on Globalization (English)

Declaration on Globalization (Spanish)

Friday, June 17, 2005

Andrew Montin's blog

I have just discovered that our regular 'commentator' Andrew Montin has a blog entitled Hold That Thought! Worth visiting and having on your links.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The myth of the given

McDowell’s account of the myth of the given is derived from Sellers. Moreover this account makes sense only in the context of Seller’s normative conception of knowledge (intro. to Mind and World, xiv). McDowell extends this to include not only knowledge but to the very notion of having contact with reality: normative context is necessary for being in touch with the world at all, whether knowledgeable or not.” (xiv).

Sellers attack on the myth of the given is an attack on the notion of ‘immediacy,” which is at the heart of the whole empiricist tradition as well as at the heart of the Cartesian tradition in general).

Habermas agrees with the basic thrust of this thinking by not only explicitly rejecting the myth of the given but also through his background in Hegel he is aware of the Hegel’s critique of the immediacy. Furthermore with his linguistic turn it become clear that reality is linguistically constituted and that there is no God’s eye view from which we can access naked reality. With the linguistic turn the whole notion of “purified experience’ or immediate contact with experiential reality becomes suspect.

The rejection of ‘immediacy’ is the rejection of two important factors:

1) The Lockean myth of the pure passivity of subject vis a vis external experience is rejected. There is no purely ‘passive’ experience as such because even in the purest of all pure experiences the active side of human subject is already implicated.

2) Locke’s confusion of explanation and justification is rejected. The thought that the bare experience can on its own act as reason is rejected. The thought behind this is that ‘reason’ involves actors and subjects who are responsible for not only making claims but also responsible for defending or rejecting and consequences ensuing form those claims. The idea is that ‘reasons’ presuppose the existence of social space in which claims can be made and defended. The idea already presupposes the idea of responsible actors. (for the above two points see Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature)

Thus the idea is incompatible with the myth of the given as far as the idea consists in the fact that bare perceptions in their givenness can stand as reasons. The myth of the given turns out to be a contradictory idea in this vein as the idea of reason presupposes the idea of an active subject while the myth is founded on the idea of purely passive subject while the very idea of reason requires at least two active subjects.

Sellers’ and Brandom’ idea of the priority of inference is built on the above insight. The same is the idea behind Habermas’ radicalisation of Dummet’s epistemic turn in the theory of meaning. The space of reason presupposes actors who can make claims and defend them. This is the basis of the rejection of the myth of the given by Sellers, Brandom, Davidson, Habermas.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Relating the problem of detranscendentalisation with the problem of naturalism

"[Even after the detranscendentalisation of the knowing and acting subject] the problem of naturalism does not simply vanish into thin air. It merely arises in another way for those theories that do indeed being with questions posed transcendentally, yet do not get stuck cutting the intelligible off from the phenomenal once for all. These theories must find answer to the question of how Kant can be reconciled with Darwin. It seems to me that it has been clear since Marx that the normative content of modernity can be taken up and preserved even and especially under materialistic premises. "Nature in itself" does not coincide with objectivated nature. What Marx has in mind is the emergence in natural history of the sociocultural form of life Homo sapiens, which goes beyond physcially objectified natura naturata to conceptually include, as it were, a piece of natura naturans. A naturalism of this sort need not be accompanied by an objectivistic self description of culture, society, and the individual." (PT: 20).

In the light of the above we must ask how the problem of detranscendentalisation is related to the problem of naturalism and how Habermas’ project of transcendence from within is related to his project of weak naturalism?

The problem of detranscendentalisation is to save the transcending power of reason. In this sense problem of detranscendentalisation is to avoid contextualism. Detranscendentalisation places the context and its understanding at the heart of our understanding the problem of rationality. Contexts are by definition particular and the problem of detranscendentalisation then becomes preserving the transcending powers of reason within this inevitable contextualisation. Thus the project of transcendence form within aims at proving and preserving the transcending powers of reason which is akin to showing that reason has ability to transcend the context in which it is inevitably situated and hence of transcending particularity, from within.

The problem of naturalism is akin to the problem of detranscendentalisation in the sense that as in the case of detranscendentalisation the transcending power of reason has to be proven and preserved in the face of a particularity (in this case nature). The problem of contextualism arises with a thorough going detranscendentalisation while the problem of naturalism arises with theory of evolution and a thorough going materialism (hence) Habermas mentions Kant in conjunction with Darwin. Thus the problem of naturalism is to reconcile Kant with Darwin, i.e. to show how we can believe in a through going naturalism without forsaking the transcending powers of reason (i.e. the task of weak naturalism).

Detranscendentalisation in itself does not entail reconciliation with nature or reconciliation of Kant with Darwin because we can suppose detranscendentalisation and still think that nature and reason belong to two different realms. One can maintain that reason emerges from social and that nature is non social (something Habermas also maintains in one form), and hence there is no compulsion to think that reason (social thing) have evolved from nature (a non social thing). Thus one can maintain a dichotomy between nature and reason without maintaining a dichotomy between the realm of intelligibility and realm of social. In other words one can be an anti naturalist in the sense of maintaining that reason has not evolved form nature without being a transcendentalist. Thus detranscendentalisation is compatible with anti naturalism.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Distinction between facticity and validity

Habermas describes the fusion of facticity and validity as the defining characteristic of traditional or pre modern societies. Habermas presents a differentiation between facticity and validity as a key accomplishment of modernity. According to Habermas in the pre-modern worldviews the notion of validity is still confused with empirical efficacy. The distinct notion of ‘causality of reason’ has not yet emerged in these worldviews. Thus speaking of the mythical worldviews Habermas writes:

“Evidently there is not yet any precise concept for the nonempirical validity that we ascribe to symbolic expressions. Validity is confounded with empirical efficacy. I am not referring here to special validity claims . . . . But even the diffuse concept of validity in general is still not freed from empirical admixtures. Concepts of validity such as morality and truth are amalgamated with empirical ordering concepts, such as causality and health. Thus a linguistically constituted worldview can be identified with the world order to such an extent that it cannot be perceived as an interpretation of the world that is subject to error and open to criticism. In this respect the confusion of nature and culture takes on the significance of a reification of worldview” (TCA I: 50, emphasis added).

Habermas is saying few very important things in this passage. On the one hand he is claiming that in pre modern worldview there is not yet a concept of validity “which is freed from empirical admixture.” A notion of validity which is free of such admixture is for Habermas a notion that is not based on the notion of “empirical efficacy.”

For Habermas a notion of validity free of “empirical admixture.”, a notion of validity that is not based on the notion of “empirical efficacy” is a singular achievement of modernity. It is with modernity that we arrive at a notion of ‘rational efficacy’ which is distinct from the notion of ‘empirical efficacy’. Given such an important role that the distinct notion of validity and its emergence plays in Habermas’ understanding of modernity it is small wonder that Habermas spends so much time and so much of his energy in trying to differentiate the illocutionary force of speech acts from perlocutionary effects.

But why is such a clear cut distinction between validity and empirical efficacy so important for Habermas’ understanding of modernity? The answers to this question lies in what Habermas’ says further in the above: “Thus a linguistically constituted worldview can be identified with the world order to such an extent that it cannot be perceived as an interpretation of the world that is subject to error and open to criticism.”

For Habermas it follows form the fact the in the premodern worldviews there is no clear distinction between validity and empirical efficacy that in those worldviews a) there is no distinction between “a linguistically constituted worldview” and “the world order as such” b) Thus in the absence of any distinction between validity and empirical efficacy the notion of any alternative world interpretations becomes impossible and c) consequently the notion that a worldview or an interpretation of world is subject to error thus fallibility loses its importance. d) Furthermore, the notion of interpretations of the world being open to criticism and hence open to alternatives remains incomprehensible. The notion of inherently open ended worldviews is an alien concept to worldviews which are unable to make clear cut distinction between validity and “empirical efficacy”.

Obviously Habermas is not claiming that in premodern worldviews notions of error, critique or alternatives do not exist in the factual sense, what he is claiming is rather that such concepts have no normative power in these societies.

related posts here, here and here
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