Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Habermas' notion of intersubjectivity

The notion of intersubjectivity is one of the most misunderstood in Habermas’ corpus. It is often claimed that Habermas has never shunned the so called philosophy of subject entirely because intresubjectivity after all presupposes the notion of subjectivity. However this is not true. Intersubjectivity is actually an entirely inappropriate term to describe the phenomenon Habermas wants to describe with the term. It actually refers to the background commonality that is the basis of any understanding:

“. . . the term “intersubjective” not longer refers to the result of an observed convergence of thoughts or representations of various persons, but to the prior commonality of a linguistic pre understanding or horizon of the lifeworld – which, from the perspective of the participants themselves, is presupposed -within which the members of communication community find themselves before they reach an understanding with one another about something in the world.” (OPC: 355-356, italics in the original).

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