Saturday, July 29, 2006

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

John McDowell: Reason and Nature available online!

to my utter surprise! Go here to download and enjoy!

Habermas' 'weak' naturalism and McDowell's non reductive naturalism

The following passage from McDowell helped me a lot in understanding Habermas' weak naturalism. I thought I would share it here:

“Acquiring command of a language, which is coming to inhabit the logical space of reasons, is acquiring a second nature. Given that the space of reasons is special in the way Sellars urges, ideas of phenomena that are manifestations of a second nature acquired in acquiring command of a language do not, as such, fit in the logical space of natural-scientific understanding. But there is no reason why that should rule out seeing those phenomena as manifestations of nature, since the nature in question can be a second nature. Actualizations of conceptual capacities, which as such belong in the logical space of reasons, can be natural in a different sense the one that figures in admittedly well-drawn contrast with the logical space of reasons.” Experiencing the World, p. 7, in John McDowell: Reason and Nature

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Introduction to my dissertation

Note: This is a draft of introduction to my thesis. I have (for the time being) removed all foot notes and emphases.

Habermas’ work from the start has two seemingly contradictory aspects to it. On the one hand he emphasises the natural origin of human beings, their knowledge and reason and adopts a position that though avoiding all kinds of reductionism can be termed as materialist, realist and naturalist. On the other hand Habermas also aims to preserve the distinction between human beings and their surroundings by emphasising the transcending powers of reason and thought.

Habermas’ first mature philosophical work Knowledge and Human Interests starts with a Hegelian note endorsing the essence of Hegel’s critique of Kant. In its claim that knowledge is based on and founded on human interests, the interests that connect human beings to nature and the material world, it is a thoroughly anti Kantian and Marxist-Hegelian work. Habermas’ later weak naturalism is already present in KHI. Habermas’ Frankfurt inaugural lecture on which KHI is based contains a scathing critique of the notion of pure theory divorced from practice. The lecture shows the deep influence of Heidegger. Habermas’ critique of pure theory emanates from the deep anti intellectualism whose roots go back not only to Heidegger’s Being and Time but also to the Marxist and Frankfurt schools’ distrust for pure theory.

In Habermas’ later writings the above results in Habermas’ adoption of a full blown pragmatism and a conception of knowledge that recognises the epistemic value of practice and action.

Hegelian themes are also all pervasive in Habermas’ later work. Habermas’ theory of communicative action is based on the insight that our explicit contact with our fellow beings and the world around us is based on a prior and implicit contact with them. The theory of communicative action gives centrality to the embedded and social character of the process of reaching understanding. The subjects of communicative action are thoroughly socialised and embedded subjects. The theory of communicative action also emphasises the importance of the process as against the product of that process in correctly analysing rational activity.

Continue Reading

Saturday, July 15, 2006

A new book on Habermas

Note: moving up due to a new comment

I have not yet received my copy but this should be wroth reading. It would be interesting to see whether a successful "very short" introduction can be written of Habermas' work.

Habermas: A Very Short Introduction

by James Gordon Finlayson

Here is a description of the book from OUP

"Provides a completely up to date and much-needed entry into the long and forbiddingly technical works of the most influential German philosopher alive today
Covers Habermas's influence on a wide variety of fields, including philosophy, political and social theory, cultural studies, sociology, and literary studies
Explains how Habermas's ideas are applied to present day social and political situations.

Unlike other writings on Habermas, this explains his intellectual framework and technical vocabulary rather than simply adopting it

This book gives a clear and readable overview of the philosophical work of Jürgen Habermas, the most influential German philosopher alive today, who has commented widely on subjects such as Marxism, the importance and effectiveness of communication, the reunification of Germany, and the European Union. Gordon Finlayson provides readers with a clear and readable overview of Habermas's forbiddingly complex philosophy using concrete examples and accessible language. He then goes on to analyse both the theoretical underpinnings of Habermas's social theory, and its more concrete applications in the fields of ethics, politics, and law; and concludes with an examination how Habermas's social and political theory informs his writing on contemporary, political, and social problems."

Preface: Who is Jürgen Habermas
1 Habermas and Frankfurt School Critical Theory
2 Habermas's New Approach to Social Theory
3 The Pragmatic Meaning Programme
4 The Programme of Social Theory
5 Habermas's Theory of Modernity
6 Discourse Ethics I: The Discourse Theory of Morality
7 Discourse Ethics II: Ethical Discourse and the Political Turn
8 Politics, Democracy, and Law
9 Politics Beyond The Bounds Of The Nation Alone

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Habermas, intellectuals and the internet

Note: Bringing forward due to new comments

An Austrian paper has printed the first part (second part is here)of an acceptance speech by German philosopher Jürgen Habermas for the Bruno Kreisky Prize for promoting human rights (part II will follow tomorrow). Habermas discusses the declining prominence of intellectuals through television and the Internet: "On the one hand, the communication shift from books and the printed press to the television and the Internet has brought about an unimagined broadening of the media sphere, and an unprecedented consolidation of communication networks. Intellectuals used to swim around in the public sphere like fish in water, but this environment has become ever more inclusive, while the exchange of ideas has become more intensive than ever. But on the other hand the intellectuals seem to be suffocating from the excess of this vitalising element, as if they were overdosing. The blessing seems to have become a curse. I see the reasons for that in the de-formalisation of the public sphere, and in the de-differentiation of the respective roles."

from here

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Critique Today

"What are the tasks and potentials of critical theory today? How should we critique the present? Critique Today brings together a variety of perspectives in critical social philosophy that question our social and historical constellation. It includes contributions by Genevieve Lloyd, Shane O’Neill, Paul Patton, Paul Redding, Emmanuel Renault, and Nicholas Smith, and examines critical intersections in the work of Jürgen Habermas, Axel Honneth, Pierre Bourdieu, Michel Foucault, and Giorgio Agamben. Critique Today aims to further the ongoing dialogue between German critical theory and French post-structuralism, explores the relationship between philosophy and social theory, and develops new approaches to Hegel and theories of recognition, the theme of social hope, and contemporary discussions of rights and power."

from here
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