Thursday, December 28, 2006
A brief note on relation between "epistemic" and "discursive" in Habermas
“The epistemic conception of truth transforms the (two-place) validity (Gültigkeit) of the proposition p into the (three-place) validity (Geltung) “for us” or acceptance “by us” . . . .” (TJ: 37). Habermas’ epistemic "turn" is part of his rejection of objectivism and should be understood as part of his adherence to the phenomenological tradition (see for example TCA I: 11 for this). Habermas’ epistemic turn is conceptually distinct from his discursive "turn" whereby “reasons” are conceptualised with reference to the practice of giving and defending reasons and not monologically. Although Habermas’ epistemic turn and his discursive turn are conceptually distinct, in practice they are intertwined. This amounts to saying that although in Habermas epistemic and discursive are intertwined they need not be in general [Kant’s theory, for example, is epistemic but not discursive in Habermas’ sense]. Habermas’ discourse theory of truth was both epistemic and discursive. The move away from the discursive theory of truth to a more ontologically tuned theory of truth in part results from the realisation that “although we cannot sever the connection of truth and justification, this epistimically unavoidable connection must not be turned into a conceptually inseparable connection in the form of an epistemic concept of truth.” (TJ: 38, emphasis in the original).