Monday, December 25, 2006

From Prison to Liberation: An Analysis of Habermas' Critique of Tradition

"Die-hard followers of Gadamer would definitely be uncomfortable with the title of this article as biased and prejudiced in favor of Habermas. I know I have to do a lot of explaining. But allow me to start with the idea of prison. The concept of prison present tradition in a bad light, and Gadamer, the prophet of tradition, becomes an unwitting witness to the imprisonment. It is true that Gadamer counter argued with Habermas concerning the issue of critique. Gadamer always insists that interpretation can only be within the perimeters of tradition as this is part of man's being in the world to use Heidegger. Hence no one can escape tradition. To get out of tradition is a repetition of the mistakes of the Romantic School and the Historical School. Husserl too was caught up with the same Dilemma. The entire Crises were written justifying himself from the attacks of Heidegger on the question of inter-subjectivity against a transcendental ego. Gadamer is aware of the loopholes of Truth and Method. He already anticipated the critique of Habermas on tradition. But before coming up with an answer, I suppose, Gadamer has to resolve first two important questions: the first concerns consistency and the other paying lip service. Concerning the first, Part II of Part II in Truth and Method was dedicated to the critique of both the Romantic and Historical School. Both schools exerted substantial influence in Gadamer except on the proper interpretation of history. These schools always posit a historian that gets out of history to know history. Gadamer, influenced by Heidegger, always insists that a historian cannot get out of history. Any form of interpretation must be within the boundaries of tradition and so is any form of critique of tradition. Tradition defines interpretation and critique. And Gadamer has always been consistent in defending tradition. His hermeneutics is essentially connected with the metaphysics of being, a legacy he inherited from Heidegger. To be is to be in the world - a world that has formed us what we are and we cannot get out of it. This consistency lost him an ally in Habermas. Secondly, I suspect that Gadamer wants to get out the weight of Habermas critique of tradition and do away with the burden of proof by saying that this critique is implied already in his system. Gadamer argues that pronesis is a form of critique. This Aristotelian concept of moral judgment provides room for an individual confronted with a particular situation to apply (subtilitas applicandi) the moral law based on the context of the present moment. However, this attempt I consider lip service for the reason that Gadamer did not really elaborate this part lengthily and profoundly like what Habermas did."

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