Thursday, May 31, 2007

Habermas or Foucault or both?

Mark has posed a great question for all Habermasians and Foucauldians. It would be great to hear from as many Habermas and Foucault students as possible. I will try to formulate my own response in due course:

"Because you have went in the depths of Habermas and Foucault more than me, i was wondering what your thoughts are on if the work of the two are compatible in any way? This idea has played on my mind for a few years, where the communicative action of Habermas is linked to a foucauldian form of discourse analysis in an anatagonistic relationship? this would mean the communicative action of Habermas allows people to speak 'freely' and a foucauldian discourse analysis aims to undercover the discourses occurring/forming the power/knowledge nexus. Or is it the case that Habermas's project is not radical enough for Foucault, and the radical democracy or LacLau and Mouffe would be more 'acceptable' for a foucauldian style of politics?"

(cross posted at Foucauldian Reflections)

2 comments:

PD Casteel said...

It seems to me that Habermas’s focus on the democratic process, particularly through communicative action and the universal pragmatic inherent in language, is addressing the opportunities in modernity to create a better society while Foucault is picking up on Freud’s social narrative about how institutions of modernity limit and even mold the individual. Despite the disparate perspectives I do think both are attempting to give voice to the previously silenced. Habermas by his emphasis on the intrinsic power of language to criticize hegemony and Foucault by pointing out fault lines in the history of institutions and societies that hide the histories of these previously silenced voices. The problem with Habermas’s ideal speech situation and universal pragmatics is that he ignores the role of power and the ability of institutions and powerful individuals to marginalize and eliminate other narratives. This is Foucault’s critic of a modern society constructed from the network of adjacent and over-lapping institutions. It is their differing perspectives on the role of in situations in modernity and power that make it so difficult to reconcile their work. However, it is in the shared desire to have a democratic process where many more voices are heard that Habermas’s communicative actions and Foucault’s archeology and genealogy share a common goal.

PD Casteel said...

It seems to me that Habermas’s focus on the democratic process, particularly through communicative action and the universal pragmatic inherent in language, is addressing the opportunities in modernity to create a better society while Foucault is picking up on Freud’s social narrative about how institutions of modernity limit and even mold the individual. Despite the disparate perspectives I do think both are attempting to give voice to the previously silenced. Habermas by his emphasis on the intrinsic power of language to criticize hegemony and Foucault by pointing out fault lines in the history of institutions and societies that hide the histories of these previously silenced voices. The problem with Habermas’s ideal speech situation and universal pragmatics is that he ignores the role of power and the ability of institutions and powerful individuals to marginalize and eliminate other narratives. This is Foucault’s critic of a modern society constructed from the network of adjacent and over-lapping institutions. It is their differing perspectives on the role of in situations in modernity and power that make it so difficult to reconcile their work. However, it is in the shared desire to have a democratic process where many more voices are heard that Habermas’s communicative actions and Foucault’s archeology and genealogy share a common goal.

 
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