Friday, June 29, 2007

Indian "public sphere"

Habermas get mentioned in the context of a debate on the possibility of a public sphere in India. Relevant excerpt:

"Ninan’s study takes forward Robin Jeffrey’s book, India’s Newspaper Revolution. Written in the ’90s, it encompassed the challenges before the language media, including Hindi, Urdu, and southern language newspapers, and their responses to it. But in both books, there are gaps in comprehending the public sphere in the Indian situation. The application of Habermas’s concept of public sphere in India’s diversified and unevenly developed society has limitations. India’s agrarian society, having passed through colonial rule, is fundamentally different from a liberal, developed society in the West. The basic class character of the Hindi press’s ownership has been mercantile-capitalistic. The changeover from mercantile capitalism to industrial capitalism, and switching over to digital printing technology, do not necessarily cause a shift in the social and professional behaviour of Hindi press barons and mufassil proprietors.Also, the century-old caste character of the Hindi press is fairly intact. Still a caste Hindu-dominated press, proprietors, editors, bureau chiefs and chief reporters invariably come from Vaishya, Brahmin, Kayasth and other upper caste backgrounds. This affects the democratic functioning of the Hindi press."

Kasbah Express, Mofussil Times

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Rorty's last words on Habermas!

"When I was told that another figure much discussed in Tehran was Habermas, I concluded that the best explanation for interest in my work was that I share Habermas’s vision of a social democratic utopia. In this utopia, many of the functions presently served by membership in a religious community would be taken over by what Habermas calls “constitutional patriotism.” Some form of patriotism — of solidarity with fellow-citizens, and of shared hopes for the country’s future — is necessary if one is to take politics seriously. In a theocratic country, a leftist political opposition must be prepared to counter the clergy’s claim that the nation’s identity is defined by its religious tradition. So the left needs a specifically secularist form of moral fervor, one which centers around citizens’ respect for one another rather than on the nation’s relation to God.

My own views on these matters derive from Habermas and John Dewey. In the early decades of the twentieth century Dewey helped bring a culture into being in which it became possible for Americans to replace Christian religiosity with fervent attachment to democratic institutions (and equally fervent hope for the improvement of those institutions). In recent decades, Habermas has been commending that culture to the Europeans. In opposition to religious leaders such as Benedict XVI and the ayatollahs, Habermas argues that the alternative to religious faith is not “relativism” or “rootlessness” but the new forms of solidarity made possible by the Enlightenment.

The pope recently said: “A culture has developed in Europe that is the most radical contradiction not only of Christianity but of all the religious and moral traditions of humanity.” Dewey and Habermas would reply that the culture that arose out of the Enlightenment has kept everything in Christianity that was worth keeping. The West has cobbled together, in the course of the last two hundred years, a specifically secularist moral tradition — one that regards the free consensus of the citizens of a democratic society, rather then the Divine Will, as the source of moral imperatives. This shift in outlook is, I think, the most important advance that the West has yet made. I should like to think that the students with whom I spoke in Tehran, impressed by Habermas’s writings and inspired by the courage of thinkers such as Ganji and Ramin Jahanbegloo, may someday make Iran the nucleus of an Islamic Enlightenment."

from here

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Philosopher, poet and friend

Jürgen Habermas writes an obiturary for American philosopher Richard Rorty

I received the news in an email almost exactly a year ago. As so often in recent years, Rorty voiced his resignation at the "war president" Bush, whose policies deeply aggrieved him, the patriot who had always sought to "achieve" his country. After three or four paragraphs of sarcastic analysis came the unexpected sentence: " Alas, I have come down with the same disease that killed Derrida." As if to attenuate the reader's shock, he added in jest that his daughter felt this kind of cancer must come from "reading too much Heidegger."

full here

Friday, June 15, 2007

Zum Tod von Richard Rorty

Immer wieder schockiert

Richard Rorty ist gestorben. Ein Nachruf von Jürgen Habermas auf den Philosophen, Poeten, Bush-Kritiker und Freund.

Von Jürgen Habermas

Vor ziemlich genau einem Jahr trifft die Nachricht per e-mail ein. Wie so oft in den letzten Jahren äußert sich Rorty resigniert über den "Kriegspräsidenten" Bush, dessen Politik ihn, den Patrioten, der Zeit seines Lebens sein Land hatte verbessern wollen, tief bedrückt. Erst nach drei, nach vier Absätzen der sarkastischen Analyse kommt der unerwartete Satz: "Alas, I have come down with the same disease that killed Derrida." Wie um den Schreck des Lesers aufzufangen, fügt er scherzend hinzu, seine Tochter habe die Hypothese, dass diese Art des Krebses von "zuviel Heidegger-Lektüre" herrühre.

full here
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