Friday, November 30, 2007

Rationality, Dialogue, and Critical Inquiry

Rationality, Dialogue, and
Critical Inquiry: Toward a Viable
Postfoundationalist Stance

Abstract: Given the long-standing and deeply rooted intertwinement between reason and philosophy,there is a pressing need to reappraise our operative conceptions of rationality and critical inquiry in the wake of the transition from foundationalism to postfoundationalism. For while opening up exciting new vistas, this transition poses perplexing problems regarding how we might go about justifying our knowledge claims without the possibility of recourse to incontrovertible foundations, indubitable starting points, or algorithmic procedures. The challenge is all the more acute given that the turn to language and intersubjectivity that characterises this transition has fostered the proliferation of a diversity of competing and allegedly self-validating worldviews, that render the encounter with difference an indispensable feature of the contemporary epistemological landscape while reinforcing the threat of relativism and groundlessness. Through engaging with the work of Jurgen Habermas, Hans-Georg Gadamer and Michel Foucault, three theorists widely recognized as major contributors to the contemporary debate, the present paper responds to these problems by seeking to delineate the constitutive features of a dialogically-oriented conception of rationality and critical inquiry capable of meeting postfoundationalist needs. In the process, it reinforces the advantages of the reading these theorists as complementary rather than as oppositional, as has typically been the case.

Keywords: Rationality; Foundationalism; Postfoundationalism; Habermas; Gadamer; Foucault

Read the paper in full here

Friday, November 23, 2007

Dialogue and Transformation

Richard Rorty writes:

“My hunch is that our sense of where to connect up Indian and Western texts will change dramatically when and if people who have read quite a few of both begin to write books which are not clearly identifiable as belonging to any particular genre, and are not clearly identifiable either Western or Eastern.” (Cultural otherness, p. 68).

My question is, is Rorty right in thinking that a dialogue with or exposure to the other would lead to transformation of both sides participating in the dialogue? I think it’s one of the possibilities and a remote one. More likely outcome in my opinion would rather be that the dominant partner in the dialogue would take from her lesser partner what is of use to her and modify her position here and there thus enriching herself. The lesser partner in the dialogue would end up (even if unconsciously) incorporating itself in the context of the dominant partner thus diluting its own otherness (which might be good or bad depending on how one sees things in their entirety). This has been the historical trend anyway.

[cross posted at Foucauldians]

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Habermas' most important book?

Here is the result of the poll I have been running on the above topic:

Knowledge and Human Interest 2 (5%)

Theory of Communicative Action 17 (48%)

Between Norms and Facts 10 (28%)

The Discourse of Modernity 1 (2%)

Truth and Justification 5 (14%)

Total votes: 35

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Favourite Frankfurt School thinker?

Mark over struggles with philosophy is running a poll on "Favourite Frankfurt School thinker."

Personally, I don't think there is even any competition between Habermas and others on the list. Habermas beats them by a big margin both in his philosophical and sociological erudition as well as in his influence.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Rawls and Habermas on religion in the public sphere

Melissa Yates
Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA

In recent essays, Jürgen Habermas endorses an account of political liberalism much like John Rawls'. Like Rawls, he argues that laws and public policies should be justified only in neutral terms, i.e. in terms of reasons that people holding conflicting world-views could accept. Habermas also, much like Rawls, distinguishes reasonable religious citizens, whose views should be included in public discourse, from unreasonable citizens in his expectation that religious citizens self-modernize. But in sharing these Rawlsian features, Habermas is vulnerable to some of the same objections posed to Rawls. In this article I assess Habermas' ability to overcome two objections frequently posed to Rawls: (1) that religious citizens are unfairly expected to split their identities in public discourse, and (2) that the burdens of citizenship are asymmetrically distributed. I conclude that while he may be able to overcome the second, the first remains a problem for him.

Key Words: Jürgen Habermas • pluralism • political liberalism • public sphere • John Rawls • religious citizens

from here

Monday, November 05, 2007

Habermas and the `Post-Secular Society'

Austin Harrington
The article appraises Habermas's recent writings on theology and social theory and their relevance to a new sociology of religion in the `post-secular society'. Beginning with Kant's Religion Within the Limits of Reason Alone, Habermas revisits his earlier thesis of the `linguistification of the sacred', arguing for a `rescuing translation' of the traditional contents of religious language through pursuit of a via media between an overconfident project of modernizing secularization, on the one hand, and a fundamentalism of religious orthodoxies, on the other. Several questions, however, must be raised about this current project. How far can Habermas engage adequately with religious ideas of the absolute while still retaining certain broadly functionalist theoretical premises? Is the notion of an ongoing secularization process in the `post-secular society' a contradiction in terms? What appropriate `limits and boundaries' are to be accepted between the domains of knowledge and faith, and how strictly can they be drawn? How coherent is the notion of `methodological atheism', and how consistently can Habermas pursue the project of a `religious genealogy of reason'?

Key Words: functionalism • Habermas • Kant's philosophy of religion • modernization • secularization • theology • universalism and particularism

from here

Richard Rorty, Philosopher and Language-Shaper

Jürgen Habermas held a memorial lecture for Richard Rorty at Stanford University on November 2, 2007 - “And to Define America, Her Athletic Democracy...' Richard Rorty, Philosopher and Language-Shaper”.

The lecture can be found here

The information was kindly provided by Thomas Gregersen, of HabermasForum
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