Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Hegel’s Critique of Kant’s Moral Theory and Habermas’ Discourse Ethics.

Hegel’s Critique of Kant’s Moral Theory and Habermas’ Discourse Ethics,
by James Gordon Finlayson (available for download from here)

Friday, January 18, 2008

On "Zwischen Naturalismus und Religion"

"In these writings, Habermas presents himself as a new Kant (however much he might keep his distance from him in relation to specific issues) – a Kant of communicative reason and of the post-Darwin era. It is no coincidence that the study of Kant’s philosophy of religion is the most brilliant in the volume. Habermas also adopts the stance towards religion characteristic of the moralist Kant in its multiple manifestations. The more technical sections of the volume – examinations of thinkers associated with Habermas in various ways such as Adorno, Apel, McCarthy and Menke – demonstrate the enormous aspirations of this philosophy. And the closing chapter, in which Habermas joins in the debates on reform of the UN, is consciously reminiscent of Kant’s reflections on perpetual peace, presented as a draft agreement. Habermas no longer expounds his erstwhile faith in the motivating force of morality as such; and he has also overcome his exclusive concentration on the law, which was an attempt to make up for this lack. But as with Kant, the fascination exerted by religion remains tightly fenced in by morality. The call for a productive dialogue between believers and non-believers has, however, rarely been made with such eloquence and concision."

full here

What happened to Rick Roderick?

Some tragic facts about the author of one of the best books on Habermas with some online resources (here).

Courtesy of Struggles with Philosophy

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Marcuse or Habermas: Two Critiques of Technology


The debate between Marcuse and Habermas over technology marked a significant turning point in the history of the Frankfurt School. After the 1960s Habermas's influence grew as Marcuse's declined and Critical Theory adopted a far less utopian stance. Recently there has been a revival of quite radical technology criticism in the environmental movement and under the influence of Foucault and constructivism. This article takes a new look at the earlier debate from the standpoint of these recent developments. While much of Habermas's argument remains persuasive, his defense of modernity now seems to concede far too much to the claims of autonomous technology. His essentialist picture of technology as an application of a purely instrumental form of nonsocial rationality is less plausible after a decade of historicizing research in technology studies. The article argues that Marcuse was right after all to claim that technology is socially determined even if he was unable to develop his insight fruitfully. The article derives a new approach to technology criticism from both constructivism and Habermas's communication theory. The essence of technology is shown to be historical and reflexive, like the essence of other social institutions. As such an institution, its rationality is always implemented in value-biased forms subject to political critique.

full here

Friday, January 11, 2008

Habermas and Foucault

Habermas' and Foucault's approaches have many similarities and they share basic commitment to the project of freedom. Where they disagree is how to justify this project. For Habermas this requires proving non contingency of the project of freedom because he thinks that without this one cannot claim universal validity for such a project. For Foucault however the project is essentially contingent. However, this doesn't make the project less important or less dignified. Within this broader context, Habermas' and Foucault's respective projects take different shapes. True to his intent Habermas' whole project can be seen as trying to develop a theory of rationality (broadly construed in both theoretical and practical senses) from philosophical as well as sociological angles, from synchronic as well as diachronic viewpoints. Foucault on the other hand is more "practical." He takes our essential task to be not so much "seeking to make possible a metaphysics that has finally become a science" but rather "to give new impetus, as far and wide as possible, to the undefined work of freedom." The task is to make possible the real exercise of freedom. This is a practical task and a difficult task. Archeology and genealogy are tools for making this difficult and precarious work of freedom possible. The project of freedom cannot rely on metaphysical or scientific certainties, nor on the promise of utopias. The only guarantee of freedom is freedom itself.

related posts

cross posted at Foucauldian Reflections

Monday, January 07, 2008

national consciousness is a construct

. . . national consciousness is a thoroughly modern form of consciousness, though it assumes a pseudo-natural appearance. The idea of national history was an academic construct made possible by historians, folklorists, and literary critics. It was introduced into the educational process via the school and family, disseminated through mass communication, and anchored in the outlook of generations primed for war through the mobilization of conscripts.

Habermas, DW: 76-77.

Habermas sounds like Foucault here, doesn’t he?

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Why is a world state implausible?

A world state is implausible because states need something to contrast themselves with. As Habermas says, in a line of thought borrowed directly from Carl Schmitt, the legal theorist whose exasperation with the constitutional arrangements of Weimar Germany led him eventually into the hands of the Nazis, ‘any political community that wants to understand itself as a democracy must at least distinguish between members and non-members.’ A world community of citizens, even if generating what Habermas calls ‘a form of democratically elected political representation’, would lack anything convincing to represent. It would have instead to fall back on ‘a legal-moral form of self-understanding’, which is another way of saying that it would depend almost entirely on the language of human rights. These rights can generate plausible legal procedures, they can generate widespread feelings of sympathy, they can even produce a general sense of indignation when they are violated. What they can’t provide is a sense of identity, of the kind that political parties think that it is worth fighting over.

from here
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