Thursday, February 28, 2008

Habermas and Foucault: Discourse and Modernity

A Masters dissertation on Foucault and Habermas (download from here)

The Bibliography is here

source: The Schizo-Stroller

Monday, February 25, 2008

Habermas and "Richard Rorty's Philosophical Legacy"

some interesting discussion is going on here

Steve Fuller's comments are worth reproducing here in full:

"I write as someone who has always had a soft spot for Habermas, with Knowledge and Human Interests being one of the most heavily annotated books from my undergraduate days at Columbia in the late 70s. (I still think that’s his best book.) And of course, for left-of-centre intellectuals, it is hard to fault Habermas on political grounds throughout a long career of public exposure when there were many opportunities to be wrong-footed. And on most philosophical matters, he’s a good place to turn to get a sensible first opinion. But, if we are talking about the Reapolitik of intellectual history, I believe that Rorty will turn out to be seen as a much more original and consequential philosophical figure than Habermas. The reasons for this should be obvious, but philosophers tend to not take them sufficiently seriously.

First, Habermas is a scholastic whose intellectual power comes mainly from his ability to reconcile disparate sources that he doesn’t hide, and which makes his intellectual trajectory easy to chart simply by reading his texts. Of course, the sources informing Habermasian scholasticism have shifted over his career as his centre of gravity migrated across the Atlantic. In contrast, an original thinker is – as one should expect – a person whose origins aren’t so obvious from the textual trace, and hence appears to bring a new sensibility to the philosophical conversation. Rorty fits that bill, since he was trained as a process philosopher, not an analytic or pragmatist philosopher.

To be sure, Habermas’ scholasticism makes him attractive to people who like to learn about other thinkers by reading just one thinker. But scholasticism generally has little staying power unless it is imposed as orthodoxy, Aquinas being the obvious case in point. (Other medieval thinkers called ‘scholastics’ are remembered in a much more fragmentary manner – and for their genuinely original contributions.) It’s not an accidental feature of the sociology of Habermas’ reception that he perhaps enjoys the strongest infrastructure of translators/expositors vis-à-vis that of any other continental European thinker of the postwar period. Scholasticism, with its methodical style and broad coverage, is designed for easy transmission that can be sustained over several generations. The question is whether ‘Habermania’ will ever be anything more than an intellectual cult amongst certain centre-left thinkers.

As for Rorty, my guess that a big part of the hostility to him amongst philosophers is that he has read much more widely than they but he refuses to excuse that deficiency by laying out exactly what it is about X that leads him to categorise or appraise X as he does. You might call this intellectual laziness or cowardice on Rorty’s part – not wanting to expose his own ignorance of the original texts. Or you might simply grant his glosses and make sense of his arguments on their own terms. This involves a judgement call: The potential misuse of sources has to be traded off against the potential illumination of our current philosophical predicament served by it. If the trade off is made in favour of the latter, then Rorty is deemed original. Very few, if any, of the great philosophers read their sources well or accurately, going back to Plato and Aristotle vis-à-vis the sophists. They’re ‘great’ largely because of the influence retrospectively attributed to them, which has to do with their ability to illuminate successive generations.

As for Putnam, he plays Cassirer to Rorty’s Heidegger – assuming the ‘Geist der Weltgeschichte’ has shifted from Germany to America…."

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Maeve Cooke on Law and Violence

LSE Law Department and Forum for European Philosophy

Lecture Series
Law, Reason, Violence

Monday 25 February, 6.00-7.30pm
Room D702, Clement House, LSE

Law and Violence

Maeve Cooke, Professor at University College Dublin, School of Philosophy

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Richard Rorty's Philosophical Legacy

by Steve Fuller

Richard Rorty's recent death has unleashed a strikingly mixed judgment of his philosophical legacy, ranging from claims to originality to charges of charlatanry. What is clear, however, is Rorty's role in articulating a distinctive American voice in the history of philosophy. He achieved this not only through his own wide-ranging contributions but also by repositioning the pragmatists, especially William James and John Dewey, in the philosophical mainstream. Rorty did for the United States what Hegel and Heidegger had done for Germany—to portray his nation as philosophy's final resting place. He was helped by postwar German philosophers like Jürgen Habermas who were happy to defer to their American conquerors. Rorty's philosophical method can be understood as a sublimation of America's world-historic self-understanding: a place suspicious of foreigners unless they are willing to blend into the "melting pot." In retrospect, the breadth and confidence of Rorty's writing will come to symbolize the moment when the United States, for better or worse, came to be the world's dominant philosophical power.

Philosophy of the Social Sciences, Vol. 38, No. 1, 121-132 (2008)
DOI: 10.1177/0048393107311457
© 2008 SAGE Publications

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

CFP: SEP/FEP Conference

Call for Papers for the 4th Annual Joint Conference of the Society for European Philosophy and the Forum for European Philosophy at University College Dublin, Ireland, 29-31 August, 2008.

The SEP-FEP Joint Conference offers faculty and graduate students the opportunity to present papers in any area of European Philosophy. Abstracts of no more than 500 words should be submitted by 30th May 2008 to Juliana Cardinale, either in electronic form to or by mail to:

Forum for European Philosophy
Room J5, European Institute
Cowdray House, Portugal Street
London School of Economics, London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

In addition to proposals for individual papers (as above) proposals for themed panels of (up to) four speakers on any area of European Philosophy are also invited. If you would like to organise a themed panel please contact Brian O’Connor before 18th April, 2008 at
The conference keynote speakers are:

Françoise Dastur (Nice)
Alessandro Ferrara (Rome)
Jean Luc Marion (Paris IV/Chicago)
Michael Rosen (Harvard).

There are also two open plenary sessions: The Possibilities of Critical Theory, Maeve Cooke (UCD) and The Future of Phenomenology, Dermot Moran (UCD).

from here

Pragmatic vs Semantic universalism

Laws satisfy the conditions of pragmatic, and not merely semantic, universality when they are the results of an inclusive procedure of will-formation marked by discussion and publicity.

TDW: 122.

Friday, February 01, 2008

The End of Immanent Critique?

By Craig Browne


Immanent critique has been a defining feature of the programme of critical social theory. It is a methodology that underpins theoretical diagnoses of contemporary society, based on its linking normative and empirical modes of analysis. Immanent critique distinctively seeks to discern emancipatory or democratizing tendencies. However, the viability of immanent critique is currently in question. Habermas argued that it was necessary to revise the normative foundations of critical social theory, late-capitalist developments tended to undermine immanent critique. Although there is a need for critical social theory to incorporate aspects of alternative interpretations of the contemporary period, the logics of influential theoretical perspectives on the present, especially postmodernism, the risk society and globalization, will be shown to be inconsistent with some of immanent critique's presuppositions. The synthetic aspirations of critical social theory nevertheless persist in recent attempts to reconcile positive liberty and social justice.

full here

Globalizing Democracy: Reflections on Habermas's Radicalism

By Pauline Johnson


According to many of his critics, Habermas is so preoccupied with `old normative maps' that he cannot really help us chart our options in a fast globalizing world. The following article contests aspects of this familiar critique. The argument is developed in three stages. First, some misapprehensions are targeted. No unreconstructed liberal, Habermas is shown to offer a discriminating interpretation of learning processes that need to guide political democracy in a global context. The far-reaching agenda of Habermas's programme for a globalized and democratized welfare project is underlined. Next, Habermas's attempt to bring forward the normative resources of liberal democratic histories is contrasted with Ulrich Beck's normative avant-gardism. This latter is shown to be a mere semblance of radicalism that serves to legitimate the triumph of one particular axis within modernization processes. Finally, the article explores a dilemma that faces Habermas's attempt to use the potentials of a particular cultural tradition as the normative grounds for a globally extended democracy. Habermas wants to avoid reducing critical theory to the mere affirmation of certain parochial cultural choices and so tries to find grounds for establishing the universal resonance of these normative contents. The last section looks into the ideological character of this attempt and considers an alternative way in which the inter-cultural significance of democratic Enlightenment commitments might be tested.

from here

The Spirit of the Age: Hegel and the Fate of Thinking

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