Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Remarks on the concept of critique in Habermasian thought

Remarks on the concept of critique in Habermasian thought

Author: Simon Susena

The main purpose of this paper is to examine the concept of critique in Habermasian thought. Given that the concept of critique is a central theoretical category in the work of the Frankfurt School, it comes as a surprise that little in the way of a systematic account which sheds light on the multifaceted meanings of the concept of critique in Habermas's oeuvre can be found in the literature. This paper aims to fill this gap by exploring the various meanings that Habermas attributes to the concept of critique in 10 key thematic areas of his writings: (1) the public sphere, (2) knowledge, (3) language, (4) morality, (5) ethics, (6) evolution, (7) legitimation, (8) democracy, (9) religion, and (10) modernity. On the basis of a detailed analysis of Habermas's multifaceted concerns with the nature and function of critique, the study seeks to demonstrate that the concept of critique can be considered not only as a constitutive element but also as a normative cornerstone of Habermasian thought. The paper draws to a close by reflecting on some of the limitations of Habermas's conception of critique, arguing that in order to be truly critical in the Habermasian sense we need to turn the subject of critique into an object of critique.
Keywords: communication; critical capacity; critical theory; critique; emancipation; Habermas; language; rationality; validity
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Thursday, December 09, 2010

Recent papers by Habermas

1) Jürgen Habermas (2010). Review Article: The 'Good Life'—A 'Detestable Phrase': The Significance of the Young Rawls's Religious Ethics for His Political Theory. European Journal of Philosophy 18 (3):443-454.

2)Jürgen Habermas (2010). The Concept of Human Dignity and the Realistic Utopia of Human Rights. Metaphilosophy 41 (4):464-480.
Abstract: Human rights developed in response to specific violations of human dignity, and can therefore be conceived as specifications of human dignity, their moral source. This internal relationship explains the moral content and moreover the distinguishing feature of human rights: they are designed for an effective implementation of the core moral values of an egalitarian universalism in terms of coercive law. This essay is an attempt to explain this moral-legal Janus face of human rights through the mediating role of the (...) concept of human dignity. This concept is due to a remarkable generalization of the particularistic meanings of those "dignities" that once were attached to specific honorific functions and memberships. In spite of its abstract meaning, "human dignity" still retains from its particularistic precursor concepts the connotation of depending on the social recognition of a status—in this case, the status of democratic citizenship. Only membership in a constitutional political community can protect, by granting equal rights, the equal human dignity of everybody
(from here)

3)Jürgen Habermas (2009). Life After Bankruptcy: An Interview. Constellations 16 (2):227-234.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Philosophical Foundations of Habermas’ Critique of Particularistic Liberalism


Jürgen Habermas has emerged as a sharp, and occasionally harsh, critic of the Bush administration’s policies since the Iraq war. Habermas has developed this critique in several of his short pieces and interviews, some of which are available in fine collections in both English and other languages. However, the occasional and journalistic character of Habermas’ political interventions often hide the theoretical basis of his critique. In this paper, I argue that Habermas’ critique of the Bush administration’s foreign policy emanates from, and is founded upon, his conception of modernity, and specifically his views about the relationship between “particularity” and “generality.” The purpose of this essay is to demonstrate how Habermas’ critique can actually be read as a critique of particularism, which Habermas sees operating behind American (and British) foreign policy, and which, in his view, compromises the key achievements of modernity (especially in its Kantian version.)

read full paper here (pdf)

Monday, November 29, 2010

On Habermas’s Critique of Husserl

Matheson Russell
Over four decades, Habermas has put to paper many critical remarks on Husserl’s work as occasion has demanded. These scattered critical engagements nonetheless do add up to a coherent (if contestable) position regarding the project of transcendental phenomenology. This essay provides a comprehensive reconstruction of the arguments Habermas makes and offers a critical assessment of them. With an eye in particular to the theme of intersubjectivity (a theme of fundamental interest to both thinkers), it is argued that Habermas’s arguments do indeed show up deficiencies in Husserlian phenomenology and yet that they do not succeed in proving that we must abandon the methods and tasks of phenomenological research. On the contrary, it is argued that phenomenological methods may well be needed in order to investigate certain philosophical questions that Habermas’s theory of communication has thus far only partially addressed.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

An Awareness of What Is Missing

Jűrgen Habermas et al.
An Awareness of What Is Missing
Trans. Ciaran Cronin. Polity, Cambridge, 2010. 96pp., £12.99 pb
ISBN 9780745647210
Reviewed by Tom Angier
This slim volume is the outcome of a discussion held in 2007 between Jürgen Habermas and philosophers from the Jesuit School for Philosophy in Munich. Since Habermas’ contribution occupies a mere twenty-one pages, the book is effectively even slimmer than it appears. Indeed, anyone interested in Habermas’ views on the relation between faith and reason will find little here that goes beyond his much more substantial collection of essays, Between Naturalism and Religion (Polity 2008). Nonetheless, the present volume is worthwhile reading, and this for two main reasons. First, it was inspired in part by Pope Benedict’s Regensburg address in 2006, which, besides upsetting many people in the Muslim world, was itself an attempt to elaborate the relations between faith and reason. And second, it represents an attempt to engage a section of the academic world – viz. philosophers in Catholic universities – who rarely appear on the radar of philosophers in mainstream, de facto (if not de jure) secular institutions. So despite what I will argue are severe shortcomings, especially from a left-political perspective, this collection of brief exchanges is valuable, if only as a brave attempt to challenge the self-imposed constraints of current academia.
Full review here

Monday, November 08, 2010

Leadership and Leitkultur By JÜRGEN HABERMAS

SINCE the end of August Germany has been roiled by waves of political turmoil over integration, multiculturalism and the role of the “Leitkultur,” or guiding national culture. This discourse is in turn reinforcing trends toward increasing xenophobia among the broader population.

These trends have been apparent for many years in studies and survey data that show a quiet but growing hostility to immigrants. Yet it is as though they have only now found a voice: the usual stereotypes are being flushed out of the bars and onto the talk shows, and they are echoed by mainstream politicians who want to capture potential voters who are otherwise drifting off toward the right. Two events have given rise to a mixture of emotions that are no longer easy to locate on the scale from left to right — a book by a board member of Germany’s central bank and a recent speech by the German president.

It all began with the advance release of provocative excerpts from “Germany Does Away With Itself,” a book that argues that the future of Germany is threatened by the wrong kind of immigrants, especially from Muslim countries. In the book, Thilo Sarrazin, a politician from the Social Democratic Party who sat on the Bundesbank board, develops proposals for demographic policies aimed at the Muslim population in Germany. He fuels discrimination against this minority with intelligence research from which he draws false biological conclusions that have gained unusually wide publicity.

In sharp contrast to the initial spontaneous objections from major politicians, these theses have gained popular support. One poll found that more than a third of Germans agreed with Mr. Sarrazin’s prognosis that Germany was becoming “naturally more stupid on average” as a result of immigration from Muslim countries.

After half-hearted responses in the press by a handful of psychologists who left the impression that there might be something to these claims after all, there was a certain shift in mood in the news media and among politicians toward Mr. Sarrazin. It took several weeks for Armin Nassehi, a respected sociologist, to take the pseudoscientific interpretation of the relevant statistics apart in a newspaper article. He demonstrated that Mr. Sarrazin adopted the kind of “naturalizing” interpretation of measured differences in intelligence that had already been scientifically discredited in the United States decades ago.
(full article here)

Thursday, February 04, 2010

A postsecular world society?: an interview with Jürgen Habermas

A postsecular world society?: an interview with Jürgen Habermas (from The Immanent Frame)


"Our Western self-understanding of modernity emerged from the confrontation with our own traditions. The same dialectic between tradition and modernity repeats itself today in other parts of the world. There, too, one reaches back to one’s own traditions to confront the challenges of societal modernization, rather than to succumb to them. Against this background, intercultural discourses about the foundations of a more just international order can no longer be conducted one-sidedly, from the perspective of “first-borns.” These discourses must become habitual [sich einspielen] under the symmetrical conditions of mutual perspective-taking if the global players are to finally bring their social-Darwinist power games under control. The West is one participant among others, and all participants must be willing to be enlightened by others about their respective blind spots. If we were to learn one lesson from the financial crisis, it is that it is high time for the multicultural world society to develop a political constitution."

Click here to read the remainder of this interview [pdf].
Thanks to Thomas Gregersen for the link.
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