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.

1 comment:

gary e. davis said...

Habermas never suggested that phenomenology is not fruitful. Read his "Postscript" to Knowledge and Human Interest. The issue is that phenomenological insight is only good for a communicative theory of society inasmuch as its insights are communicable. So, the claim to insight is a function of the validity basis of communication that the insight brings to bear in discursive interaction. A Huserlian sense of ego doesn't provide a basis for understanding the interpersonal character of validity.

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