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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